Nakheel: Palm Jumeirah is 'not sinking'

EXCLUSIVE: Dubai developer brands reports in media 'wholly inaccurate'.
PALM LANDMARK: Nakheels Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
By Andrew White
Wed 09 Dec 2009 12:46 PM

Dubai-based developer Nakheel on Wednesday strenuously denied reports in the international media that its landmark Palm Jumeirah island was sinking into the Arabian Gulf.

European ground survey firm Fugro NPA Ltd had said that the island is sinking by an average of 5 millimetres a year, and may flood in the future if ocean levels rise.

However Shaun Lenehan, Head of Environment at Nakheel, said that the reports were “wholly inaccurate”.

“The integrity of all buildings, utilities and infrastructure on Palm Jumeirah are testament to the fact that there has been no subsidence,” Lenehan told Arabian Business. “Any settlement of the ground, even as little as 5mm, would generate obvious physical manifestations including masonry cracking, leaking pipes, broken windows and so forth.

“Claims suggesting Palm Jumeirah has sunk by 5mm, as detected by remote sensing (satellite) techniques, are not possible given that NASA’s laser altimeter satellites have an accuracy of only + or – 50 mm,” he added.

The Palm Jumeirah allegations are the latest in a string of worries for the developer, which is part of the Dubai Government-controlled conglomerate Dubai World.

Earlier on Wednesday, Nakheel announced that impairment and termination charges meant it had posted losses of more than $3.6bn during the first six months of 2009, as the global economic crisis hit the Dubai real estate market.

And Dubai World last month shocked the international financial community when it announced it is seeking a standstill deal with banks on its debt, estimated at more than $26bn.

Work on the Palm Jumeirah began in 2001, and the man-made island cost an estimated $12bn to build. Homeowners on the development, which extends 5km into the Gulf, include footballers David Beckham and Michael Owen.

The Palm Jumeirah is also home to the Atlantis Hotel, a sprawling $1.5bn resort which boasts an underwater aquarium, waterpark, and 1539 rooms including a $26,000-a-night suite. The hotel, built by hospitality mogul Sol Kerzner, opened in November 2008 with a lavish party attended by a host of Hollywood stars including Robert De Niro and Charlize Theron.

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