The coastal projects are raising major issues concerning sea level and the possibility of flooding from storm surges and high tides, according to industry experts.

“Other parts of the world co-operate in exchanging information about the impact of development on waterways, but there is nothing yet in place in the Gulf,” said Jesper Damgaard, managing director for the Middle East at Cowi, a Danish engineering firm.

The lack of cooperation is leading to higher costs, added Amanda Robertson, environmental function leader at Hyder Consulting.

“There is a need for integrated assessment to work out the cumulative effects of similar developments,” she said. “There is no integration between developers who face the same type of issues. The unavailability of data in the region makes environmental impact assessments more expensive.”

Other issues included the impact on water flows in the Gulf due to major projects such as the Palm Jebel Ali, which is planned to have a resident population of 300,000 people and is due to open at the end of 2011.