Site visit: Dubai Trade Centre Zabeel Halls, UAE

Dubai World Trade Centre offers Neha Bhatia behind-the-scenes access to the 15,600-sqm extension of its Zabeel Halls

Site Visits, Construction, Dubai, Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates, Zabeel halls

Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) has been a permanent fixture throughout the Emirate’s rapid evolution into an international business hub. For years, the complex has been the first choice for countless trade show organisers due to its expansive facilities and convenient transport links. Work is now underway to further increase the landmark’s physical and corporate presence.

Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the organisation in charge of the project, is overseeing the expansion of DICEC’s Zabeel Halls, a project that involves the construction of three indoor exhibition spaces for the facility.

DWTC’s expansion plan was announced in April 2015, and the 15,600-sqm extension will take the development’s indoor event and exhibition capacity to 122,000 sqm.

The construction plan includes three halls, which will be known as Zabeel Halls 4, 5, and 6. Each will measure 72m x 72m, and boast 10m-tall ceilings. It will also be possible to decompartmentalise the spaces, opening them up to an elongated 216m x 72m hall. Conversely, one of the halls can be subdivided into six separate venues for smaller events.

The new halls will be linked to Zabeel Halls 1, 2, and 3 – which boast a cumulative span of 15,254 sqm – through link corridors designed for full retraction. They will be large enough to allow full vehicular movements.

These corridors can also be used to create additional exhibition space as a covered and air-conditioned walkway between both buildings.

A 350-space car park area is being developed concurrently with the extension. It will boast the flexibility to be transformed into a 6,000-sqm tented and temporary event area. DWTC expects the car park to allow a temporary structure to be erected for larger events, or for events that necessitate external space without a permanent structure.

As well as acting as the project’s main contractor, Khansaheb Civil Engineering is in charge of concrete-frame erection works at the site. Meanwhile, structural steel works are being carried out by Cleveland Bridge, and Tiger Profiles is taking care of roof installation operations.

Hadley Group’s steel framing capacities are being used for the external walls, and the external envelope is being prepared by Mathews Metal Manufacturing and European Aluminium and Glazing.

The opening of Zabeel Halls 4, 5, and 6 has been split into two phases: November 2015 will mark partial completion of the project, and full operation is slated for the first quarter of next year.

According to Amer Alfarsi, projects director for real estate at DWTC, the November 2015 opening will “include completion of the halls, link corridor, and sanitary facilities”.

“The new Zabeel Halls are subject to a meticulously planned, yet aggressive delivery schedule in order to achieve the November 2015 [target],” Alfarsi explains.

The facility’s substation is currently approaching completion, with roofing works underway alongside mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) operations, which are being carried out by Trans Gulf.

Twintec has been appointed to deploy the main hall’s floor slab, with Khansaheb Interiors due to work on internal fit-out works. External works are being conducted out by Belhasa Projects.

“The team has worked collaboratively through every stage of the project to allow the design to be [implemented] in line with tight procurement and delivery requirements,” Alfarsi says. “Planning is already underway for the project’s handover and commissioning strategy, both of which are critical to [achieving targets set for] the developments.”

The construction site is situated on a busy Dubai road, flanked on one side by Trade Centre Roundabout and on the other, by the Ruler’s Palace.

Darren Cook, contracts manager at Khansaheb’s construction division, tells Construction Week that due to meticulous preparation, the traffic situation has not posed any significant obstacles so far.

“Following careful planning with both DWTC and our supply chain, the location of the busy road has not had a significant effect on our works,” he says. “We will continue to monitor this through all stages of the project.”

Cook admits there is plenty of work to be completed at the site, but expresses confidence his team’s ability to meet the project’s demanding completion deadline.

“Works on site are progressing well, and although there is a lot of work to do, we are confident that this can be achieved in the given timespan,” he says.

“Jobs have been divided into sections for the necessary early completion by end of November 2015, and remaining activities to follow [thereafter]. This is driving the project’s phases and completion dates.”

Construction work has been continuous at the site, not only during religious holidays such as Ramadan and Eid, but also during exhibitions at DICEC’s existing facilities – the Maktoum Halls, Sheikh Saeed Halls, and Zabeel Halls 1, 2, and 3. Alfarsi explains how DWTC has managed these event and construction schedules.

“It has been crucial for Zabeel Halls’ expansion to progress without any disruptions to DWTC’s business,” he says. “We developed an efficient phasing strategy to deliver the works, particularly with external areas alongside continuing scheduled events. Frequent planning and phasing meetings were held in addition to close communications with all relevant authorities for necessary approvals and no-objection certificates.

The development is also carefully controlled to prevent construction activities from causing any disturbance to neighbouring active areas, and this will be maintained through to the completion of the projects,” Alfarsi adds.

Commenting on how religious and seasonal commitments impacted contracting works, Cook continues: “Ramadan, Eid, and the UAE’s midday break rule are always challenging times for site activities. During the midday break, we re-structure our working times to avoid working [between the banned hours]. This allows us to conform to the statutory requirements of Dubai Municipality while maintaining our desired production.

“With careful planning of our resources through Ramadan and Eid, we were able to maintain the desired production rates, while respecting the requirements of the holy days,” Cook adds.

The three new halls will comprise four meeting rooms, alongside individual VIP majlis spaces and organiser offices. The facilities will also feature services and amenities such as medical service zones and food and beverage outlets.

DWTC’s Alfarsi ends by outlining the original intention behind the Zabeel Halls expansion. He explains: “With the continued increase in demand for new shows, and [the] year-on-year scale up of strategic events within the DWTC calendar, the planned event space is expected to cater to the next few years of [our events and other] portfolios.

“This will [encourage] increases in Dubai’s business tourism traffic. The infrastructure expansion will also create greater product diversity within DWTC, specifically our ability to host more events concurrently; [factors that are the] key to fostering the growth of business tourism,” he concludes.

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