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In Focus: A Guide to Abu Dhabi's Largest Construction Projects for expatriate Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers and other construction professionals

In our last article on Abu Dhabi we introduced its ever increasing construction activity and what this means for you as a professional within the construction industry. But so far all you have is our word for it, so in this article we’ll give you some of the hard facts about exactly why Abu Dhabi is such a great location for quantity surveyors and other construction professionals at the moment.

Last time we gave you a very brief introduction to some of the best known projects currently under way or soon to begin, so this time we will expand on some of those, and other huge projects currently under way. All these projects value into the hundreds of millions and have huge staffing requirements, giving quantity surveyors and project managers from the UK and elsewhere fantastic opportunities to get in on the action. Let’s begin with a project we touched on in the last article…

Saadiyat Island

This massive $27 billion scheme is designed to create the new cultural core of Abu Dhabi and is the largest and most ambitious ongoing project currently (arguably even more ambitious and significant than even the largest UK developments such as the works for the 2012 London Olympics!). With its completion scheduled for 2018, the developers and all their contractors’ staff turnover is sure to create great vacancies for construction professionals with the right experience. Saadiyat Island is a natural island just off the coast of Abu Dhabi, divided into several distinct zones as per the current trend in Middle East developments. These are the six zones comprising the development, any one of which you could potentially be working on soon:

Cultural District. This 2.7km2 area is arguably the heart of the development, containing a number of museums ranging from maritime museums to modern art galleries. A large number of luxury apartments and town houses will be present, along with a strong retail/commercial presence and a few boutique hotels. This district's projects provide something of a unique challenge to construction professionals seeking a new job, as the structures are of an unusual nature for the Middle East. One project in particular is the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (to be built in association with New York's Guggenheim Foundation). This museum/gallery is set to become a world class exhibition of contemporary and modern art, spanning an area of 30,000m2 and actually being larger than any of its counterparts across the world.

Al Marina. Evidently from its name, this district will house the vast majority of Saadiyat's boating facilities, in fact upon completion its marinas will berth up to a thousand boats. Accompanying the marinas will be a great many hotels and luxury apartment blocks. Being another of Saadiyat's zones to feature extensive residential development, a large area of the 4.4km2 site is being devoted to retail, leisure and entertainment facilities.

Saadiyat Park. The largest of Saadiyat's zones at 6km2, Saadiyat Park will predominantly feature luxury low rise residential areas and a distinct lack of hotels. Also featuring large recreational areas and an equestrian centre, this district looks set to contain the most expensive and luxurious housing for Saadiyat's permanent residents in a calm environment seperated from the island's busy commercial centres.

South Beach & Saadiyat Beach. These two similar districts will form the centre of Saadiyat's tourist environment. They contain the largest number of the largest hotels and have over 10km of beaches between them. Saadiyat beach contains an assortment of beach clubs, leisure facilities and even a golf course, while South Beach will be geared towards providing a more family friendly environment.

The Wetlands. Also a largely residential zone, the Wetlands is intended to provide its inhabitants with a unique environment. A large Eco centre will be constructed, along with a number of boutique 'eco hotels'.

Al Gurm Resort

A somewhat smaller project (by UAE standards anyway!), valuing 'only' $272 million, the Al Gurm Resort is a huge residential and resort development with a strong focus on environmental preservation across the site. In accordance with modern environmental standards, developer Aldar Properties has planned to build only low rise accommodation along with a single hotel. The project's structures will consist of a total of 59 luxury villas along with a 161 room hotel and its associated leisure/entertainment facilities. Much of the work is taking place on reclaimed land, the land reclamation phase of the project having been finished earlier this year. Works under way currently involve installing the infrastructure to allow works to proceed without destroying the lush environment that forms the resort's core. This project in particular has drawn a lot of attention from quantity surveyors looking for an opportunity to work on a truly unique project, the likes of which are unlikely to happen again for many years.

Sky Tower

While certainly not as ambitious as Dubai's colossal Burj tower, the 83 storey Sky Tower is by no means a small building. When finished in 2008, the skyscraper will reach 379m high and will be the world's 15th tallest. The building will comprise of roughly equal proportions of residential and commercial office space, these being the upper and lower sections respectively. The residential floors will be smaller 1 bedroom apartments towards the middle floors of the building, while towards the top the apartments will be larger and more luxurious. The Sky Tower is in fact merely the centrepiece of the larger $2.7 billion Gateway development however. The Gateway will consist of a further seven towers, all similar in nature to the Sky Tower, if smaller. Five of these towers will be conventional structures, though linked across their top levels, while the other two towers each form approximately a half circle with a large area in the middle expected to be used for leisure or recreational facilities. What is in the name ‘Gateway’ though? This whole development forms the entryway to a still larger one, Al Reem Island...

Al Reem Island

Al Reem Island is a development rivalling the very best Dubai has to offer, and with a workforce demand to match too! Al Reem arguably combines the best elements (and biggest challenges!) of the Palm Jumeirah and other inland residential developments such as the Dubai Land scheme, being a mixed residential and resort city situated on a small offshore island. It is certainly a strange development, if only due to the nature of who is responsible for what. Al Reem Island has been divided between three separate developers, each overseeing their own section of works on the island (though all three are supervised by a single third party organisation). These are the three sections:

Pearl of the Emirates. The largest area on Al Reem Island, covering 60% or so of the landmass, the Pearl development is a huge mixed development, consisting of a 5-star hotel and 15 towers, the towers being divided between residential and commercial office use. A number of marinas and further leisure and retail facilities are planned as well. The first phase of this project is currently ongoing and has an estimated value of $2 billion.

Al Shams Abu Dhabi. This district is being overseen by the same developer as Sky Tower and the Gateway, and is far more residential focused than the Pearl project, with close to a 90% residential component. A final master plan for Al Shams Abu Dhabi has already been laid down, and sees an incredible 100 towers being built, with around 22,000 residential units (to house around 100 thousand people). The value of this project stands at $7 billion, with completion scheduled for 2011.

Najmat Abu Dhabi. While occupying a similar area of land to Al Shams, Najmat Abu Dhabi is a somewhat less dense development, with just over half the land being devoted to parks, recreational areas and other open spaces. Also a key feature of Najmat is a canal running the length of the development, linking three marinas spread evenly along the site. The central marina has a pair of 80 storey towers along with the development's commercial and retail hub surrounding it, while the other two marinas focus solely on providing luxury waterside accommodation.

And these projects aren't all...

While these huge projects are certainly the most noticeable to the outside viewer, they are by no means the only exciting and challenging projects an expat quantity surveyor or project manager can get involved in. Numerous multi-million pound developments are ongoing all the time right across Abu Dhabi, including residential developments (both apartment towers and villas), hotels and commercial office buildings. Just take a look at Dubai's past, new developments seemed to spring up just about every week, exactly the same thing is now happening with Abu Dhabi.

In our final article of our 3 part series on Abu Dhabi, we will focus on the candidate side of the equation, covering Abu Dhabi’s working and living environment and why this may well be more desirable to you than Dubai. We will discuss past successful candidate experiences to give you a picture of both the potential problems and the best parts of life in Abu Dhabi.

Looking for a new construction job in Abu Dhabi?

Maxim Recruitment has long established professional relationships with a number of the key players in the UAE's construction industry. Send in your CV and perhaps you could soon be working on one of the above projects...

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