Visionary

There is a perception in certain parts that Dubai has no sustainable vision for the future. Aimad El Habti, senior facilities manager at Dubai Maritime City, puts the record straight.
Visionary
By Paul Collett
Wed 04 Mar 2009 04:00 AM

There is a perception in certain parts that Dubai has no sustainable vision for the future. Aimad El Habti, senior facilities manager at Dubai Maritime City, puts the record straight.

When Dubai's real estate and tourism industries create negative international headlines, and the whispers on the street point to the city state's declining oil revenues as evidence of a bubble burst, it's easy to believe the harbingers of doom and get sucked into the smoke and mirrors analogy.

The lack of any foresight, forward planning and cursory nods towards sustainability in the built environment are common conversations among some expatriates. That though, is to be misinformed.

The lack of any foresight, forward planning and cursory nods towards sustainability in the built environment are common conversations among some expatriates. That though, is to be misinformed.

For sure oil production and revenue spiked in the mid ‘80s to account for around half of the emirate's GDP, but Dubai's wealth is anchored in trade, and it has been known as the ‘city of merchants' for centuries. Its strategic location, as a bridge between the oriental and the occidental, means it's one of the most important ports in the region.

US$68.8 billion worth of external trade

In 2007 Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) companies generated US$68.8 billion worth of external trade - 37 per cent of Dubai's total non-oil trade.

Today, around 6,400 companies are based there, including 154 Fortune Global 500 firms including oil giants UK/Dutch Shell group, BP and Total, alongside major car manufactures Tata and Daimler-Chrysler and communications and electronics blue-chips.

Jebel Ali Free Zone sprung from HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum's - then ruler of Dubai - decision to develop the area into a modern container port, air hub and city in 1976.

The world's largest man made harbour was completed in 1979, and ranked alongside the Great Wall of China and the Hoover Dam as the only three man-made objects that could be seen from space.

The Jebel Ali vision was preceded in 1971 by a feasibility study for the construction of a ship repair facility north of the city centre. Today Dry Docks World-Dubai is the third largest shipyard in the world and can boast a fourth successive Lloyd's List Middle East Shipyard of the Year Award, 2008.

Dubai Maritime City

The maritime vision continues through HH Sheikh Rashid's son and heir HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and the Dubai Maritime City complex.

This is a man-made peninsular 2.27 million square metres in size, situated north of the main city centre and creek area business district, between Port Rashid and Dubai Dry Docks.

A multi-use environment broadly split between commercial and industrial areas, the Industrial Precinct was born from the need to find a new home for Jadaf Dubai, the Arabian Gulf's oldest ship repair and industrial marine yard, says Aimad El Habti, senior facilities manager, property and operations department, Dubai Maritime City.

Environmental accreditation

With construction of dockside, lifting gear, substations, warehouse and worker accommodation well under way and completed in some sectors, talk inevitably turns to the environmental impact of a development this size.

"We have worked hard to ensure we comply with best practice criteria across the site," says Habti.

"Late last year Dubai Maritime City and Dubai Maritime City Authority were awarded PAS 99:2006, ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications which recognise our focus towards quality, health and safety and environmental management practices."Dubai Maritime City and DMCA are the first, and currently the only, organisations in the Middle East to be awarded the PAS 99 Compliance Certificate by DNV, the certification provider.

"It is aimed at organisations with more than one management system in place, and with DMC and DMCA coming together we needed to integrate the two - PAS 99 gave us the framework to do that," he said.

"It's an ongoing process and performance is continually monitored. Also we are an international operation so it makes sense to use an international standard."

Dubai Maritime City is a man-made peninsular 2.27 million m2 in size, situated north of the main city centre.

High level process

How does such an initiative get off the ground? "Well, DMC and DMCA started the initiative with a Business Process Engineering exercise, where teams from different departments worked according to a set plan to develop business processes.

"These high level business processes were developed by the senior management team and subsequently complemented by the intra- and inter-departmental subject matter experts from various departments. The documentation was then streamlined so ISO and PAS 99 could be integrated and the two organisations certified against the standards," Habti explains.

Straight forward measures

A mega project such as DMC demands standardised working practices orchestrated from the highest level, but sustainability starts with simple but effective measures.

Habti produces his DMC Yearly Energy Consumption Report 2008, and it would appear sustainability really does start at home. "This report is for the energy consumption of the DMC office blocks we work from, of which there are four over 45,000 m2. It's my responsibility to measure and report transparently on our energy consumption and implement measures to reduce it where possible."

"But as you can see from this diesel bill, fuel prices were higher in 2008 compared to 2007, equating to a total C02 emission for Block A of 1,446 tonnes. That equates to 22.02 gallons of diesel in July 2008 compared to 11.08 in 2007."

Fuel costs are obviously outside Habti's control, but straightforward measures such as installing timers can make a huge difference. "The timers we installed in 2007 to turn off air conditioning units after office hours led to a 23 percent saving in diesel consumption. Block A was also connected to the DEWA grid this January which meant we could decommission the generator."

Furthermore, treated sewage effluent (TSE) is used for the regulated irrigation of the DMC office and causeway landscaped areas. "Usage peaked in October 2007, hitting 3,393,984 gallons when we watered three times a day. But by reducing it to once a day usage fell to 967032 gallons that December."

Planning for the future

Furthermore, DMC is looking to create an educated and experienced marine workforce to sustain the industry through the establishment of Emirates International Maritime Academy, based on Dubai Maritime City Campus.

The study programmes will be conducted according to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) standards in both theoretical and practical training, in addition to short-term marine courses, which will cover various maritime topics.

The academy will open its doors at a temporary location in DMC while awaiting the completion of DMCC, and will work in close coordination with the various maritime sectors in the UAE and Gulf region. Enough said.

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