Dubai’s mega developmental projects, including several artificial islands complexes, are beginning to cause a number of environmental concerns.
The artificial islands, which when completed will contain large numbers of residential and commercial properties (including vacation resorts) are already having their effect on marine life in the Persian Gulf.
One particular project, The World, encompasses three palm shaped artificial islands which are nearing completion. Shaped to resemble a miniature of the world’s major land masses, the islands range in size from 5 to 20 acres (2 to 8 hectares), and many of the islands are only separated by 50 – 100 meters of water.
Notwithstanding the damage done during the actual construction process (when millions of tons of rock and other debris were used to create them) the man-made, unnatural islands are a serious threat to natural coral formations as well as beds of kelp and other sea weed where aquatic life would normally live and feed.
The construction process has literally buried many of these habitants under layers of silt, severely clouding the normally crystal clear Gulf waters.
Developers of the projects plan to construct a number of artificial reefs to attract marine life, including bringing a number of old ships and sinking them. While this method has proven to be successful in other places, many environmentalists fear that creating artificial sea beds will discourage native marine life and result in the introduction of foreign species that may take over and even be destructive.
Video of empty manmade islands
The Gulf’s coral reefs, especially in the area of the Emirate states, have been in a steady decline during the past 50 years, and were certainly not helped in the 1991 Gulf War, when millions of gallons of crude oil leaked into the waters when many Kuwaiti oil wells were set afire by departing Iraqi military forces.
The delicate eco-system of coral reefs, mangrove coastal areas and sea grass habitats, have been depleted by more than 35%. The Gulf’s sea water’s salinity has also increased, affecting sea life.
Island project promoters plan to import a number of dolphins from the Solomon Islands to add an extra attraction to the project’s marine leisure activities, which will include a special scuba diving park, Snorkler’s Cove, in which a 1 kilogram gold bar will be hidden daily as a “treasure” to be found by a lucky diver.
Gold bars, man-made islands, or dolphins, won’t help to preserve what’s left of the area’s marine life unless a more concerted effort by the UAE and other Persian countries is undertaken to save what’s left of the Persian’s Gulf’s ecosystem.
What’s worse, developers are planning to bring the idea to the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Lebanon, imperilling the health of aquatic systems closer to the western world.