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Site visit: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

by Devina Divecha on Dec 29, 2012

Mohammed Santina is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's facilities manager from EFM.
Mohammed Santina is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque's facilities manager from EFM.
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It’s the first thing one sees when crossing any of the bridges that lead into the heart of the UAE’s capital: glowing white orbs and minarets rising from the horizon. It’s when you know you have arrived in Abu Dhabi.

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the vision of the UAE’s first president, HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, also referred to as the father of the nation.

The integrated facilities management of the project fell in the hands of Etisalat Facilities Management (EFM). It now has a 24/7 on-site team, headed by Mohammed Santina, the project’s facilities manager.

Santina says: “We started working with Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at a very early stage. Etisalat Facilities Management took the project on a consultancy basis, after the Grand Mosque committee asked us how to operate the site.”

He explains that the firm realised it was not a run-of-the-mill operation, but in actuality, a complicated set-up.

Santina says EFM offered the committee its full consultation, and advised on both hard and soft FM services, including aspects like security. This took place in mid-2010. In a few months, EFM won the contract for hard services including MEP and civil services, with the Grand Mosque committee deciding to take the soft services under its internal wing.

EFM now carries out maintenance of the AC systems, lighting systems, potable water, the drinking water in the fountains, control systems, the BMS, and of the CCTV system.

A strict operational regime is followed, says Santina. Daily meetings take place with the staff members, of whom there are 45 on-site, with specific instructions on how to carry out various activities.

“This facility is very critical. You need to educate your staff on how to work very carefully, because nearly everything in this mosque is irreplaceable. For example, if any marble is damaged, it is very difficult to replace it. Likewise with the chandeliers, carpets, and lighting systems.”

This is why EFM has worked on educating the staff members and its engineers on health and safety, and environmental policies that ensure the safety of the architectural wonder. It also meets regularly with the client to make sure all requirements are being taken care of. The health and safety plan is created specifically for the Grand Mosque because of the special needs of the site.

While Santina’s team is careful to carry out inspections in the mosque to identify any discrepancies, they also use a Building Management System (BMS) to monitor various assets of the project.

“We have the ability to monitor everything from the BMS. If there is any deficiency in any area, we can monitor it directly, for example if the cooling is deficient, or any equipment is not working properly.”

Inside the BMS room, EFM possesses separate systems for the fire alarms, the HVAC system and the lighting controls. Santina tells us proudly that the external lighting of the mosque changes according to the position of the moon, and was designed by lightning architects Jonathon Speirs and Major.

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