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Sat 16 Jan 2010 04:00 AM

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New year, new start

The UAE capital is expected to push on with its steady building programme in 2010.

New year, new start
Design and safety standards will be raised to the highest levels this year.
New year, new start
DMA undersecretary HE Ahmed Shareef.

The UAE capital is expected to push on with its steady building programme in 2010.

At a time when other parts of the world are reining in their construction budgets and suffering slowdowns, Abu Dhabi appears to just keep on going – a fact not lost on contractors across the world.

The F1 Grand Prix may have been the exciting climax to one of Abu Dhabi’s major construction projects, but it also marks the beginning of the next phase, representing the steady construction flow in the UAE capital.

“Local companies are investing in Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Developers and contractors feel comfortable starting new projects in the area because new developments are progressing at a steady pace and are not accelerating too quickly,” says Simon Mrad, managing director for pump firm Wilo.

Along with the well-known mega-projects of Yas and Saadiyat Islands, Abu Dhabi’s growth is also creating opportunities in the form of housing. “Depending on which estimate you follow, Abu Dhabi has a housing gap of anywhere between 5000 to 40,000 homes,” says Baniyas Investment and Development Company CEO Wael Tawil.

Companies are already picking up ancillary housing contracts. October 2009 saw Drake and Scull International (DSI) win a $108.8 million (AED400 million) MEP contract for a neighbourhood project in Abu Dhabi.

“Our management team and workforce have been working exceptionally hard to ensure the company’s success and profitability, and we hope to have more large project announcements in the near future,” says DSI vice chairman and CEO Khaldoun Tabari.

Housing in Abu Dhabi should also not be considered as something entirely separate from the mega-projects. In November, developer Aldar, which is developing Yas Island, confirmed the possibility of a tie-up with Ferrari to create branded housing.

“There is a massive possibility that Aldar will work with Ferrari on future ventures in Abu Dhabi, perhaps residential or commercial,” says Aldar chief commercial officer Mohammed Al Mubarak.“We’re still in initial talks, very early stages, and we’ll tell you more once there’s something more concrete to report. Housing is a big possibility. We’d like to look at Ferrari branded villas in Abu Dhabi.”

However, any construction firm hoping to do well in Abu Dhabi will need to familiarise itself quickly with the new building codes which come into force in 2010.

“We are working closely with all municipalities to launch the new codes. The building registration departments at all municipalities are coordinating with consulting offices, engineering firms, developers and contractors to ensure smooth adoption and implementation of the codes,” says Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipal Affairs undersecretary HE Ahmad Shareef.

“All projects including new construction and additions to existing structures will have to be in compliance with the new codes.”

In addition to HSE practice, the codes will enforce Abu Dhabi’s commitment to environmentally sustainable projects. All buildings designed in Abu Dhabi will have to comply with minimum environmental standards. The building codes will require developers to conserve the use of energy and water.

“Higher energy and water efficient requirements can also be achieved through the Abu Dhabi building codes to meet higher sustainability ratings for buildings,” said Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs consultant for policies and regulation Ali Bukair.

Design and construction safety standards in the emirate will be raised to a level “that has never been seen before,” as a result of the codes adoption and the creation of a suitable regulatory system, according to Bukair.

“Construction permit departments in Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Al Ain City Municipality and the Western Region Municipality will act as a quality control point ensuring that codes are enforced properly,” he adds.

Code and construction violations will face penalties that are yet to be determined.

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