DragonMart Expansion: Outlet Pouring

CMME looks at the deployment of machinery currently working on the DragonMart2 expansion in Dubai.

 There are 1,300 workers onsite, but will reach around 4,000 at the project’s height.

There are 1,300 workers onsite, but will reach around 4,000 at the project’s height.

CMME looks at the deployment of machinery currently working on the DragonMart2 expansion in Dubai.

Located on the Oman-Hatta highway outside of Dubai, the mammoth Dragon Mart has earned its reputation as the world’s biggest trading hub for Chinese products outside of the Chinese mainland.

On a daily basis, the 158,000sqm shopping mall sees more than 52,000 visitors passing through its doors. Currently 1.2km long, the mall opened in December 2004 and at present has close to 4,000 retailers operating in its premises.

Fuelled by increasing demand though, Nakheel, the developer behind the project, announced in June 2012 that it had started construction work on a $272.2 million expansion of the shopping mall.

Once work on the 177,000sqm expansion is complete, the entire complex will have a total area of 335,000sqm, or the size of 47 full-size international football pitches, the developer said. The second phase of expansion will see the construction of a mall, hotel and multi-storey car park.

As the pace of construction picks up and progress on the foundations continues, Engineer Mohammed Rashed Bin Dhabeah, managing director of Development, Projects, Logistics and Shared Services for Nakheel, and the man overseeing the massive construction project hosts a site visit to the site.

“Right now we have about 60% of the foundation of the mall completed, 80% of the foundation of the hotel completed and we’re powering ahead with development,” he explains during the site tour.

“Now we’re getting the columns up, that’s in preparation for the first floor slabs. We have a programme in place and our target is to complete the construction by the first half of next year. The fitting out stage will then start, for the tenants to fit out all their stores and be ready for the opening,” he explains.

Nakheel has signed $163.35 million in contracts for the second phase of the project since the summer of 2012, and as work continues, it is preparing to launch new tenders for further construction work, Dhabeah reveals.

“We have awarded three major contracts (so far), the shopping mall construction contract, the car parking contract and the hotel contract.”
“We have more to be awarded – the plaza, the landscaping and the mechanical units, such as chillers, pumps and such things, a central utilities plant, basically,” he says.

Phase2 is overseen by consultant Dar Al Handasa (which was also the consultant for Phase One). United Engineering Construction is the main contractor for the mall and Kele Contracting is the contractor for the hotel and car park. With the scheduled completion date just a year away, Dhabeah says that the amount of workers onsite will increase rapidly as construction progresses. At present there are 1,300 workers onsite daily, but he expects to reach around 4,000 workers at the peak of construction.

“There are no marked delays; we’ve signed the contracts with all the contractors. There was a time when we had to get all the NOC’s, the permits and everything. We’ve got all that and we’ve started work on the area. On the site, the activity is very rapid and very intense,” he asserts, pointing out that concrete is being poured at between 700-800m3 per day.

The parking facilities in Phase Two of the project will accommodate 4,550 vehicles, with 2,000 in the multi-storey car park, 1,750 on the mall roof and a further 800 at street level. This will swell the total number of car parking spaces to 7,050.

Nakheel adds that 80% of the available retail space in the second phase has been taken, with tenants including major retail players such as Geant hypermarket and Grand Cinemas. The new hotel will cover 8,500sqm and will have 240 rooms for guests. Dhabeah adds that for the most part, the project has not experienced any major issues to date due to the thorough preparations and planning carried out by the consultant and contractors; though he concedes that it is not the most complicated of projects .

“I think there are no difficulties in the mall or the hotel, because it’s a straightforward construction. A two-storey shopping mall and retail, it’s like any other project. We have so many projects in the area and we don’t see any different challenges or anything. It’s just been normal day to day work, dealing with the labourers and that sort of thing,” he explains. “It’s just a (ground + one) shopping mall. It’s not a very complex.”

However, one thing that did require, and will continue to need careful monitoring and planning is the workforce on the construction site. With summer fast-approaching, government authorities have already begun preparations to monitor the health and safety of onsite workers during the blistering heat of summer.

Dhabeah says that these circumstances, as well as Ramadan timings, have all been factored into the planning of the construction schedule. As such, he does not expect there to be too much disruption to the construction schedule of the project.

“In summer, there are certain arrangements that are normal to the industry. There are breaks during summer and the contractors are part of the system, they’re not new to the region and they need to provide the proper areas for rest and so on,” he says.

He then continues: “Normally Ramadan comes during the summer and the contractor work hours reduce, they emphasise on the night shift. During the day, they’ll do the preparation, all the concreting and all the other issues will be during the night work, because the weather is better. All the proper equipment is there.”

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