This past year was a positive one for the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) construction sector, particularly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where mega projects like Warner Bros. Abu Dhabi and Dubai Frame were completed on schedule. In addition, several other contracts have been awarded for prominent development projects in both the commercial and residential real estate sectors.
The strength of the UAE’s construction sector was on display during the 2018 Construction Week Awards in Dubai, where the UAE-based ALEC and ASGC earned the Contractor of the Year and Highly Commended Contractor of the Year Awards, respectively. As such, it should be no surprise that the country continues to approve and move ahead with large-scale projects at an impressive rate. Below are four important ongoing construction and infrastructure developments in the UAE:
Construction of Dubai Expo 2020
Dubai will host Expo 2020 from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, during which time more than 200 nations, corporations, educational institutions, and multilateral organizations will collaborate on initiatives to achieve a more promising future. Located near the Al Maktoum International Airport in the Dubai South district, the site covers more than 430 hectares and is expected to include 2,100 residential units for participants, as well as a retail mall and food and beverage outlets. Construction began shortly after Dubai was selected as the host site in 2013 and, according to the real estate and development team in charge of building the facility, it will be completed well in advance of the event’s opening.
While the site is being designed and constructed for the purpose of Expo 2020, most of its structures and facilities will be of use to the city after the event. As much as 80 percent of the structures built will remain intact as part of plans for the integrated District 2020 community, which is expected to open in late 2021. The new neighborhood has already received interest from Expo partners like Siemens and Accenture, both of which plan to establish headquarters there. It will also be the site of the Dubai Exhibition Centre. Once the Expo is over, District 2020 will be linked to the rest of Dubai via four major highways and the planned Metro extension.
Alghadeer Residential Neighborhood Project
In conjunction with the development of the District 2020 site, the UAE has plans for a nearby residential megaproject called Alghadeer which, once completed, will include more than 14,000 homes, entertainment attractions, commercial properties, and cultural and institutional amenities. The project is expected to cost USD $2.72 billion. This past November, Aldar Properties, which is overseeing the project, agreed to a $91 million contract with Al Rakha Contracting & General Transport to build more than 700 apartment complexes, villas, and townhouses.
Promoted as a site for those who value sustainability and environmentally-friendly living, Alghadeer will include a multi-use agricultural space as well as an outlet called The Field, where people can rent plots of land to grow their own produce. The development will also include a retail space for freshly-grown produce and a facility in which residents can sign up for agriculture-based training and workshops. Other amenities include a network of gardens and parks lit by solar-powered lights, running and cycle tracks, and camping sites.
“From its location at the center of the UAE, Alghadeer offers residents a peaceful community with sustainable living initiatives within close proximity to both Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” noted Aldar CEO Talal Al Dhiyebi in an article in Trade Arabia.
Abu Dhabi Airport’s Energy Harvesting Walkway
Abu Dhabi International Airport is doing its part to promote energy-efficiency as it recently became the first commercial airport in the Middle East to install an interactive walkway that converts footsteps into off-grid data and electricity. The energy-harvesting walkway was constructed by Masdar and connects two of the airport’s terminals.
Given that Abu Dhabi International Airport is one of the busiest in the Middle East, more than 8,000 travelers per day will pass through the walkway, and their footsteps will provide enough electrical energy to help power lighting along the path and track footfall data. There will also be accompanying screens to track how much energy is harvested, as well as a special game interface designed to educate children. “Through this collaboration, Abu Dhabi Airports aims to further its commitment to sustainable practices, educating travelers and residents alike about different sources of off-grid energy and data,” explained Abu Dhabi Airports acting chief operations officer Ahmed Al Shamisi to Construction Week.
Reem Mall in Abu Dhabi
Another major tourism infrastructure project expected to be completed by 2020 is the Reem Mall, which is being constructed in the Najmat District of Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island. The retail megaproject is expected to cost a total of $1.2 billion and will occupy 2.9 million square feet, two-thirds of which will be available for lease. Once finished, the mall will include 450 retail and dining locations, as well as offices and entertainment facilities. There will also be four department stores, a chocolate museum, and the world’s largest indoor snow play park, where visitors can go sledding and try the luge.