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Sat 28 Jan 2006 04:00 AM

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Shifting sands see costs escalate on Palm Deira

World’s biggest reclamation project is raised higher and changes direction, away from Sharjah

The Palm Deira has been hit by a series of design changes, which will see it change direction and increase in height — adding massive costs to the world’s largest reclamation project.

The US $3 billion (AED11 billion) offshore island has been at the centre of controversy in recent weeks, following press reports that the project had been put on hold.

Nakheel has repeatedly denied the reports, but it has now emerged that the developer has been forced to change the original designs so that the island points further to the west and does not protrude into Sharjah’s territorial waters. It follows protests made by the neighbouring emirate.

The wave design height of the structure has also been raised by half a metre — a move which will massively increase the amount of offshore sand required to build the 18 km-long island.

“The island has been moved by a couple of degrees from its original designs because of objections from Sharjah, and the height of the island has been increased,” said a project insider.

“We are pumping higher than before — we have to raise the whole sand line. We now go to 5.25 m — before it was 4.75 m.”

It has also emerged that the developer is still studying options to ensure adequate circulation of water and prevent the stagnation of water in between the fronds of the Palm.

On the Palm Jumeirah project, Nakheel cut extra inlets into the breakwater which surrounds the island, after it emerged that the original designs did not allow for adequate water circulation between the fronds.

The number of inlets on the breakwater of the Palm Deira has been increased further, but because there are 40 fronds on Palm Deira, compared to just 16 on Palm Jumeirah, this may not be enough to ensure adequate circulation of water.

As a result, Nakheel may include a system of locks traversing the trunk of the island allowing seawater to travel through them.

Both Van Oord and Nakheel insist that the reclamation of the project has not been delayed and will be completed by the end of 2013.

“You read different things in the newspapers, but the reclamation of Palm Deira, including Deira Corniche and all rock placement works will take eight years,” said Van Oord director, Jan Schaart.

“With respect to the reclamation; as far as we are concerned and having looked into the capacity of vessels and the availability of vessels, we believe it is possible to do it in eight years.”

Palm Deira will be 18 km long, 9 km wide and its surface will measure 4000 ha. Construction will involve 1 billion m3 of sand and 40 million tonnes of rock.

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