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Sat 14 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Seismic review may change codes

Result of a year-long study could mean that risk factor be adjusted to withstand stronger earthquakes.

Developers may have to adopt new building codes to further resist the impact of an earthquake if the outcome of a year-long study by Dubai Municipality recommends upgrading the current code.

The seismic study was launched in May last year to find out if buildings will have to adapt to a higher classification than the current Zone A of the Uniform Building Code (UBC), under which a structure can resist earthquakes measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale.

"If the study recommends that we use a higher zone factor than Zone A; for example, Zone B, then this will add extra costs to the design of a building," said Moawya Saffarini, head of structural engineering unit, building department, Dubai Municipality.

"Once the study is finished, maybe the outcome will either enforce the previous assumptions or change them. According to the global classification of the UBC in design, Dubai is in Zone 0, which means it can accommodate an earthquake of a magnitude of 4/4.5. But we have so far adopted Zone A for extra precaution."

Last week, DM held a seminar in conjunction with Hyder Consulting Middle East to present a new method for predicting seismic hazards in the region.

Several seismic hazard studies for the Arabian Gulf were reviewed and discussed.

"These studies have shown to be contradictory, with seismic hazards in the Gulf States ranging from almost aseismic to high seismic risk," according to a statement from DM's building department.

"The new assessment uses a simple and transparent procedure, in combination with conservative assumptions. The assessment was checked against three independent site-specific seismic studies and an excellent correlation is achieved. This suggests that the estimate of seismic hazard presented in the seminar is reliable and conservative."

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