5 Iconic Construction Projects In The UAE And What We Can Learn From Them

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5 iconic construction projects in the UAE and what we can learn from them

For a country that recently celebrated its 47th National Day – UAE boasts of several architectural marvels that have built its image as the hottest real estate destination in the world. The real estate sector is one of the key contributors to the UAE’s economy besides tourism. UAE is an exquisite amalgamation of heritage and modern construction. The infrastructural revolution in the UAE was the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who wanted to bring the world’s attention to his country. He did it and how!

Looking at the number of iconic buildings in the UAE, there’s a lot one can learn from some of the world’s most significant construction projects. Here are some magnificent structures in the UAE that we can all learn from.

  1. Burj Khalifa

It would be unjust to begin with any other building than the Burj Khalifa – the tallest structure ever to be built on the earth! The Burj Khalifa stands at a staggering height of 828m and is located in the city of Dubai. The structure was built over 6 years from January 2004 to January 2010 when it was first opened to visitors. The exterior of the structure was completed in October 2009. The structure created 15 world records, some of which are unlikely to be broken soon. 

Overview of the structure:

  • The structure is spread over an area of 2,80,000 sqm
  • 165 floors above grade level and 3 floors basement area. 
  • 2,50,000 cubic meter of concrete was used
  • 39,000 tonnes of steel rebars were used
  • 22 million working hours were invested in the construction of the structure

The biggest challenge while attempting to build the tallest building in the world was to understand and control the dynamics of wind effect while designing the massive structure. In inspiring fashion, the design team integrated wind engineering principles to mitigate the impact of wind as the structure rose higher. The team planned on diminishing the width and shape of the structure as it spiraled higher into the sky, thereby cutting down the wind dynamic effects, movement and acceleration.

The desert lily inspired the design of Burj Khalifa. The Y-shaped base was designed to provide stability to the building while keeping in mind the direction of wind and source of light. The lower floors up to 108 are used for residential and hotel space since it provides a 360-degree view of the surroundings with ample natural light.

  1. Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal

Abu Dhabi – the capital of UAE, is expected to have an inflow of over 20 million passengers in the next two years. The Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal is one of the largest infrastructure works going on in the city today. The terminal is located between the two existing runways at the Abu Dhabi International Airport and that’s why it is named as Midfield Terminal. The new terminal is a part of Abu Dhabi’s 2030 project of reshaping and positioning the city as a tourist hub. In a significant move, the authorities mandated the use of BIM while issuing the tender for the Midfield Terminal. The project has immensely benefitted with the use of integrated BIM services. The terminal is designed in an ‘X’ shape, which is believed to reduce the passenger walking time and maximizing aircraft parking space.

The key features of the project:

  • The MTF has 7,42,000 sqm of floor space
  • The terminal can handle 8,500 passengers every hour
  • It s expected to serve 84 million passengers per year
  • The designers claim that minimum connecting time for international passengers will be 45 minutes from gate to gate
  • The MTF houses the world’s largest indoor arch – 180m long and 52m high
  • The terminal will have 65 gates out of which 8 gates are equipped to host A380 aircraft
  • The terminal capitalizes on natural light making it an energy-efficient structure
  1. Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah is one of the three archipelagoes under Dubai’s Palm Islands project. It is the largest man-made artificial archipelago in the world. In many ways, Dubai and UAE were put on the global real estate map in 2007 when the final breakwater stone was laid. The project was unique and perceived to be unthinkable due to the construction challenges posed by the location of the islands. It was an ambitious project that worked for Dubai and the UAE. The construction of Palm Jumeirah began in 2001 and the first phase of the project was completed in just six years. Palm Jumeirah opened its gate to the world in 2007. Nakheel, the developer, said that the material used to build the Palm was enough to create a 2m high and 0.5m wide wall that would run around the world three times! Now, imagine the challenges of constructing such a site. The lesson from the project was that even as ambition rose, skills, technique, and technology can help achieve even those rarified heights.

Key features of the project:

  • Use of more than 1 billion cubic meters of sand – the most used in any construction project in the world.
  • 7 million tonnes of rocks were used.
  • The Crescent is a large rock breakwater created to protect the islands. The breakwater is lined with around seven million tons of rocks which were individually placed by a crane after being approved by a diver based on GPS coordinates. 
  • The design of the crescent was modified after the completion of land reclamation. The closed crescent resulted in obstructed water circulation which caused stagnant water between the fronds. The crescent was modified to have two openings to allow the water to circulate between the fronds. 
  1. Dubai Frame

In February 2018, Dubai added another feather to its cap with the Dubai frame. It is the largest photo frame in the world. The frame stands between the old and the new city. Tourists can enjoy a 360-degree view of both the parts of the cities from the frame. The structure comprises 50 stories and is built of glass, steel, and aluminum. The ground level consists of a museum with 3D exhibits of Dubai’s history along with a future gallery that provides a sneak-peak of the city in 2050 making it a perfect amalgamation of the past, the present, and the future. The structure offers a uniquely Dubai inspiration on how to bring together the innovative and the historical in a perfectly functional manner.

Key features of the structure:

  • The frame is 150m high with a 93m long sky deck.
  • The 116 sqm switchable smart-glass panels in the floor of the bridge turn transparent from translucent as visitors walk by.
  • 2,900 sqm of laminated glass was used.
  • It took 4 giant hydraulic jacks and two days to raise the central bridge.
  • 9,900 cubic meter of concrete was used in the construction along with 2,000 tonnes of steel.
  • Expected to have 200 visitors per hour.
  1. The Capital Gate

The Capital Gate, also called the leaning tower of Abu Dhabi, holds the Guinness World Record for “The World’s Furthest Leaning Man Made Tower.” The tower is an architectural marvel with an eighteen degrees lean westwards. The design was inspired by the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. The Capital Gate leans four times more than its design inspiration in a stunning lesson on how to learn from the past and then push the envelope far far beyond that.

Key features of the structure:

The building sits on 490 piles drilled 30m under the ground to accommodate the gravitational, seismic, and wind forces due to the lean.

  • The tower is built upon dense mesh and reinforced steel
  • The tower is 160m high and has 35 stories.
  • The tower houses Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
  • The free form internal atrium dynamic glass roof allows natural light deep inside the tower
  • Advanced diagrid technology was used to construct the intricate design
  • The reinforced basement of the tower was built with 6,000 cubic meters of concrete
  • 21,500 tonnes of steel was used for constructing the tower

The UAE is home to some mesmerizing architectural structures. Even upcoming infrastructural projects look set to ensure that the UAE stays on the global real estate map as the country with the most iconic structures. There’s much for the construction sector to learn from these iconic structures, their scale, ambition, and technology. The lessons look set to continue.