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Impressive portfolio of artificial islands

  • 20 million tourists in 2020
  • 2,300 hectares of new land
  • 11 kilometres breakwater

Dubai is aiming to attract 20 million visitors annually by 2020. This is a strategy to which Van Oord has been contributing since 2001 by building Palm Jumeirah, The World and many other artificial islands. The remarkable, world-renowned megaproject Palm Jumeirah was Van Oord’s first showpiece in Dubai. The Dubai Harbour project is Van Oord’s latest project and that will help to achieve Dubai’s target. 

Proud builder of the Palm

Project developer Nakheel wished to develop a world-class tourist venue in Dubai. It started with Palm Jumeirah, an artificial island in the shape of a palm tree, with businesses, hotels, villas and leisure facilities set along splendid beaches. In terms of size (700 ha of reclaimed land), concept and engineering, the palm-shaped island was the most ambitious project of all time. Palm Jumeirah consists of a 2 km trunk and 17 palm leaves that now feature luxury villas and private beaches. Van Oord has left its mark on the world with this megaproject.

Trusted partner

In recognition of its earlier achievement, Van Oord was also awarded the contract to construct The World, an archipelago of more than 300 artificial islands in the shape of a map of the world. The construction of two other artificial islands, Island 2 and Bluewaters Island, was carried out under a contract awarded by Meraas Development LLC. Both islands were linked to the mainland by a bridge and were completed in early 2014. The award of this contract is proof of the trust placed in us by our partners and clients in Dubai.

I’m proud to be part of the realisation of Dubai’s transformation. It’s fascinating to see how Dubai is moving forward with every new coastal development plan.

Area Manager Koen Sweers
Area Manager Koen Sweers

Bluewaters Island and Deira Islands

One of the most impressive projects, Bluewaters Island, is the home of several resorts and an amusement park. The biggest attraction is the impressive 210-metre-high Dubai Eye Ferris wheel. The environmental standards for turbidity, dust and noise were very strict during execution of this project. In 2015, Developer Nakheel appointed Van Oord to deliver the new waterfront at Deira Islands. The development included a 4-km stretch of waterfront, large enough to accommodate more than 500 yachts and boats.  This project was special to Van Oord because the company constructed Deira between 2005 and 2008. The scope of this assignment included building a 23.5-km coastline and breakwaters.


We had to use our Marine ingenuity to find a smart and solid solution. During the construction phase of these projects, environmental measures were taken by installing a silt screen and several buoys to conduct turbidity measurements. The working method was designed in such a sophisticated manner that the impact on the environment and on public areas was minimised.

Age van Zandbergen, Project Manager Van Oord

Dubai Harbour Masterplan

And the story continues. Just a stone's throw from Dubai's iconic Ain Dubai and Palm Jumeirah, the project involved reclaiming 60 hectares of additional land and constructing huge quay walls and a new marina in the azure blue water. Set to open in October 2020, Dubai Harbour is a unique and luxurious waterfront development that combines world-class maritime facilities with the most advanced cruise terminals and the largest marina in the region. All these new facilities will help the metropolis achieve its ambition of welcoming 20 million tourists in 2020, when the World Expo takes place in Dubai.

Complex project

The Dubai Harbour project was complex because of the various deliverables, such as land reclamation, quay wall construction and vibro-compaction. In terms of scheduling, the activities overlapped and were interdependent. With several subcontractors, 1,300 people working on the -site, interdependent activities and a strict completion date, Van Oord showcased project management at the highest level. Van Oord completed its work for the Dubai Harbour Masterplan in November 2019.

Additional information
  • Start date
  • End date
  • Location
    Dubai, UAE
  • Business Unit
  • Client
    Meraas Development LLC and Nakheel