Post-tensioning to grow as Saudi Arabia projects pick up steam

Saudi Arabia's multibillion-dollar construction schemes will continue to generate work for global post-tensioning providers

Post-tensioning is a tried-and-tested method for concrete reinforcement.
ITP / Shutterstock
Post-tensioning is a tried-and-tested method for concrete reinforcement.

Saudi Arabia has construction projects worth billions of dollars under development, from Tabuk in the north, all the way to Jizan in the southwest corner of the kingdom. With dozens of infrastructure schemes likely to get under way in the country to support its gigaprojects, post-tensioning promises to help builders and project owners reduce costs and build more efficiently.

Many of the large-scale projects that the kingdom is building under its Vision 2030 strategy could well require an element of post-tensioning. One such project is the $23bn (SAR86.3bn) Riyadh Metro. The massive urban transport system has been years in the making and covers a total rail length of 176km. It is expected to provide a vital transport option for people working and living in the capital.

As post-tensioning can be used in the construction of bridges and viaducts, the technique is ideal for supporting projects such as the Riyadh Metro. In fact, Dextra Group, which makes post-tensioning bar systems for permanent and temporary buildings, has worked on the multibillion-dollar scheme.

The company says it supplied steel ground anchors during the development's excavation phase, and delivered bartec rebar couplers for the construction of the Riyadh Metro stations.

On its website, Dextra Group says these couplers were used for slabs, columns, and wall connections. Dextra says it is common for projects like this to cast rebar couplers in the concrete as reinforcements, to strengthen the primary structure.

Elemka is another company that has been involved with post-tensioning projects in the Middle East. The Greek engineering company supplied post-tensioning services for the Fifth Ring Road, a keenly watched construction project in Kuwait.

The company used post-tensioning for the superstructures and pedestrian bridges built for the infrastructure project, which was carried out for Kuwait’s Ministry of Public Works.

In Saudi Arabia, Elemka is also understood to have helped carry out the post-tensioning of pillars for the Wadi Leban Bridge. The cable-stayed concrete bridge in Riyadh spans hundreds of metres, and Elemka says on its website that it was involved in the project in 1993 and 1995. 

As companies such as Elemka and Dextra Group have demonstrated, reinforcing concrete with post-tensioning has been a common practice in the GCC for decades. And post-tensioning is likely to remain a popular technique as the kingdom continues to tackle its comprehensive modernisation programmes.

Gigaprojects such as the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) smart city Neom, and the 28,000km² Red Sea Project, will require, among other things, important transport infrastructure to be built to help people travel around the upcoming cities and tourist destinations. Post-tensioning is likely to help support these long-term initiatives.

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