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The Palm projects are the latest transformation to what 40 years ago was the tiny Gulf port of Dubai into a major city.

Apart from wanting to transform once barren desert into greenery for its own sake, Dubai is concentrating on tourism, retail sales and leisure as the key to its future earnings, with a particular emphasis on the seriously rich end of the market.

The islands provide 120km of new coastline, more than doubling Dubai's beach space. Villas will sit along the 'fronds' of the Palm Islands, each with access to the water.

The 11km length of the crescent will have larger plots for hotels, apartment blocks and leisure facilities such as a diving centre.

The 'trunk' on Jumeirah will contain a 1.5km long canal water feature, a luxury shopping mall and a 2,000-room resort and water theme park.

Palm Jebel Ali is 40% larger than Jumeirah. Nakheel says surprisingly quick sale of the first island's plots last year led it to upsize the second project.

Jebel Ali is also to be less of a quiet retreat than Jumeirah with more of a 'theme park' feel to it. A ring-shape 'water village' of just over 1,000 houses-on-stilts sits in the 1,500m wide channel between the fronds and the 17km long crescent. There will also be more entertainment complexes, marinas and resorts.

And, of course, more shopping.

Mrs Beckham will be happy.

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