The launch of the Palm Jumeirah project coincided with the Dubai government’s 2001 decree to allow non-UAE nationals to buy freehold property in designated areas, kickstarting the emirate’s construction boom.

The artificial island, developed by state-backed, Nakheel, includes a main trunk, 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent. Construction began in 2001, with the marine works conducted by Greece’s Archirodon and the Netherlands’ Van Oord. This was followed by work on the tunnel to connect the main island to the crescent, the award for the Atlantis hotel and the construction of the infrastructure and residences that line the main trunk and many of the fronds.

The first residents moved into their homes in 2007. In November 2008, the Atlantis hotel staged the most expensive launch party ever seen. The star-studded event cost an estimated $20m. However, it was held just as the global financial crisis was beginning to bite and within weeks, rumours were circulating that Nakheel had cancelled plans for two, much larger palm-shaped islands: Palm Deira and Palm Jebel Ali.

Nakheel is continuing to develop the Palm Jumeirah. Construction is nearing completion on a major shopping mall and this year, the developer is due to award a $380m contract to build the Palm Gateway, located onshore next to the bridge connecting to the island.