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Wed 3 Aug 2005 04:00 AM

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Diamond shines on Dubai Marina

Despite the double whammy of material shortages and the introduction of a summertime ban on daytime working, Marina Diamond One has nevertheless kept to its schedule and looks set to meet its finish date of December 2005. Construction Week reports on some of the methods put in place by the team to ensure the timely delivery of the project.

When work started on the first Marina Diamond tower last year the site team knew they faced a tough task.

Six towers to be built in rapid succession in the middle of what would become one of the biggest building sites in the Middle East.

But if that wasn’t enough to contend with, the project was hit with the double of whammy of severe material shortages and the introduction of a summer ban on daytime working.

Despite these setbacks, the project has adhered to its construction schedules and looks set to meet its completion date of December 2005.

The main contractor for Marina Diamond One is Belhasa, with Sun Engineering taking on the role for Marina Diamond Two. Just over a year since work started on the first of six Marina towers, the superstructure of the 14-storey building is finished and the focus has now shifted to the interior block work and finishings.

According to Ayman Ismail, project manager, Diamond Investments, the biggest challenge the project faced was the supply of construction materials: “There are problems right across the UAE in terms of supply of materials — there are simply so many projects coming on line, and the market demand is too much.

“The knock-on effect is longer lead times for procuring the materials — for some materials we’re waiting four months so we’ve had to factor that into the schedule. This highlights the importance of the planning stages. For instance, when purchasing materials from much of Europe, you must remember to take into consideration the fact that many factories are closed in August.”

Work has just started on the glass and aluminium cladding, with one elevation now complete. “We have ordered the cladding from Korea, and yet again, we encountered some problems in terms of delivery. There is good cladding manufactured here in the UAE that we could have sourced, but Korean cladding is a high standard and high quality and well known by everybody.”

Although Dubai Marina is renowned for its limited road access and frequent congestion due to the high volume of construction traffic, Ismail says the project experienced no problems in terms of the delivery of concrete over the summer period.

“Although we face extreme temperatures the concrete is fine as long as it is kept at a consistent temperature of 32 degrees, which is done by using additives in the mix as well as ice and water.”

Ibtissam El-Assaad, marketing manager, Diamond Investments, says: “With six Marina Diamond projects in various stages of completion, the key is planning properly. Again, this was a factor that created some problems with the materials supply — if it was just one building we were working on it would be fine — but when you’re dealing with multiple projects such as this, it can be problematic. But it’s vital to plan properly and have the proper coordination.”

To help ensure that all the critical paths and stages ran smoothly into one another, much of the work was tendered out to various contractors, but Diamond Investments also had a project team on site to ensure all the daily activities ran as smoothly as possible and to ensure that the project met its schedules as planned.

Work on many construction sites in Dubai has been delayed over the summer as a result of the daytime outdoor working ban, which runs from 1st July until the end of August.

While the ban did not have a big impact on Marina Diamond One (because the structure was already complete), it has hit work on the other towers.

“The ban did however have an impact on the other buildings, and this is something that we have had to work around to ensure that we are able to meet our current construction deadlines,” explains Ismail.

As Marina Diamond One enters the final stages of the construction process, the second building in the series is not far behind. Scheduled for completion by September 2006, the shoring, excavation and piling work for the 15-storey Marina Diamond Two is already completed with the concrete work underway.

With its end date scheduled for exactly one year after the keys are delivered to residents of Marina Diamond One, work on the third building in the series is also progressing.

The shoring work for the 15-storey Marina Diamond Three was completed in three weeks, and the excavation and piling stage is estimated to take around five to six weeks, after which time the brickwork will begin.

With the shoring designed and ready for implementation, work will soon begin on Marina Diamond Four. Conin and Al Ajami are the consultants for all six of the Marina Diamond buildings.

Contracts for the remaining Marina Diamond developments have yet to be announced; around five main contractors are in the running for each project.

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