Van Oord’s first megaproject in Dubai was Palm Jumeirah, better known as Palm Island or just as the Palm. This is an island in the form of a palm tree and consists of about 700 ha of new land for which 110 million m³ of sand was used and which is protected by a circular breakwater about 11 km long. Van Oord completed the work four months ahead of schedule. In 2012 we began the regular maintenance of the Palm Jumeirah beaches and installing scour protection.
World-class tourist venue
The Dubai project developer Nakheel wanted to create a world-class tourist venue in the emirate. As part of a wider plan, Palm Jumeirah was launched, an artificial island with businesses, hotels, villas, and recreation facilities and splendid beaches. The concept, size and design of the palm-shaped island have made it the most ambitious project in the world so far. Palm Jumeirah consists of a 2 km trunk and 17 palm leaves where luxury villas and private beaches have been constructed. It is all protected by an 11 km semi-circular breakwater, which prevents erosion of the sand by the powerful currents and the strong Shamal wind in the Persian Gulf.
110 million m³ of sand
The design phase was followed by the construction work. Van Oord first worked under water, bringing the sand to the surface. Because the water was fairly shallow, the company could only use small trailing suction hopper dredgers and other light vessels. The work needed to be carried out very precisely because the complex design of the breakwater was the basis for the island’s layout. Van Oord therefore utilised a GPS system. An incredible quantity of sand was used: 110,000,000 m³. The breakwater and the palm leaves were constructed simultaneously. This was a complex operation because, while the breakwater was incomplete, the palm leaves were not completely protected against erosion. The slope of the palm leaf beaches was calculated very exactly.
Marvel of marine engineering
In the final design of Palm Jumeirah, there are openings in the surrounding breakwater and a number of canals through the trunk of the palm tree that allow the water to flow through properly. The Palm has become famous as a marvel of marine engineering. Because it is one of the few structures visible from space, it is sometimes called the Eighth Wonder of the World.
In recognition of this achievement, Van Oord has also been contracted to carry out various other work at Palm Jumeirah. In 2004, two additional kilometres of beach were created and some of the palm leaves were lengthened and widened so as to meet the great demand for holiday accommodation. Van Oord also received the contract to construct ‘The World’, an archipelago of more than 300 artificial islands in the shape of a map of the world. The World was completed in February 2008.