By Colin Foreman
The anouncement last month of The Palm, Deira was a relatively low key affair. Nevertheless, construction of Nakheel’s third artificial tree is surging ahead, with the developer promising to apply new building methods in its construction.
Palm 3.0 rising up|~|51 Proj Body.jpg|~||~|The Palm, Deira has now taken the major step of rising above sea level, meaning that it is fully visible from the air. According to, Nakheel, the land mass now stretches from the Deira coastline (close to the mouth of the creek) out into the Arabian Gulf by some 500 m. Although it is still early on, such quick progress is encouraging and demonstrates the speed and tenacity of the development team and the contractors to deliver the island within its set timeframe.
Sultan bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Nakheel, said during an official visit to the project site: “The reclamation of the largest ever man-made land mass in the Arabian peninsular and the largest in terms of material volume in the world is truly a sight to behold, particularly as the project has already risen above sea level and its defining features are taking shape. The teams of experts, including international marine specialists, Nakheel engineers, professional contractors, such as Van Oord that have been working 24 hours, seven days a week, are so dedicated and driven that we are already ahead of the development schedule and this incredible task will certainly be completed prior to our initial programmed timetable,” he explained.
While watching the initial three Van Oord dredging boats working on the reclamation, which creates the footprint of the island, building upwards to be visible above the water level, bin Sulayem continued: “I am proud to say that the reclaimed land by the Dubai Creek will also be completed ahead of schedule thanks to the commitment of these gentlemen. This of course will greatly enhance the area in the near future.”
The timetable for completion is ambitious to say the least, and will require contractors to work round the clock shifts if they are to stand a chance of reclaiming the island in time. Commenting on the enormity of the task ahead, Van Oord said that, “Through our past experiences on the reclamation of both the Jebel Ali and the Jumeirah Palm projects, we have garnered much experience and are able to streamline the process so that we can accurately estimate the time to reclamation completion. We have been working on this project since August 2003 and find that we are already delivering ahead of schedule and this is partly due to the readily available materials from around the Emirates. We are currently working with three vessels and will be increasing our dredging ships to eight in the coming months. We now can see over 55 000 m² rising above the water, but this is only a very small percentage of the reclaimed island development that lies below sea level”.
The Palm Deira is one of Dubai’s most prestigious and ambitious projects to date. Reclaimed from a depth of 10 m and stretching out 14 km from the waters edge the island will extend the Deira coastline by over several 100 km. In total, the island will cover an area similar in size to Greater London and larger than both Paris and Manhattan.
Given the projects magnitude, The Palm Deira will be marked with innovations in planning, engineering and construction. “The Palm, Deira that will complete and become the marina, shopping and social hub around the Dubai Creek in the future,” Sulayem added.
Sulayem also confirmed that The Palm Deira would be built in the same three-step process that marked their earlier projects at Jumeirah and Jebel Ali: reclamation, infrastructure construction and building construction. “As for the actual reclamation 1 billion m² of dredged sand and rock will be put in place for the breakwater protection and reclaimed land of The Palm, Deira.
The island will be built in waters that are 6 m deep reaching to 22 m below sea level. “The island will be reclaimed from various strategic points in the sea bed. A team of experts from all over the world are currently involved in identifying soil content and testing its suitability and compatibility. As for the actual reclamation process, an estimated 1 billion m³ of sand and rock sourced from, and around, the UAE will be used to create the land mass of The Palm Deira,” he stated.
These resources will be transported to the construction site on industrial barges, and solely by water routes, to minimise disruptions on land transport and traffic. In the second stage of building the island, the infrastructure construction will include the creation of local bridges and flyovers and the implementation of wastewater collection, storm water drainage, sanitary sewage, irrigation and fire fighting systems. This phase will also see the installation of several utility systems and residential facilities that include the domestic water supply network, piped gas, telecommunications and road works.
The 41 fronds will house as many as 8000 exclusive residential villas, with development plans for the crescent, trunk, spine and breakwaters yet to be announced. The fronds themselves will vary in length, creating more land area for villa owners for extra comfort, ranging from 840 to 3346 m, with a distance of between 150 to 400 m of sea between each frond.
The crescent of the island, which will run for 21 km, will be the largest in the world, and serve as a protective breakwater to the island. It will be split into 12 districts and six water inlets for efficient water circulation throughout the inside of the island especially the fronds for easy access by water ways. Each of the 12 districts of the Crescent will feature protruding sections of land dubbed ‘fingers’ that are 250 m in length, will be situated on the inside of the crescent 350 m from the frond. Nakheel plans to announce what will be built on these fingers in due course.
Sulayem emphasised that marine biologists were among the many specialist consultants involved in the development of the island. “As we have already witnessed in Jebel Ali and Jumeirah that the construction of breakwaters have created a new marine habitat which attracts several species of fish and birds, including hitherto unseen schools of tropical fish. In Deira too, we expect that the reclamation of the island will enhance the marine environment vastly, due to its enormous size. With these three palms and The World, Dubai will witness a significant increase in the marine life and its variety” he said.
Empahsising the role and presence of marine environmentalists at the project site, bin Sulayem commented that “As has been proven earlier at Jumeirah and Jebel Ali, not only will the new Palm here in Deira override any ecological concerns, but moreover, will actually support new marine life and create ecological wonders”, adding that the sound environment protection was one of the driving factors at the project site.
As of yet few details on the supporting infrastructure for the island have been given. As reported previously in Construction Week access is currently a major issue on the first Palm, The Palm, Jumeirah, and is likely to be a major issue for the Palm, Deira as well. The problem is compounded by the fact that, unlike the previous Palms, it will be adjoin an already built up area that at times suffers from chronic congestion. This will make the proposition of hauling men, materials and equipment onto the island a challenging one, and could well result in some rather innovative planning by the developer’s project team.
The Palm, Deira was launched as the final chapter of The Palm developments because of the importance Deira has played in the history of Dubai, “It only seemed fitting that Dubai’s trading hub started within Deira, and now The Palm trilogy will be completed there too,” says bin Sulayem.||**||