Special Administrative Region – Socio-economic Outlandishness of Palm Island

Land plots on each crescent that are available for purchase (Source : Jensen, 2007)


The outlandishness of the island does not only apply to geographical aspect, but also the socio-economic one. The island can be conceived as a special class property through its special land tenure policy. It was originally marketed as a way for billionaire to realize a dream of owning a property, with a price tag of half a million USD. According to official, UAE nationals take up third quarter of buyers, 5% of total number comprises of the Persian Gulf citizen and only 5% is from overseas. Despite the whopping price tag, there are still 800 pending orders on the waiting list.


It is then logical to suggest that the island is a filter funnel, through which people with different socio-economic status are screened and purified. What pass through the funnel must be elites who are in possess of huge amount of wealth, while the residue is the majority of the immigrants living in the original city. The island is remote and outlandish since nobody can reside for a prolonged period of time without purchasing property.


People living on it are not only granted unlimited residency visa, but also benefited from the setup of free zone, where no interference from authorities is imposed. It is a rare circumstance in an autocratic Islamic state that monitors its citizens and media, since the government underwent legislative adjustment to allow non-nationals temporary citizenship to buy new properties. Despite the fact that it creates legal lacunae, freedom is granted for the elites on the island, who are immune from any nuisance in the city.




Elsheshtawy, Y. (2004). Planning Middle Eastern cities : an urban kaleidoscope in a globalizing world. Jstor.

Elsheshtawy, Y. (2008). The evolving Arab city : tradition, modernity and urban development. Routledge.

Jensen, B. (2007). Dubai : dynamics of bingo urbanism. Aarhus School of Architecture

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