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Offshore reef set to make Dubai surf capital of Gulf

Artificial reef will increase height of breaking waves and promote growth of marine life

Dubai is set to become a surfer’s paradise with plans in place to build an offshore reef that will produce major breaking waves.

Construction Week has learned that contractors have already submitted bids to Dubai Municipality for the innovative project that is also being designed to encourage the growth of marine life off the Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim coastline.

The firms hoping to land the project are Waagner Biro Gulf and Overseas AST.

The massive reef will be constructed using more than 130 ‘geosynthetic’ containers and tubes that are filled with sand or stone and sunk to form a horseshoe shape on the seabed.

It will sit just below the low tide level and is designed to channel the flow of water and magnify the height of waves hitting the coast to up to 1.5 m.

“It is also very important that there aren’t any gaps or voids so that if surfers wipe out, they cannot be caught in a void,”
said Angus Jackson, principal coastal engineer at International Coastal Management, the project consultant.

The company built the first sand filled structure on Australia’s Gold Coast in 1985, which extended for 100 m and produced waves of up to 6 m in height.

The 73 000 m3 structure planned for Dubai is likely to
extend across 200 m and will be made up of containers that will be 25 m long and 3 m wide.

Trials undertaken so far have shown that the containers increase the number and diversity of marine fauna.

“It is really a multi-functional offshore reef that promotes marine life like algae and sea-grass. We have been conducting trials in the Arabian Gulf to see what grows on them,” added Jackson.

The plan is set to be unveiled later this month when the world’s leading marine engineers descend on Dubai for the Arabiancoast Conference.

This type of unit is increasingly being used as a replacement for rock and concrete because of the rising cost of these more traditional materials.

According to Jackson, it is becoming difficult in many parts of the world to obtain rock of adequate size and durability for coastal works.

A significant number of structures in the Australasian region have been constructed using sand-filled geosynthetic containers over the last 20 years.

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