Festival cITy

How IT came to play in the construction of Dubai Festival City.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  April 12, 2007

Dubai Festival city is a 100,000 square foot ‘city within a city' perched on the banks of Dubai Creek. The site boasts more than 2,500 rooms and offers a wealth of facilities, such as hotels, a convention centre and time-share resorts. The all-in-one destination blends hospitality, entertainment, business and residential development into a 3.8 mile stretch of waterfront and has been slated for completion in 2015.

The fact that it is the largest privately funded mixed-use real estate project in the Middle East meant that its construction was never going to be easy. So when Kuwait-based Kharafi National took the project on, it could not afford to waste any time or material - this would simply have lead to the business bleeding money. The company, established in 1976, has grown to become one of the largest construction companies in Kuwait and now boasts 11,000 employees throughout the region. It provides a wide range of services to governments and the public sector - engineering, project management, maintenance and construction.

Striving to build on its record for quality construction in the Middle East region, the mechanical and electrical design and installation specialists turned to Autodesk. The IT vendor provides solutions to a variety of industries, including the building sector, so it was able to offer Kharafi building systems design and documentation software.

Dubai Festival City has been the firm's first project using the system. On such a large and complex project, Kharafi needed to streamline the construction process and improve productivity so that the work could be completed on schedule. It was crucial to completely remove any chance of errors that could increase costs or cause delays. Jean Abi Aad, corporate engineering manager for the engineering services department at Kharafi says the company's desire to develop in the market meant the need for the Autodesk solution was imperative.

"A few years ago, we were looking for a software solution that would streamline the construction processes and help us become the market leader in the mechanical electrical plumbing (MEP) market," says Abi Aad.

After careful review, Kharafi standardised on Autodesk Building Systems (ABS), the AutoCAD software-based design and documentation system for MEP engineers, designers, and drafters. Using ABS, Kharafi has been able to organise and reference the architectural and structural plans for projects developed by architects and structural engineers with AutoCAD. By taking advantage of the AutoCAD-based architectural and engineering automatic routing between these disciplines, the firm has been able to provide an even higher level of accuracy and coordination in its design and documentation.

As the solution links design data with other project information - such as schedules and elevations - Kharafi National was able to streamline work on the Dubai Festival City project by easily producing detailed sections in seconds rather than hours. When designers make a change, sections and elevations are easily updated with a simple click of the mouse. This, in turn, saves time and helps ensure accuracy in the design. Each design change is reflected in real time, minimising tedious manual updates. "That feature really cut the overall time required for revising and editing a drawing," explains Abi Aad.

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