Thursday, March 29, 2007


Umm Suqeim beach has been fenced off and is shortly to become another Dubai building site. From the tangled mass of steel reinforcement, piles of concrete blocks and miles of scaffold tube, a glittering edifice will emerge. Dubai already has plans for the biggest theme park and the tallest building to go along with the best[sic]; certainly the most starred hotel. It seems that the crossest residents is the latest aspiration.

In my opinion, the loss of the beach at the hands of developers is a side issue. Of much greater significance is the loss of beach because of Palm Jumeira.

Natural action of the sea moves sand along the coast generally from Jebel Ali towards Sharjah. The Palm provides an enormous barrier to longshore drift. As the prevailing current now has to go around the Palm it drops its load of silt and sand on the Jebel Ali side and picks up more along the Jumeira sea-front. The net effect is that a formerly gently sloping beach is disappearing, and not so slowly either.

The solution has been to dump desert sand on the beach to replenish that lost to erosion. Alas, dune sand is the Wrong Type of Sand and turns into ghastly sticky sludge the moment it gets wet. So the Municipality has to excavate sand from the south side of the Palm and transport it either by barge, or more likely by tipper truck, through the posh residential areas of Jumeira to dump it on the foreshore there. The sea-front residents must be delighted at the prospect of trucks, dozers and excavators regularly appearing on the beach from now until the end of time.

There is a longer-term solution. Build a glittering edifice (q.v.) on the beach and ensure that its beach is protected from erosion. Mixing cement with the sand to make a concrete sea wall is effective.

EDITED on 1st April to note that the glittering edifice appears to have been cancelled.

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