Palm Islands is composed of three islands: Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira, with the last being the most recent works in progress. Palm Jumeirah covers 600 hectares of land and with Palm Jebel Ali add 120 kilometers of beachfront to Dubai. Palm Jumeirah spans approximately four by five kilometers. Palm Jebel Ali covers 6 by 7 kilometers. Palm Deira with an area of 80 square kilometers will be the largest island out of all of them and is equivalent to the area of Paris and London.

Photo: Stive RKH. Low Crest Breakwater Design For Dubai Islands Projects. Netherlands: Royal Haskoning, Maritime Division.

All three islands have similar palm-shaped structures, although the size of each varies. Nonetheless, they all follow more or less the same state of the art engineering and construction procedures. Therefore, it is sufficient to examine mainly Palm Jumeirah’s design and construction challenges, and then consider special design adjustments to the construction of the consequent islands.
All three islands share their date palm tree form with a spine, fronds, and a long trunk, a crescent shaped breakwater, sub-sea vehicular tunnel and monorail. Palm Jumeirah, in particular, has 17 fronds and a 1.5 km long trunk.

Photo: Nakheel-Palm Deira, Rainbowing. 11 October 2007. Eikongraphia.

Construction of Palm Jumeirah began in August 2001, and is considered one of the world’s biggest undertakings. Unlike other previously man-made islands that are built from metal and concrete, Dubai’s Palm Islands are made from all natural materials – rock and sand upon Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s request. Although Palm Islands are artificial islands, the prince desired for a natural appearance that would blend into existing surroundings. Basically, he is asking to build a massive structure without concrete and steel to hold it in place. It is exactly this demanding feature that makes constructing these islands the biggest challenge. Plans for this megastructure project would not have been able to materialize without the collaboration between construction contractors and engineering scientists.

Jong RE, Lindo MH, Saeed SA, Vrijhof J. “Execution Methodology for Reclamation Works Palm Island 1.” 2003.
Hellebrand S, Fernandez J, Stive R. “Case Study: Design of Palm Island No. 1 Dubai.” 2004.
Unknown. “The Palm Deira will showcase unparalleled engineering, says Nakheel.” AMEinfo. 25 Nov. 2009.


  1. It is really fascinating how the art of engineering and also construction works on these projects, especially for the Palm Jumaerah’s design construction. This expressionist architecture form was beautifully shaped through the help of advanced technological equipment due to its challenging site and the organic materials chosen.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.