Construction Week Newsletter 13th November 2004

Dubai is in a hurry to catch up with the New Yorks, the Londons and the Tokyos of the world. It is hurtling along at an amazing pace and in a mere space of a decade, the name of Dubai has spread far and wide.

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By  Eudore Chand Published  November 13, 2004

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|

Build quick, but do not build dirty

Dubai is in a hurry to catch up with the New Yorks, the Londons and the Tokyos of the world. It is hurtling along at an amazing pace and in a mere space of a decade, the name of Dubai has spread far and wide. The city has attracted over 100 nationalities, who each have brought along their own flavour to add to the great melting pot that is Dubai. The fact that these expatriates have been aggressive enough to move out of the cocoon of their home country speaks volumes of their desire to better themselves and, in the process, better the place they stay in. Dubai has certainly emerged as a model of harmonious living with a wide diversity of population mix. The city is trying to establish a lifestyle option that combines the comforts of the West and the philosophical attitude of the East: the best of both worlds. And that is why those who demand the best want to come and live, work and play in the emirate. To reach its goal of being counted amongst the best, Dubai has selected the tourism development route. In a matter of a decade, the city has topped the list of favoured destinations in the United Kingdom. Most of the people I meet overseas have the impression that we in the UAE work with a wireless laptop and mobile from our beachside deck chair, just off Burj Al Arab. Talk about an open office architecture! The fact remains that they know of Dubai. People may still be a bit hazy in North America as to exactly where it is, but they have heard of it. And that is, in a major part, because the city is building, building, building and building. It seems to indulge in a flight of fantasy and then against all the odds, actualy execute the fantasy in terms of hard commercial reality. When Dubai embarked on its recent building spree, residents could not have projected the great hunger for the thousands of units that have become available since and have been snapped up. Every developer seems to be able to sell. If one sits back and absorbs it in the context of history, the pace is reminiscent of the reigns of great kings who encouraged and supported great building efforts that have resulted in the wonders of the world. Today, Dubai is itself building some of the modern wonders. It is said that Dubai has achieved just about 10% of what has been planned for it. Great are the future prospects. However, when you are on a building spree, there are some things that cannot and should not be ignored. One is the constant watch over the health and safety of the workers. The second is care for the environment. But, thirdly, and, very importantly, speed should not be at the cost of quality. All factors must be taken into account when building. The Gulf has a harsh environment. The climate is extremely hot and humid; the ground is made of sand and salinity is high. Buildings tend to corrode and age early. It is not rare for buildings to develop cracks soon after they have been built, in some cases forcing evacuation of resident families. Then there is the case of reclamation. In Mumbai, when land is reclaimed from the sea, it is generally left fallow for up to seven years to settle, only after which any construction activity is undertaken. Properties built on sand do need time for foundations to become strong. If Dubai is building its global reputation on tourism, it needs to also take care that what it offers is built on quality. Reports of shoddy work and accidents resulting from a rush to build quickly could damage the perception of Dubai faster than it can build that perception.||**||

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