Building the Palm Jumeirah

The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago in Dubai, created through a range of innovative and brave engineering techniques to 'reclaim' habitable land from the sea. It is one of three 'man-made' islands called the Palm Islands which extend into the Persian Gulf  increasing Dubai’s shoreline by a total of 520 km (320 mi).

The Palm Jumeirah is the smallest of the three islands under development by Nakheel, one of the world's largest state-owned real estate developers. It is located on the Jumeirah coastal area of the emirate of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Palm Jumeirah is globally recognized as a symbol of Dubai's incredible energy, growth and ambition. The creation and development of The Palm is an unparalleled feat of design and engineering.

Designing the Palm Jumeirah

The Palm Jumeirah was designed and developed by HHCP architects. The interesting Palm shape of this island was incorporated as a tribute to the national tree of UAE – the date palm tree, often referred to as 'bride of orchard'. Another reason for this magnificent palm design is that it provides a perfect geometry for creating maximum beach frontage.

The Palm Jumeirah consists of a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds, and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11 km long breakwater to protect the structure from wind and wave erosion and long-shore drift.. The crown is connected to the mainland by a 300-m bridge while the crescent is connected to the top of the palm by a sub-sea tunnel. In total it covers 560 ha of land created through land reclamation.

The mian development contractor Nakheel have ensured that the island will help stimulate marine life by using nutrient rich materials and designing the sub-sea structure to help, not hinder biodiversity. Two independent oceanographic experts from California, Professor Joseph Valencic and Jim Miller, were invited to conduct research on the sea life around the location of The Palm Jumeirah before, during and after reclamation.

Over 100 studies relating to transportation, marina design, water supply, technology, and civil works were conducted to assess and ensure The Palm's feasibility and long term viability.

Aesthetic Components of the Palm Jumeirah

Apart from the amazing shape of the Palm Jumeirah, the island is adorned by over 12,000 Palm trees that were initially grown in a nursery in Jumeirah, Dubai. The Arabian Gulf is rich in marine life from varieties of shell fish to corals, crabs and fish. Residents and visitors to the Palm Jumeirah will have the opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive in this rich resource. Interestingly, two F-100 Super Sabre fighter jets were stripped and sunk near the Palm Jumeirah in order to create an artificial reef to promote marine life and will also act as an underwater attraction for recreational divers..

Accommodation and Facilities in the Palm Jumeirah

The Palm Jumeirah is a world famous residential, tourism and leisure destination. The three main areas in this island are the trunk, crescent, and the fronds. The fronds form the head of the Palm Jumeirah and will house some of the most luxurious beachfront villas. The entire structure is designed for about 8000 residents both permanant and temporary.

The Palm Golden Mile is a strip of land located along the center of the trunk. It officially opened in 2008, and is home to the Shoreline Apartments, which are a range of standard and luxury apartments, penthouses and town homes. The impressive Trump International Hotel and Tower forms the centerpiece of the trunk.

A six-lane sub-sea tunnel connects the trunk to the crescent. The tunnel is 1.4 km long, 40m wide and 25m below sea level.

Entertainment at the Palm Jumeirah comes in a range of forms, including the famous ex-Cunard cruise-liner the QE2 docked at the Palm Jumeirah since 2009 and the permanent theatre showcasing the spectacular Cirque du Soleil. World-class hotels and resorts such as the Taj Exotica Hotel & Resort, Atlantis, The Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort etc. are spread around this unique island.

There is a 5.4 km (3.4 mi) Palm Jumeirah Monorail that connects the Atlantis Hotel to the Gateway Towers at the foot of the island. The Monorail has been operational since May 2009.

Construction of the Palm Jumeirah

The island wonder started becoming a reality in 2001 when land reclamation commenced. The island required 94,000,000 m3 (3.3×109 ft3) of sand and 7 million tonnes of rock to be formed - all of this material was quarried in the UAE. The Palm Jumeirah was created by pouring / depositing dredged sand onto specific locations in the 10.5 m-deep seabed using dredgers.  This entire process was handled by the Belgian company, Jan De Nul and the Dutch company Van Oord. The sand was sprayed by dredging ships guided by DGPS, onto the required area in a process known as rain-bowing. Calcareous sand was mainly used for the reclamation.

The main idea behind constructing the curved rock breakwater or 'Crescent' was to withstand a 4m tidal wave (a potential risk in this area in winter), and to promote a natural reef system to help increase biodiversity around the Palm. The Crescent is built from the bottom up with first sand, then geotextile fiber, followed by small rocks, and then medium-sized rocks. Expert divers were employed to examine placement of rocks underwater so as to ensure correct positioning. Divers also monitored the placement of geotextile fiber.

Interesting Facts about Palm Jumeirah

The following are some interesting facts of the Palm Jumeirah:

  • The Palm Jumeirah is a man-made marvel that can be viewed from space with the naked eye.
  • The first phase of residential complexes at the Palm Jumeirah was ready at the end of 2006. It is reported that all 4000 first phase properties sold out within 72 h of the initial sales release.
  • The Palm Jumeirah will be home to more than 70 different nationalities.
  • Reports state that if all of the materials used to build one of the Palm islands were placed end to end, a wall 2m high and half a meter thick could circle the world three times.
  • It is claimed that more than 800 football pitches can be fitted into the Palm Jumeirah.


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