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Sat 3 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Royal Amwaj: Thai luxury

Royal Amwaj will be an amalgamation of elements from the Far East and the laid-back vibe of Seychelles.

Even though it has an Arabic name, Royal Amwaj (waves), will be an amalgamation of design elements from the Far East coupled with the laid-back island vibe of Seychelles. Features editor Shikha Mishra goes on site with senior photographer Valeriano Handumon to get an update on the resort's construction.

With the Atlantis having opened, Palm Jumeirah has become the final destination for luxurious hospitality.

But there is a serious contender for that title - the Royal Amwaj.

Located on the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, construction on the Royal Amwaj is expected to be completed in the final quarter of 2009.

With its mix of duplex condos, sunken villas and water homes surrounding the world's largest lagoon, the resort will probably come pretty close to the Atlantis in terms of the opulent stakes.

But the path to luxury was'nt easy. When construction on the project began two years ago, infrastructure work on the Palm was not complete which led to logistical problems.

"We began construction in May 2007. At that time the tunnel was not ready. Coming in and out of the Palm was a disaster and transporting material and personnel was a problem. We had to use barges in the beginning to transport material, concrete and workers, so it was a difficult process," says Saleh Muradweij, executive director, GTCC.

Royal Amwaj's design is based on the spa-style luxury resorts in Thailand, with a large quantity of wood being used on the facades, floor and ceiling.

But, some changes to the original design and the materials used have been made to suit Dubai's climate.

"The way the roofs have been executed is different. In Thailand, concrete pitched roofs are used with tiles. Here we have used steel structures with insulation and PU foam over which we have used waterproofing and then we put the clay tiles imported from Thailand. There is a lot of development of the original design to suit the climate here. There were also constraints on the availability of material that was originally specified," says Muradweij.

The challenge the market faced in the past year with the volatility of the prices and the escalation of prices of materials led to problems in terms of trying to meet the original budget of the project.

"Towards the beginning of 2008, most new contracts have started implementing the escalation clause. This project in particular did not. However, the client understood the conditions of the market, and they worked out certain compensation by awarding new work packages to us," says Muradweij.

The built up area of the hotel is 160,000 m2 and construction work is 67% complete. Currently, there are about 3000 workers on-site, as the project is in its final stages. Most of the structural work is complete; the architectural finishing work is on its way; the fit-outs have started, and the decorations and final wood works are going in. "Ours will be a unique project on the Palm. The Atlantis speaks for itself, but Royal Amwaj will be unique too. There are a lot of expectations and plans for this project. This area of the Palm is picking up due to the opening of the Atlantis."

The operator for the resort will be Movenpick and the centrepiece of the property will be the water homes and sunken villas. "Ours will be the only water homes existing in the region. Palm Jebel Ali is also planning to construct water homes but those will only be ready by 2012 or 2015," says Muradweij.

The air-conditioning for the entire Palm is connected to a central district cooling plant, with the island being powered by a central connection.

"Power is a problem on the island as the Palm project has increased in size and is now larger than what was originally planned for. But we have faith in DEWA that the excess demand will be taken care of and we are confident that we will begin receiving permanent power supply by September 2009, much ahead of our official opening date," says Muradweij.

Company profilesGulf Technical Construction Company

Gulf Technical Construction Company (GTCC), a Drake & Scull International PJSC (under incorporation) company, is a general contracting company. GTCC has been operating in the UAE since 2003. The main activities of the company are infrastructure work, design and build (turnkey projects) involving district cooling, sewage treatment and water purification. This specialisation translates to a full range of quality engineering services for construction, management, planning and design of projects.

GTCC has completed many projects in the UAE, including: construction for district cooling plant in Dubai Festival City and district cooling plant at Jumeirah Beach Residence, the single largest district cooling plant in the region at its time. GTCC has an on-going work on Laguna Tower Hotel & Residence, Cayan Business Centre and Motor City District Cooling Plant.

Drake & Scull International

Drake & Scull International is a leading end-to-end contracting company providing mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP), industrial water & power (IWP) and civil contracting services. DSI has provided innovative solutions to customers in the UAE since its inception in 1966.

Its expertise in mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) contracting spans from providing complete solutions through design and build to engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), as well as maintenance and operations of district cooling plants, and civil contracting services across Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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