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Saudi's Lamar Towers

on Jul 26, 2008

Despite problems with excess water and pesky coral reefs making an unexpected appearance, the Lamar Towers project in Jeddah is on time, reports Shikha Mishra.

Saudi Arabia is shifting its focus towards the expansion of its non-oil economy, and is looking towards developing the manufacturing, communication and construction sectors.

Projects worth approximately US $300 billion (SAR1.124 billion) are being undertaken, nearly all of which have an element of construction in them. A report by BMI forecasts the Saudi construction industry to log an average growth of 5.20% over 2008-12.

Along Jeddah's shoreline, a number of projects and high-rise developments are being planned.

The growth of the country's construction industry is also sustained by the government's efforts to liberalise the economy.

Provision for total ownership of property and projects by foreign nationals, coupled with relaxation of taxation norms for foreign companies who are allowed to participate in the public procurement system, has ensured attractive capital flows into the nation.

As the principal gateway to Makkah and the commercial capital of the country, the construction industry is looking up in the city of Jeddah. A number of high-rise buildings are cropping up along the corniche and the Balad areas.

Developed by Cayan Investment and Development Company, Lamar Towers is one such project that once completed by March 2012 will change the city's skyline, as it is slated to be the tallest building in Jeddah.

"Saudi Arabia is doing exactly what is being done in Dubai, as the government has opened up the market for freehold developments. Along Jeddah's shoreline, a number of projects and high-rise developments are being planned," says Ahmad Kasem, development director, Cayan.

Dubai's influence is evident in the building's design as well; Lamar Tower's completed design looks suspiciously similar to Emirates Towers on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road. Or maybe that fact is purely co-incidental?

Lamar Towers sits on a plot of approximately 413,500m2, with the gross floor area of Tower 1 at approximately 84,000m2 with a height of 322m, while Tower 2 will be approximately 68,774m2 of gross floor area with a height of 293m.

Almost 100% of buildings in Jeddah's corniche area go up in a ramp, they have to be built on an embankment.

Currently, 96%-97% of the enabling work is complete, which on a building of Lamar's size is a very "large project."

The piling works on the towers and podium is underway, with the length of the foundation averaging about 40-47m.

Unexpected hiccups usually pop up during the construction process and while the dewatering testing for Lamar Towers was being done, a lot of water was found on the site due to the large growth of corals.

These corals went almost 10-12 m under the foundation of the building. Geotechnical experts were called in who recommended that the only solution was to make a grout blanket, which might add six-months of additional lead time to the project.

The water flooding is not unusual for the area, as excess water is a common problem for buildings along the Red Sea.

"Almost 100% of buildings in the area go up in a ramp, they have to be built on an embankment," he says.

The project has been split into five phases; the first is the structure phase which has been tendered; the MEP phase has been out to tender for the past few weeks and will be awarded soon.

Cayan is currently soliciting bids for facade phase; while the finishes packages is ready, but has not been sent out.

The USP of the project according to Kasem are the sea views.

"Everyone living or working in the building will be able to look out to the sea - all parts of the towers will have unobstructed sea views."

Despite the fact that the Saudi market is open for outside investment, only 3% of expats or foreigners are buying into the project.

"97% of buyers are Saudis," says Kasem.

Office space in Lamar Towers will sell for $2,100 (SAR8,000) m2 to $5,333 (SAR 20,000) m2; while residential space is priced at $3,200 (SAR 12,000) to $5,067 (SAR19,000) m2.


Total project cost: US $533 million (SAR2 billion)

Project management: Turner Arabia

Project consultants: Concept and schematic design: Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall;

Detail design development: Saudi Diyar Consultants

Enabling work contractor: Kasktas Arabia

Dewatering works, pipeline and anchor tests: Soil and Foundation Company

Geotechnical study: Al Jazzar Consulting