Dubailand to launch UAE’s single biggest round of contracts

Site development starts; project management firm set up; four projects announced;

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By  Eudore Chand Published  November 27, 2003

The gigantic 2 billion ft2 project being built at the junction of Emirates Road, Nad Al Sheba, Al Quoz and Al Barsha in Dubai, is divided into six main themes combining 45 major projects, which would in turn, comprise more than 200 different ventures. The entire project will be built in phases. Feasibility and research took two years. Infrastructure development work has started at the site. The main elements of the project are expected to be in place for the opening in the last quarter of 2006. The site is expected to achieve critical mass by 2010 and would continue to grow beyond that date. “It is astounding that almost daily something new is being announced in Dubai. The industry is looking forward to Dubailand, which is a huge project,” said Ramesh Lakhiani, proprietor of architect and design firm Ramesh & Associates. It is most likely that a project as gigantic as Dubailand will go to major developers, designers, architects and contractors. However, small general contracting firms were also hopeful for a slice of business. “There are big projects like Dubailand which will go to big contractors, but we are hopeful of getting smaller jobs,” said Abrar Ahmed Khan of Al Zaffin Contracting. Suppliers of building materials such as Shyam Bhatia of Alam Traders, were looking forward to demand growth once the project gets going. Projects such as Dubailand are an opportunity for local contractors to improve themselves and their professional capabilities, said Dr. Rashed Ahmed Rashed, general manager of UAE Contractors Association. “The Dubailand project should make each one of us pleased, happy and proud. This will reflect on our lives. “We see such projects as a challenge to improve, to increase our skills and abilities and to enhance our level of professional standards,” Dr Rashed said while pointing out that projects of the size of Dubailand require extreme care by developers as they cannot afford things to go wrong. The US $5.7 billion Dubailand is being promoted by the Dubai Government, through the Dubai Development and Investment Authority (DDIA). The government will spend more than US $700 million on site and infrastructure development. Private sector partners are expected to put in more than US $5 billion to set up the various projects that will go to make the development. “With these kinds of sums involved, it is only natural for developers to rely on the best to do the job — and if UAE contractors want in on the action, they would have to improve themselves and compete with the best,” Dr. Rashed pointed out. Since the announcement of Dubailand in late October, the DDIA has already established a company to manage the project. Dubai Tourism Development Company has been set up to oversee the design, construction and management of Dubailand. Three major components of the project have already been announced. The Dubai Sports City has been awarded to a consortium of three UAE national investors — Rahim Al Zarooni, Abdul Rahman Falaknaz and Abdul Rahman Bukhatir — who between themselves, are expected to put in more than US $730 million to develop the Olympic-standard arena for sports, games and health and fitness activities. The Sports City will sprawl over 80 million ft2. and will be comprised of world-class sports stadiums and facilities to host international events in cricket, rugby, football, field hockey and track and field events — in particular hard court sports like basketball, volleyball, netball, handball, boxing, wrestling etc. It will also house international standard tennis courts. The second project to be announced is the Dubai Heritage Vision, which will promote local and Middle Eastern culture and heritage at the mega development. “A permanent showcase of the Arab culture and heritage will be created at the world-class Dubailand. It is designed to enrich Dubai’s tourism attractions and provide visitors and residents with a unique recreational and learning experience of the history of our region,” said Mohammed Al Gergawi, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Dubai Tourism Development Company, which will build and manage Dubailand. The site’s 380 hectares of tranquil desert in the Nad Al Sheba area will include an authentic Desert Village Oasis. The third project that was announced recently is the Dubai Dubai Autodrome and Business Park due to be completed in March 2004. Located just 25 minutes from central Dubai, the whole development will have an area of approximately 3 km2. It will provide racing facilities approved by the FIA and FIM, and will have a fully equipped media centre and control tower, along with a world-class 5.35 km Grade 1 Racetrack and an air-conditioned 3000 m2 indoor course. The project is promoted by Union Properties. The fourth project to be announced is the more than Dhs 1 billion Dubai Alps ski dome that will bring Alpine winter sports to the deserts of Dubai. The 32 Group project will have a steel dome that will house a huge revolving ski slope, going through and around an artificial mountain range — created to emphasise the “Alpine Experience” effect. It will also have a deluxe hotel, a shopping mall, restaurants, coffee shops and other retail outlets. The government of Dubai is seeing Dubailand as providing the capstone of a grand design to transform the emirate into a global destination of commerce, tourism, business, trade and commerce and lifestyle. “Over the past decade, we have executed several massive projects which have confirmed our ability for making our dreams come true — on time and on budget — even when many people doubted the potential success of these projects because they viewed them in isolation,” said General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE Defence Minister, at the launch of the project. “But the picture looks clearer, when you look at these projects as part of a strategic vision,” Sheikh Mohammed pointed out. Part of that vision is to increase the number of tourists visiting Dubai every year from 5 million presently to 15 million by 2010. The ‘strategic vision’ also aims to raise the contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product from the present 12% to 20%. With a variety of features suiting most demands of lifestyle, entertainment, leisure and tourism sectors, Dubailand is being promoted as a destination that will cater to all — children, teens, adults, singles and families. It will even have a world of its own just for women. With attractions such as the world’s biggest shopping mall and thrills and rides and wonders of the world, Dubailand hopes to achieve a footfall of 200,000 on a daily basis — throughout the year. And, there will be some 125,000 people attending to the visitors. With numbers such as these, it will be an engineering feat to build the city in the desert and to supply it with necessities such as power and water. Construction and associated companies are no doubt licking their lips in anticipation of the potential riches on offer.

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