German efficiency in action

The German Business Park in Dubai Silicon Oasis aims to be the centre of the country's business operations in the UAE. Hugo Berger visited the site to get the low-down on the excavation and piling work.

(Valeriano Handumon/ITP)
(Valeriano Handumon/ITP)

The German Business Park in Dubai Silicon Oasis aims to be the centre of the country's business operations in the UAE. Hugo Berger visited the site to get the low-down on the excavation and piling work.

Constructing a new business park is challenging enough, but building one that will act as a hub for a nation's economic interests in a region is even more so.

Contractor Zublin has lived up to its reputation during its numerous projects across the world.

We are not experiencing the kind of problems that other companies have with shortage of labour. It is just the concrete shortage. It is very frustrating

But Marco Vogel, project manager, says factors beyond his control at the firm's current job are thoroughly testing the workforce.

The German-based contractor is carrying out the excavation and piling work on the German Business Park at Dubai Silicon Oasis.

The company has been given six months to excavate 380,000m3 of earth and put in 573 28m piles for the building's retaining wall.

But Marco Vogel, project manager, Zublin, says problems with supplies were delaying the project.

He says: "We are facing big problems with obtaining concrete."

"The supply is very poor. We are in a position to make 12 to 15 piles a day, but we only have the concrete for four piles."

"We need 12 - 14m3 of concrete for a pile, depending on whether it is a male or female pile."

"Because of this we are just having to go slowly. I arranged a meeting with our supplier and asked them for a better concrete supply."

"They say they cannot get the cement, so we just have to accept it and hope it will get better."

Despite the lack of concrete, Vogel says Zublin was not suffering from the dilemmas which other firms in the area were suffering from.

He says: "We are not experiencing the kind of problems that other companies have with shortage of labour."

"It is just the concrete shortage. It is very frustrating as we are preparing everything, then one supplier is not giving us the right amount."

Zublin is a firm based in Stuttgart that has been in existence for more than 100 years.

In other parts of the globe it works in all areas of the construction process, from civil engineering to bridge construction.

In the UAE, the firm specialises in groundwork engineering.

Among the projects it has worked on are Torch Tower in the Dubai Marina, bridges in Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi and the Novotel, next to Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.


The job at the German Business Park is one of the largest it has undertaken in the UAE.

Vogel says: "It is a huge quantity of excavation, about 380,000m3, that is two or three times bigger than an average one.

"For comparison, the Novotel was 60,0000m3 and that is quite large."

The piling work is being carried out by about 40 workers, two drilling rigs, two cranes and one shovel loader.

The female piles - those which are not reinforced with steel rebar - are put in first.

Then the male reinforced piles are placed in between.

The piles are 920mm in diameter and 750mm apart, meaning that 170mm has to be cut away. Because the water level is just 0.5m below the excavation level, 18 wells are needed for dewatering.

Vogel says: "The infrastructure is mostly in place and the roads are all here."

"But there is no storm water channel as yet, where we can put all the water we pump out of the site."

"We are pumping it into a lagoon, and then it goes down into the ground water and then has to be pumped out again."

"We have 19 wells to pump the water into the lagoon."

"But as there is no storm water channel the water always comes back."

Despite the lack of storm drain, Vogel says the remote location of Dubai Silicon Oasis was also an advantage.

"It is actually a benefit that this construction site is not too congested and away from the busy centre of Dubai," he says.

"We can avoid the traffic, we don't have restrictions regarding excavation and deliveries, and we can go whenever we want."

And why are German companies proving so successful in the UAE's construction industry.

"German companies are doing so well over here because we have good quality and we do the work on time," he says.

"We have well educated staff. We always have support from back in Germany so if there are problems with the job we can just call up Stuttgart."

"If I face a problem I just call them on the mobile."

When finished, Dubai Silicon Oasis aims to be a world renowned research and development centre for the micro-electronics and semi-conductor industry.

As with many major schemes, the current issues of material and labour shortages mean the scheme will face huge challenges to be complete in time.

German companies, because of their high-standing in the region, will inevitably play a part in overcoming these logistical difficulties.

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