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The UAE's top 47 construction projects over the years

CW looks at the UAE's most iconic developments on its 47th National Day

The UAE's 47th National Day falls on 2 December, 2018.
The UAE's 47th National Day falls on 2 December, 2018.
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building in Dubai.
Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building in Dubai.
Etihad Rail, the UAE's national railway network.
Etihad Rail, the UAE's national railway network.
Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the Arab world's first facility of its kind.
Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the Arab world's first facility of its kind.
Another Dubai icon in the making [image courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai].
Another Dubai icon in the making [image courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai].

As the UAE celebrates its 47th National Day, Construction Week takes a look at the 47 projects that have helped shape the nation's infrastructure, transport services, and skylines since 1971.

The construction, real estate, and related sectors have made key contributions to the UAE's economy over the years. Property transactions during the first nine months of 2018 in Dubai alone hit $44.1bn (AED162bn). On the other hand, take infrastructure projects such as Dubai Metro, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2019. Dubai Metro – since it was established in 2009 – had led to benefits worth $18bn (AED66bn) by 2016, according to University of Reading’s Henley Business School research revealed this September.

The following list is a compilation of those projects that Construction Week feels have helped boost the nation's economy, standard of living, and business drive. It also details a few projects that are under development and that are designed to transform the nation's future. This list is not presented in any particular order, but we thought it best to start with the world's tallest tower...

1. Burj Khalifa

Not only the tallest building on earth, but the tallest structure ever produced, the Burj Khalifa is a staggering feat of engineering that simply dwarfs anything else ever constructed.

ARCHIVES: From concrete to cranes: a journey through Burj Khalifa's construction

Even within Dubai’s towering skyline, with its forest of skyscrapers lining two distinct sections of Sheikh Zayed Road, the Burj Khalifa stands out – particularly at night time when it provides a backdrop to the half-hourly fountain displays at its base.

Burj Khalifa is also watched by global spectators each year for the dazzling, Guinness World Record-holding fireworks spectacle it hosts each New Year's Eve. This year, during the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia, the building also became the world's tallest scoreboard.

The building bagged several world-topping records when it was opened, including: tallest building in the world, tallest free-standing structure in the world, highest number of stories in the world, highest occupied floor in the world, highest outdoor observation deck in the world, elevator with the longest travel distance in the world, tallest service elevator in the world, world’s highest swimming pool (76th floor) and world’s highest occupied floor.

While it normally takes a day to remove a tower crane from a standard building site, it took four months to remove the top-most crane from the Burj at the end of the main construction phases. Contractors needed to build a series of cranes, each one smaller than the last, to systematically remove them from the building.

READ: Burj Khalifa façade to relay football world cup match live scores

Location: Dubai, UAE
Height: 828m
Year completed: 2010
Made of: steel/concrete
Function: Mixed-use

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi, the momentous project that opened in November 2017, is a momentous project in the UAE’s list of many. In 2013, construction of the main phase of the Louvre Abu Dhabi was awarded to an Arabtec-led joint venture that included Construction San Jose SA and Oger Abu Dhabi LLC, with the section completing a year later.

During a press tour on 7 November, Manuel Rabaté, director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, shared his recollections of the construction of the building over the last decade.

“We had some pains and some pleasures in the project,” he said during a speech at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2017.

CASE STUDY: Jotun coatings at Louvre Abu Dhabi

“I remember in 2009 for the ground breaking ceremony we were a full delegation in the sand of Saadiyat Island and we were looking for the mathematical centre of the dome before it started.

“I remember when this whole place was filled with scaffolding and now the dome is floating above us,” he added.

3. Warner Bros Abu Dhabi

Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, estimated to be worth $1bn (AED3.67bn), opened at Yas Island on 25 July, 2018.

Six sections – dummed 'immersive worlds' – have been created across the indoor theme park, each set aside for themes including Warner Bros Plaza (pictured), Gotham City, Metropolis, Cartoon Junction, Bedrock, and Dynamite Gulch.

The park comprises 29 rides, in addition to dining options and retail units. Construction commencement of the project was announced in July, 2015. 

Warner Bros Entertainment had signed a deal in 2007 with Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties and the Abu Dhabi Media Company to bring Warner Bros-themed project to the Middle East, Arabian Business reported at the time. 

4. Etihad Museum

2017 marked the official launch of Etihad Museum, which opened to the public on 7 January that year.

Designed by Moriyana & Teshima Architects and located next to the historic Union House on the Dubai waterfront, the museum honours the 1971 signing of the document that created the UAE, and celebrates the culture and history of its people.

READ MORE: Top five museum projects in the UAE

Etihad Museum's complex extends across the Union House building, a 123m flag pole, and a parking building with a 100-car capacity, with an additional 100 outdoor parking spots.

Dubai-based construction group ASGC was awarded a $133m contract to build the project – also referred to as Union Museum – by the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority in March 2015. 

5. Expo 2020 Dubai

Expo 2020 Dubai, which will open its doors on 20 October, 2020 and end on 10 April, 2021, is the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia’s first world expo. Significant construction progress has been made on the UAE megaproject in 2018. 

Numerous global superpowers, including Japan, the US, Germany, and the UK, have already revealed designs for their respective pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai

READ: Expo 2020 Dubai's two-year countdown factsheet [2018]

This November, officials from the American expo pavilion’s development team said the project’s groundbreaking would be held in 2019.

Notable UAE construction companies, such as AF Construction, Arabtec, ALEC, Al Naboodah Construction, ASGC, Besix, Khansaheb, and Tristar Engineering are building various projects related to Expo 2020 Dubai. International firms such as Laing O'Rourke, Cleveland Bridge and Engineering, and Cimolai are also involved with major schemes for the expo.

Sustainability is a key area of focus for Expo 2020 Dubai, as a senior official at the organisation told Construction Week this September. “In total, the site has 41 [key performance indicators] covering the sustainability of the project, [which focuses on] not just the construction of the expo, but the design and commissioning of the entire project as well,” Ahmed Al Khatib, senior vice president of real estate and delivery at Expo 2020 Dubai, said.

READ: Expo 2020 Dubai Phase 2 construction to complete by year-end

6. Museum of the Future

One of Dubai’s most awaited developments is Museum of the Future, the iconic building that noted structural completion this November. Set to open its doors in 2020, the museum "embodies one of the pillars of the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai”, a top official at Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) said last month. 

Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and vice chairman of the board of trustees and managing director of DFF, added: "The museum will provide visitors the opportunity to experience the future now. It will be the destination for scientists, experts, innovators, and creative minds, from all over the world, to design and shape the future."

READ: Empower to supply cooling to Dubai’s Museum of the Future

In a statement posted on WAM, the UAE's state news agency, DFF said the museum will be an icon for the future of science, technology, and innovation in Dubai, adding that the building will be the "pioneer global destination for the launch of new technologies, innovations, and many creative ideas”.

Museum of the Future is located near the high-profile Emirates Towers on Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road, and is acknowledged as "an architectural masterpiece that will enhance Dubai's urban landscape and become a destination for tourists, visitors, and residents to learn about future technologies that will become a part of all aspects of life", the WAM news report continued.

The report added: "It will be one of the most advanced buildings in the world and will feature a unique design with Arabic calligraphy inscribed onto the exterior.

READ: Dubai's Museum of the Future on track for delivery

"The project is a new leap forward towards establishing Dubai as a hub for innovation, and will contribute to encouraging future thinking. In addition, the museum will support the development of long-term solutions to the challenges and requirements of the future at the local, regional, and international levels."

Bam International is working on Dubai's Museum of the Future, and according to a project listing on its website, the contracting giant has "provided a technically compliant submission" for the development, which underscores its work on complex structures using building information modeling and 3D modeling. 

Killa Design worked on Museum of the Future's design, with the project to "be built, in part, using 3D printing technologies", according to Bam's website.

7. Office of the Future

As global construction and real estate industries seek to harness 3D printing for their operations, the first 3D-printed office building – Office of the Future – has already taken shape in Dubai, and was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on 23 May, 2016.

Inside the construction team of Dubai’s Office of the Future

This initiative forms part of Dubai's 3D Printing Strategy, which was launched in April 2016, and focusses on the development of 3D printing to improve the lives of the emirate’s residents. The strategy will target the real estate and construction, medical, and consumer sectors, and commits Dubai to the use of 3D printing technologies for a quarter of its buildings by 2030.

Located at the foot of Emirates Towers, the 3D-printed office is the only inhabited structure of its kind in the world. A 3D printer measuring 6m in height, 37m in length, and 12m in width, with an automated robotic arm, was used to produce the building. The structure was printed using a giant cement printer, and assembled on site.

IN PICTURES: Office of the Future

Printing took 17 days; the components were installed in two. Subsequent work on building services, interiors, and landscaping took three months.

8. Ferrari World

Ferrari World, declared the largest indoor theme park in the world upon its launch, is part of Aldar’s Yas Island development, one of the UAE’s largest tourist destinations to date. The Formula 1 race track, which opened in 2009, sits alongside the theme park.

The park’s launch marked the close of a three-year construction phase in which the building and its 200,000m2 red roof have dominated the Yas Marina skyline. The park was designed by Benoy and built by Six Construct, the regional arm of Besix .

The park includes 20 rides ranging from the Bell Italia, a slow tour through a miniature Italian countryside and the V12 water ride, to the G-Force shot and drop ride in the middle of the central funnel, and the world’s fastest rollercoaster, the 240km/h Formula Rossa. As you may expect, there is also considerable attention paid to Ferrari’s racing and road car history with several displays and attractions linked to the manufacturer and its Italian heritage.

9. Dubai Airport

Dubai’s reputation as a business hub has been supplemented to a great degree by the success of Dubai International Airport (DXB). A massive sprawling and well laid out airport is home to Emirates airline – one of the largest airlines in the world. The city is perfectly situated, mid-point between the far-East and Europe, and the expansion plans will help to better serve its growing visitor numbers.

One of the airport’s notable extension programmes covered Concourse 3, which at 645m long, 90m wide and 42m high, was planned to increase capacity from DXB’s then-40 million to around 70 million. Concourse 3 was penned to feature 20 aircraft stands, 18 of which will be able to accommodate the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

ALEC was awarded the main construction contract in April 2009, and its work included the construction, completion, and maintenance of civil, architectural, MEP, SAS, and signage works.

10. Midfield Terminal

Like its neighbouring emirate, Abu Dhabi is anticipating a marked increase in passenger and cargo traffic over the coming years and has subsequently planned for this. Abu Dhabi Airports Company is constructing a new airport near the existing site to increase passenger traffic, which totals millions each year.

From an arch stretching 180m and weighing 1,000 tonnes, to over 50 million man working-hours, the facts and figures around the Midfield Terminal project are impressive. Spanning 742,000m2, 28,000m2 of which will be allocated as retail and food and beverage space and 30,000m2 as lounge space, the Midfield Terminal System will feature 145 elevators, 46 travelators, and 106 passenger bridges.

This May, it was revealed that CCD Design and Ergonomics had been chosen by Etihad Aviation Group to design and create four control rooms at the upcoming Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport. CCD, which was picked following a competitive tender and selection process, will work closely with Etihad’s team to design functional and efficient control rooms, according to Aviation Business.

Its scope of work will include a full set of design services covering feasibility, requirements capture, tender support, as well as construction supervision.

IN PICTURES: Abu Dhabi's Midfield Terminal project

The specialist design consultancy will also head up furniture design, room layout and interior design, which it will work closely with companies such as Hoare Lea on MEP services, Faithful + Gould on cost consultancy and Sutton Vane Associates on lighting design.

News of CCD’s appointment came months after Abu Dhabi Airports’s announcement in November 2017 that construction progress on the project had crossed the 85% mark, and that 66%, or $3.4bn (AED12.5bn), of its $5.2bn (AED19.1bn) budget had already been spent.

At the time, Abdul Majeed Al Khoori, acting chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “According to the schedule, it will be ready for operation in 2019, and we are confident [that] our contractor and teams will deliver. This building will serve 84 million passengers a year, or 11,000 passengers per hour at peak times.

''The MTB, which will support both our own long-term growth ambitions and those of other Abu Dhabi stakeholders, particularly Etihad Airways, is now 86% complete and experimental operations will begin by the end of 2018.''

11. Reem Island

Reem Island’s importance for the future of business in the UAE’s capital can’t be underestimated. The natural island occupies 650ha of prime real estate within a stone’s throw of the city’s central business district, and will eventually be home to more than 200,000 people, and several hundred businesses.

It is one of the first free zones in the capital, which means that foreign nationals are able to buy property and run their own businesses without the need for local partnerships.

Among the earliest developers involved with the project were Sorouh Real Estate (Shams Abu Dhabi), Reem Investments, and Tamouh. Sorouh’s Sun and Sky Towers project won GCC Residential Project of the Year award at the Construction Week Awards 2011.

The 74-storey Sky Tower and 65-storey Sun Tower are among the tallest buildings in the Shams Gate District, a cluster of eight towers located at the entrance of Shams Abu Dhabi on Reem Island.

12. Reem Mall

Worth $1.2bn (AED4.4bn), the under-construction Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi is one of the UAE’s highly anticipated schemes at present. “Significant” progress was revealed on the project this September. More than 14 tower cranes have been erected for the project, with 120,000m3 of reinforced concrete cast on site. “Some sections” of the development are said to be reaching Level 4. 

Italian-Emirati joint venture, Itinera Ghantoot, was awarded a $626m (AED2.3bn) contract to build the project in November 2017. Upon completion, the project will feature 350,000m3 of reinforced concrete; 68,038t (75,000 tons) of rebar; 9,071t (10,000 tons) of structural steel; and 75,000m2 of precast hollow-core concrete panels – all spanning a built-up area of 650,000m2.

READ: Azadea Group to open 11 stores at Abu Dhabi's $1.2bn Reem Mall

Construction work for the development, which commenced in late-2017, is “well under way, in line with” planned building and finance targets, Reem Mall’s team confirmed. Shane Eldstrom, chief executive officer of Al Farwaniya Property Developments, said a team of 4,000 workers was present at the project’s site at the time. 

He continued: “We are very proud to announce that Reem Mall has been progressing smoothly and is in line with our construction schedule.” 

Reem Mall is located in the Najmat District of Reem Island. Al Farwaniya Property Developments is a partnership between three Kuwaiti companies – Agility; its affiliate United Projects for Aviation Services Co; and National Real Estate Company.

13. Dubai Water Canal

Another architectural landmark in the UAE, the $1.1bn (AED3.7bn) Dubai Water Canal was inaugurated in the UAE emirate on 9 November, 2016. Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, officially opened Dubai Water Canal, which links Dubai Creek with the Arabian Gulf.

Dubai Holding implemented the first phase of the project, which cost $272.2m (AED1bn) and extends 9km from the Ras Al Khor area through Business Bay to Sheikh Zayed Road. The second phase of the project, implemented by Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), cost $735.1m (AED2.7bn) and spans 3.2km, featuring 6.4km of waterfront. The canal ranges from 80m to 120m in width, Dubai Media Office reported at the time.

READ: Ducorr reveals details of $367,000 Dubai Water Canal contract

"Today, as the Dubai Creek flows into the Arabian Gulf, we celebrate the canal, an architectural, commercial, and geographical triumph," Dubai's Ruler said in a series of tweets

"We celebrate a journey that began with Sheikh Rashid in 1959. A new phase of Dubai’s life is here, wrapped by the warmth of the Gulf waters. The Canal is not just an architectural accomplishment, but also a triumph of our heritage, history, and heart.

"Thank you to the dedicated team; to the RTA, Dubai Holding, Meraas and Meydan. Our belief in you grows every day." 

14. Princess Tower

The 414m Princess Tower, located next to Le Reve hotel in Dubai Marina, is 107 floors high and the third tallest building in Dubai, after Burj Khalifa and Marina 101. Between 2012 and 2015, it was also the world’s tallest residential building. 

Offering panoramic views over the marina and Dubai beach, the tower contain a combination of luxury apartments, offices, sales outlets, car parking spaces, sports and recreational clubs and hotel suites, as well as two, three and four bedrooms, duplex villas and high-end penthouses.

Developed by Tameer Holding, the $190m project is thought to be one of the most prestigious residential projects in Dubai.

15. Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah, the man-made island that put Dubai and the UAE on the global real estate map, gained acclaim when its final breakwater stone was laid in 2007. Today, the island that used more than 1 billion cubic metres of sand and 7 million tonnes of rock, is home to thousands of people. 

Ten dredging rigs worked around the clock for two years to create the trunk, fronds, and 11km crescent. Developer Nakheel said the material used to create the palm was enough to build a 2m-high, 0.5m-wide wall that could wrap around the world three times.

Development: Palm Jumeirah
Location: Dubai
Work started: August 2001
Completed: October 2007
Developer: Nakheel
Main contractor: Van Oord
Designer: Nakheel Virlogeux

16. Atlantis, The Palm

Having already brought the Atlantis to life once in The Bahamas, Sol Kerzner decided to repeat the trick in Dubai. The resort consists of two towers linked by a bridge, with almost 1,540 rooms. There are two monorail stations connecting the resort to the main section of the Palm Jumeirah islands.

Opened in 2009, the hotel remains one of the most exclusive in Dubai and has become the city’s foremost celebrity haunt.

Laing O'Rourke was responsible for the design and construction phases of the 23-storey hotel and water park. With a peak workforce of 10,000 personnel, the project was completed two months ahead of schedule. This was made possible in part by the company’s expertise in offsite manufacturing and pre-assembly.

Investors: Joint venture between Kerzner International Holdings Limited and Istithmar
Developer: Kerzner International Holdings Limited
Masterplanner and landscape design: Edsa
Water park designer: Henry, Schooley & Associates
Theming contractor: Amusement Whitewater Softscape
Shade and irrigation supplier: Citiscape
Paving contractor: CCP

17. Burj Al Arab

The Burj Khalifa may have blitzed every construction record in the book, but the recognisable shape of the Burj Al Arab is still one of Dubai’s most internationally renowned buildings.

Atkins architect Tom Wright said on his website that his brief was to “create an icon for Dubai, a building that would become synonymous with the place, as Sydney has its opera house and Paris the Eiffel Tower”.

Part of the Jumeirah Beach Resort project, the Burj Al-Arab stands 321m high and is built on a man-made landscape island of the Jumeirah coastline. It has full height atriums that are enclosed by Teflon woven glass fibre curved walls.

Construction began in 1994 through the partnership of Murray & Roberts and Al Habtoor and presented a number of challenges for contractors. The biggest challenge was sorting through the logistics of producing the 9,000t of structural steel components in South Africa, and then shipping them to Dubai for assembly.

Burj Al Arab was officially opened in November 1999, one month ahead of schedule and in time for the turn of the millennia.

Location: Dubai, UAE
Completed: November 1999
Design: Tom Wright, Atkins
Main contractor: Murray & Roberts, Al Habtoor
Height: 321m
Achievement: World’s first seven-star hotel

18. Masdar City

Masdar City set ambitious goals when it was announced, and it remains focused on green and renewable energy sources. Construction began on Masdar City in 2008 and the first six buildings of the city were completed and occupied in October 2010. Final completion is scheduled to occur between 2020 and 2025.

Masdar remains an important facility for exploring future energy technologies. In October 2018, Khaled Ballaith, director of energy services at Abu Dhabi sustainability giant Masdar, told Construction Week in an exclusive comment piece that the firm is now "expanding into energy performance contracting, alongside operations and maintenance, to help unlock the commercial potential of energy services beyond the city’s borders".

The news came after Potain announced this June that it had been contracted to help build the Masdar Institute Neighbourhood project in Abu Dhabi. Two new Potain MDT 259 J12 CCS tower cranes are being used for the residential complex, which is being developed by Masdar and Mubadala Development Company.

The 102,000m2 project has Six Construct, a part of the Besix Group, working as its main contractor. Six Construct received Potain cranes for the project through the crane firm’s Abu Dhabi-based distribution partner, NFT Specialized in Tower Cranes.

NFT installed the cranes at the end of January, and the machines will see the project through to completion, which is scheduled for June 2019.

19. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque is the largest in the UAE and sits between the between the Mussafah and Maqta bridges on the entrance to the city. Also known as Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque, it is clad in the white marble covering an area of more than 22,000m2 and includes four 107m-tall minarets and 57 domes. Elaborate extensive floral designs decked with precious stones adorn the several walls, pillars and the 7,000m2 courtyard of the mosque.

The mosque’s grand carpet, which measures 5,627m2 and weighs 47t, is the largest carpet in the world. In addition, the world's biggest Swarovski crystal bejeweled gold-plated chandelier from Germany measuring 10m in diameter and 15m tall is housed in the main prayer hall.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque also houses the mausoleum of the late President of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

20. Sheikh Zayed Bridge

Extending 842m, and defying all standard engineering principles, Sheikh Zayed Bridge was intended to be unique, complex, and testing for those involved in its building. According to the contractors, it certainly achieved its aims.

Started in 2003, Sheikh Zayed Bridge is the third crossing over the waterway into the island of Abu Dhabi. It was designed to link in with the Salam street tunnel project, slashing journey times between the outskirts of the city and the Corniche by more than half an hour.

• 4 arches at 500 tonnes each
• 200,000m3 of concrete
• 670 piles at 1.5m diameter
• Total length of piles: 15km
• 52,000 tonnes of steel
• 20,000 tonnes of structural steel for temporary work
• 6 rafts – the biggest using 600,000 m3 of concrete
• 5 cofferdams
• 11 deck sections
• 24 stages of casting on main section of deck
• More than 500 pieces of equipment mobilised
• 10 tower cranes
• 11 marine barges
• 5 crawler cranes
• 7 hydraulic cranes
• Tested with a fleet of 80 trucks

21. Port Rashid

Dubai’s mega-port opened in 1972 and has been instrumental in helping to develop the emirate as a major trading hub. At the time of the opening, the port had two gantry cranes and processed just 100,000 TEUs annually. Today, with its nine gantry cranes and 13 metre draft, the port handles more than 1.5m TEUs annually.

The port handles general cargo, RoRo and passenger vessels, and operates in conjunction with the Port of Jebel Ali.

22. Al Maktoum International Airport

Al Maktoum International airport (DWC) – part of the massive multibillion-dollar Dubai South project – is a crucial part of the UAE’s long-term aviation business strategy. The site also features a logistics centre and a number of residential developments.

When fully complete, DWC will be able to handle 160 million passengers a year, making it one of the world’s largest airports.

A consortium featuring the local contractor Arabtec Construction and Malaysia’s WCT Engineering won the construction contract for the airport in 2006.

23. Yas Marina Circuit

Designed as an Arabian version of Monaco, the 21 corners of the Yas Marina Circuit twists through the manmade island off the Abu Dhabi coast, passing by the marina and through the Yas Marina Hotel, designed and conceived of by New York-based architects Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, Asymptote Architecture, and winding its way through sand dunes, with several long straights and tight corners.

The circuit has five grandstand areas (Main Grandstand, West Grandstand, North Grandstand, South Grandstand and Marina Grandstand, aka Support), and part of its pit lane exit runs underneath the track. It also houses a team building behind the pit building, a media centre, dragster track, VIP tower and Ferrari World Theme Park. Additionally, one of the gravel traps runs underneath the West grandstand.

READ: Yas Island developer eyes digital transformation with Microsoft

The circuit was built by main contractor Cebarco-WCT, under contract from developer Aldar Properties. Among the sub-contractors involved were Koh Ah Hing from Malaysia (structural), as well as specialised subcontractors Voltas (MEP), PKE-Siemens (MEP), Able-Middle East (earthworks), Hamilton International (interior), Bau Bickhardt (track) and Unger Steel (steel structure).

The circuit was constructed with a permanent lighting system provided by Musco Lighting. Yas Marina Circuit was the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world as of 2011.

The surface of the track is made from Graywacke aggregate, shipped to Abu Dhabi from Bayston Hill quarry in Shropshire, England. The surface material is highly acclaimed by circuit bosses and Formula 1 drivers for the high level of grip it offers. The same aggregate material is used at the Bahrain International Circuit for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

24. Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall is part of the $20bn Downtown Burj Dubai development, which is also being built by Emaar Properties. It took just over over four years to build.

Construction started in 2004, and the mall opened its doors to the world on 4 November 2008.

READ: How Dubai Mall has grown since its 2008 opening

The Dubai Mall is a gateway for those wanting to visit the world’s tallest free-standing structure, Burj Khalifa, standing at 828m. At the Top, the world’s highest observation deck on the 124th floor, is accessible from the Lower Ground of The Dubai Mall, and offers guests 360° panoramic views of Dubai’s skyline.

25. Dubai’s O14 (Swiss Cheese) building

This office tower in Dubai’s Business Bay was completed in 2010 after four years under construction. It was opened more than six months later due to a delay in connecting the building to mains electricity.

Designed by US firm RUR, the building is the first project by developer H&H. It provides 22 floors of office space. It is supported by a concrete façade that contains more than 1,300 individual holes that cuts cooling costs by up to 30%. These also gave the tower its nickname of the Swiss Cheese Building.

O14 is one of very few finished buildings in the area, which was hit particularly hard by the financial crisis. Infrastructure was a problem for the architect and the developer, and led to a delay in the opening of the project.

READ: 'Swiss cheese' tower opened at Business Bay

Developer Shahab Lutfi said that the key aspect of O14’s appeal was its “uniqueness”, adding: “It is completely different. You drive through Dubai and you see glass buildings everywhere. This is the only building that does not have glass on the outside,” he said.

RUR architect Jesse Reiser added: “It is an exoskeleton. Instead of having a traditional curtain wall, the structure shades the building and also holds it up.”

26. Jumeirah Beach Residence

Featuring 36 residential towers and four hotel towers, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) is the ultimate beachside community. The apartments at JBR sit on the coast of the Arabian Gulf and are within walking distance of the Walk, home to exclusive shopping, popular restaurants and hotels.

The development comprises of 36 residential towers which offer a wide selection of residential units ranging from studio apartments to four bedroom penthouses with sea and marina views. The design and finishings are inspired by Mediterranean and local architecture, and are complimented by landscaped plazas, kids play areas, fountains and courtyards.

27. Mall of the Emirates

Soon after opening in 2005, the ambitious Mall of Emirates was walking off with a series of awards for its design and mixture of shops, eateries, and ski-dome. While it has been usurped by the Dubai Mall for the title of largest shopping mall in the GCC, the Mall of Emirates remains one of the city of Dubai’s most spectacular features. Built into the Al Barsha district of Dubai, the Mall of Emirates, developed by Majid Al Futtaim Properties and designed by the American architectural firm, F+A Architects, was also a key milestone in the rapid expansion of the southern half of Dubai in the late 2000s.

28. Emirates Towers

In conjunction with the opening of the Burj Al Arab four months prior, the completion of the Emirates Towers on 15 April, 2000 heralded a decade of unprecedented construction and growth for Dubai.

Emirates Towers is formed by two towers, the Emirates Office Tower and Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. Located near to the World Trade Centre on the Sheikh Zayed Road, the towers are linked by the two-storey The Boulevard shopping mall.

Designed by architect Hazel Wong, the 355m Emirates Office Tower, which hosts an antenna spire, was the 10th tallest building in the world at the time of its opening. Wong said that her goal was to create something that was simple and elegant and over a decade later her creation remains one of Dubai’s most significant and well-loved buildings.

29. Dubai-Fujairah Highway

The 80km, $326.7m Dubai-Fujairah highway project is a landmark project, completing a main traffic artery from Dubai to the Northern Emirates, with more than 40km of highway in total, traversing through mountainous terrain. The project was launched on 3 December, 2011 to coincide with the UAE’s 40th National Day.

The project, delivered in three phases, was renamed the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Highway in 2010. Phase 3 was the most ambitious, as well as being the most technically challenging, including five precast beam composite deck bridges designed and erected through mountainous terrain at many different altitudes and following various cambers.

30. Sheikh Zayed Road

The 55km section of the UAE’s main artery, the E11, that starts from the World Trade Centre and ends on the border of Abu Dhabi is better known as the Sheikh Zayed Road.

Formerly known as Defence Road, the Sheikh Zayed Road was expanded in the 1990s paving the way for Dubai to expand to the south. Today the artery plays a vital role in stringing together Dubai’s blockbuster developments such as the Burj Khalifa, the Emirates Towers, and the Dubai Marina with its commercial and industrial centres of the DIFC, Al Quoz and Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone.

31. Madinat Jumeirah 

Construction on the Madinat Jumeirah resort first began in 2002 with developer and architect Mirage Mille taking 36 months to complete and open the first phase of the resort: the Mina A’ Salam (The Harbour of Peace) boutique hotel.

The underlying concept was to recreate life as it used to be for residents along Dubai Creek, complete with waterways, abras, wind towers, and a bustling souk.

The development cost in excess of $300m to complete. Located next to the iconic Burj Al Arab, and the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Madinat is a Dubai mixture of Disney-inspired design combined with historically and culturally-aware architecture.

32. Jebel Ali Free Zone and Port 

A pivotal development in the establishment of the UAE as a trading destination, Jebel Ali’s free zone (Jafza) and port form one of the world’s major shipping and export hubs.

Construction on the port began in the late 1970's along with Jebel Ali Village (finished in 1977) which was used to house construction employees of the port.

Officially established in 1979, Jebel Ali Port is the largest port in the Middle East and one of the biggest man-made ports ever built. Jafza is still among the world’s fastest growing free zones and spreads over an area of 48km2 and is home to more than 6,400 companies, including Fortune Global 500 enterprises.

33. Hamriyah Free Zone

Established by Emiri decre in 1995, Al Hamriyah Free Zone began as an area of 15 million m2 and has since grown to more than 22 million m2. The zone includes industrial and commercial facilities plus a 14m-deep water port and adjacent 7m-deep inner harbour, with scope for further expansion.

It was the first zone in the world to win ISO 14001 certification for environmental safety and has since been awarded ISO 9002 status for quality.

Hamriyah Free Zone, some years ago, completed a multimillion-dollar expansion, including Phases 3 and 4 of the inner harbour project to accommodate larger vessels, and increase capacity to 40 ships. Meanwhile its roads network was increased by 80km.

34. Dubai Metro

Opened on 9 September, 2009, Dubai’s metro service provided a much needed link between the city’s busy international airport, and the residential areas of Jumeirah in Dubai’s south western extremes. Two years later, a second line added a further 18 stations and 23km to the emirate’s existing rail network with a line that stretched from the Dubai Creek Etisalat station, at Al Qusais near Emirates Road, via Deira.

35. Dubai Marina

Dubai’s Marina is one of the most prestigious areas of the city to live, thanks to the work of two well-known engineering firms. While Halcrow was appointed as engineers for the Marina itself, Mott MacDonald took on the lead engineer role for the $327m Phase 1 of the project, including the complete structural and building services design for six residential towers and infrastructure covering a 10ha site. Mott MacDonald completed the work for developer Emaar in 2004.

Developer: Emaar Properties
Architect: HOK
Engineer: Mott MacDonald
Completed: 2004

36. Dubai Creek

Dubai’s Dubai’s Creek has long been a centre of commercial activity, but things really took off in the 1950s after the river bed was dredged to allow larger vessels to access upstream quays. Initial work involved dredging shallow areas, building of breakwaters, and developing its beach to become a quay suitable for loading and unloading of cargo.

The creek was dredged in 1961 to a depth of 2.1m, and again in the 1960s and 70s to allow vessels weighing up to 500 tons to anchor. The work gave Dubai an edge over Sharjah, and was a major contributing factor in helped to shape the city’s economy. The creek remains a vital link for import and export trade with neighbouring nations.

37. Dubai’s Business Bay

Part of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for economic development in Dubai, Business Bay is a development that was proposed as an extension of the Dubai Creek both physically and in terms of its economic impact.

The project is home to numerous skyscrapers: one estimate puts that at 240 buildings, comprising commercial and residential developments.

The infrastructure of Business Bay was completed in 2008, and the entire development was expected to be completed between 2012 and 2015. 

38. Hayat Island

The newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the UAE’s RAK Properties said this September progress is being made on the company’s Hayat Island master development. In a statement, new CEO, Samuel Dean Sidiqi, said his team was “delighted” by the project’s progress.

Marbella Villas, the residential element of Hayat Island, comprises 205 beachfront villas and townhouses. Designed by Dar Al Omran, the project adjoins the public realm area of Hayat Islands, designed by RMJM.

Sidiqi said the launch of Intercontinental- and Anantara-branded hotels at Hayat Island was “an important addition” to Ras Al Khaimah’s offerings for domestic and international tourists.

“I am confident that we will have a great deal more to show you [soon],” he continued, commenting on Hayat Island.

“We are confident about the exclusive release of Marbella Villas. They are a key element of the overall design and will play a central role in attracting the right mix of investors and tenants to the island,” Sidiqi added.

This August, RAK Properties reported $1.44bn (AED5.28bn) in net assets for the first six months of 2018. The company has started constructing the Anantara and Intercontinental hotels in Mina Al Arab, both of which it said would “strengthen the recurring revenue portfolio in the future”.

READ: Assets rise $32m at UAE's RAK Properties in H1 2018

Commenting on the figures at the time, RAK Properties’ managing director, Mohammed Sultan Al Qadi, said: “The company is making significant headway on residential projects both under construction and due to launch over the next year.”

One of Hayat Island's notable developments is Northbay Residence. The 3,623m2 development will be completed by 2020. Comprising one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as duplex units, the tower will be surrounded by amenities such as restaurants, shopping options, parks, walkways, and gardens. 

Hayat Island is a 55.7ha mixed-use project that will feature food and beverage, shopping, and recreational offerings, in addition to hospitality and residential options, in Ras Al Khaimah. Its residential component comprises 2,457 apartments, split as 1,152 one-bedroom, 985 two-bedroom, and 320 three-bedroom units.

Townhouses and villas will also be developed as part of the project’s residential component.

39. Dubai Arena

The façade of the highly anticipated Dubai Arena has been completed, with the project on track to open in 2019. In a project update released on 4 November 2018, developer Meraas said the “active-lit” panelled façade structure of Dubai Arena is fully installed, with work under way on external infrastructure, landscaping, paving, and parking spaces for the project, which will be MENA region’s largest all-purpose, air-conditioned indoor arena.

READ: Empower wins 3,600RT district cooling contract for Dubai Arena

Among the project’s major milestones include the completion of its roof and façade steel structure, with 80% of the roof catwalks (elevated service platforms) also ready. All concrete, structural, and block works have been completed, with seat installation now under way for the project, on which UAE-headquartered main contractor ASGC is working.

Dubai Arena’s roof structure weighs almost 4,000 tonnes (t), which is equivalent to the weight of seven Airbus A380 planes, the immensely popular aircraft in the Emirates airline’s fleet. The roof is supported by two 120m-long “mega-trusses” that span the length of the venue. Meraas said in its statement that the mega-trusses’ construction and lifting was “considered among the most challenging processes”, adding that it used some of the world’s biggest cranes – with a capacity of 1,600t – to lift them into place.

READ: Dubai Arena’s roof built with Demag construction cranes

Installation of the arena’s rigging equipment, scoreboards, lighting, and sound systems will begin this month. “Finishing touches” are being made to the first of 46 hospitality suites at Dubai Arena, the City Walk destination that will have a capacity of 17,000 spectators. More than 110t of show and production equipment will be placed over the arena’s viewing areas.

40. Aljada

In September 2017, Arada launched what looks set to become Sharjah’s largest ever real estate development. Occupying an area of 2.2km2 (220ha), the Aljada urban district will boast a gross real estate value of $6.5bn (AED24bn) and a total population of approximately 70,000 people.

Unveiled in the presence of HH Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, the master-planned megaproject will feature a diverse array of residential, commercial, retail, leisure, and entertainment offerings, as well as a dedicated business park. Upon completion, the development will include a combination of stand-alone and semi-detached villas, townhouses, lofts, and apartments. Its residential units will be complemented by open spaces and community amenities, including schools, healthcare clinics, and mosques.

In October, Arada revealed the final masterplan of the Zaha Hadid Architects-designed Central Hub, a 17.7ha leisure and entertainment component within its Aljada megaproject. Modern Building Contracting Company (MBCC) was named as the contractor for Phase 1 of Central Hub.

Aljada will be a smart community, according to Arada. In a statement this November, the Sharjah real estate developer said the early stages of the Aljada Smart City project will see its development team focus on five key areas – mobility, utilities, telecommunications, the ‘circular economy’, and waste management.

“All these areas will be supported by ultra-secure, high-end digital infrastructure that will be managed centrally within the community,” the developer added, noting it was “in negotiations with several multinational companies” with extensive experience in smart technology.

41. Dubai World Trade Centre

As the home of multiple billion-dollar construction sites, Dubai is not unfamiliar with the demands of high-profile development programmes. One such project currently taking shape in the city is One Central, a mixed-use master-development by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), valued at $2.2bn (AED8bn).

By all means, the story of One Central’s inception is a compelling one – more so when viewed within the context of Dubai’s rapid evolution since the late 1970s, only years after the UAE’s formation. Almost three decades later, more than 1.3ha of exhibition space – in the form of Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) – now sprawls DWTC’s complex in Dubai’s elite Za’abeel neighbourhood, where One Central is expected to be an addition that is both poignant and profitable.

Poignant, because One Central’s planned components would herald the next chapter of growth for Za’abeel, which propelled Dubai onto the global commercial landscape in 1979, when the 39-storey Sheikh Rashid Tower was launched in the locality. Profitable, because the billion-dollar One Central community will fulfill key real estate needs in and around its neighbourhood. 

The development’s commercial component comprises five buildings, each of which will feature a drop-off area, four levels of underground parking, integrated retail offerings on the ground level, open-plan office spaces, and access to rooftop gardens. The Offices 1 building offers spaces spanning 290m2 to 1,920m2 per floor, with a gross internal area of approximately 18,000m2 as commercial space, and 2,000m2 for retail use. 

Meanwhile, the 12-storey Offices 2 building offers entire floors ranging from 1,290m2 to 4,640m2, which can be leased as whole or smaller units, with a total building size of approximately 4.1ha (41,270m2). The judges of Construction Week Awards 2018 recently met at One Central’s Offices 2 to discuss this year’s shortlist. 

42. Etihad Rail

Undoubtedly, Etihad Rail is a landmark project in a region where rail projects are rapidly gathering pace. In 2015, Stage 1 of the project, which extends 264km, was delivered, linking the Shah and Habshan gas fields in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi to the port of Ruwais on the Arabian Gulf, with a capacity of transferring almost 20,000 tonnes of sulfur granules per day.

This November, the UAE's Ministry of Finance and Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed an agreement for the financing of Stage 2 of the Etihad Rail national rail network. Etihad Rail has posted significant construction-related progress in 2018, most notable of which is the completion of preliminary designs for Stage 2 of the project in preparation for the launch of civil engineering tenders by the end of this month. According to a statement, Etihad Rail is "now in advanced stages of commercial and technical negotiations with an extended range of potential partners".

Stage 2 will extend 605km from Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast, to be followed by future route additions. The volume of goods transported by Etihad Rail will increase from 6.35 million tonnes per year during Stage 1 to more than 45.3 million tonnes. 

Read about Jacobs 2018 contract win for Etihad Rail here

Commenting on the agreement, HH Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “At Etihad Rail, we are working with a strategy to meet our mission and objectives. This project is part of our commitment to the UAE to help it achieve a leading position in transportation quality, in line with UAE Vision 2021, which aims to transform the emirate [...] by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, promoting innovation and research and development, strengthening the regulatory framework for key sectors, and encouraging high value-adding sectors.”

43. Route 2020

Route 2020 is the 15km extension of Dubai Metro’s Red Line towards the site of Expo 2020 Dubai, and includes seven stations, five of which are elevated and two are underground. The construction of Dubai’s Route 2020 metro project is 53% complete, it was announced this October, following a review of the scheme by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

HH Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai; and HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.

READ: First train arrives for Dubai Metro's Route 2020

Construction work on Route 2020’s viaduct had reached 83% at the time, and all bridge work was due to be completed in the second half of November 2018. 

This October, Acciona's managing director in the Middle East, Jesús Sancho, told Construction Week that the company is due to deliver its scope for the project before the summer of 2020.

“We have delivered the tunnel, which is almost 3km-long [and was] built using a tunnel boring machine,” he continued. “We encountered very good terrain, so we actually delivered that part [of the project] ahead of time. The rest [of our scope] is viaducts, and this will be finished before the end of 2018, so the basic infrastructure will be [ready soon].

44. Dubai Creek Tower

It is hard to avoid attention when you’re in line to become the world’s next tallest building, and Dubai Creek Tower is here to stay. This May, it was announced that concrete placement work for the Emaar tower’s pile cap had been completed two months ahead of schedule.

READ: Sheikh Mohammed reviews Dubai Creek Tower construction progress

A 20m-thick, multi-layered pile cap has been developed for the $1bn (AED3.67bn) Dubai Creek Tower, which is part of the 6km2 Dubai Creek Harbour master development. The pile covers and transfers the load to the foundation barrettes.

Following the completion of this element, 50,000m3 of concrete has been poured for the project, weighing 120,000t. Up to 16,000t of steel reinforcement, twice the weight of Eiffel Tower, has also been placed for the tower. 

READ: Dubai Creek Harbour construction site uses anti-collision crane tech

Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, is leading the project's design and engineering works. Emaar Properties, in a joint venture with Dubai Holding, is developing of Dubai Creek Harbour.

45. Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant

This list would have been incomplete without a mention of the Arab world’s first nuclear energy plant. Major construction progress has been achieved at the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the high-profile development under way in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi. Developer Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said this November that the completion of all concrete works and heavy equipment lifting for Barakah’s four nuclear reactor units is “a historic milestone”. 

SITE VISIT: Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, UAE

A ceremony was held last month by senior officials and employees from Enec, who were joined by prime contractor and joint venture partner, Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco). Subsidiaries Nawah Energy Company and Barakah One Company also attended the ceremony. 

Construction work began on the project in July 2012, and all four units of Barakah have achieved more 90% construction progress. The units are being developed simultaneously, with Unit 1 completed earlier this year. At the end of September 2018, Units 2, 3, and 4 respectively reported construction completion in excess of 94%, 86%, and 77%. Upon completion, the four units will generate clean and efficient energy for the UAE grid, preventing the release of more than 19 million tonnes (t) of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

READ: Barakah operator Nawah signs 10-year deal with EDF in Abu Dhabi

More than 2.3 million cubic metres of concrete has been poured for the project, with 226,796t (250,000 metric tons) of reinforcing steel used by construction crews. The latter figure is “an international construction performance record”, according to a statement shared by Enec in November. 

46. Deira Enrichment Project

Deira Encrichment Project is one of the many important cultural schemes under way in Dubai. One of the developments within the enrichment project is Deira Waterfront, for which a district cooling contract was signed in November. 

Empower’s contract with Ithra follows a previous MoU signed between both firms to deliver 11,000 RT of cooling to the Dubai development giant’s One Za’abeel project in the city.

READ: ALEC bags Deira Waterfront Phase 1 contract

Deira Waterfront is one of the developments within Deira Enrichment Project, which also includes the 6.4ha Gold Souk Extension announced this October.

Gold Souk Extension will comprise 176 retail units and 225 offices, plus 289 residences. Deira Enrichment Project, upon completion, will include 840 retail spaces, 400 offices, hotels, and serviced apartments, plus 2,200 affordable homes.

47. Dubai Frame

Another iconic project in a list of many, the 150m Dubai Frame offers views of Old Dubai as well as newer parts of the city. Launched in January 2018, the 93m-wide tower is built to resemble a huge picture frame, through which landmarks representing modern Dubai such as Emirates Towers and Burj Khalifa can be seen on one side, while from the other side, visitors can view older parts of the city such as Deira, Umm Harare and Karama. 

Tobias Florian Heilig, senior construction project manager at ARP, told Construction Week in 2016 that his team devised an automated, self-climbing system for the project in conjunction with formwork and scaffolding specialist, Peri.

The full story of Dubai Frame’s construction

The first two floors of the columns were constructed using conventional shutters; the remainder were built with a self-climbing formwork system, which covers three levels at a time. The formwork’s floor-to-floor height is 3.1m.

Dubai Frame is also shortlisted within the Commercial Project of the Year category at Construction Week Awards 2018, which will be held in Dubai on 4 December. 

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Construction Week - Issue 758
Feb 08, 2020