A unique example of the exploitation of new land along coasts is the Palm Islands construction project on the coast of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. It uses hydraulic filling to create archipelagos of artificial islands, each of which, when viewed from the air, is shaped like a palm tree with a trunk and palm leaves. The purpose of land reclamation on coasts is normally to enlarge existing ports or to create industrial facilities or new residential property close to the water. Dubai is going considerably beyond the scale of normal enlargement, however. The construction of the Palm Islands will create entirely new island worlds for an especially well-heeled clientele.
One archipelago, The Palm Jumeirah, has already been completed with hotels and villas. The total area of the islands is 560 hectares, the equivalent of around 780 football pitches. Building work on the next archipelago, The Palm Jebel Ali, has not been realized as yet because the construction company got into financial difficulties during the 2009 economic crisis. When building will actually be completed is uncertain. Since 2001 the sand required for The Palm Jumeirah and The Palm Jebel Ali has been obtained from the Persian Gulf using hopper suction dredgers; these are special ships that suck sand from the floor of a water body and store it in large holds known as hopper tanks. The sand can then be pumped off the ship again through pipes. This is the technique used to build up the islands artificially by means of hydraulic filling.
fig. 2.17 > Luxury built on sand: The Palm Jumeirah off Dubai.