Anyone preparing to sail into the Persian Gulf in the near future will probably want to update their charts for the area around Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
The first of two man-made islands is being constructed on the coast of that Emirate in a plan to expand tourism and diversify what had previously been a traditional oil-based economy. His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and chairman of the Dubai Department of Tourism, introduced the Palm Islands project to the media in May of 2001.
Part of the first island’s breakwater reached the surface in December and, when completed, nearly 100 million cubic meters of rock and sand will have been dumped on the sea floor in what some may see as a nautical version of the Biblical Tower of Babel: with tourism dollars, not Heaven, as the ultimate construction goal.
The islands will be shaped like date palms — easily recognized symbols of the Gulf region. Each palm island will be approximately 7 miles in circumference and consist of a central trunk with 17 fronds to maximize shore frontage. Luxury villas, hotels and apartments will be built, as well as shopping centers and theme parks. A monorail service will connect the islands’ special attractions. Each island will also have two marinas capable of accommodating 300-plus yachts.
Although the project will be clearly visible from the moon, there are no plans at present to incorporate a landing site for intergalactic tourists.
For more information — and a computer-generated image of a proposed palm island — visit http://www.uae-ypages.com/html/whats_new.htm.