Qatar just unveiled plans to build a massive artificial island off the coast of Doha with five floating hotels that will house up to 25,000 soccer fans for the World Cup in 2022. Developed by Barwa Real Estate, the island will join at least 13 other artificial islands planned for Doha’s shores. It will feature high-end villas, restaurants, stores, hotels and residential towers. But what will be the environmental cost of this $5.5 billion mega-development?
The two million-square-meter Onyx Island will comprise five temporary floating hotels and three permanent ones, an open air theater pavilion and a total of 234 villas. HOK and ABS Architects were commissioned to design the floating island in the shape of an Oryx-a white antelope indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. The island will accommodate up to 25,000 people and transport them to sport venues by electric vehicles, water taxis and ferries.
Various artificial island projects built around the world have deeply changed the natural environment and endangered the surrounding marine life. The Persian Gulf is one of the most grievously affected areas, with recent estimates of coral reefs habitat loss said to be around 35 percent. The Oryx Island project, one of the examples of ”instant urbanism”, could affect the region’s fragile marine life, water quality and general environmental conditions.