The prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed, is also the Emirate of Dubai, the United Arab Emirates knows that the oil isn’t going to last forever. Therefore, he has spent the last two decades working to turn his city into a world-class tourist mecca that can survive without petrodollars. But many of his challenges have been geographic: there’s only so many miles of beach on the Persian Gulf. It’s not easy to add hundreds of miles of coastline to a crowded city, but that’s exactly what Dubai is trying to do—by building the world’s three largest artificial islands.

An engineering project of staggering proportion- The Palm Islands.
In 2001, the coast of Dubai shallow gulf water and dredged 3 billion cubic feet of sand was dredged from the seafloor and used GPS precision to shape it a 17-fronded palm tree by the Nakheel, a local real estate conglomerate . The artificial islands were protected by seven million tons of mountain rock piled around the island to form a crescent-shaped to break water . With seven miles long, it helps to protect the bewbuilt island from waves and storms.

The smallest island took a decade to complete.

Palm Jumeirah is the first and smallest island construction on among the three Palm Islands. A broad expanse of malls and luxury hotels its “trunk” today. Due to rising costs on the project, McMansions are packed closer together than buyers by lined 17 fronds. A six-lane undersea tunnel connects the island to the beaches on the crescent, while the Middle East’s first monorail runs the length of the island.

Dubai’s gorgeous man-made islands aren’t just a tourist attraction—they’re a major engineering project.

Jennings, Ken. “The Real Story Behind Dubai’s Palm Islands.” October, 2016.


  1. As reclaiming land often has consequences for marine life, people living along the waterfront etc. as you mentioned in another post, it would be interesting to know the political and social circumstances of this project – for instance, was there any opposition from the residents in the area? If there was, a project such as this surely must either have required massive political power or years of negotiation. A similar giant-scale reclamation project was allowed in Jakarta in the 90s, by a corrupt, authoritarian government not granting full freedom of speech – it is likely that the project would not have been allowed (as easily) in a more democratic context (like today’s Indonesia).
    Could it be that the situation with Dubai is similar?
    (While this topic is perhaps not strictly architectural or urban, I think it is important to be aware of the political context that allows such projects)

Leave a Reply

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