Under starter's orders

With horse racing one of the UAE's most popular sports, the redevelopment of Dubai's Meydan Racecourse is in the spotlight. Alison Luke finds out how MEP services will help to keep both horses and racing fans cool in future.

Douglas Small
Douglas Small

With horse racing one of the UAE's most popular sports, the redevelopment of Dubai's Meydan Racecourse is in the spotlight. Alison Luke finds out how MEP services will help to keep both horses and racing fans cool in future.

Simultaneously constructing a 270-room hotel, 65,000-seat grandstand, museum, boat house and two world-class race tracks on one site is no easy feat.

Add in a timescale of less than two years, an immoveable deadline and the need to preserve the current facilities during the majority of the construction period and the task facing the construction team at the Meydan Racecourse development in Dubai becomes clearer.

But despite these seemingly tough obstacles the project is now well underway and on target for completion in time for the 2010 racing season calendar.

With several different facilities to cater for, the design and installation of the MEP services for the project has taken special consideration, with efficiency, sustainability and the safety and security of the horses of prime importance.

Located at Nad Al Sheba, Dubai, the Meydan Racecourse will include a range of facilities when complete.

Badged as a horse racing city, the mixed-use real estate development will include the Dubai Racing Club offices, Meydan Museum and Gallery and a Banyan Tree Resort-managed hotel, in addition to a new grandstand, race tracks and associated facilities.

The project is being constructed alongside the existing racing facilities at Nad Al Sheba, which are scheduled for demolition following the 2009 racing season.

"[The project] is all new build...it's still in the same place, but we're reconfiguring the whole area with new race courses, a new training track and new stable areas," explains Meydan head of projects Douglas Small.

Structurally the facilities such as grandstand, hotel and museum will form one elongated building of around 1km in length, to the rear of this a 10,000 space multi-storey car park is being built.

This will enable direct access to the grandstand at several points along the rear, in order to increase efficiency of operation, while maintaining security levels.

Construction challenges

The construction of each area of the development is underway simultaneously, with some areas currently further advanced than others due both to project programming and their level of complexity.

With a completion date of March 2009, the hotel is due to be among the first facilities completed. Construction of this has currently reached the sixth floor of its final ten-story height. A single-bank design, it will have a full height atrium along the rear, with all guest rooms facing the racetrack.

Construction of the ten-storey grandstand has reached the second floor and is now expected to proceed more quickly.

After one more floor we'll be able to go up [in height] very quickly; the first three floors are very difficult [to install] as they have structurally massive beams that are about 20m-long," reports Small. "We should be able to finish all the structure on time if not ahead of time," he adds.

The first two floors of the grandstand will comprise mainly MEP services and back of house areas. However due to the fast-track construction program, work on the MEP services installation in some areas of the grandstand could not begin immediately.

We're now in the process of putting the ground floor slab in [which will enable MEP services to be installed here]," states Small.

The timing of the ground floor slab has been carried out in accordance with the design completion to ensure alterations would not be needed later in the construction process.

When it comes to the ground floor slab you must have the positions of all the services very accurate, otherwise you're going to have to start digging up two feet of concrete," Small explains.

MEP installations

Arabtec is acting as the main contractor on the project, having won the US $1.25 billion (AED4.6 billion) contract for the complete works in competitive tender. The MEP works have been tendered as separate packages covering the individual facilities within the project.

A number of different firms will thus carry out the works on the development. "We split the MEP as it's just too big for one company and we wanted to hedge our bets that if one started to fall behind then we could pull another one on to help them out," explains Small. "These are massive projects," he stresses.

The main plantroom for the project will be sited at ground floor level, with separate plantrooms serving each individual area of the project. In terms of electricity supply, a 132kV substation has been constructed on the perimeter of the project to provide the 75MW total connected load.

The high voltage supply will feed ten substations on the project, with 132kV cabling connecting to the transformer rooms via ring main units (RMU).

"We then have 11kV to 400V substations for each of the buildings and several risers to distribute throughout the site as the power needs differ by location," explains Meydan MEP manager Sanjeewa Alwis. A total of 70 transformers will be used for the project and distribution of power will be carried out by cabling, feeding local distribution boards throughout the site.

Air conditioning will be provided by a 25TR district cooling plant located within the development. "This will serve the complete project and there are different BTU meters at each entry point [for metering consumption]," explains Alwis.

The actual unit sits away from the building, there is a service tunnel that runs along the rear and serves the whole building," adds Small. This underground service tunnel provides a means of supply distribution, with tap-off points along its length as needed.

At a local level, air handling units will be located in all floors of the grandstand and hotel. This supply will be backed up with fan coil units in more isolated areas such as the hotel bedrooms and in certain areas within the grandstand to ensure an efficient fresh air supply.

Ozone generators will also be installed in the restaurants, gymnasium and health club to maintain air quality.

We have a separate standby cooling system for the royal enclosure, which includes a standby chiller and generator incase of mains failure," adds Alwis. This involves a 150TR supply, with the chilled water pump located in the central cooling plant compound.

Further standby generators will provide essential power to the main control rooms, track lighting, life safety systems, PABX/IT systems, building management system, control room air conditioning, plus all water pumps in the event of a mains failure.

An overall building management system (bms) will control the heating, ventilation, air conditioning installations, monitoring of plant such as pumps, irrigation, fire detection, lifts, water treatment systems, UPS systems and electrical panels.

The hotel will be operated under an independent bms. Both will operate on BACnet communications, with monitoring possible through Meydan's infrastructure network.

The race for sustainability

Although efficiency and safety of operation top the agenda, sustainability issues are also high on the list. "We're trying to be a little bit innovative and look at the sustainability of the building," stresses Small. Two of the areas being looked at in this regard are power and water use.

For example, a bank of photovoltaic (pv) panels is due to be installed on the car park roof to supplement the electricity supply. "This [pv system] will be enough to give us 20% of our electrical energy by way of solar power," explains Small.

This will [be used directly in] various elements of the building...to augment the mains power," he adds. The use of battery storage is being avoided due to the large floorspace that would be needed to make such a system functional. Much of this solar power is expected to be used within the hotel.

In order to minimise the power use for lights, all lighting in the front of house areas will be centrally controlled; car park lights will operate on timers and external lights will be controlled by both timers and photocells.

Design work is also underway to determine the possibility of further increasing the energy efficiency of the race track floodlighting.

Water conservation techniques are also vital due to the volumes that are expected to be consumed at the development. In terms of chilled water, the hotel and Dubai Racing Club have expected consumptions of 257,578 and 20,688 litres/day respectively.

The combined need from the grandstand and boathouse will be 435,552 litres/day.

Cold water supply to the three areas will be 95,088, 32,192 and 536,928 litres/day respectively and potable cold water use has been calculated as 49,536, 11,232 and 311,040 litres/day for the hotel, racing club, grandstand and boathouse combination respectively.

"There will be a lot of focus on the sustainability of water on this site because there is a lot of irrigation," stresses Small. "We're looking at a lot of grey water, so we want to do a lot of water management on the site.

I think that's probably more important than anything else and we've got specialists looking at that right now," he adds.

In order to protect the health of the horses, any use of recycled water throughout the site must be carefully controlled however, explains Small. "We've got to be very careful what we do near the horses, they are worth more than anything else," he stresses.

On your marks...

The final phase of the project is due for completion in the period between the 2009 and 2010 racing calendars. Following the 2009 Dubai World Cup the existing grandstand and temporary facilities must be demolished and the site cleared to enable the new race tracks to be completed.

So come November 2009, horse racing fans from across the region can sit back and enjoy their sport from an even better facility.


PROJECT: Meydan Racecourse, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai

Project manager: TEO A Khing Design

Consultants SDN BHD (Dubai branch)

Design consultant: TEO A Khing Design

Consultants SDN BHD (Dubai branch)

Main contractor: Arabtec - WCT JV

MEP consultant: CKR Consulting Engineers

Lighting consultant: CD+M Lighting

Design Group

MEP Contractors:

• Grandstand: KBK/CAN/Al Hani consortium

• Hotel: Trans Gulf Electro-Mechanical

• Boat house: KBK/CAN/Al Hani consortium

• Dubai Racing Club: Trans Gulf


• Central Cooling Plant: Drake & Scull

• Car parking: To be announced

• ELV package for entire project:

To be finalised

Lift contractor: Kone (Middle East)

Contract details

Project start dates

• Central cooling plant: 20 March 2008

• Grandstand, Boathouse, Dubai Racing Club: 22 December 2007

• Lifts and escalators: 22 December 2007

Contract completion dates

• Grandstand: 7 October 2009

• Hotel: 15 March 2009

• Boathouse: 7 October 2009

• Dubai Racing Club: 22 August 2009

• Hotel lifts and escalators: 15 March 2009

• Lifts and escalators (outwith hotel):

7 October 2009

• Central cooling plant: 5000TR by 28 February 2009; overall completion 30 April 2009


Hotel and Dubai Racing Club: US $60 million (AED221 million)

Grandstand and boathouse: US $110 million (AED405 million)

Central cooling plant: US $43 million

(AED158 million)

Lifts and escalators: US $12.8 million

(AED47 million)

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