The Palm Islands are in Dubai, a City in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was one of the engineering mega projects in Dubai. Three artificial Islands were constructed in order to provide luxury accommodation for the affluent people living in Dubai. The most famous of the being ‘Palm Jumeriah’ that covers 560 hectares of land ( 1.5 times the size of Central Park in New York) and was constructed with 94 million cubic tonnes of sand and 7 million tonnes of rock. (Butler)
The largest of the three Islands known as ‘Palm Deira’ is the world’s largest artificial Island and contains an area of 47 million square metres and protrudes 12.5 kilometres into the sea. It contains 1.02 billion cubic metres of sand and includes major new engineering improvements that encapsulate reduced sand volume and rock revetment. The luxury properties will have excellent transportation infrastructure into Dubai and have Marina’s with outstanding recreational facilities. Regrettably this has not been without its environmental issues and concerns and the Engineers have had to take into consideration a number of these major concerns. (Anon)
The early construction of the Palm Islands had an immediate impact on the surrounding area by the use of intense dredging activities. The deposits caused an immediate death in a variety of wildlife and marine species by the cause of asphyxiation and this additionally created a fine sedimentary layer along the coastal regions of Dubai. The sediment prevents light penetration to the sea bed and resulted in the further death of many marine species.
The sand for the Islands was dredged up from the sea floor and distributed by a network of underwater pipes that delivered the sand to the desired areas. Bulldozers were then used to shape the palms and create the desired beaches.
An increased level of sedimentary particles in the sea has also impacted the development of the coral reefs surrounding Dubai. This reduces the calcification rates in the reefs and a study conducted by marine researchers from Miami has suggested that the coral reefs are still dyeing some 14 years past the initial construction events. Construction of the Islands began in August 2001 and was considered to be one of the world’s largest engineering projects. Because we are only 10 years into this undertaking the precise environmental impacts have still as yet to be determined. (Tebodin)
The Developers ere building in an array of sporting facilities that include snorkelling and the building of artificial reefs with sunken ship wrecks to provide a more interesting diving experience. The developers insist that this will help attract fish and stimulate the reef expansion by creating artificial havens, thereby creating greater diversification for the reef. Many argue that these artificial creations are not a true replacement for the natural wonders of nature and that such structures are not truly representative of true marine biodiversity. Further, ecologists have stated that tampering with the natural order of nature is more likely to encourage and introduce more destructive marine species. This sort of incursion into the natural marine habitat of Dubai is nothing really new. The actual coral reefs have been in a state of decline for over 50 years now. This latest venture is just like to accelerate that process to a point of future total destruction of the coral reefs. This with the added problems associated with climate change and rising sea waters is just likely to further enhance the destructive capacity of what is already in place. The whole of the Arabian Gulf is estimated to be under the threat of losing some 35% of natural habitat due to the reef degradation. This may impact the region by removing natural filters in the water and thereby increasing the level of toxicity in the water and ultimately poisoning the sea to a state of pollution that may impact the commercial fishing and ultimately a major food source for the region. (Dubai Islands Guide)