Dubai Pearl demolition begins; residents report tremors

The National Centre of Meteorology denied reports about an earthquake in the UAE so far



By Sahim Salim, Lamya Tawfik and Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Mon 23 Jan 2023, 12:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Jan 2023, 9:34 PM

​Dubai Pearl, a 22-million-sqft mixed use project, is being demolished. Social media users posted images of smoke rising from the site on Monday morning.

Featuring four towers of 73 storeys connected at the top by a ‘sky palace’, the project was to comprise “premium branded residences, world class hotels and entertainment facilities”.

Some residents said they felt tremors from the demolition. The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) denied reports about an earthquake in the UAE so far.

Sarah Alansary, who lives in the Dubai Marina, felt the tremors. "I live on the 20th floor, so I felt it (tremors) strongly. I was sitting on the couch with my mum and it felt like an earthquake, but lasted only for a few seconds. I looked out of the window and saw this:

Credit: Sarah Alansary
Credit: Sarah Alansary

“I didn't know what it was, but now I know about the building being demolished."

Mohammed Anshah, who works in Dubai Media City, felt his chair move for a few seconds. “Colleagues on the entire floor felt it and we all stopped working. We thought it was an earthquake. But when we looked out of the window, we saw the cloud of dust rising from the Dubai Pearl site.”

Another resident who works in Dubai Media City, Arfaz Iqbal, felt the tremors, too. “Suddenly, I felt the chair rolling around,” he said. “I looked up at my colleagues and we all started asking each other if they felt it. Everyone had felt it. I immediately called my family in other parts of Dubai, but none of them felt anything.”

Nashwa Elleithy, who lives in the Greens, said she felt the ground shaking. “The lights were not moving and I didn’t hear any sound coming from the walls. I witnessed the earthquake in Egypt in 1992 and back then, I heard a cracking sound coming from the walls, but here I only felt the whole building shake. It lasted only for a few seconds.”

Social media was abuzz with comments from Dubai residents about having felt the tremors. A Twitter post asking if anyone else felt the quake received several responses, with one user saying it was “strong”. Another said she felt the tremors in the Marina area.

Overlooking the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Pearl was to be a “fully integrated, sustainable city”, according to the project’s website. Once completed, it was to house 30,000 people.

It’s not immediately clear what will happen to the site.

A Canada-based architectural design and intellectual property licensor had proposed building a Moon-shaped resort at the site. Michael Henderson, one of the two entrepreneurs behind the concept, put the construction budget at $5 billion. If sanctioned, Moon Dubai “will welcome at least 10 million annual visitations”, the co-founder of Moon World Resorts Inc had told Khaleej Times.

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