Aldar Academy on track for June finish, says Wates

Co-contractor on AED 150m Al Bateen school says interior work underway

Aldar Academy is on target, says Wates' Kennedy.
Aldar Academy is on target, says Wates' Kennedy.

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Wates Construction International and Al Fara’a Integrated Construction Group are closing in on a summer completion of the Aldar Academy in Abu Dhabi, seven months after winning the contract that continued their joint venture, according to an executive.

The two companies, from the UK and the UAE respectively, won the AED 150 million one-year contract last July to build the elite academy in Al Bateen having forged a relationship in 2008.

“It’s heading towards target,” Matthew Kennedy, regional managing director for the Middle East at Wates Construction International, said of the June deadline for the project.

“The internal finishes are being done; the curtain wall around the interior is being done. It indeed has a very unusual shape with the circular building in the middle. We’re very well on target to finish in June and the client has been happy with the work. The key element of the work has been quality.”

Wates and Al Fara’a came into contact with each other following a requirement from the Abu Dhabi government that certain projects required an international joint venture. Al Fara’a – an Abu Dhabi company whose group contains a number of construction related businesses, including Unibeton Ready Mix – sought out an international contractor with which to work and Wates, which has completed a number of schools and other projects in its native UK, fitted the bill.

“We started the dialogue two-and-a-half years back and within 18 months we had ‘signed off’ the joint venture,” Chimanlal Gangaramani, vice chairman of Al Fara’a Integrated Construction Group, told CW in September in an interview.

Kennedy told the magazine this morning that the Abu Dhabi market is “quite flat” at present, though the company is awaiting the decision for a number of projects in the emirates in which the company has show interest, including a prison project. Wates has completed custodial projects in the UK.

The other business lines in building materials within the Al Fara’a Group have to an extent helped the construction process of the Aldar Academy, he said, though added that the company has had to remain neutral over materials supply. “We’re still trying to ensure there is market competitiveness,” he said, “but, yes, it does help to have vertical integration.”

The first contract the joint companies won last year, an AED 65 million to demolish and rebuild the British school in Al Khubairet in the heart of the city.

Kennedy added that Wates was considering projects outside Abu Dhabi, though added that it is following the company’s initial plan to establish itself in the city first with projects such as the current two.

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