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Dubai launches giant palm tree resort island

The Palm Island Dubai United Arab Emirates

Dubai has unveiled plans for a palm tree-shaped resort island on land reclaimed from the sea that will add 120 kilometres of sandy beaches and be visible from the moon.

"Palm Island" will include 2,000 villas, up to 40 luxury hotels, shopping complexes, cinemas and the Middle East's first marine park, said Sultan bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai Palm Developers.

The island will be built in the shape of 17 huge fronds surrounded by 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) of protective barrier reefs, extending five kilometres (three miles) into the sea south of Dubai city.

"The project has taken four years of methodical planning and exhaustive feasibility studies to ensure that the islands can be built without disrupting the environment," Sulayem said.

They will be accessible by 300-metre (990-feet) bridges from the mainland or boat to two marinas, while the main causeway will also have a monorail system.

The project will be built on 80 million cubic metres (2.8 billion cubic feet) of land dredged from the approach channel to the emirate's Jebel Ali port, an operation that will deepen the channel to 17 metres (56 feet).

Khalid bin Sulayem, head of Dubai's tourism board, said the project would elevate Dubai "from regional players to leaders in tourism development who focus on modernising and expanding tourism infrastructure to attract more tourists."

Property on the islands, expected to take up to four years to complete, will be for sale to foreigners as well as Emiratis. Sulayem did not put on a figure on the project cost.

A consultant with Palm Developers told AFP at Dubai's Arabian Travel Market that the contract for the project was expected to be awarded next week and construction take up to five years.
With its oil resources running out, Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has launched a multi-billion dollar tourism drive in an effort to establish itself as the Gulf's leisure hub.

The local Abdullah al-Futtaim Group last month launched Dubai Festival City, a project to develop a four-kilometre-long (2.5-mile-long) stretch of the emirate's southern creekside at a cost of 1.6 billion dollars.
And a 10-billion dollar project to build a new city called Dubai Marina is already well underway. It is to house 100,000 people around a huge water basin within a decade.

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