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Dubai's Man-made Island Rises Out of the Ocean, Set to Open to First Residents; 'World's Latest Landmark'
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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Palm Jumeirah, a man-made island off Dubai, is bracing for the arrival of its first residents, even as questions remain about the environmental impact of the mega-projects under way in the Gulf city state.

"These projects are a positive thing for the country" since they have propelled Dubai to world fame, said environmentalist Ibrahim al-Zu'bi.

But "they are introducing more people, so it's more pressure on the natural resources," he told AFP.

A few miles from Palm Jumeirah, shaped like a palm tree and the first of several artificial islands rising off the coast, work is continuing on "The World", a cluster of some 300 islands looking like a blurred vision of the planet's nations.

"The World," which is due to be completed end-2008, and three "Palm" islands are the work of Nakheel, a government-controlled property developer.

Nakheel recently announced that it would hand the keys of 3,900 flats and villas on Palm Jumeirah to their owners by year's end, some six months behind schedule.

The last to take delivery of their properties on the five-by-five-kilometer (three-by-three-mile) island will be running more than a year behind schedule.

Prices for the most luxurious villas on the island, whose construction kicked off five years ago, top four million dollars.

"By early to mid-December, there will be people living right on the Palm," a spokesman for Nakheel told AFP, asking not to be named.

The arrival of the first residents on the island will follow a publicity blitz starting November 9 in London, where a huge airship chartered by Nakheel will overfly the city's landmarks in order "to show that the Palm is the world's latest landmark," the spokesman said.

Repeats are planned in Paris, Milan and Rome, reflecting the key role played by European investors in the real estate boom in Dubai, which is a member of the United Arab Emirates. A similar publicity stunt will take place in Cairo.

Work is meanwhile also continuing on two other palm tree-shaped islands even bigger than Palm Jumeirah.

One, Palm Jebel Ali, is jutting out into Gulf waters to the west. The other, Palm Deira -- planned to be 18 kilometers (11 miles) long and nine kilometers (five miles) wide but still in its early stages -- is emerging to the east.

In the case of "The World," Nakheel's task is confined to bringing the islands up from the Gulf's shallow waters, leaving it to buyers to develop them within strict guidelines, chiefly in relation to the height of buildings.

Nakheel says 50 percent of the islands have already been sold, with price tags ranging from 15 to 40 million dollars.

But several years after the launch of the island ventures, their consequences on the marine environment remain a matter of debate.

"The environment is very important to us," said Adnan Dawood, a Nakheel spokesman.

Before the man-made islands began taking shape, the zone attracted migratory fish, Dawood said. Today "you have fish where there was no fish before, because now they have a habitat," he said.

"Fifteen new species of fish have made this (The World) their habitat... Today you can (even) see dolphins," he added.

Zu'bi, who serves as director of the Emirates Diving Association's environment department, was skeptical about Dawood's assertions.

While admitting that the ventures have positive aspects -- "new beaches, new diving sites, dolphins" -- he chided developers for lack of communication. "We are open to work with them in a positive way (but) they ignore us," he said.

"When it comes to the environment, you can't be as fast as you want. You have to compromise things. Things are going fast here," Zu'bi said in reference to the breakneck speed at which Dubai is growing.

"What happened in Europe in 50 years is happening here in five years," he said.

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

12 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I think it is a risk to build such a tremendous structure that could ultimately change the ecosystem in the surrounding area. I understand that some studies were done prior to beginning construction of the islands; i only hope it was enough. On the other hand, I find the islands very facinating and I hope once they are completed that they are enjoyed by those who can afford to buy them. Speaking of finances, this money could have been spent on more important issues that the Arab people may be having. On the other hand, people with great wealth have their choice as to what to do with it. I believe if I could, I would want to own land on these islands myself. It is a phenomonal establishment and I suppose there are good and bad aspects to this situation along with all other situations. I hope I do not sound too divided with my opinions. Overall, I hope it works out and the project turns out to be a positive rather than a negative for our world as a whole.
   comment# 1   - Alyssia · Racine, WI USA · Nov 18, 2006 @ 10:57pm

I am from Lebanon and i'm 12 years old. I am writing a term paper for my school about construction of the palm impact on marine habitat. That palm looks really nice, but I am also worried about what will happen to fish from all kinds. Will the looks of the palm attract sharks? Where will all the fish go? Did they consider that we are now suffering of some of endangered species in our marine wildlife? All these questions are yet not answered, I hope that they will find a way to build a beautiful country, and also protect this glorious marine life.
   comment# 2   - Marina · Dubai, UAE · Jan 1, 2007 @ 9:22am

its a big tourist attraction
   comment# 3   - carl moore · philippines · May 19, 2007 @ 12:08am

Having visited Dubai many years ago when there was very little marine life to talk about, I am sure that as the corals continue to take hold many thousands of species of marine life will be attracted to these developments. The creation of a man-made island will initially cause a disturbance, just as a nature-made island would if it were caused by a volcanic eruption. However, what we have here is the potential for the development of a massive marine environment under the watchful eye of people who will not tolerate anything less than the best. regarding Marina's worry about sharks, sharks are not naturally aggressive creatures. If left alone, you will not even know they are there. It is only when irresponsible people bait, or feed sharks to feed on warm blooded animals that they are primed to become predators of human flesh. By nature they like human flesh as much as a 12 year-old likes Cod-Liver oil. It is only when people do not respect these wild animals for what they are that they become dangerous. Love nature and it will love you back in abundance, fear nature and fight it and it will fight you in self defense. As far as being a tourist attraction, I'd rather say it's a landmark. This stretch of the sea 10 years ago was as barren as the wilderness. The future success of these island developments will secure Dubai's future on the world stage as an attractive destination, and on top of this it has the potential to become a world famous centre of excellence for
   comment# 4   - Kevin · UK · Jan 8, 2008 @ 5:56am

set aside marine life and the eco system..just a question that popped into mind...where does all the water go when u put an island in the sea? doesn't this affect the sea water level?
   comment# 5   - Haptic_Erosion · Sri Lanka · Apr 8, 2008 @ 8:46am

doin my research , since i like travel . i hav a friend who b/f from dubai always tell me abt this amazin man made island the buildin in the sea. i tink it will real good for the future of the country n the ppl of dubai 2 attract more tourist in the country . wat is more important is the foundation of the city we all hope is soild . since of the global warmin around the world today
   comment# 6   - raymond · guyana · Apr 11, 2008 @ 5:30am

Did they take into account extreme weather conditions, i.e. tsunamis. There is nowhere to run, no higher ground, if something like that would happen. Sounds ridiculous to pay that much money to live on a boat(small island) in the sea, but sure is interesting.
   comment# 7   - Lani from Az · U.S. · Apr 30, 2008 @ 1:11pm

What more can you ask for? These people are fulfilling the desires and dreams of many other people. Therefore I commend the people of Dubai. May the people be blessed in all do. Because it's takes great minds of wisdom to build something of this magnitude. And what you people built is what I call umcommon wisdom. Your truly
   comment# 8   - William · Arizona USA · Dec 27, 2008 @ 6:20pm

i think it is very beautiful and i do have some concerns with the ecosystem but man is it gorgeous!! :0)
   comment# 9   - Kayla · USA · May 13, 2009 @ 7:44am

Is there any protection from Tsunami , where people will go if it happens. If water level rise , what will be happen in next 100 years. Is there any issurance that how long these islands will exist. Earthquake, Enemy attack from air and water, did they thought these thing before building so enormous structure on Sea. I don't know if they will be get money out of it .
   comment# 10   - Sahidul Haque · NJ USA · Feb 8, 2010 @ 1:10pm

No study has been done on the adverse effect of creation of artificial islands, with so much of sand and rock being dumped into the sea, what will happen to the water level, it is sheer greed on man's part to tamper with nature.
   comment# 11   - Meera Bhardwaj · Bangalore, India · Jun 22, 2010 @ 11:34pm

Recently visited this place and was amazed when we were told it was a man made structure. Kudos to the creator and to the builder to have implemented it. At the same time satiating desire to own a home and have private beach for each villa will only lead to next one. I am not an environmentalist to raise issue on the ecosystem imbalance, but any layman will tell to create such an area you should have changed the ecosystem of this place, lot of dumping of rocks and sand and diverting of sea water will definitely have its impact else where on the sane coastline.Hope and pray that it doesn't affect this beautiful city.
   comment# 12   - Muthuraman · India · May 18, 2011 @ 11:10pm
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