Why Dubai Man-Made Islands Are Empty?

The opportunity to create an artificial coastline in Dubai was expected to grow significantly during the peak of the emirates’ real estate explosion at the beginning of 2000.

In just two decades, the government-owned construction company Nakheel Properties changed Dubai’s coastline dramatically.

The company’s initial idea was to create three artificial islands in the shape of palm trees: Palm Jumeirah, Palm Deira, and Palm Jebel Ali. These man-made islands are the largest artificial islands in the world.

These man-made island’s shape is currently reminiscent of the globe which are intended to be popular tourist destinations close to Dubai.

But ten years after they were finished, the islands are still uninhabited, and not much has been built there. Yet why?

The Present State of the Man-made Islands

To create these enormous man-made islands’, sand extracted from the gulf is dug up and redeposited.

The Palm Jumeirah was built using millions of cubic meters of excavated sand & regionally collected rock.

Dubai endured a flurry of urban expansion at the start of the twenty-first century, establishing the Arab Emirates as the centre of construction records.

The Palm Islands were the most dedicated project, and The World and The Universe archipelagos, which are now under construction.

  • Palm Islands are composed of the palms of Jumeirah, Jebel Ali, and Deira. They expanded Dubai’s coastline area by 320 km and each one is 5.6 km2, 8.4 km2, and 46.35 km2. Jebel Ali is still under construction and Jumeirah is the least developed of the three, Deira saw its first tourists in 2020.
  • A collection of 300 islands that make up The World. The 9.34 km2of its land has added 232 km of coastline. Despite having been started 17 years ago, the project has had the most difficulties and is still unfinished.
  • The Universe is the constellation that will be recreated, with construction expected to be finished between 2023 and 2028.
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A range of issues such as construction delays, nonpayment, debts, environmental impact, and some territories sinking back into the ocean are responsible for the island’s emptiness.

Regardless of all of these events that have put the project’s viability in jeopardy, its developer, Nakheel, isn’t giving up on it.

Reasons Why Dubai’s Man-made Islands Still Empty

There is a major drawback to the islands because you can’t drive to them from the mainland, and only a few of them are significantly sized and have hotels on them.

The developers set the prices too high, making them unaffordable.

Dubai’s man-made islands are empty due to its prohibitive expenses, inaccessibility, widespread environmental degradation, and killing off the inshore fishing all are the reasons of.

The Financial and Oil Crises

The first events that had a detrimental effect on the viability of this project were the 2008 economic and property crisis and the 2014 decline in oil prices.

It distilled down private investors withdrew, the developer endured million-dollar debts, and work was suspended without a definite start date.

During the first period of 2018, sales of brand-new developments in real estate fell by 46%.

The World project has been proposed to be revived by several real estate projects, with new investors planning to invest 3.2 billion dollars in luxurious housing and a hotel.

The World: In Jeopardy of Going Under Water

The marine company Penguin Marine, affiliated with The World, issued a warning that this collection of archipelagos was returning to the sea.

The company, which was in charge of providing logistics and transportation to the islands, took regular measurements for safety.

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The main cause was the slow return of the sand to its original location after it was dug up from the seabed to create the 300 archipelagos. The channels among the islands were blocked.

A picture taken in February 2010 from the International Space Station provided proof that the islands were beginning to disappear.

The Palm Jumeirah was also receding at a rate equal to five millimetres per year, based on data from NASA.

Early Erosion of the Building Content

The majority of the man-made islands are built on a sand and rock foundation.

The artificial islands were constructed using marine sand, which is more suitable for this sort of construction because it is more compact, even though Dubai is surrounded by desert.

Dubai’s shores lose 10,000 to 15,000 cubic meters of sand annually.

This rate of erosion has increased due to the tides as a result of the Palm Jumeirah Resort’s construction has altered the wind’s flow.

Over five years, marine sediment funds also moved 40 kilometres.

The marine biodiversity has been impacted by all the movement brought on by the construction, which has buried oyster beds and irreparably damaged the coral on the bottom of the water.

Escalating Sea Levels

In 2017, the Abu Dhabi environmental agency issued a warning about the effects of climate change, predicting that the worst-case scenario would result in a 9-meter rise in sea levels, which would be disastrous for Dubai and its man-made islands.

In the UAE, coastal regions are home to about 85% of the population.

The artificial modification of marine travel and the decline in marine currents are the immediate results.

Even the greatest hopes or the worst predictions are unlikely to be enough to overcome this barrier in the long run.

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Other Causes of Empty Man-made Islands

The Sheikh of Dubai started working on the World convey on the water in 2003.

In this project, 300 islands are used to create the influence of the Earth that would be the location of luxurious residences, hotels, resorts on the beach, and other unimaginable things.

In the World commercial, it was even referred to as the Land of Heaven. But why, even after a year since the building was finished, man-made islands are empty?

What precisely happened here? The following issues are predicted in Palm Jumeirah, the most popular of the three islands.

  • Sinking and two-meter-high waves
  • Frequency of yearly or biannual storms
  • Soil weakness brought on by prolonged exposure to the increasing ocean level
  • Water contamination

One of the biggest issues is erosion brought on by wind and water currents, which is removing the sand that makes up the majority of these man-made islands.

Deterioration of the marine ecosystem, and disruptions to the cycle of reproduction of fish species that were present near Dubai’s coastline.

With time, a new issue surfaced. The dry islets eventually succumbed to the tide.

It was found that erosion caused many of these islands to sink. But the public’s confidence was further shaken by the media coverage.


Numerous mega-projects created by humans are currently abandoned and in danger of collapsing due to environmental issues in Dubai.

Similarly to that, the process of erosion and liquefaction are the main problems with man-made islands.

Two decades after being widely publicized as the Emirate’s flagship urban development project, the narrative is very different from what those behind it would have anticipated.

Even with unfinished islands, and the sea recovering its land, Dubai is certain that its imagination will come true despite the delay.



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