By Rob Wagner
Who says there is no silver lining to be found in the dark economic clouds hovering over the UAE?
Who says there is no silver lining to be found in the dark economic clouds hovering over theUAE?
Consider what Alastair Mitchell, senior mechanical engineer for Hyder Consulting Middle East, says about the Burj Dubai:
"With this economic downturn the chances are it (the Burj Dubai) will remain the tallest building in the world for quite a few years to come."
It's probably safe to say there were more than a few sweaty brows earlier this year when announcements were made far and wide that a taller, more striking, and therefore a more architecturally stunning building would rise in a place that is not the United Arab Emirates.
Those concerns seem to have washed away with this winter's storms as the Burj is likely to remain the tallest structure for some time. But I am not jumping up and down like a school girl on Valentine's Day because the news isn't that the Burj will remain the tallest, but that the project demonstrates that despite the global financial crisis, construction work is getting done.
The list of projects underway at full steam is long. The Wave, Muscat, Schön Business Park, Victory Heights, the first two phases of City of Arabia and the Tiger Woods golf course all are on or nearly on schedule.
And take a look at Al Barsha 1, 2 and 3. Infrastructure works is continuing at a frenetic pace. Curbs, gutters, two new roundabouts and a multi-lane connector road linking Al Barsha 1 with Al Barsha 3 are near completion. A mall has broken ground and the makings of a manmade lake have already started. Perhaps that is something you'd expect from the Dubai Municipality, which has put an emphasis on infrastructure.
But the surrounding residential area tells the true story of the UAE's relative financial health. It's less about the big developers and builders and more of the average Emirati and investor looking for income property. Massive villas, especially in Al Barsha 3, are being built to accommodate two, if not three families. Many of the villas have been built to let, with new tenants coming in weekly to look at the accommodations. Services in the form of small grocery stores, barbershops and ladies' stores are popping up to serve the influx of residents.
Certainly, many projects have grounded to a standstill, but many more are heading towards completion. Perhaps Al Barsha, Victory Heights and other projects tell a better and more accurate story of where the UAE is headed in the near future.
Rob Wagner is the editor of Construction Week.