Pearl boss questions environmental impact of Nakheel projects

A TOP BOSS on the US$2.5 billion Pearl Qatar project has hit out at Nakheel’s Palm island developments, claiming they have a negative impact on the environment.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  May 15, 2005

A TOP BOSS on the US$2.5 billion Pearl Qatar project has hit out at Nakheel’s Palm island developments, claiming they have a negative impact on the environment. Talking at last week’s Arabian Travel Market, Nicholas Bashkiroff, The Pearl Qatar’s development director told Arabian Business: “It’s one thing to design a shape and superimpose it on a natural environment, but it’s another to look at the natural environment and define a shape from it as we have.” The Pearl Qatar, which is being undertaken by United Development Company, is a rediscovered island on a former pearl diving site. It utilises excavation and land reclamation techniques to a maximum depth of four metres. Nakheel’s Palm island projects, however involve reclamation of land from up to 18 metres, making the process much more complex. Nakheel has three Palm projects under way in the Jumeirah, Jebel Ali and Deira districts of Dubai. “The Pearl is an island that is effectively only around four metres deep in terms of the fill so it’s a lot different structurally than other projects that are substantially more complex with respect to how they are formed,” explained Bashkiroff. “If you look at the nature of the design of The Pearl it’s a very natural design and it creates a much more stable platform on which to work from. It all comes from doing a very thorough job in the beginning,” he added. Asked if he felt that The Pearl and Nakheel developments were similar, Bashkiroff said: “I take exception to the word ‘similar’.” The 985-acre man-made island is the largest real estate development in the country. As well as creating 30 kilometres of new coastline it is also the first to offer freehold and residential rights to international investors. Furthermore, customers will be able to design and build their own properties on the island. “You don’t have to buy an existing product that we have designed — you can design your own house subject to the design regulations that we have,” said Bashkiroff. “You can design your own home and then build it yourself if you like or you can purchase one that we have designed and build it yourself,” he added. The four-phase development, which will eventually house over 30,000 residents, comprises 10 districts to be developed over five years, with the first investors expected to take up residency in early 2007. “We’re 40% complete on our reclamation and it’s going very well,” said Bashkiroff. “We expect the construction of the first towers to start within two months so, all in all, I would say we’re doing very well. There are always incremental problems, but you just get over them and keep on going,” he added.

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