Is Man Playing God ???? The Palm Islands in front of the coast of Dubai are awe inspiring feats of marine engineering and construction and have been proclaimed the eighth wonder of the world. The Islands when completed at great cost, ingenuity and amazing perseverance would be a sight to behold and would be the envy of the world. But why are the Arabs creating land out at sea at such frenetic speed? The answer lies in the economics of the region. The United Arab Emirates, a small group of seven desert nations, is fast running out of oil, the fossil fuel that runs the world. Other than oil, tourism is the most happening thing in the UAE, being a playground of sorts to the surrounding Arab states and for the Europeans looking for something exotic. The Palm Islands will cater to this pressing need. There will be three Palm Islands, the Palm Jumeriah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira Corniche. The palms are being built in the shape of a date palm tree, with a trunk and a crown with seventeen fronds. The palm is surrounded by a crescent dam, which forms the breakwater protecting the palm from nature’s fury. Palm Jumeirah, which was completed in 2004, is visible to the naked eye from the moon. The island is primarily a retreat and residential area for living, relaxation and leisure. It has all types of hotels, thousands of beautiful villas and seaside apartments. Palm Jebel Ali will be more of an entertainment destination, housing six marinas. Palm Deira will be the largest of the three, 14 KM long and 8, 5 KM wide. It will have 41 fronds and contain 8000 villas and town houses. The first two islands will each have taken up 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand to build. Together the first two islands add 120 KM to Dubai’s shoreline. The three islands will be the largest man made islands in the world when fully completed. Another mega project coming up off the Dubai coast is the ‘World’. The World is an archipelago of over 300 artificial islands that forms a map of the continents four kilometres off the coast of Dubai. The configuration measures seven by nine kilometres and is protected by a breakwater 25 kilometres in length, the longest ever constructed. The contract was the largest ever awarded to a single dredging company (Vanoord-Holland). Preparation for the project began in August 2003 and when The World is complete, expected to be by the end of 2007, VanOord would have dredged and transported 32,000,000 tons of rock to build the breakwater and dredged 325,000,000 cubic metres of sand to construct the islands.
In the first stage of the construction, sand was deposited to a height of ten metres below sea level to lay the foundation of the continents on the seabed. Medium-size dredger’s (A Dredger is a specialized ship used in Marine construction) then raised the height to minus seven metres, and smaller vessels brought the height to minus five metres. Larger trailer suction hopper dredgers employ the rain bowing technique to bring the sand up to sea level, and in the latter stages cutter suction dredgers will shape the individual islands to three metres above the sea. This land will be used for housing, entertainment and offices. Real estate at the ‘world’ will not be sold in lots but a buyer must be able to afford an entire island, which calls for very big bucks. Dredgers are highly capital intensive and the logistics and planning required to execute such engineering projects are enormous. A dredger is capable of picking up sand from 110 meters below sea level, transporting the sand to the required area and dumping it precisely. All these operations are guided by a Satellite deferential Global Positioning System or GPS, which allow the dredger to operate with an accuracy of less than half a meter on the high seas. There is always a worry that the islands would be lashed by storms or tsunamis causing them to disintegrate. However after detailed studies, meteorologists and experts in ocean engineering feel that the Dubai coastis one of the safest areas as far as storms and Tsunamis go. However the question will always persist, is man playing god? Decide for yourself. Capt. Arakalgud Nagaraj. Bangalore. 9448142553.