Abu Dhabi construction sector steaming ahead
Abu Dhabi, September 26, 2012
After a disquieting spell when Abu Dhabi scaled back or delayed its most iconic projects, the emirate's construction sector is again active with the launch of many large-scale public sector projects.
The momentum had slowed down considerably in the emirate's construction sector last year as leading construction companies that had invested heavily in building projects during the boom and were unable to meet financial commitments, stalled their projects.
Now in the medium term, with most of the iconic skyscrapers such as the Etihad Towers; Sun, Sky and Gate Towers; and the Nation Towers initiated during the boom time complete or nearing completion, the general trend in Abu Dhabi is towards the construction of low and medium-rise structures, says a report in Gulf Construction magazine.
The focus is also on social housing with mega developments such as the Dh7-billion ($1.9 billion) South Shamkha development being built by Abu Dhabi General Services Company (Musanada) for 130,000 UAE nationals.
Despite the slowdown, the emirate has not lost sight of its goals under its Vision 2030, a long-term programme that aims to steer Abu Dhabi towards a path of increasing diversification away from oil into real estate, industry, tourism and infrastructure.
In line with this goal, the emirate has been steaming ahead with its Dh40-billion ($10.87 billion) Etihad Rail freight and passenger network as well as airport expansion – having recently awarded the much-awaited construction contract for its showpiece Midfield Terminal Complex – and is set to open this month the region’s first semi-automated container terminal at its new Khalifa Port.
Khalifa Port and the adjacent Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad) will be one of the world’s largest combined port and industrial zone developments when it opens in late 2012, and will go a long way in furthering the emirate’s industrial ambitions.
Already, plans are afoot to construct a downstream aluminium hub in Kizad, which hopes to attract international interest with zero taxes and import/export duty exemptions, ample and low-cost power supplies and the proximity of the Emirates Aluminium (Emal) smelter, which is in the midst of a $4.6-billion expansion.
While the emirate did put iconic developments such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museums on the backburner, it will eventually go ahead with these, well aware that they are pivotal in its $26-billion ambition plan to transform Saadiyat Island into a cultural hub. The Louvre museum contract is expected to be awarded by Q4 this year for completion in 2015.
Saadiyat is just one of the many islands that are the focus of real estate development in the emirate – the others including the $29-billion Yas Island, which is home to the Yas Marina Circuit and a Ferrari theme park as well as an upcoming water park (Yas Waterworld) and a mall (Yas Mall, which will be Abu Dhabi’s largest shopping centre when it opens towards the end of 2013).
Also being developed in the vicinity is the Al Maryah Island, which is being touted as the new commercial business district of Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi deserves special mention for its initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint, which now range from extensive greening projects to serious implementation of the Urban Planning Council’s Estidama principles for sustainability in major real estate developments.
The emirate grabbed the world’s attention six years ago when it launched its pioneering multi-faceted renewable energy company Masdar. This initiative is seeing the development of an emerging global hub for renewable energy and clean technologies – Masdar City – where its flagship project Masdar Institute of Science and Technology will see the completion of its second phase.
Masdar City has attracted the likes of Siemens, whose new Middle East headquarters being built there emerged the winner of the coveted MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects Awards 2012 in the Offices category. The building will meet the highest requirements in terms of architecture, energy efficiency and equipment – potentially resulting in a 45 per cent reduction in energy consumption and a 50 per cent reduction in water consumption (compared with the international acknowledged Ashrae standard).
Another pioneering initiative undertaken by Abu Dhabi is the development of nuclear power plants. Although the projects were subjected to close scrutiny in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan (when an earthquake-sparked tsunami knocked out cooling systems causing meltdowns that spread radiation over a large area), the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has recently given the go-ahead for the construction of the first two reactors in Baraka, west of Abu Dhabi – each with a capacity of 1,400 MW. An international consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp in December 2009 won a $20.4-billion deal to build four nuclear power plants in the emirate.
Investments, meanwhile, continue to be made in the emirate’s lucrative hydrocarbons sector, where its state oil producer will spend $40 billion on crude, natural gas, petrochemical and refinery projects from 2010 through 2014. With the rising domestic demand for gas – growing by approximately 15 per cent per year – gas projects, including the Integrated Gas (IGD) and Shah Gas developments are said to account for $25 billion of this amount.
Among the key projects that have just been completed in the oil sector is the $3.3-billion pipeline from Habshan to Fujairah. The 370-km strategic pipeline will allow the UAE direct access to the Indian Ocean for its crude oil exports, giving the country an option to bypass the Strait of Hormuz for its oil shipments. - TradeArabia News Service
* The above report appears in Gulf Construction magazine, our sister publication