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  Dubai has announced plans to build a new commercial heart of the city destined to become the emirate’s own version of Manhattan. Ben Smalley reports on the future plans for Business Bay and the early involvement of leading local construction company Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises in the ground-breaking initiative.

  The development of Dubai continues at a rapid pace, with the city’s latest mega project set to turn several kilometres of land along the Creek into a new commercial and business district.

  The construction of Business Bay was announced by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Minister of Defence, who said the initiative will provide the right environment and infrastructure for businesses from around the world to establish their local, regional and international headquarters.

  The project involves extending Dubai Creek, the natural water inlet dividing the city into Deira and Bur Dubai, and building futuristic office blocks along the shoreline to create a central business district similar in nature to Manhattan in New York or Ginza in Tokyo.

  In announcing the massive project during the Arab Strategy Forum, Sheikh Mohammed acknowledged the historical role the Creek has played in Dubai’s history, serving as a ‘lifeline’ for the merchants who helped build the city’s reputation as a flourishing trading entrepot.

  “In the past, the prosperity of the city depended heavily on the Creek and most of the people resided along the shores,” he said. “My father, Sheikh Rashid's vision to take Dubai to news levels of growth and development, led to the dredging of the Creek. And it is our pleasure today to announce another key project which is related to the Creek.

  Business Bay will compliment the other major infrastructure projects Dubai has already embarked on to promote business growth and attract foreign investment into the UAE.

  “The last few years have witnessed ambitious initiatives such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai International Financial Center, Dubai Healthcare City and The Palm, all aimed to strengthen the role that Dubai will play on both regional and international levels. However, we felt that we need to do more. We wanted to build a project that will be the cornerstone of a new economic push and extend the international role of the UAE.

  “Extensive studies conducted by some of the top international consultancies stated that Business Bay is a project that will surely make the desired change. Business Bay is an initiative that reflects our commitment to continue to heavily invest in order to develop the infrastructure of the country and to maintain good relations between the public and private sectors.

  “This is done not only through the constant revision of rules and regulations which help the growth of businesses, but also through working hard to launch new investment opportunities for the private sector. We are confident that 'Business Bay' will play a major role in the development of the country.”

  The massive project will be managed by Dubai Properties, part of Dubai Holding, and covers 64 square kilometres of land stretching from Ras Al Khor to Shaikh Zayed Road with high-rise office and accommodation towers nestled between gardens and canals to produce an attractive working and living environment.

  Mohammed Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai Holding, added: “Business Bay reflects the ambitious vision of Dubai and the role that the UAE is looking forward to play as a leading international commercial and business centre. And as His Highness stated, the essence of the project - the first of its kind in the region - lies in extending the Dubai Creek to allow for the construction of a huge new city within the city. The importance of this unique project lies not only in its size or cost, but also in the tremendous impact it will have on the local economy.

  “We look forward to the role Business Bay will play in making this country one of the best business centres in the world. This ambitious project is expected to attract large numbers of regional and international firms, especially with the modern infrastructure and facilities that this project provides, in addition to the already existing rules and regulations that encourage the prosperity and stability of business in the country.”

  It is anticipated that Business Bay will attract tens of billions of dollars of investment into Dubai, and developers report that the first phase was sold out within a few hours of going on offer, with Dh 4 billion worth of sales generated from local and international investors keen to develop plots into towers.

  “The speed with which plots were snapped up reflects the confidence that investors have in Business Bay and the flourishing economic future of the UAE,” said Hashim Al Dabal, chief executive officer of Dubai Properties. “The project is open to the private sector, reflecting the significance of the role of the private sector in the development of the country. It also suggests that the role of government should be limited to extensively investing in infrastructure and providing an attractive legal and regulatory environment, as well as launching similar initiatives that attract local and regional investments.”

  The first phase of development of Business Bay involves three main elements - the extension of the Creek; establishing the infrastructure, such as roads and electricity networks; and laying the foundations for towers and other facilities.

  “All three will be executed simultaneously so the project can be completed on schedule,” added Al Dabal. “Sheikh Mohammad’s vision concentrates on planning for tomorrow and working in advance so we are able to face the huge projected growth and to prepare the country to maintain its competitiveness regionally and internationally.”

  Among the first contracts to be awarded by Dubai Properties was the excavation, fencing and piling contract for eleven towers at Business Bay, which was awarded to Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises. The local construction company, part of the Al Habtoor Group, has built some of the finest and best-known structures in the UAE and relishes the opportunity of being involved in the city’s latest groundbreaking initiative.

  Project Director Ziad Ammous said: “Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises has played a significant role in many of Dubai’s most prestigious construction projects and we are delighted to be involved with Business Bay which continues the unprecedented growth and expansion of modern Dubai into one of the world’s most attractive business cities.

  “Business Bay is a typical Dubai project – ambitious, inspiring and forward-thinking – and we are all looking forward to playing our role in helping turn this vision into reality.”

  The future benefits that Business Bay will bring to Dubai were outlined by Hashim Al Dabal, who said the project forms an important component of Sheikh Mohammed’s vision for Dubai for the year 2010 and beyond.

  “The project has long-term dimensions that will far exceed its direct shorter-term economic impact. Although Business Bay will play a vital role in developing the local economy in the next couple of years and attract investments worth tens of billions of dollars, its longer term secondary and tertiary impact will, however, be much more than the direct economic gain. This is precisely because it helps put the UAE on the map as one of the most important business capitals in the world.”

  The latest luxury apartment building in Dubai Marina is nearing completion as Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises puts the finishing touches to Al Seef Tower ahead of its future residents moving in to their brand new homes.

  In just 21 months, a patch of wasteland on the edge of the stunning marine development has been transformed into a 215 metre high residential tower that combines elegance and architectural beauty fitting for one of the most prestigious residential addresses in Dubai.

  For project director Suheil Al Rayes, the achievement is capped by the fact that in almost two years, and with up to 3,000 people working on the site at any one time, not a single accident has occurred – a record which has won the project no fewer than six safety awards during the construction period.

  “Constructing a high-rise building always comes with risks, but we are proud to say we have not had a single accident,” he said. “It is difficult and costly to maintain this sort of safety record, but we have the highest standards as a company and safety will never be compromised - everybody working on the site is valued and important to us.”

  Al Seef Tower was designed by M/S Dar Consult and built by Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises on behalf of Deyaar – a subsidiary company of Dubai Islamic Bank. Comprising 47 two-bedroom apartments, 96 three-bedroom apartments and 16 penthouses, as well as car parking, leisure and service facilities, the residential components of the building sold out before Suheil and his team even started work on site in June 2003.

  “The project has progressed perfectly,” he said. “We finished on time which nobody really expected for such a huge construction, especially as there were some changes to the design along the way. Normally a job like this would take 24 months, so to do it in 21 months was quite an achievement. There are other towers being built around here that started before us but haven’t finished yet.”

  Suheil attributes the successful completion of the building on time to meticulous planning and a dedicated team of contractors and subcontractors rising to the challenge.

  “The team were very professional - both our in-house team and the subcontractors,” he said. “Without good subcontractors you cannot succeed, and we had very good people working on this project. This also helped make it an enjoyable project to work on. There were areas of difficulty with particular floors, but we overcame them and are very happy with the result.”

  Al Seef Tower comprises two bedroom apartments from floors 4-11, three bedroom apartments from levels 12-35 and then penthouse apartments up to the 43rd floor.  There is also car parking within the building, service areas for lifts and air conditioning coolers, as well as leisure facilities such as a swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi, steamer and sauna.

  “With different sized apartments on different floors there are more complex architectural and structural aspects involved than if you are building a tower with the same sized apartments throughout,” Suheil explained. “We had to include a cantilever above the two bedroom apartments and a larger cantilever on the 36th floor above the three bedroom apartments.

  “The cantilever on the 36th floor was particularly challenging. When the job was first awarded to us we recognised this would be a difficult aspect of the construction and began thinking then about how we would do it. Rather than running the risk of delaying the project, it was studied well in advance and by the time we actually reached that level we knew precisely how we were going to do it and it was a piece of cake.”

  As Suheil and his team prepare to pack up their tools and move on to whichever major project is next assigned for them, they can’t help feel an immense sense of satisfaction.

   “You are always proud to see the completed project, especially when it is finished on time and with high quality like this,” Suheil said. “When you look at the building from a distance and re-live how every square foot was built you feel a real sense of achievement.”


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