Waterfront Splendour

Big Project ME visits the Jewel of the Creek project in Dubai.

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For the last two years, residents in the Dubai district of Deira have been watching with interest as a mammoth excavation has been going on alongside the Dubai Creek. Situated between the Floating Bridge and Al Maktoum Bridge, the Jewel of the Creek project has become one of the more eye-catching of Dubai’s projects due to the sheer size of the construction site.

The 123,955sqm site will be home to an array of mixed-use facilities, such as a four-star hotel, residences, offices and retail outlets.

Early in the summer, it was revealed that the locally based Habtoor Leighton Group had signed a $395 million contract with Dubai International Real Estate to deliver Package #8 of the Jewel of the Creek project in Port Saeed.

Although the deal was only announced in July, the contractor has in fact been working on the project since 2012, when it was awarded a $130. 68 million contract for Package #7.

This included the construction and completion of substructure works for four basement levels and ground floor slabs on the waterside site. The initial scope of the deal meant that HLG was responsible for the construction of all rafts and four-level basement slabs, the construction of the project’s ground floor slabs, the embedded MEP works (first fix) and miscellaneous earthworks. Furthermore, the construction team will also focus on re-anchoring diaphragm walls, pile cutting and trimming, waterproofing works and reinforced concrete works.

As part of its remit for Package #8, the contractor will include the construction and completion of five hospitality buildings, ranging between 15 and 19 floors. These will feature a hotel and serviced apartments, a ballroom and an attached café.

HLG will also construct a marina, which will include four footbridges and one vehicular bridge. Hard and soft landscaping works will also be carried out by the firm, says Hassan Slim, project director for Habtoor Leighton Group.

“The Jewel of the Creek is being delivered in line with the vision set forth by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Geographically, strategically, technically and commercially, it is one of the most significant projects under construction in Dubai,” he tells Big Project ME during an interview about the mega-project.

Unlike the majority of major projects in Dubai, the Jewel of the Creek isn’t a highrise building. Given its huge footprint and location, there are a number of factors, which are not typical of vertical buildings, to take into consideration during the planning, design and construction process, Slim points out.

“Due largely to the project’s location between Baniyas Road, two bridges and the water, logistics and resource management rank high as the site’s biggest challenges – with preparation and planning being the keys to success,” he explains.

“One example of this is that heavy transport is not permitted on the bridges, therefore several temporary access points have been specifically prepared to move material from the mainland to the project site.”

Slim adds that work on Package #7 is now complete and the project team is now focused on achieving their targets for Package #8.

Due to the project’s location, the movement of building materials and equipment in and out of the site poses a major challenge to Slim and his team. With seven tower cranes on-site, there is obviously a massive amount of material to be moved around.

At present, there is significant scaffolding work underway, as the project team prepares to begin above ground work construction. It is important that this begins and completes on schedule as there are a number of other aspects of the project that are dependent on it.

“The focus remains on completing the structural work on time as construction of the canal cannot commence until structural construction is complete, and the cranes have been removed,” Slim explains.

To achieve this, the project team is utilising a construction crew of 500 people, including staff and labour. Once construction is at peak, it is expected that this number will jump to more than 1,800 people.

Work on the site is expected to pick up in the coming months, with the team penciling in September for an upswing in productivity as that is when the summer work restrictions will be loosened. At present, the labour crews break from mid-day till late afternoon.

The recent Holy Month of Ramadan also necessitated a further slowdown in the progress of construction, as crews were allowed to work half days in deference to the holy month.

Slim insists that the health and safety of the construction crew take priority on the site, and says that HLG has established clear guidelines to ensure that labourers are kept hydrated and safe.

“Establishing clear occupational health, safety and environment principles, policies and procedures remains a priority for the Group, and there are weekly training and education workshops underway to ensure continued focus, which cover both general subject matter, and also more specific topics – relevant to the location and proximity to water,” he explains.

With construction work on the project expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2017, the HLG team faces a tight construction schedule to ensure that the $816.7 million project is delivered on time.

However, Hassan Slim remains confident that the project will be finished on time, ensuring that Dubai will have another high profile landmark to showcase.

“Upon completion, it is envisioned that the Jewel of the Creek will be one of the most sought-safter addresses in Dubai,” he assures Big Project ME, as he brings the tour of this remarkable site to a close.

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