Technology requires the human touch
Technology is necessary but true innovation comes only from people says Khatib & Alami
Technology is necessary but not sufficient to meet the region’s engineering challenges – true innovation comes only from people.
That was the message to the Saint Gobain 350 conference from Dr Adel AnouJaoude of Lebanese engineering consultancy Khatib & Alami.
“All cities in the GCC are in a race to build megaprojects for water storage,” said Dr AnouJaoude.”And all those projects have specific challenges. We have at our disposal mathematical modelling tools, but they always lack the engineering sense and innovation that only comes from people.
“Computers never provide new solutions, they can only validate them.”
He added that it is very important for engineers to work with product suppliers. “They're leading the technical innovation. As engineers, our approach is to solicit them to share their R&D, and bring their technology to life.”
Dr AnouJaoude pointed to the role of compacted concrete, which has only been in existence for three decades. “That has allowed the construction of higher dams and mega reservoirs. No one would have dared to design those projects without it.”
He said that the Middle East was currently particularly attractive to engineers: “There is a very high density of megaprojects in the region, which is dictated by demographic growth and the scarcity of water. And Gulf countries have the means to invest in them.”
Three megaprojects in the Middle East
• Riyadh Water Master Plan - a series of "cathedral-like" reservoirs connected by 16 pumping stations and more than 1,000km of primary distribution lines to ensure flexibility and even distribution of the water system.
• Jannah Dam project in Lebanon, which involves the excavation of 60m of fluvial deposits and above ground construction of 105m. The arched concrete dam, due for completion in 2019, "will be the biggest structure in the Middle East”.
• Halabjah Water Supply System in Kurdistan, Iraq, designed to supply water to four cities. Involves channelling a river on a flood plain 10.5km away, and where the water level fluctuates from 0m to 35m, to ensure it doesn't meander away from the location of the intake site.