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Sun 3 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Counting the cost

It's not often living in Dubai that you have cause to complain about rainy weather.

It's not often living in Dubai that you have cause to complain about rainy weather. In fact, for British citizens like myself, the rare sight of rain is usually a cause for celebration, bringing back fond memories of the days when you never went anywhere without your trusty umbrella.

But last month's unexpected downpour gave people much to gripe about in the UAE. It rained for nearly a week solid with total rainfall in Dubai during January 11-16 measuring 108.8mm, according to the Dubai International Airport metrological office. That's in comparison to average rainfall of 15.6mm for the ENTIRE month of January.

While for most the rainfall was inconvenient, for landscape contractors, gardeners and suppliers it was disastrous. The firms we spoke to told of a whole host of problems from flooded sites to staff shortages, to difficulties in sending and receiving supplies.

What this whole episode proved is the importance of having a back-up plan in case a project gets delayed. Particularly on larger projects, where lost time represents lost money, and lots of it, businesses need to prepare for the worst.

While more rainfall isn't expected just yet, the unexpected can and does happen - it even snowed in Saudi the other week- and the smart business is the one that thinks ahead.

On a brighter note, it is encouraging to see the number of new projects promoting the outdoor that are being launched in the region. Dubai Promenade, from Nakheel, announced this month, is the latest to highlight the importance of maximising the outdoor space. Arabian Canal, profiled by Commercial Outdoor Design this issue, is another project where the designers and developers have put the use of open space high on the agenda.

All too often when talking about design and construction, it is the buildings that steal the limelight. Whether it's the tallest building, the twirliest building or the most tree-like building - as unveiled at last month's World Future Energy Summit - it is the buildings that grab the headlines while the all-important space between the buildings and surrounding the buildings is left in the shade. It's good to see outdoor design and the work of outdoor professionals getting the attention it deserves at last.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

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