New heights

Tav Construction regional director Yusuf Akcayoglu takes Melanie Mingas on a tour of its three Dubai projects under construction; Emirates Financial Towers, Sulafa Tower and the UAE’s second-tallest and soon-to-be completed building, Marina 101

Since the 2000 completion of the 181m Isbank Tower, one of the tallest office buildings in Istanbul, Turkish contractor TAV Tepe Akfen Investment Construction and Operation JSC (TAV Construction) has delivered shopping plazas, high-rise towers and airport projects across the region.

In fact, the firm’s airport engineering was ranked third in the world in a 2009 survey by Engineering Record.

The company is now little more than six months away from the completion of its first hotel apartment development in Dubai, called Marina 101.

The aptly-named 101-storey, mixed-use tower in Dubai Marina features 25 storeys, is home to a five-star hotel and 506 residential suites and penthouses. At 426m, it is currently the highest hotel apartment tower in the world, the second highest building in the UAE and the sixth highest tower in the world.

The “Chicago-style” block is part of a 12-tower cluster of independent projects in the Marina, with TAV Construction building Marina 101 and its next-door neighbour, the 79-storey Sulafa Tower.

When the contractor signed the contracts in 2008, regional director Yusuf Akcayoglu described Marina 101 as a “one-of-a-kind development”.

The ‘non-conventional’ DOKA hydraulic climbing core-wall formwork does not require nails, instead it uses a high-strength and light-weight material that can be mounted by hand ‘like Lego’”

Overcoming obstacles

From facilities to formwork, two years later his statement still rings true.

The “non-conventional” DOKA hydraulic climbing core-wall formwork does not require nails, instead it uses a high-strength and lightweight material that can be mounted by hand “like Lego”.

Because the formwork is so light, it does not require cranes, which the firm says reduces costs and time, with each floor completed in an average period of three days.

However, construction of the building, especially during the economic downturn, has not come without its troubles.


1500 people


The number of construction workers on site at Emirates Financial Towers.


“The challenge for both towers was the safety of working at heights; there are different risks so we have to conduct a lot of studies to overcome problems.

“Also the transportation of materials and costs were challenging at times,” explains Akcayoglu. Since 2008, the cost of steel has plummeted from AED 7000 (US $1906) per ton to AED 2400 ($653) per ton.

While this may be good news for some, a shortage in concrete since 2007 somewhat muted the advantages.

Furthermore, when launched in 2006 when Sheffield Real Estate claimed investors in Marina 101 could receive a 75% return on residential suites. While today’s market is more realistic, Akcayoglu maintains that a return, albeit drastically lower, still exists.

TAV Construction’s third Dubai project is the Emirates Financial Towers (EFT) at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Due for handover next month, the 27-storey commercial-use twin towers were constructed simultaneously within four years.




Standing tall, Marina 101 is the highest hotel apartment tower in the world.


Designed by Singapore-based architect CPG Corporation, Emirates Financial Towers are inspired by the financial districts of the Far East; with aesthetics a high priority. The development offers automated, “robotic” parking, a sky bridge across the 16th floors and a planned 2km tunnel, which will eventually link every development in the Dubai International Financial Centre.

The towers will be ready for occupancy from next month.

We believe Dubai is the number one destination in the gulf; it’s the emirate which put the gulf on the world map and still today it’s the most distinctive city”

Upon handover of the development, each owner will be responsible for the fit out of their own units, but common areas come under TAV Construction’s remit.

Maximising CPG Corporation’s use of glass, aluminium and steel in the design, the structure captures and maximises light with revolving doors and featuring a “spider facade” on the front entrance.

Moving up

The three towers are TAV Construction’s last projects in Dubai for the immediate future, with the majority of operations focusing on Middle East airports and developments based in Abu Dhabi.

But the firm does plan to eventually return to the emirate.

“We believe Dubai is the number one destination in the Gulf; it’s the emirate which put the Gulf on the world map and still today it’s the most distinctive city compared to others,” asserts Akcayoglu.

Marina 101

Location : Dubai Marina

Height: 426m

Storeys: 101

Construction period : June 2008 until June 2011

Construction partners: Tokas Real Estate, Emaar Properties, Sheffield Real Estate FZC, Middle East Foundations Group LLC, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, NFT Cranes

Budget: AED 1 billion

Sulafa Tower

Location : Dubai Marina

Height: 280m

Storeys: 79

Construction partners: Emaar Properties, Middle East Foundations Group LLC

Budget: AED 450 million

Workers on site: 1100

Emirates Financial Towers

Location : Dubai International Financial Centre

Height: 145m

Storeys: 27

Construction period : March 2007 until January 2011

Budget: AED 1 billion

Workers on site: 1500

Project partners: MAG Property Development, Projacs Dubai, Al Habtoor Engineering Enterprises Co. LLC, CPG Corporation Private Limited Marina 101


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