Construction Week Newsletter 7th May 2005

Outlandish projects detract from the true marvels under construction.

  • E-Mail
By  Sean Cronin Published  May 7, 2005

Checkmate: Making moves against outlandish projects|~||~||~|It’s all too easy to poke fun at some of the mega-projects to have been mooted in Dubai over this last year. Which is why we have done exactly that on page five of this week’s issue. In fact, schemes such as the farcically-named Chess City do not just invite a mild ribbing; they demand sustained and merciless public humiliation — of the kind meted out to offenders in early 17th century Europe. Back then, towns and villages had sets of stocks which could be clamped around the heads and arms of anyone deemed by the locals to be deserving of such treatment. And there they would stay to be pelted with rotten eggs from passers-by and have their shoelaces tied together by the local schoolchildren. It was a harsh, but many would say, fair punishment. Had Kirsan Ilumjinov, the Russian entrepreneur and inventor of Chess City, been alive at that time, he may well have found himself in the stocks for promising to build a city out of giant chess pieces. After all, they burned witches at the stake for much less in those days. While for some, it may be regarded a retrograde step to bring back the village stocks as punishment for developers who fail to deliver on the headline-grabbing schemes that they promise, it must at least be worth kicking the idea around — maybe trialling it in one of the free zones to see how it works out. The irritating thing about white elephant projects is that they distract attention from some of the genuinely awe-inspiring construction projects currently under way, not only in the UAE but also in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar. Take your pick from the Palms, the Pearl, the Wave, the Saudi Landbridge or Bahrain Financial Harbour. These are all massive feats of engineering that deserve respect. This week The World reached the half-way stage — an event which perhaps has not attracted the attention it deserves in an environment where mega-projects are hardly in short supply. But take a moment to consider the numbers attached to construction on this scale. More than 3 million cubic metres of sand is moved every week, which means that more than 181 million cubic metres of sand has been deposited to date. Add to that the 31 million metric tonnes of rock being transported by a fleet of 14 barges working round the clock, and you get some idea of the scale of this undertaking. Within the Gulf construction industry, the exceptional has become the banal, which is unfortunate. In years to come when the engineers who run these projects look back at what they built, it will probably be with a great deal of misty-eyed nostalgia, even if it might be difficult for many of them to appreciate that right now. The media is good at ridiculing the marketing hyperbole that often accompanies the launch of mega-projects in the Gulf. And it is indeed easy to poke fun at some of them. But sometimes the only thing to say is ‘fair play’. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code