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Site visit: Jewel of the Creek, Dubai

Dubai International Real Estate’s $1.1bn Jewel of the Creek indicates a modern return to the heart of Deira, where it all began for the Emirate four decades ago

3,000 workers are currently involved in various on-site jobs for Jewel of the Creek.
3,000 workers are currently involved in various on-site jobs for Jewel of the Creek.

Dubai’s transition from a port city to a tourist hub is a globally-known tale. However, the most telling story about the city’s rise is told through its architectural landmarks, and the developers of Jewel of the Creek are confident their project will carry forward the legacy of Dubai’s achievements.

The $1.1bn (AED4bn) waterfront development, under construction in Dubai’s Port Saeed area, is being managed by Roda Hotels, a part of the client company Dubai International Real Estate. Project planning commenced in 2006, when initial phases, such as basement areas, were developed. These plans were put on hold during the global economic meltdown of 2008/9, until they resurfaced four years ago.

It was then that the project was divided into two phases, with work on its island and mainland components being split across Package 8 and Package 9 respectively.

Package 8 was the first of the two to be released and tendered, where work is currently being carried out by Habtoor Leighton Group. The contractor is providing cladded and shell and core structures for the island component of the project, which is situated between Dubai’s Al Maktoum Bridge and Floating Bridge. A fixed-price tender process was employed to award the $395m (AED1.45bn) deal in July 2014.

The contract’s scope comprises five hospitality buildings ranging between 15 and 19 floors, featuring a hotel and serviced-apartment buildings; a marina and marina building; four footbridges and one vehicular bridge; and hard and soft landscaping works. Package 8’s completion is slated for August 2017.

Robert Hawkins, corporate vice president for technical services at Roda Hotels, outlines what each structure on the island will become.

“We have buildings A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5 on the island,” he tells Construction Week.

“A1 is our five-star luxury hotel, which has been designed to incorporate a sense of where we are, and will boast a modern design of Arabia. It also boasts a significant number of facilities, such as a spa, a swimming pool, and a gym, besides food and beverage (F&B) outlets. This hotel has been designed to overlook a large promenade.

“A2, A3, and A4 are identical serviced residential buildings, each of them with their own pool decks and facilities. These buildings sit on the podium level of F&B, which will span the ground and first floors,” Hawkins continues.

“A5 connects to our marina area, and is [being developed] as the marina hub,” he explains, adding this building will contain additional F&B outlets.

A lagoon will be developed around two planned vehicular and pedestrian bridges, which are intended to connect with the promenade, as well as other key spots around the development. Hawkins says the vehicular bridge will also serve the five-star hotel’s drop-off point.

Package 8’s nominated sub-contractors and suppliers include Drake & Scull Engineering, which is working with the main contractor on the project’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) works under a $107.5m (AED395m) joint-venture agreement. Al Abbar Aluminium is in charge of the phase’s aluminium and glazing work, and Vancouver International is tasked with the supply and installation of ceilings.

Maxcell Trading and Airchal are providing air-conditioning (AC) equipment, Aseco Chillers Technology is providing AC chillers, and Best Product Trading is suppling cooling towers for Package 8.

Previous construction packages awarded for the development comprised infrastructure operations, as well as work on the project’s basements and cofferdam.

This includes the February 2012 $130m (AED477.4m) Package 7 contract, awarded to Habtoor Leighton Group.

Scope of works included the construction and completion of substructure works for four basement levels and ground-floor slabs on the site, nestled between Al Maktoum Bridge, Baniyas Road, and the Floating Bridge.

Eventually, the seawater from Dubai Creek will be released from the cofferdam, and Hawkins is keen to explain how this ties into the developer’s lagoon designs.

“We have used advanced liners for the project. The Dubai Creek water is a questionable problem which everybody is hoping will be clean when we reconnect to the sea. A huge amount of deposits, mostly metals, has been thrown into the water from the shipbuilding areas and there have been some issues with the quality of this water.

“So we took a decision where the water is going to be sealed at two spots, and the lagoon will be created in the centre of these. There will also be dedicated swimming zones for adults and children,” he continues.

The development’s master plan was created by a joint venture between Kling Consult and Kieferle & Partner (KCKP), which acts as lead consultant for the project. Michael Chabowski Technical Services (MCTS) has been appointed Phase 8’s kitchen consultant, and KCA and GAJ are working on interior designs for the buildings covered under the scope of Package 8.

Hawkins says specialist consultants have also been appointed for the project’s acoustics, marina, and information technology (IT) systems.

The development’s master-design was updated on a regular basis to ensure it is in line with Dubai’s contemporary architecture and real estate demands, Hawkins asserts.

All units at the development will be available purely on a rental basis, since Port Saeed, a prominent and historic part of Dubai’s Deira locality, falls under the Emirate’s rental-zone categories.

“Depending on which block you’re targeting to live in, you could rent a unit at Jewel of the Creek for a day, a week, a month, six months, or a year, and there will be flexible conditions,” Hawkins adds.

The construction team ensured each part of the project was tendered with updated drawings and information.

“We’re not going to have a 10-year-old project just because we designed it 10 years ago,” he continues.

“We’ve actually re-evaluated the design and tendered that [updated] design, so it’s the most up-to-date project we can possibly have for the market.”

Tender release processes for infrastructure such as security cameras, monitors, and TVs have been staggered to ensure that the most recent systems are implemented into the project.

“We’re projecting into the future as well. The project isn’t going to be finished tomorrow; it takes time to deliver a project this size, [and] so we’ve done our best to project forward.

“Life has changed in Dubai [over time], and we’re appealing to different people now than we might have been 10 years ago.”

On the horizon for Jewel of the Creek is its Package 9, which is currently under design by the Roda Hotels team. The package is due for tendering later this year, and is scheduled for completion in August or September 2018.

Adib Karam, corporate director for design and architecture at Roda Hotels, lists the package’s expected components.

“Package 9 covers the project’s second phase, and comprises a three-star hotel, a four-star hotel, and non-alcoholic buildings,” he tells Construction Week.

“The plug-and-play [three-star] hotel targets guests in their twenties and early-thirties,” Karam continues, adding the facility will feature concepts such as self-service, self-check-in, vending machines, and additional amenities which require the deployment of fewer staff.

“The 400-key hotel also comprises a pool and a gym, but the [salient] feature is that the hotel is aimed at the young and tech-friendly.

“The four-star hotel, also offering 400-keys, will be more luxurious, and have a business centre and meeting rooms, a specialty restaurant, a jazz bar, an infinity pool, and an outdoor gym,” Karam adds.

A multi-purpose exhibition centre has also been planned for development under Package 9. Titled Dubai Dome, the hall will comprise F&B outlets, a nightclub, as well as retail areas. The column-less structure will face a beach, and have a capacity of up to 3,000.

Karam says the non-alcoholic buildings under Package 9 are being designed using North African elements, with an emphasis on Moroccan architecture. Aimed at attracting GCC nationals, these buildings will replace luxury spas with Moroccan and Turkish baths, and incorporate an Iranian restaurant.

Further down the line are plans for Package 10, which Hawkins says will be designed based on “where Dubai is moving to”, adding that chunk of the overall Jewel of the Creek area could be used for retail, office accommodation, or residential purposes.

“They are designed in theory as buildings, but their actual use is flexible at the moment.

“I imagine their operations will be [tendered] as a further phase after this site is up and running,” he adds.

Up to 3,000 workers are currently involved on site for the Jewel of the Creek development, a number Hawkins says is often drowned under the sprawling extent of the construction site.

Some of these workers are engaged in curtain wall and cladding installation work, which is expected to be completed by September 2016. A topping-off ceremony is in the pipeline for the near future, as are tentative plans to construct footbridges linking the site with Majid Al Futtaim’s Deira City Centre, a shopping mall across the road.

Hawkins is also optimistic about Roda Hotels’ role once Jewel of the Creek’s components are due for operation: “There are different types of buildings here, not just hotels, and [the project] is a great mix of different offerings.

“At this stage, we’re riding full technical services for the whole development under the Roda banner, and we’re hoping it will be operated by us too,” Hawkins concludes.

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