Goals And Ambitions
By the end of the 20th century, Dubai prioritised ending its dependency on oil as it is a non-renewable resource and turned to the tourism sector to diversify its economy.
During this time the country had a cent per cent reliance on crude oil but now it's merely 3% of Dubai's GDP. But now Dubai needed more stuff to attract people and by far the beaches topped the tourist lists.
But Dubai only had a 70 km coast and in comparison to the number of tourists, it was astonishingly low. Hence during the time of its industrial boom, Nakheel Real Estate owned by the government of Dubai came up with a series of ambitious plans, one of which was called the "Land of Paradise".
Nakheel planned the development of 3 palm-shaped islands near the coast of Dubai - Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira.
When seen from space they would appear like a giant Palm on the sea and would contain luxurious living spaces, resorts and hotels. Along with these two other multibillion-dollar projects, The World and The Universe were planned.
The World would contain about 300 islands in the shape of different countries and would be named after them. The Universe would also contain similar islands in the shape of the sun, moon, planets of the solar system, Milky Way et cetera.
There would be an additional island, called the Dubai Waterfront in the shape of the crescent and a star, a revered symbol of Islam to protect these islands from excessive water pressure.
Setting The Ship To Sail
Palm Jumeirah, the smallest in size, was developed first by dredging sand from the gulf area and dumping it in the desired spot of the ocean.
It added a massive 65% sealine to Dubai's minor 70km. It started gaining fame even before its completion and bolstered by this the Sheikh immediately sanctioned the construction of all the other projects.
The engineers then moved to Palm Jebel Ali and The World projects. About 60% of the islands of The World were sold before its completion in 2008.
The smaller islands were sold for 15 million dollars while the bigger ones for more than 50 million dollars depending upon the representative country and competition.
The cost of construction of The World, also dubbed as the land of Paradise, was such that Dubai could have built 9 buildings like the Burj Khalifa or 14 seven starred hotels like Burj Al Arab with it.
But construction could not be started here due to the international financial crisis of 2011. The property prices in Dubai dropped steeply and all work had to be stopped. The government planned to restart it once the crisis was over but with the wait, new problems came to light.
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Dealing With Rough Waters
The main disappointment for people who had prepaid for their island was the difference in shape after the completion of the project.
The islands did not have the definition which everyone expected. But the variance in design was just the tip of the iceberg.
By this time the permanent residents of Palm Jumeirah started facing the issue of poor water quality due to stagnation of water.
This deterred people from buying property in The World. Smaller internal channels clogged up gradually, further aggravating the issue.
But the last nail in the coffin was the slow sinking of islands back into the ocean. Global media covered this news in detail and all potential buyers were concerned.
Even though the real estate prices in the rest of Dubai recovered after the crisis, this island project never stood up again.
When research teams were sent to suggest solutions to save these islands, they pointed out yet another problem which made this project far from salvageable.
The sand dredging process displaced sediments and led to the erosion of the coast of Dubai.
The government, realising its mistake, immediately stopped these projects.
The islands were abandoned and some investors of the Jebel Ali had to be refunded.
Finally, the sea claimed what belonged to it and the empty islands of the land of paradise now serve as a lesson for mankind not to mess with the course of nature.