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Site visit: Cayan Cantara, Dubai, UAE

The $272m Cayan Cantara development looks set to boast a selection of impressive features, including the highest projected swimming pool in Dubai

Turkish contractor Zetas has been appointed for the enabling works.
Turkish contractor Zetas has been appointed for the enabling works.

If you’re taking a stroll along Dubai Marina or enjoying a boat ride across its waters, it’s impossible to miss the famous twisted Cayan Tower. The helical structure has been officially declared by the Guinness World Records as the globe’s tallest twisted tower, at a height of 307m.

Cayan Group, the firm behind this tower, is an international property developer and real estate investor headquartered in Saudi Arabia. The company ventured into the UAE during the pre-recession period, and has since pushed forward with major developments across the city.

The financial crisis of 2008/09 may have persuaded Cayan to slow down its expansion in Dubai, but it didn’t prevent the firm from completing its existing crop of developments.

In total, Cayan has seven developments in the Emirate, including twin tower Silverene, which was handed over in 2011. Then there is Jewels, a 20-storey twin-tower project located within walking distance of The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR).

Dorrabay is a 22-storey residential tower with views of the beach and the marina. Its 14-storey counterpart La Residencia Del Mar is also located in Dubai Marina.

At present, the developer is focusing its efforts on construction activities at one of its flagship projects, Cayan Cantara. Located on Umm Suqeim Road, the $272m (AED1bn) development comprises a 38-storey hotel-apartment tower and a 42-storey branded residential tower. It also includes retail shops, restaurants, a spa, a glass-walled swimming pool, a fitness centre, a conference hall, and parking spaces for 780 cars. The development is being funded in collaboration with the UAE-based financial investment company, Shuaa Capital.

Ashraf Qudsiyeh, senior projects manager at Cayan Group, tells Construction Week: “The hotel apartment will have 314 keys, whereas the residential tower will have 407 units. It will feature studio, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments with a penthouse at the top of each tower.

“We will appoint an operator for the hotel apartments; we are not going to manage it ourselves. We are currently finalising the contract and the tender is going to be awarded soon.”

The towers will be connected by two shared basements, five floors above the ground, and three podiums. At level 33, there will be a connecting bridge, which is expected to cover three floors. A sky gymnasium will be suspended within the bridge, as well as a meeting room, a lounge, and other community facilities.

Construction work currently taking place at the site includes enabling, shoring, and piling activities. “The enabling works are expected to be completed in another three to five weeks. We commenced work in November 2015, and have completed almost 15% of the piling works so far,” explains Qudsiyeh, who adds that structural construction will begin following the appointment of a main contractor.

Cayan is currently finalising the documents for the tendering process. Qudsiyeh says the firm will “announce the name [of the main contractor] sometime in May of this year”. He adds: “Our priority while tendering and selecting the main contractor will depend on the company’s reputation for previous projects and local experience.”

Cayan has enlisted Turkish contractor Zetas to conduct the project’s enabling works. Qudsiyeh mentions: “Having Zetas on board was a strategic decision because they have been working in the GCC for years; they have local experience, which is an important criteria for us.”

The contractor is presently using test piles, at depths of 12m and 24m, to see whether they fit the design. “Progress is as per the plans,” explains Qudsiyeh. “30 piles have already been completed out of 420, along with the 1.5m excavation that needs to be conducted following piling.”

“When all the piles have been cast, we will conduct the final excavation, making the site ready for the main contractor.

“So far, the work has been going really smoothly; the soil is good for work as per the soil investigation reports. We did not encounter much underground water.”

The concept architect for the project is Japanese design house, Nikken Sekkei. The design package, which includes structural, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), is being conducted by local consultant, Dewan. Recently, the interior design package was awarded to Spanish architecture firm, Intercon.

“We also have many sub-consultants working on the project, mainly for façades, kitchen and waste, landscaping, and so on. We believe that in order to achieve the best results, we need a specialist in every [area], rather than awarding works to one who might not have enough expertise.”

With completion due in mid-2018, Cayan Cantara has already witnessed a positive response from end users and investors. Phase 1 of the project sold out in under two weeks, according to the developer. The first 100 units were sold within a week, when off-plan sales were launched in April 2015.

“The off-plan sales were good; they generated a lot of interest from the market. Almost 50% of the residential apartments have been sold. Sales at the development are currently strong,” Qudsiyeh claims.

He concludes: “We released a limited number of units during a pre-launch period to test the response of our investor base. We received more interest than had been initially anticipated. We believe that we are providing something new and giving our customers value for money, which is important in the current climate.”

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