A look at the latest skyscraper which is set to become a remarkable landmark on Sheikh Zayed Road
The Tower Number 1 project construction team on this prestigious new development brings together experienced professional personnel from a multitude of nations and disciplines.
The Clients Office is represented by the Engineers Office Projects Department who with their senior management, project management, commercial and quality assurance staff oversea the overall project before and during the construction period and ensure exacting quality standards are achieved to the expectations of the ultimate occupiers and in accordance with best industry practices.
The function of Project Architects and Consultants for the Tower Number 1 project is a role Khatib & Alami fulfill admirably with key representatives in all disciplines available both on site and at their Head Office with a vast number of previous successes in their repertoire from which they draw their expertise and experience.
Design Division have been appointed by the Client as the chosen Interior Designers who will apply the same quality of work to their Tower Number 1 Furnished Apartments and Hotel interior fit-out package as they have recently displayed on the prestigious Emirates Towers project.
The excellent teamwork and working relationship between the Client, Consultant, Designers and Contractor, Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises, has ensured that the project is now well on track for a completion later this year, the current key issues adopted by all concerned in the project being safety, quality, progress and budgetary control.
In 1979, the Middle East gasped as the World Trade Centre was unveiled on a patch of land on the side of the single lane highway linking Dubai with the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi. The choice of location took many by surprise. The Abu Dhabi Road was flanked by barren wastelands and the main development areas for the blossoming city were widely regarded to be located on the Creek.
But fast forward the clock over 20 years to the new century and the 3-km stretch of highway between the Trade Centre and Defence Roundabout is now completely unrecognisable in comparison.
Eight lanes of bustling traffic run in and out of the city, while the road sits for a majority of the day under the shadow of modern skyscrapers, with many still having their finishing touches applied. It seems, certainly over the past decade, that as soon as one building is finished, another springs up. The Abu Dhabi Road of today has been renamed the Sheikh Zayed Road after the country’s ruler, and boasts skyscrapers on both sides of the road with space running out for new developments.
Osama Al Taher is the senior project manager representing Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises for the Tower 1 development currently reaching for the skies close to the Defence Roundabout. It can be seen on the left hand side of the road as one travels out of Dubai. Taher worked on the pioneering Rostamani Towers back in 1990 which were the first towers to be built after the World Trade Centre. They still stand proudly on the road today.
“It was pioneering work at the time because the road was still under development,” said Taher, who joined Al Habtoor Group during the same year that the World Trade Centre opened. “We were told at the time that 20 more towers would be going up in the following five years and we were thinking of going higher with ours. But we could never know for sure what the future plans of the road would be.” Taher’s latest challenge is breathtaking to say the least. Tower 1 takes the shape of an inverted Y, with furnished apartments occupying each leg and a five star hotel taking up the main body of the structure.
Scheduled to open in November, the 150-metre building will consist of 40 floors, with an open air swimming pool located on the roof. There will be 84 unfurnished apartments in one leg, 147 furnished apartments in the other, and 174 rooms in the luxury hotel.
“This building has provided us with an exceptional challenge, but Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises has risen to that challenge and we are now well on the way to completing the project on schedule,” said Taher. Born in the West Bank, Taher is one of Al Habtoor Engineering’s most senior project managers and has worked on a variety of jobs from stadiums and villas to the Sharjah Women’s Club and the billion-dollar Burj Al Arab, which opened its doors for business at the end of 1999.
“The Burj Al Arab project will never be repeated. It was a one-off and a tremendous achievement for the company to have succeeded in completing it,” he said. “This latest project follows on from that success with the same standard of safety and quality that was achieved with Burj Al Arab.” A thousand men are working around the clock to meet the challenge of this latest project, and the figures Taher reels off are staggering. “The tower is 60,300 square metres with car parking space for 300 cars. 50,000 cubic metres of concrete were used along with 9,000 tons of steel reinforcement. The foundation is 2,500 square metres and 2.8m deep. We poured in 6,000 cubic metres of concrete into it in a record time of 31 hours. It was astonishing work and took five pumps connected to mixers to achieve it.”
Once the infrastructure was in place, Taher’s team set about the challenge of bringing to life the unique drawings that look so impressive on paper. “When we took the contract in November 1998, we were given 24 months to complete it and we are confident of handing over to the client on time in November this year,” said Taher. “The structure should be complete by March and the rest of the work will be ongoing.”
While Taher makes it sound so easy, he points out that his team faced one of the trickiest tests ever presented to the construction industry in this part of the world... how to support the main central body of the building with two legs standing several metres apart.
This was achieved by connecting the two legs at the 24th floor by a transfer slab. The 14 metre slab carries the load of the central third of the building. This is made up from four major concrete beams consisting of 70 cubic metres of suspended concrete equal to 175 tons each. These will be suspended 86 metres from the ground. “It is a one-off job,” admits Taher as he reflects on the mammoth task. The transfer slab was designed by HEE engineering manager Dr Nabeel Shahood and fabricated by Al Habtoor steel workshop.
Taher puts safety and quality ahead of anything else in his work place, and says he is working with a very good client and consultants who are helping to produce a superb end product. His site office is adorned with safety certificates and awards and he added with pride: “We hope to win the annual award for safety. For the last nine months we have been the safest site in the company. A lot of people working with me here also worked with me on the Burj Al Arab so it has carried over from there.” Once completed, the Tower 1 will boast some of the best residential and hotel facilities in the city. Two basements will contain a banquet hall and services area, while the 24th floor will consist of Thai, Lebanese and Italian restaurants. The hotel will be complimented with the sort of business and leisure facilities expected of a modern five-star hotel.
Having spent the first four years of his Al Habtoor career in Dubai, Taher was posted back to Jordan to work on several projects Al Habtoor Engineering was constructing in the Kingdom. He returned to Dubai in 1988 with his wife and they have since had three children - one boy and two girls.
After the Burj Al Arab and his current project, you would expect Taher to have become complacent, but he is far from it and comes across as an extremely ambitious person.
“After this project we hope to keep working on bigger projects,” he enthuses. “I don’t think there is any sign of the construction industry slowing down in the foreseeable future. Dubai will grow up and up and each project seems to be better than the last one. Although I strongly believe that Burj Al Arab will never be repeated.”
Space on Sheikh Zayed Road is becoming scarce and developers are already pinpointing new areas to build, but Taher believes the growth will continue beyond the Defence Roundabout where a new shopping centre is already close to completion.
Taher’s work ethics epitomise those of Al Habtoor in general, with the engineering and construction departments widely respected in the Middle East construction industry. Most of the UAE’s leading landmarks have the Al Habtoor influence in some shape or form, and Taher believes it is the company’s ability of working quickly while following the strictest quality and safety guidelines that keep its order books full.
Another notable project Al Habtoor has under construction is in partnership with Murray and Roberts at Dubai Airport. The Dhs540 million concourse project is set to open this month, and elevate Dubai’s airport status to one of the finest in the world.
At 800 metres from nose to tail, the new Dubai concourse comprises of a five star hotel, 10,000 sqms of shopping (almost the complete size of the new Terminal 2 building), numerous food outlets and even an Irish pub which is housed in the new complex along with a host of other new innovations. The Dubai International Airport concourse and the stunning Tower 1 are the latest in a long line of triumphs and success stories for Al Habtoor, which is one of Dubai’s pioneering companies.
Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises was the founding organisation of Al Habtoor Group. It was established in 1970 and its subsequent years of steady success contributed towards the entire group’s expansion and diversification. The Company’s experienced international management team are capable of undertaking construction projects ranging from multi-complex hotels and hospitals and residential apartment towers and villas, and special projects such as military bases and camps.
In 1994, Al Habtoor Engineering completed the prestigious Holiday Centre Complex on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Highway which includes an office block, shopping mall, residential apartment block and a large luxury hotel. In 1995, the 29-storey Dubai Creek Tower was completed, a high-rise residential and office complex. More recent projects include both the Burj Al Arab, rising to a staggering 321 metres and the 600 bedroom Jumeirah Beach Hotel; the 213 suites and bedrooms Metropolitan Palace Hotel and a development of 204 hotel suites and a commercial centre in Jumeirah, as well as residential towers, a palace and military works in Abu Dhabi.
The company has additionally diversified into steel-frame housing, and has successfully completed over 100 villas, using this rapid construction technique that has been well received by tenants. A recent major success has been the astounding and futuristic Officer’s Club in Abu Dhabi, where an estimated 60,000 square metre of quality woods and marbles have been laid under the largest shell span of its type anywhere in the world. In concept and size, the roof structure could well be a candidate for the Guiness Book of Records.
Al Habtoor Engineering is also a specialist in hospital construction, having built the main extension to Rashid Hospital, plus Al Wasl Hospital and the New Dubai Hospital, Dubai's first modern medical facilities. Additional major hospitals in the Emirates have been constructed by the company.