The Palm Islands

The Palm Islands are a group of artificial islands off the city of Dubai, which were created using land reclamation techniques. The company responsible, Nakheel, is owned by the Dubai government.

The initial Palm Islands plan consisted of three main groups of islands. The Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira. Palm Jumeirah is the first, and smallest of the three planned Islands, and occupancy started in 2006. The two other palm projects are currently on hold.

Palm Jumeirah is shaped as a single palm tree — with a two-kilometer-long trunk and 17 fronds — partly surrounded by a semi-circle, or crescent, made up of three islands stretching 11 kilometers. It also has two islands on either side of the tree's trunk. The crescent is in part artistic, and in part practical — it functions as a breakwater, able to withstand waves up to four meters, and the divisions in the crescent means the waters surrounding the fronds and trunk of the Palm won't stagnate. The Palm is connected to the mainland by a bridge, and the crescent is connected to the top of the palm by an underwater tunnel. A monorail is expected to open later in 2008 to transport people on and off the islands. (Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira have slightly different design concepts, though still based on a single palm.)

The immense undertaking is visible from space. The rocks forming the base of the islands are being brought from quarries throughout the UAE, and the Palm comprises approximately 100 million cubic meters of sand and rock. If all the fill materials used to build one Palm Island were placed end to end, a wall two meters high and half a meter thick could circle the world three times. As for the 12,000+ real palms that will be on the Palm Islands, they are being grown in a nursery in Dubai.

The islands include commercial and residential developments. Commercial developments include marinas, restaurants, cafes, retail outlets, and beachfront hotels and resorts. These include the 1,539-roomed, ocean- themed Atlantis, The Palm (whose sister-hotel in the Bahamas will be known to some people), the five-star hotel/residence Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah, the Fairmont Palm Hotel & Resort, and the Trump International Hotel & Tower. A Housing units include apartments, villas, townhouses, water homes (basically homes on piers).

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