Dubai / Palm Jumeirah / 2001-2006 / City as commodity

To boost national tourism might be an important push factor as to why the island was built in the first place, but the Palm Jumeirah is also serves as a direct channel to attract foreign capital into Dubai. Zooming in to the operation of the island, it is not difficult to notice the obvious intention to merchandise the island and the architecture on it. In May 2002, a decree was issued by His Highness, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, which allows “anyone of any nationality” to buy property on freehold ownership (1). The decree demonstrated the fact that these properties are not built for the habitat and  housing market according to the market economics of supply and demand, but functioning more as investments for the businessmen. Since the decree was made, it sparked a real estate boom in Dubai’s residential property market. As shown by the map (Image 1), the island focused on constructing exclusive spaces such as plentiful world class malls, high-end shops and restaurants, business parks, luxury condominiums, gated and themed neighbourhood with high profit rates, vacation retreats and golf resorts – all commercialised facilities one could think of just to attract foreign investors.

Image 1.Plan of Palm Jumeirah with facilities

When the Palm Jumeirah was completed in 2006, over 4000 villas and apartments were ready for occupancy. Yet, they were built out of the heated real estate market rather than actual demand for such high-end housing. The villas were bought and resold dozens of times before they were actually constructed (2), and the value of the properties even tripled throughout the construction and marketing process. Due to the fact that more than half of the properties that flow into the foreign market are sold as holiday houses and property investments, the island is no more than half inhabited (3). Despite all these, Dubai has recorded billions of net profit brought by the real estate market of the palm (4).



1.Emirates Today ePaper – 13th March’ 2006

2.The Economists. “The global housing boom. In come the waves”. 23rd July 2012.

3.Gerstenfeld, Dan. “Real estate boom revives Tel Aviv”. Real Deal: New York City Real Estate News, 04th Nov 2007.

4.Arab News. “Nakheel records 14% profit rise for 2017″. 01st Feb 2018.


Image reference:

1.Plan of Palm Jumeirah with Facilities. In The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. August 16, 2014.

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