Build it and they will come
From rail infrastructure to global icons, Dubai continues to plough billions into mega projects. Here are some of the latest construction developments
Dubai has forged a formidable reputation as the master builder of mega projects.
Known for its record-breaking global landmarks, from the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, to the world’s largest retail complex, Dubai Mall, the city has carved a niche as developer extraordinaire.
As the emirate fast approaches 2020, when Dubai will stage the World Expo, more investment is being ploughed into ground-breaking projects than ever before.
They include Al Maktoum International (DWC), Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid City and the Expo site itself in Jebel Ali, to name a few.
Just last week, the construction of two major projects got underway, while Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) awarded the construction contract for the hotly-anticipated Dubai Metro extension, which will connect the metro network to the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
Perhaps one of the highest profile projects in the pipeline is The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour which, once completed, will be 100 metres taller than Burj Khalifa.
Last Monday, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched construction work on the development, taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony for the super-skycraper by laying down its foundation stone.
The 928-metre Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour, designed by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava, will be the focal point of the six-square-kilometre master-planned community located on Dubai Creek.
“The groundbreaking of The Tower is another historic moment for the UAE, as we mark the construction of another icon that will add to the UAE’s civic pride,” said Dubai Holding chairman Mohammad Al Gergawi.
"At the heart of Dubai Creek Harbour, the super-tall structure will create lasting value and serve as one of the must-visit tourist destinations in the city.
"Dubai Creek Harbour is our investment in our future, and as a centrepoint of this mega-development, The Tower will enhance the reputation of our city and help boost the growth of the economy.”
Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar said the company would “push the frontiers of engineering and construction to complete the project in time for Expo 2020 Dubai”.
The Tower will feature residential and leisure components including a 360-degree viewing deck called 'The Pinnacle Room' and a VIP observation deck with landscaping the replicates the “splendour of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon”.
It will also feature fully glazed rotating balconies that extend outward, rotating outside the skin of the tower, as well as a boutique hotel.
Just two days after works began on The Tower, the construction of the $272 million phase 2 of Dubai Design District also kicked off.
Also known as d3, Dubai Design District is the city’s creative hub, phase two of which is mooted for completion in 2019, according to Dubai Media Office.
Earlier this year, d3 COO Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi said phase two would involve the construction of a Creative Community, which includes workshops, showrooms, design studios and exhibition space for fashion and design-related events.
UK architectural firm Foster + Partners is thought to have designed the second phase of the 93,000-square-metre masterplan, which includes flexible offices, co-working communal facilities, outdoor display venues as well as a number of pedestrianised areas.
While work on The Tower and phase 2 d3 got started, Dubai’s RTA also finalised a $2.9 billion deal to extend the Dubai Metro, with a view to test running the Route 2020 project from the fourth quarter of 2019, at least six months before the expo takes place.
The contract to build the metro extension has been awarded to Expolink, a consortium of French, Spanish and Turkish companies.
The project will see the Red Line run another 15km from Nakheel Harbour & Tower Station to the site of Expo 2020, with 50 new trains to be supplied by Alstom as part of the deal, 15 of which will be dedicated to expo traffic.
RTA director general Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman said Route 2020 would be launched on May 20, 2020.
Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom, said the consortium was dedicated to providing a metro system that is “comfortable, reliable and safe”.
“With the Dubai Expo 2020, the city and its transportation system will be in the spotlight as modern, connected, and focused on the future,” he added.
Mega infrastructure projects aside, significant tourism-focused attractions continue to attract investment.
DXB Entertainments PJSC and Gulf Islamic Investments (GII) signed a new exclusive agreement last week to develop a state-of-the-art parking management system for Dubai Parks and Resorts, the region’s largest integrated theme park destination, set to open on October 31 this year.
More than 10,000 parking spaces will be developed by GII across two parking facilities at the theme park destination. The parking facilities will include additional services including VIP and valet parking services, to further enhance the overall visitor experience. In addition, one of the parking areas will be serviced by a tram system that transports guests to Riverland™ Dubai, the gateway to the destination.
Meanwhile, the new $272 million Dubai Safari Park will be open by the end of the year, according to Dubai Municipality.
The new attraction will be home to 1,000 animals, more than 350 of which will be rare and endangered species, and cover 119 hectares, an area 80 times larger than Dubai Zoo.
It will feature a safari village, Arabian village, Asian village, African village, children’s zoo, butterfly park and a botanical garden.
Dubai Municipality has said the Safari Park’s design and layout incorporates the best practices from world-renowned safaris and zoos.