Palm Island: Dubai's Worst Kept Secret

Anyone involved in the Palm Island Project was told to keep the Project a secret prior to Sheikh Mohammed's formal announcement. Even Government Departments such Dubai Municipality and Dubai Electricity Company were apparently unaware of the Palm Island Project and the Island needs for pwer, water and utlities in the near future. However everyone in Dubai seemed to have heard something about the Palm Island Project but with no visible signs of the offshore construction, only a few really knew what was really happening.

Dinner on Palm Island

In 2001, Palm Island Project did not officially exist!! It was a State Secret – almost.

A Colleague’s decision to retire and return home after spending several years working in Dubai was not a secret! During that time he and “our Boss” became close friends so it was not surprising “our Boss” wanted to do something special for his friend’s farewell to Dubai. Invitations to “The Farewell” told Invitees to be at Mina Seyahi at 5pm on the day - and no later. All arrived on time to find a fleet of small boats awaiting their arrival. They were shepherded onto these boats in small groups. The boats set off, one by one, out of Mina Seyahi and towards the horizon with right of the Invitees being sure where they were going. After some 45 minutes chugging across a flat calm sea, a small island came into view lit by floodlights. It was the first piece of Palm Island to appear above sea level. Closer we could see the “island” was small, perhaps the size of a tennis court. A temporary landing jetty had been built so each boat went alongside and landed its passengers.

Once ashore on this tiny new piece of Dubai we saw not barren rock but an area with Arab Tents, dining tables laid out with white tablecloths and candelabra, a bar and immaculately dressed waiters ready to serve the guests. All these amenities had been brought by small boats to this new island during the course of the day in preparation for this unique event. Guests were served drinks then dinner – prepared food had been brought from ashore – others food was cooked on barbeques shipped out to the island. After dinner guests relaxed in soft chairs set inside the tents and looked shorewards to Dubai's glowing Skyline until it was time to reboard the small boats and return to Mina Seyahi.

A magical evening, not to be forgotten and never to be repeated.

Len Chapman

PS: "Our Boss" was in charge of the Palm Island Project! That was a secret too!! Well almost.

How Palm Island was designed

Watch Palm Island being built here

Palm Island Photographs you cannot see