WALES could have its own offshore "Daffodil Island" to match Dubai's spectacular Palm Island.
The suggestion of a daffodil shaped island has come from one of Wales's top academics, Professor Richard B Davies, the Vice Chancellor of Swansea University.
Prof Davies says a man-made island in Swansea Bay connected by a causeway road could be the answer to the seafront university's crippling lack of space.
The problem has become so acute consultants hired to look into the problem last year even suggested the university should consider moving to another site such as Llanelli.
But speaking to the Swansea University Student Union newspaper Waterfront, Professor Davies has said a move away from the existing Swansea Bay-side campus was "highly unlikely".
He said instead the university had to "think outside the box" and he suggested an island in the bay in the shape of a daffodil or a leek on which to house the growing university's ambitious plans for the future.
Prof Davies said, "It would really put Swansea on the map.
"People would come from all over the world to see it, although I am not sure Swansea is ready for such an innovative idea."
The Palm-Jumeirah development in Dubai is a leisure and housing development which has been reclaimed from the sea and which is the self-proclaimed eighth wonder of the world.
Hypothetically visible from the moon with the naked eye it consists of a huge central "trunk" featuring water parks, pools, restaurants, jewellery shops and retail malls and 5km long "branches".
World famous stars such as singers Elton John and Kylie Minogue, footballer David Beckham and Formula One champion Ralf Schumacher bought apartments there long before they were built.
Some of the apartments will face Dubai's sandy coast while others will be surrounded by the sea off Dubai.
The palm is linked to the mainland by a bridge and each section of the island is linked by causeways.
It will be built on 80m cubic metres of sand and aggregate dredged from the approach to United Arab Emirates' Jebel Ali port.
In total there will be three palm islands with the first due for completion this year.
And to complete Dubai's drive to be the world's most upmarket tourism and residential region, a series of further artificial islands in the shape of a "mini world" is being built, with each section in the geographical shape of a country.
Swansea Council leader Chris Holley said yesterday the idea of a daffodil shaped idea was a "visionary idea".
He added, though, "We have to take into account the differences between Swansea and Dubai such as the tidal patterns.
"But if a planning application was to be submitted it would be considered on its merits."
Port Talbot-born Prof Davies says of the possibility of the university moving from its present site, "Realistically there is no chance of the university moving to Llanelli.
"We are not sure what is going to happen but there are all sorts of possibilities. Personally I think Swansea has the best located university in Britain, we need to think outside the box and I am open to all suggestions."
Yesterday, Swansea Liberal Democrat councillor Rene Kinzett who represents Mayals close to the university site, said, "Swansea Council is open to all innovative ideas. We are working extremely hard to help solve the university's problems with lack of space and are involved in ongoing discussions. But the solutions we come up with have to be practical and I just cannot think the return on what would be a huge capital outlay to establish such an artificial island off Swansea would pay.
"In the United Arab Emirates there is money to burn, I believe they have 75% of the world's cranes working on their spectacular building projects. Unfortunately we do not have the same capital to work with here."
The need to grow
Last year Actium Consult, which was brought in by Swansea University to examine lack of space problems at the campus, made three suggestions.
They included moving to an alternative site such as Delta Lakes in Llanelli or Felindre on the outskirts of Swansea.
The other suggestions involved redeveloping Fulton House in the centre of the campus or redeveloping a site between Fulton House and Singleton Park.
It is understood discussions between Swansea Council and the university have involved the possibility of high rise "skyscrapers" being developed on the campus to house new laboratories and research centres.
The university says it has to expand to capture research grants.
But any move to high rise blocks at the campus is likely to be highly unpopular with residents of Sketty and other areas in the hinterland of the university which currently enjoy sea views.
Professor Davies says the change of chief executive at Swansea City and County Council has caused delays but he hopes to have an agreement with the council about expansion plans by the end of this year.