Engineering milestones give Dubai confidence

31 August 2020
Progress on Ain Dubai and One Zabeel projects is the latest reminder of the construction sector's achievements

Colin Foreman
Deputy editor

Two engineering milestones have given Dubai’s construction industry a much-needed injection of confidence as the emirate’s economy continues to reopen as the summer holidays end.

Significant engineering milestones were reached on two landmark projects during the last week of August.

On Dubai's Bluewaters Island, the first passenger capsules have been installed on the Ain Dubai observation wheel project. When complete it will be the tallest observation wheel in the world, standing more than 250 metres above the island and looking back across Dubai Marina.

France’s Poma was subcontracted by South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction for work on the project in 2019. The engineering, procurement, construction and installation (EPCI) contract covers work related to the 48 capsules.

The progress is encouraging after years of delays. Dubai announced the Ain Dubai wheel and Bluewaters Island project in February 2013.

This January, Dubai Media Office said the Ain Dubai would be open before Dubai Expo started in October 2020. The event has now been rescheduled for 2021.

Construction and the broader economy can derive confidence from the fact major, infrastructure-enhancing, new projects continue to be delivered in Dubai

Another engineering feat is the lift of the sky bridge, known as The Link, connecting the two towers that form the One Zabeel project next to Dubai World Trade Centre. Weighing some 7,000 tonnes, the structure was lifted into place over the last weekend in August and is a major milestone for the project.

Malaysian contractor Eversendai was contracted by the local Alec to work on The Link in 2018. Alec secured the estimated $950m main construction contract in mid-2017 from the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).

Both the Ain Dubai and One Zabeel milestones are important for construction in Dubai. The outlook for the sector worsened significantly during 2019 as companies struggled with tightening liquidity, delayed payments and less upcoming work. These challenges have been further amplified by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic this year.

Progress on ambitious projects demonstrate that while these challenges remain, construction and the broader economy can derive confidence from the fact major, infrastructure-enhancing, new projects continue to be delivered in Dubai.

As engineers work onsite, there are also signs that real estate developers will continue to produce work for the future.

On 30 August, Dubai developer Seven Tides announced it had awarded the contract to build its Seven City JLT residential project to Ireland-headquartered Airolink. The Jumeirah Lakes Tower project is valued at AED1bn ($272.2m) and is due to complete in the second quarter of 2023.

Contractor wins Dubai's Seven City JLT

More new work is needed. The most significant upcoming building project is The Island hotel scheme that is planned for a man-made island close to the Burj al-Arab. Dubai developer Wasl asked contractors to reconfirm interest in the main construction contract for the scheme, which includes MGM, Bellagio and Aria hotels, in July.

If this project moves ahead as planned, Dubai and its construction sector will have more reasons to feel confident about the future.

This month's UAE market report includes:

> GovernmentAbu Dhabi deals in domestic and diplomatic stimulus
> EconomyUAE economic activity heads for tepid recovery
> BankingUAE banks seek path through Covid crisis
> UpstreamAdnoc presses ahead with onshore projects
PetchemsAbu Dhabi bolsters regional petrochemicals market
> ConstructionA very different crisis for UAE construction
> Power & waterUAE utilities sector progresses amid crisis
> Real estateProfits decline at Dubai real estate companies
> City planningPandemic refocuses urban design priorities
> DatabankUAE economic activity turns the corner






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