Over the last five years, Dubai has announced its desire to be a global city through a raft of challenging construction projects. Now, however, the emirate is capitalising on its nautical heritage with yet another world-first conception that will not only enhance its position within the UAE but also its status as a trade link between Europe and Asia.
Dubai Maritime City (DMC) will be the world's first purpose-built city for the global maritime community and will offer a mixed-use environment that covers industrial, commercial and leisure requirements for maritime businesses. Located between Port Rashid and Dubai Dry Docks, DMC is being built on a man-made peninsula spread over 2.27 million m
Comprising of six distinct districts with 19 towers in total, DMC will meet all the modern requirements of a maritime base. As its focal point the Maritime Centre will feature five office towers - all designed and developed by DMC - plus the 230m Landmark Tower, the design of which will be decided following a competition featuring four leading architectural firms. Harbour Offices will offer a strong commercial base located at the entrance of the city; Harbour Residences will provide freehold residential accommodation; Academic Quarter will provide maritime training and research for the Middle East; Marina District will be a cluster of mixed-use activity areas including dry boat storage facilities, while Jadaf Dubai will be a dedicated purpose-built industrial area.
Currently located at Dubai Creek, Jadaf Dubai is one of the oldest ship repair yards in the Arabian Gulf, and the DMC is designed to transform the new yard into a state-of-the-art facility featuring dry and wet berthing facilities. When relocated in the industrial area of DMC, it will occupy just under half of its 2.4 million m
in total, forming a cornerstone of the entire development.
Amer Ali, Dubai Maritime City project manager, explains how the need for a new, modern yard generated the idea of a maritime city: "Dubai Maritime City was created in response to the need to relocate Dubai's oldest ship repair facility, Jadaf Dubai. This relocation became the inspiration for an entire city to cater to the needs and requirements of not just Dubai's, but all maritime businesses worldwide."
The driving force was to create something unique, a fully-equipped multi-dimensional maritime complex that hasn't been seen before.
"While we did undertake studies of existing clusters and their dynamics, ongoing dialogue with industry professionals has also been an important component of developing this project," says Ali.
The city will also play its part in meeting the inevitable demand for nautical facilities as Dubai continues to expand, especially with its emphasis on waterfront projects such as the Palms' Jumeirah, Jebel Ali and Deira. "Dubai Maritime City was planned to provide relocation for Jadaf and further strengthen and support the maritime industry, not just in Dubai but globally. But it was also created to service and support waterfront developments in Dubai and the predicted growth in the leisure marine industry," he adds.
When completed, the total expected population inclusive of people who will live and work there will be over 100,000. Plans also include berthing facilities for more than 100 yachts.
Construction on the industrial areas began in mid-September 2006, which included civil works for berths, a ship transfer pit and other basic infrastructure works. The contractor for all infrastructure work in the industrial area is Bin Hafeez.
The scope of construction work comprised earthworks, associated structural walls and piles. The construction of the dry berth area encompassed 144,792 m
while the total area of the transfer pits is 67,805 m
. The shipyard substructure will encompass in-situ cast reinforced concrete foundation with shear keys and structural walls for mounting steel rails. The total length of these rails is 39,462 linear metres.
The second phase of industrial infrastructure construction work got underway in November 2006 with the development of civil, electrical and mechanical components. This phase encompassed 240,000 m
of concrete, including landscaping, gravel infill and block paving. "Also, piling works for both the central administration building and the shiplift control tower, which will oversee the complete shiplift facilities, have been completed," says Ali.
One of the key features of the industrial sector will be two shiplifts situated adjacent to each other. Manufactured by Hydraudyne Rexroth, one will be 90m long and 25m wide - designed to lift vessels up to 3000 tonnes - while the other will be 140m long and 30m wide and designed to lift boats up to 6000 tonnes. Both shiplifts will be capable of 14m vertical travel and the platforms and vessels will be raised and lowered by a series of winches and steel ropes along the length of the lift.
"The current focus is on building and placement of the ship lifts, and having completed the construction of the first (3000 tonnes) ship lift in November, work on the second lift (6000 tonnes) is currently progressing. In addition to that, dry berth facilities and full completion of the quay wall has been a key focus. Final preparations are being made for the launch of tower plots and commencement of piling for the Maritime Centre," says Ali.
Approximately 2kms of the 3km quay wall has been completed (requiring 7,779 blocks being laid at 40-45 blocks a day), all reclamation works and breakwaters have also been completed, while 90% of the ground improvement works are finished.
The multi-faceted aspect of construction is one of the most complex Dubai has seen, acknowledges Ali - hardly surprising considering the scale of the development, the complexity of operating on reclaimed land, coupled with a diverse range of engineering skill sets and the construction of shear walls, quay walls, dry berths and other nautical facilities required in any maritime development. Meteorological concerns add a further dimension to the development, with wind direction and behaviour a key factor in the early stages of the project.
There is also the logistical task of juggling numerous contractors involved in the project. Besides Bin Hafeez, Amana is the main contractor for DMC, Arabtec is working on the administration buildings, while Besix is overseeing the entire road network.
With DMC, Dubai appears to be covering all bases as it continues to diversify away from an oil-based economy. By strengthening its trade and commerce potential. DMC will complement the already existing Dry Docks and Port Rashid, while at the same time create a homogenous maritime community. A clear signal that once again, there is, or certainly will be, more substance to the emirate than one might think.