The developer of the artificial Palm islands is anxiously refuting satellite evidence suggesting that the sinking feeling in Dubai is more than a metaphor for drowning in debt. The surveyor’s report and a rising sea level are only compounding trouble for Dubai World, ironically symbolizing the declining fortunes of this celebrity mecca and heralded jewel of the Arabian gulf. For more on this, see the following article from Property Wire.
As it struggles to restructure billions of dollars of debt Dubai master developer Nakheel is now facing claims that its iconic Palm Jumeirah may be sinking into the sea.
The £12 billion man-made island which extends five kilometers into the Arabian Gulf and is popular with celebrities including footballer David Beckham, is sinking by an average of five millimeters a year and may flood in the future if ocean levels rise, according to European ground survey company Fugro NPA.
The claim has been furiously denied by Nakheel which has branded the information from remote sensing satellite techniques as inaccurate.
But Adam Thomas, InSar surveying project manager at Fugro said they stand by their measurements.
‘We’re seeing a number of locations where the ground is moving downwards.
In future, sea levels are predicted to rise and if this goes on then it could pose a flood risk,’ he explained.
NPA Satellite Mapping, which is owned by Fugro, carried out a speculative study on the Palm Jumeirah between 2003 and 2008 using technology that monitors the stability of engineered structures. Fugro is meeting a number of engineering companies in Dubai next week to discuss the study.
‘Speculative reports suggesting Palm Jumeirah is sinking and vulnerable to flooding are wholly inaccurate,’ Nakheel said in a statement.
‘The Palm is intact. If there were subsidence, even as little as 5mm, this would generate obvious physical manifestations including masonry cracking, leaking pipes, broken windows and so forth.
We have no evidence of that happening,’ said Shaun Lenehan, head of Nakheel’s environment department.
Although he admitted that the island has settled slightly since it was created in line with all artificially created land masses he said it was not sinking.
‘Claims suggesting Palm Jumeirah has sunk by 5mm, as detected by remote sensing satellite techniques, are not possible given that NASA’s laser altimeter satellites have an accuracy of only plus or minus 50 mm,’ he added
Dredged from the seabed of the Persian Gulf, the vast Palm Island project helped catapult Dubai into the ranks of the world’s most desirable locations.
Celebrities have bought villas on the island and it is also home to the Atlantis Hotel, a $1.5 billion resort which boasts an underwater aquarium, waterpark, and 1539 rooms including a $26,000-a-night suite.
The hotel, built by hospitality mogul Sol Kerzner, opened in November 2008 with a lavish party attended by a host of Hollywood stars including Robert De Niro and Charlie Theron.
The latest report about sinking will not help boost the developer’s fortunes.
It is part of the troubled Dubai Government controlled conglomerate Dubai World, has just posted losses of more than $3.6 billion for the first six months of 2009 and is due to repay a £3.52 million Islamic bond in the next few days.
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