Lighting up the night sky with the latest craze to hit the GCC

Fuelled by the local craze for architectural lighting, the sky in Dubai takes on a variety of bright colours at night-time. But, as Zoe Naylor finds out, the effect of this Dubai fashion has started to move right across the GCC.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  November 20, 2005

architectural lighting firms are cashing in as hotels attempt to outdo each other with branding statements|~|96light200.gif|~|The Fairmont, Dubai: Architectural lighting is all the rage across the city.|~|Dynamic lighting solutions are increasingly being used on the region’s hotels, high-rise towers and leisure facilities. Architectural lighting is big business in Dubai in particular, as designers and developers vie with one another to create specialist lighting effects for projects such as sports stadia and offshore developments. In recent years the trend has really taken off in the hospitality sector, with sophisticated and eye-catching effects used on the Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers and the new Grosvenor House in Dubai Marina. Martin Professional Middle East was responsible for the exterior lighting of the Fairmont Hotel on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road. “We used our Exterior 600 intelligent metal halide lamp lighting,” says Karim Abdel Massih, product and service manager. “The 75-watt metal halide lamps can create up to one million combinations of colour. He says one of the biggest challenges was to convince the customer and the owner of the hotel that this was the lighting product to make the Faimont a Dubai landmark: “I don’t think that the architectural design of the Fairmont is particularly attractive, so if you didn’t have the lights I can’t imagine what it would look like at night-time,” says Massih. Computer software is indispensable when it comes to showing what kind of effects can be created: “If a client is spending a lot of money on architectural lighting, their first question is ‘what will it look like?’ so we use software simulation to show how a building will appear after a lighting installation,” he says. Another structure currently lighting up the Dubai skyline is the new Ski Dome at the Mall of the Emirates. “We’ve installed 320 fluorescent changing colours and will install the controller next week,” says Massih. Clearly visible at night-time, the lights on the Ski Dome are already twinkling away but are only operating in a random, standalone mode. “They are intelligent lights which use data cabling,” explains Massih. “Once the contoller is installed we will be able to order the lamps to change colour and adjust the timing between one colour to another.” As the host nation for the 2006 Asian Games, Qatar is racing ahead to complete the construction and renovation of its sports stadia in time for next December. One of the main considerations with stadium lighting is how to minimise light pollution into the surrounding environment. Philips Lighting developed the lighting for the Khalifa Olympic stadium in Doha, which will be used as the main stadium for the football and athletics finals as well as for the closing ceremony. Special care was taken when placing the lights on the stadium canopy in order to avoid disturbing glare to the goalkeeper, and also to respect the daytime appearance of the architecture. Philips’ solution was ArenaVision luminaires, which lend daylight to the stadium after sunset and create good conditions for players, spectators and television viewers. A total of 600 Philips ArenaVision MVF 403 MHNSA 2000W were used for the sports lighting, and another 72 uplighting versions for the architectural lighting of the stadium’s arches and other steel structures. In addition to stadium lighting, Philips is also working on lighting projects for hangars for A380s at the Emirates Engineering Centre in Dubai, road lighting for the Mall of the Emirates, and the Sohar Gate in Oman. According to Majka Roering, marketing manager at Philips Lighting in Dubai, LEDs (light emitting diodes) are one of the latest trends: “We’re working mainly on luminaires with LEDs; not only the LED flood lights but LED line lights which we use for architectural lighting.” Philips recently introduced its LEDflood range to the UAE market. This advanced lighting solution for outdoor floodlighting applications can be used to illuminate structures with coloured light. Designed for façade and accent lighting, LEDflood features high-power LED light sources and a highly efficient new optical system. The range comes with a patented ‘Zoomspot system’ so the beam can be adjusted continuously with a single floodlight. David McNeil, senior designer at DPA in Dubai, agrees that LED is now in demand: LEDs are playing a big role here, especially in exterior lighting. They’ve really come along in the last seven to eight years; they’re getting brighter and are lasting longer, and now come with colour changes and other effects.” DPA is a UK firm of architectural lighting consultants but the company opened an office in Dubai about 18 months ago to help meet its expanding order book in the region. “We’ve just completed the lighting for the DIFC centre, as well as work at the Hyatt Regency and the Shangri-La. And we’ve just been awarded the lighting masterplan for the Palm Jumeirah,” says McNeil. For the Palm project, DPA will assess the development as a whole and produce a guideline document with recommendations for how the roadways and waterways should be lit. “We’re trying to make it low-key and subtle as it’s a residential development — but the lighting on the hotels on the crescent will be flashier.” McNeil believes the demand for lighting in Dubai is different to that of Europe since it is more hospitality-based: “People here often try to outdo one another, especially with the architecture. There is a lot of glitz and glamour here. We’re also working on lighting for some of the palaces for the royal family and we’ve just done the lighting for the Platinum [Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum’s private 160 m yacht and the world’s largest motor cruiser] moored at Jebel Ali.” In addition to LEDs, metal halide lamps (commonly used in aquarium lighting due to their exceptionally high light output) are gaining popularity in the region: “Metal halide lamps have been around for a long time but now have some new features i.e. you can dim them to create some interesting effects whereas before you could only switch them on or off,” explains McNeil. He says another emerging trend is for using architectural lighting consultants such as DPA. “We can offer advice on how to cut down on light pollution as well as other energy-saving issues. We can also advise on which colour lights to use, which fittings to use and what to highlight i.e. which features to pick out using vertical illumination.”||**||

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