Construction Week Newsletter 7th August 2004

The construction industry in Dubai has reached fever pitch. So much so that some claim that there is more building activity per square kilometre here than in any other city in the world.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  August 7, 2004

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|

Restrictions on building tall will soon be just a memory

The construction industry in Dubai has reached fever pitch. So much so that some claim that there is more building activity per square kilometre here than in any other city in the world. With so many projects to compete with, developers no longer want to build small. Instead everyone has become obsessed with “big”, “iconic” projects that will grab the headlines – at least until the next mega project is announced. Those who don’t build big console themselves by building “high quality” “exclusive communities” for a “select group” of clients. Many of the more modern towers built along Sheikh Zayed Road’s ‘Manhattan’ stretch now appear dwarfed by the likes of Emirates Towers and the 21st Century Tower. These later additions to the skyline have created what is in effect a two-tier development on Sheikh Zayed Road. The days when Dubai Municipality enforced a zoning regulation that did not allow buildings to exceed more than four-storeys after the mid-rise Toyota Building on Sheikh Zayed Road now seem an age ago. Developers have always wanted to build super-tall buildings, because being big gives them more chance of being “noticed” by the right people so it becomes easier to market. However, in the past there were a number of restrictions. The first was that there was a general ceiling on permissions for towers of up to 30 to 35 storeys, the second was that it was not a very cost effective solution, and the third, that there simply was not the demand for such developments. This has now changed. The construction industry has developed and is now capable, and more importantly able to build tall cost effectively. New legislation has meant that more people are now eligible to buy property than ever before, creating unprecedented levels of demand, which in turn has caused land prices to skyrocket making tall buildings a much more economically viable option because the returns are greater. Reflecting these changes, the municipality started to license towers that reached over 40-storeys. The architectural community is now rife with talk that some eight to ten buildings of up to 60 storeys or more are on the drawing board, and according to those in the know the zoning restrictions placed on building height will continue to be pushed back, or should I say upwards?||**||

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