PLUS Intelligent transportation in the GCC Fire protection focus Construction worker safety
FUNDING THE FUTURE
As project finance starts to flow, can the Middle East capitalise on renewed confidence?
www.menainfra.com | Q2 2010
INSIDE THE PEARL With Khalil Sholy, UDC Managing Director
PRINCE OF PROJECTS With Leighton Holdings CEO Wal King
ON TRACK FOR GROWTH Why rail could redefine the Gulf
Final Cover.indd 1
FROM THE EDITOR
Budgeting for the big build
Finding funding has been a key issue for developers across the Gulf in the last two years. Is the situation finally easing?
nfrastructure investment has been key all over the Middle East in the past few years; Abu Dhabi is investing US$1 trillion into modernising every aspect of its infrastructure, while the likes of Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are similarly updating their networks in multiple sectors, from transport to power. But given the economic turmoil of the past two years, ﬁnancing such massive growth has become increasingly difﬁcult as banks’ liquidity has shrunk and access to credit has dried up. Just two years ago, the Middle East represented the most lucrative region for project ﬁnance initiatives; a market that was then worth around US250 billion globally. Project ﬁnance – the long-term ﬁnancing of infrastructure and industrial projects based upon projected cash ﬂows rather than the balance sheets of the project sponsors – was the preferred method of raising the required capital to fund petrochemical and utility projects across the region, and the Gulf region led the way in the sector’s development. But the ﬁnancial crisis, and the subsequent debt troubles in Dubai, destroyed the appetite of the international banking community for taking on such longterm projects; investing in infrastructure debt is a lowreturn activity, completing such deals is hard work and it takes time to see returns. Many banks pulled back from such schemes, leaving governments to make up the shortfall in infrastructure spending, and in the immediate aftermath of the crisis a signiﬁcant number of projects across the GCC were subsequently either cancelled or put on hold. But the good news is that there are signs the project ﬁnance market is once again picking up. “We in the GCC are bullish about what’s coming. We’re still ready to write big cheques,” says Mansoor Durrani, Head of Project Finance at Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank,
EDS NOTE.indd 9
“Nowadays people are becoming more selective, and it is vital that a project is innovative because that is what sets it apart from other developments” Khalil Sholy, Managing Director, UDC (Page 92)
who suggests that any well-structured project should be able to ﬁnd ﬁnancing. Indeed, analysts insist that the investment potential is out there – provided developers and project sponsors know where to look. Instruments such as Islamic ﬁnancing, local currency ﬁnancing and export credit agencies – as well as the increasing popularity of public-private partnerships – mean that funding opportunities do exist for those developers who are willing to think creatively. “There is a re-alignment taking place in project ﬁnance, which is healthy for the business,” suggests Ravi Suri, Head of Middle East Project and Export Finance at Standard Chartered. The shifting focus of commercial project ﬁnance away from the longer tenors that characterised a number of deals struck between 2006 and 2008 is a natural correction for the market to undergo, he argues. “The kind of risks which sponsors were asking lenders to take was clearly untenable. Banks were being asked to do deals of 20 years plus. Now you’re getting more realistic tenors.” Such a move is positive news for developers and project sponsors across the region, particularly with demand for projects such as railways, roads and wastewater facilities on the rise. The ambition to expand such essential infrastructure has always been there; now, hopefully, we will have the funding to match that vision.
Ben Thompson Managing Editor
A princely position Reigning supreme in the world of construction Wal King, CEO of Leighton Holdings, reveals why evolving with the times has proved a key strategy to getting – and staying – at the top
The changing face of project ﬁnance Although times are undoubtedly leaner than at any point in the last three years, those involved in project finance in the Middle East are still bullish about the health of the sector. But how has the financial crisis impacted investor confidence?
The pearl of the Gulf
Cash-rich Qatar is one of the world’s fastest growing economies – outstripping even China and India with recessiondefying growth of 18.5 percent forecast for 2010. MENA Infrastructure reports on why the world is Qatar’s oyster
86 Destination everywhere How the advent of highspeed rail could transform the Gulf region
114 Contents.indd 11
60 Growing with your
Quality over quantity
Alejandro López Palma gives his reasons for choosing quality over cost
Medhat Stefanos offers his advice on integrating a business with a community
Eco operator scheme cuts fuel consumption
66 The right foundation Salah Mokhtar outlines the key benefits of soil stabilisation
By Jonas Gardetun
A slow evolution José María Pujol on operational efficiency in the construction machinery sector
130 Ask the Expert
44 Andreas Biedermann Ammann 62 Alireza Biparvav Kryton 64 Laurie Venning Regent Energy Group 108 Tony Wynes Aquarius 110 David Stevenson Belimo 130 Poul Svensgaard Delta 134 Hauke Jürgensen Siemens 150 Andrew Moody DuPont 152 Barry Bell Wagner Fire Management Consultants
82 Nanotechnology improving paints
Sustainable productivity Michael Sagermann explains sustainable productivity and its importance in the region
84 Nano from nature
Safety champions to the rescue Rebecca Goozee looks at how health and safety can be improved
48 Michael Sagermann
Michael Back explains the benefits of using the latest nanotechnology to insulate new and existing properties
An insight into nanostructured filler material
96 Innovative biologic treatment technology By Derk Maat
98 The power revolution Alternative energy solutions are the future, says Idika David
100 Business critical
Alejandro López Palma
power and energy solutions By Mohammed Qaraqi
Roundtables 54 Construction 76 Paints and coatings 124 Rail
Building for the long-term In the midst of a crippling recession, how practical are sustainable goals for the world’s most notoriously oil-rich region?
In the back
Going green Benjamin Jones looks at green ventilation technology
Cutting down on chaos Can the Middle East provide better commuting options?
Road tolling in an urban environment Per Jarle Furnes offers an insight into the multi-faceted world of road tolling
The rise and rise of low-cost flying
157 Leisure: Golf 160 Down time: Meydan race course 162 Hospitality: Hotels
Multi-level security systems for real protection
Johan Öhgren outlines the challenges currently facing the aviation sector
164 Living: Smart homes 166 Books: Reviews 168: Final Word: Samir Fayyad
Comprehensive diagnostics David Vollmar reveals why unival is focussing on the integration of multi-level security systems
Fighting ﬁre with ﬁre Bringing the region’s safety levels in line with the rest of the world
A central element of homeland security Herbert C. Lüthold comments on information security management in a society more and more dependent on ICT
The NG Telecoms Mena Summit 2010 Find Out More 1 - 3 November 2010 Contact NGT The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi
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Capitalising on confidence?
ince the Dubai debt crisis hit, UAE construction ﬁrms have faced multiple difﬁculties with many expanding into Kuwait, Oman and Libya in order to ﬁnd work. However, this month saw the awarding of almost US$1 billion worth of construction projects to UAE-based companies, indicating that things may be looking up for the UAE construction sector and that conﬁdence might ﬁnally be returning to the region’s industries. Among the projects awarded were a Dh500 million Damac Properties contract for the construction of the Damac Heights residential project at Dubai Marina to Arabtec Holding, and a Dh1.79 million deal between Tabreed and Saudi Aramco to build a central district cooling unit. A US$46 million contract from Aldar Properties was also awarded to Al Futtaim Carillion to build a new retail outlet for Ikea on Yas Island. And while there are some signs of encouragement for the construction sector, there is a clear upturn in contracts being awarded in the region’s oil and gas estate sectors. These include a US$272 million deal for South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering and
Construction to build an oil storage facility for Abu Dhabi Oil Reﬁning. Speaking to Gulf News, an unnamed advisor to a prominent multinational bank said, “Conﬁdence is seeping back into the Gulf economies after good news from the US and Europe. Companies and investors are seeing the advantage in positioning themselves for a rapid return to health after GDP growth and a rise in consumer spending in the US and parts of Europe.” Damac Properties Chairman Hussain Sajwani concurred, saying: “When the recovery comes, it will be most visibly felt in Dubai Marina and Business Bay. That being the case, we have Ocean Heights making good headway towards completion, and Damac Heights will join it in good time.” Yet while everyone agrees that there are signs of recovery for the Gulf as a whole, they are divided on how long it will take Dubai to get back on its feet. Speaking at a conference, Ali Bu Rahima, Deputy Director General of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, predicted that the sector would start to pick up by the end of the year with the main
“I could easily see the Middle East once again becoming the largest project finance market in the world” Jonathan Robinson, Head of Middle East Project Finance, HSBC. Read more on the changing face of project ﬁnance in our cover story on page 68
THE BRIEF obstacle being the lack of liquidity in the emirate. “Dubai has the technical expertise, as many international companies have based themselves in Dubai,” he said. “It’s the economy that will be the industry’s main challenge in the coming months and I don’t think this will get better until the end of 2010.” Bu Rahima believes that instead of green-lighting new and expensive projects, the emirate should focus on those already underway. Sanzio Vaienti, Global Sales Director at Soilmec, an Italian-based company that manufactures drilling and piling machinery, is one of many companies that have experienced losses in the last year. “Dubai is a very important market to us,” he says. “However, due to the downturn it has not done so well recently and it probably won’t pick up until the later end of this year. We made a 70 percent loss in 2009 in the UAE. Globally we made a 50 percent loss. But Dubai is still important.” Meanwhile, others that have made a loss – such as the Tanmiyat Group, the Saudi-based master developer involved in projects in Dubailand, Business Bay and Dubai Marina – have said they are still committed to investment and growth in Dubai. “We believe in Dubai. There is no alternative to Dubai in the region,” said Dr Rasim Kaan Aytogu, Group Executive Director at Tanmiyat, in an interview with Arabian Business. “It is just a correction in the market. Dubai [has] very important potential for further investment.” Governments in the region are undaunted by the current slump and have continued to invest heavily in infrastructure. According to the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) in a statement issued in April, over US$2 trillion worth of infrastructure plans are currently being planned in the region. “In 2009, almost US$52 billion worth of contracts were awarded in the GCC region and we expect this level to rise in 2010,” says Edmund O’Sullivan, Chairman of MEED Events. “The total value of infrastructure contracts increased by 11 percent to US$15 billion in 2009, from US$13 billion in 2008. There are signiﬁcant opportunities in key areas such as infrastructure, transportation and housing and they will continue to lead the construction industry for years to come.” Oman has announced that it will spend US$268.5 million on roads, aviation and sea lands projects. Kuwait has likewise stated that it intends to invest over US$108 billion over the next four years in new cities and ports. And Abu Dhabi plans to invest over US$1 trillion into projects such as the US$22 billion Masdar development, billed as the ﬁrst zero-carbon, zero-waste city, and the Khalifa City project, itself the single biggest project in the capital with a budget of US$40 billion.
News in pictures
Emirates Airlines planes are parked at the Dubai international airport in the Gulf emirate in April. The airline said that it lost about US$65 million after cancelling 250 ﬂights due volcanic ash over Europe.
Qatar announced details of a number of new stadia, as well as the carbonneutral technology it will use to cool stadiums, fan fests/zones and training sites if Qatar is chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
When completed, the Royal Clock Tower hotel complex in the holy Saudi city of Mecca – currently under construction – will feature the world’s secondtallest building, topped by a clock six times bigger than London’s Big Ben.
NEWS & NUMBERS
Promoting safety in the workplace
orkplace accidents and injuries have a direct impact on employees, organisations and the economy. The United States National Safety Council (NSC) has compiled some alarming numbers: In 2008, more than 3.2 million disabling injuries occurred in the US workplace, with more than one million of these injuries resulting in days away from work. Every year, work injuries cost the US economy an estimated US$183 billion. AMECO, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluor Corporation and a global supplier of integrated equipment and tool solutions to government and industry, has pledged to ensure the safety, health and welfare of everyone in its work environment. And the company has a track record to prove it. On March 20, 2010, AMECO achieved 30 million consecutive safe work hours without a lost workday injury or illness. This translates into nine consecutive years of successfully promoting the highest safety standards in the equipment and tool industry. And on April 12, 2010, the NSC awarded AMECO Worldwide Operations its Million Work Hours Award in recognition of this achievement. “We are delighted to recognise AMECO’s outstanding achievement,” says Janet Froetscher, NSC President and CEO. “Since March 2001, AMECO has operated without a lost workday injury or illness and continues this record today. This remarkable achievement is testament to AMECO’s safety leadership and its employees’ dedication to instil a strong corporate safety culture.” AMECO’s safety programmes span 23 countries across 36 US and international ofﬁces and more than 100 project sites. The company’s safety record is especially noteworthy since AMECO’s global operations are frequently performed in remote locations, extreme climates, disaster relief areas and war zones and involve the operation, maintenance and repair of heavy construction equipment and tools. For more information visit www.nsc.org and www.ameco.com
Flowserve opens Dubai Learning Centre
lowserve Corporation has opened its new Dubai Quick Response Centre, one of the Middle East’s largest pump and mechanical seal parts manufacturing, repair and training facilities in the GCC. The training centre utilises a hydraulic laboratory to supplement classroom instructions. A complete portable pumping system is set up for demonstrations and provides excellent class interaction. Available courses include pump fundamentals, mechanical seal fundamentals, pump and seal reliability, root cause analysis, pump system analysis, pump operator training, and troubleshooting and operation for maintenance staff. An interactive link with offsite equipment is demonstrated. This shows the use of wireless technology to monitor pump and seal operation and predictive maintenance, a rapidly growing ﬁeld in pump technology. Pump and seal models are utilised to demonstrate maintenance and assembly practices. The goal is to provide a balance between operating theory and hands-on training. Courses can be customised to ﬁt particular customer requirements. This includes extended training and development classes, which can be provided at the customer site. Located in the United Arab Emirates, the facility supports equipment installed in a variety of industries including oil and gas, water and power. The Dubai facility capabilities include the manufacturing of mechanical seal assemblies and the service and repair of: ISO and ANSI chemical process pumps; API pumps; between bearings single and multistage axially and radially split pumps; barrel pumps and vertical turbine pumps. Other capabilities include cradle-to-grave equipment management, including LifeCycle Advantage programmes to reduce the total cost of ownership and improve operating efﬁciency.
NEWS & NUMBERS One billion gallons of water saved
Around the world in 80 days
he lack of available water to meet daily needs is a reality for one in three people globally. As cities and populations grow, this problem is getting worse, and the needs for water in agriculture, industry and households are constantly increasing. At its massive Freeport, Texas facility Dow turned to Nalco to reduce its water use and shrink its environmental footprint. The sprawling plant uses water from the Brazos River, which runs from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico and has more than two million people living in its watershed. Cooling water usage represented about one ﬁfth of the site’s water usage. Dow implemented Nalco’s innovative 3D TRASAR Technology for Cooling Water to treat the 80 process and comfort cooling tower systems for the sprawling 2000-hectare site after designating it a Dow MET (Most Effective Technology). A Nalco/Dow team adapted the award winning 3D TRASAR technology using Six Sigma methodology to classify cooling tower systems based on a variety of control parameters to optimise operations. The result was that Nalco helped Dow reduce extended cooling tower cycles and reduced new water needed for the cooling systems, saving 3.7 million cubic metres of water per year and cutting Dow’s usage by about nine percent. These savings equal enough water for a year’s supply for 39,533 people, which is three times the population of Freeport. The project reduced maintenance costs by US$4 million per year for the Freeport plant and also decreased energy costs and related greenhouse gas emissions. These environmental and ﬁnancial results are what we refer to as Environmental Return on Investment. Total customer water savings since introduction of 3D TRASAR Technology is estimated at more than 200 billion gallons worldwide.
For more information and the latest on water savings visit www.nalco. com/3DTRASAR .
Our guide to the last quarter’s global events – and their impact on your business. Wind farm approval
A big British wind farm has been given approval from Britain’s Crown Estate for a 500-megawatt wind farm off the south east coast of England. RWE npower renewables and Scottish and Southern Energy’s plan for Galloper Wind Farm mean it would start supplying the grid with carbon-free electricity from 2012, contributing to the country’s plans to cut emissions by 2020. MENAINF impact rating:
According to an Ulster Bank survey, the building industry in Ireland shrank for the 35th consecutive month in April. Simon Barry, Chief Economist for the Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said the pace of decline in construction had eased in each of the past four months but the rate was still signiﬁcant. Do these ﬁndings reﬂect other markets?
Hochtief grows larger
German construction company Hochtief has acquired New York region-based construction company EE Cruz and Company. The company specialises in civil construction in the New York metropolitan region, where extensive modernisation and construction projects for roads, tunnels and bridges are pending. Overall a positive move for the construction giant. MENAINF impact rating:
Australia currently has AUS$10 billion worth of port projects and expansions in the market as it continues exporting its minerals to Asia. New rail and port infrastructure is critical as the number of ships waiting to load coal and iron ore from over-extended existing ports around the nation have been dubbed a modern day armada. It looks like Australia will be playing catch-up for some time yet. MENAINF impact rating:
Paraguay investing in infra
The central bank chief in Paraguay, Jorge Corvalan, has said that its banks have sufﬁcient deposits to invest up to US$1.7 billion into large infrastructure projects to sustain long-term growth. Earnings from beef and soy exports have boosted liquidity and Corvalan suggests investors are willing to put their money into the country. Whether Paraguay will see improved infrastructure remains to be seen. MENAINF impact rating:
The US transport chief took a test ride on Japan’s super-fast magnetic train – hitting 500 kph on the test line near Mount Fuji. Japan is up against China, France, Germany and other bidders as it seeks to sell its ‘Shinkansen’ bullet and magnetic train systems for the American rail plan, which is backed by US$13 billion in public funding.
MENAINF impact rating:
MENAINF impact rating:
IN FOCUS Kuwaiti bank to invest in green energy
hen comparing oil reserves to area, Kuwait is one of the most oil-rich nations on the planet. As such, it is a massive surprise to learn that the Kuwait Finance House is planning to invest in the alternative energy sector, though it has stressed that this will not “negatively affect Kuwait’s oil dependant national income.” Speaking to ArabianBusiness.com, Abdul Nasser Al-Subeih, the Acting Assistant General Manager for investment sector of the KFH (Baitak), said the bank was studying projects with a view to invest in the industry. Talking about the new service, Al-Subeih seemed very aware that the ﬁnancial institution’s decision is a complete contradiction for a Kuwaiti business considering the resource-rich nation’s main export, as well as the other Gulf states who produce vast quantities of oil for the world. However, he added that supporting renewable energy would not “substitute fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal”. The Kuwait Finance House’s decision comes a month after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that Kuwait would need to “change if it is to fulﬁl its potential and avoid an ‘uncertain future’”. Speaking to the KUNA News Agency at the Vision Kuwait 2035 launch in March, Blair said, “Kuwait’s history is great with a proud tradition of entrepreneurship and trading. Its potential is enormous and its people are talented and creative. But the plain truth is, that without a change in direction, this potential will not be realised.” He added that Kuwait had the potential to become “a regional powerhouse of the future” but stated that if it adopts a “no-change scenario” the future “will be uncertain”. Could the Kuwait Finance House’s decision to support renewable energy be a direct consequence of his comments or does the ﬁnancial institution see the writing on the wall? After all, Kuwait’s oil reserves can only last so long before the country has nothing left to trade with and its wealth disappears. So are we to see Kuwait start to heavily invest in solar energy? The next few months will be very interesting...
Video Vascar from Speedar
ew from Speedar is Video Vascar. Shown at Intertrafﬁc Amsterdam in March for the ﬁrst time, it was well received by visiting representatives of numerous Police Authorities worldwide. Vascar is a tried and tested method of speed measurement, computing distance and time to measure the average speed over a minimum distance. This has the advantage of measuring the average speed rather than the ‘spot’ speed as measured by radar or laser. It also has the advantages of not being able to be detected or jammed. Now, in line with the modern demand for video evidence, the new Video Vascar includes video recording and display, with the Vascar information superimposed on the video. On activation the screen displays time and distance since activation and the speed of the police vehicle computed from inputs received from the vehicle. On completion it displays the distance travelled, elapsed time, average speed of the target vehicle and the date and time that the reading was completed. Video Vascar is capable of being integrated with any in-car existing computer system and has a facility to enable the screen to be used as a normal pc display for ANPR and/or satellite navigation programmes. The hand-held controller is equipped with positive ‘feel’ switches and audible indication that the switch has been activated. This system is designed for easy retroﬁt into existing vehicles. Some clever design features and sourcing of quality components ensure that this unit meets the stringent requirements of the UK Home Ofﬁce HOSDB speciﬁcation.
PROJECT FOCUS: SAUDI ARABIA
Watch this space
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, plans to invest more than US$400 billion in infrastructure in the years to 2013, with projects such as roads and hospitals seeing the benefits of these funds. In fact, Saudi Arabia is the second most active market in the region, with US$283.8 billion worth of projects in the pipeline, according to MEED. 1. Riyadh Metro Project: The ﬁrst phase of the Riyadh Metro project will extend from the northern side of the ring road at the Public Transport Terminal and the second phase will involve a 14-kilometre route extending from the eastern side of the ring road across King Abdul Aziz Road in the west. It is expected that the ﬁrst phase will cover over 30 districts of the city and 34 main passenger stations. Cost: US$10 billion Status: Under design, due to start construction in Q1 2011 Completion: Estimated 2015 02
2. King Abdulaziz Centre for Knowledge & Culture Project: The King Abdulaziz Centre for Knowledge & Culture in Dhahran will resemble a rock mass incorporating ﬁve separate buildings. Each of the buildings has a unique function and the structural geometry is independently stable and isolated from the buildings in the landscaped dome. The centre will mark the 75th anniversary of Saudi Aramco Cost: US$400 million Status: Construction started Q2 2010 Completion: Expected 2013
3. Expansion of Grand Mosque in Makkah Project: In response to the huge rise in the number of hajj pilgrims in recent years, the project calls for expansion of the Makkah Grand Mosque, to a total built up area of 750,000 square metres. The expansion covers the Grand Mosque itself, the external yards, and the service area, and is expected to take six years. Cost: US$10.6 billion Status: Main contractor Saudi Bin Laden Group has begun construction Completion: Expected 2016
PROJECT FOCUS: SAUDI ARABIA 04
4. District cooling network in Jeddah Project: In September 2009, National Tri-generation CHP Company (NTCC) was awarded the build, operate and transfer contract for the district cooling network in Jeddah. The project calls for the construction of district cooling networks and will be used to supply cooled water and electricity for the Jeddah 2nd Industrial City. Cost: US$300 million Status: Construction started in Q3 2009 Completion: 2011
5. Olaya Towers Project: Twin ofﬁce towers located in Riyadh city, the Olaya Towers will be 34 and 36 storeys tall and include mezzanine levels, four basements and parking for 2000 cars. The development covers an area of 27,000 square metres. Cost: US$250 million Status: Construction started in 2009 Completion: Estimated 2012
6. Jeddah Gate
Project: Jeddah gate is a massive development located in the heart of Jeddah and positioned on two sites. The project will comprise of 6000 residential units, 230,000 square metres of commercial space and 75,000 square metres of gross rentable area for trailers. The project will become the new centre of the city and is envisaged as a ‘smart city’ with advanced telecom infrastructure. Cost: US$1.6 billion Status: Under construction as of 2008 Completion: Built over several phases, ﬁnal completion is expected in 2020
7. King Abdullah Economic City
Project: A huge development located in Rabigh, the masterplan of the King Abdullah Economic City shows it will be divided into industrial, residential, sea resort and sea port zones. The industrial zone covers an area of 63 million square metres and the residential zone covers an area of 51 million square metres. The sea resort area will provide hotels, residential apartments, golf resort, spas and water sports facilities and in addition to that, sea port provides 14 million square metres to build a world-class port on Saudi Arabia’s west coast. Cost: US$50 billion Status: Construction started in 2006 Completion: The overall project is due for completion in 2020
FIVE MINUTE INTERVIEW
In my view Why Abu Dhabi is the Gulf ’s next hotspot. By Erland Rendall, Director of Davis Langdon’s Abu Dhabi office. I’ve been in Abu Dhabi for three years now, and Dubai was in the ascendency certainly up until two Cityscapes ago. And then the pendulum swung towards Abu Dhabi. In the UAE we have ofﬁces in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and given the situation over the past 18 months Abu Dhabi has been taking on more of the workload. In Abu Dhabi there’s a big contrast with what has gone on in Dubai. It’s much more about long-term planning, because of the Vision 2030 masterplan, and the pipeline of work is more considered. I think that shows good discipline, and with that comes conﬁdence: not only does Abu Dhabi have the money to develop, it has the plan and vision. We’re engaged in a number of sectors – transport, culture, sport, hotel, commercial, residential – and are also taking a growing role in master planning. We’ve historically been cost management experts, but actually, one of the areas of greatest growth that we’re seeing in Abu Dhabi is our project management offer. We’re also providing specialist services such as speciﬁcation management, facility management and consulting. The whole conversation around value, and looking beyond cost, is something that we are particularly passionate about. The mentality of Abu Dhabi is one of quality and sustainability, and that helps; clients understand the relationship between cost, quality and value, and Abu Dhabi is embracing a number of quality standards, such as LEED, Estidama and BREEAM. Developers today are concentrating their efforts on the key projects – making sure that the quality is there, that the mix and type of space is appropriate, and that there’s also ﬂexibility in the masterplan to cope with any market change over the programme period. How can you respond to external market forces? Having the agility within a certain scheme to ﬂip from one use to the next as the demand curve moves is what really makes Abu Dhabi stand out. It’s that level of intelligence that’s coming into the market now, and showing more consideration is hopefully going to prove more proﬁ table for developers, the Abu Dhabi government and us as consultants and suppliers.
“The mentality of Abu Dhabi is one of quality and sustainability”
Saudi Arabia’s $209m power shortage
The potential of solar energy resources is excellent in all MENA countries, with an annual global solar radiation between 4-8kWh/m
Countries such as Oman, Egypt, and Morocco have good wind energy resources, with a wind velocity range between 8-11m/sec
Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria have good hydro resources, although potential far outstrips current output
he Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s power need has been highlighted by the company’s electric company, Saudi Electricity Co, seeing a loss of US$209 million in its ﬁrst quarter due to it having to purchase power from external providers to effectively meet the kingdom’s energy demands. In a statement, the company said its loss was “due to the increase in purchased energy from independent producers in order to meet increased energy demands, as well as the increased costs resulting from new projects”. It is no surprise that the company wants to make some sort of expansion, but such a project is expected to cost upwards of US$1.87 billion and the company is trying desperately to make sure it can meet Suadi Arabia’s power demand, which is growing at a rate of eight percent per year. It was recently estimated that if Saudi Arabia is to meet its rising domestic demand, then it needs to raise investments in its power and water supplies industries by a third to at least US$266.7 billion through to 2025. However, while the Kingdom has plans to spend more than US$400 billion over ﬁve years to upgrade infrastructure such as airports, roads and power plants, its energy plans aren’t as highly ﬁnanced with only US$186.6 billion earmarked for such projects – US$79.9 billion on power generation, US$53.3 billion on water desalination and US$53.3 billion on sewerage.
According to a recent report from Banque Saud Fransi, this amount is “a step in the right direction – but at least a third more in funding would be required to bolster capacity in a way that comfortably cushions demand”.
Additional energy plans In order to meet the Kingdom’s future energy demands, Saudi Arabia has said it has set up a scientiﬁc centre for civilian nuclear and renewable energy. Despite the country being the world’s second highest producer of oil, domestic power demand has forced Saudi Arabia to look at other sources of energy to support the economy as well as the rest of the world’s. The country’s investment in power generation is expected to see capacity increase from 46,000MW now to 67,000MW by 2020. Currently, the UAE is the ﬁrst Gulf Arab country to take the nuclear route, in a bid to meet rising electricity demand for a fast-growing population. Despite saying they intend to increase the use of crude oil for power generation to 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent on a daily average by 2020 from 1.5 million BOE in 2009, Saudi Arabia’s plans to invest in alternative, sustainable, reliable sources to produce electricity and desalinate water is a clear intent to reduce their reliance of their oil reserves.
Saudi Arabia has invested US$12.5 billion in the sustainability-oriented King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, which opened in September, in a bid to become the world’s largest exporter of clean energy and the most important centre for solar energy research within 30-50 years. Despite cynical suggestions that it is yet another way for Arab oil producers to expand their grip on global energy supplies, others believe the case for renewable energy in the MENA region comes down to pure economics. Why burn ﬁnite hydrocarbon resources for yourself if you can save them and sell them?
FDJI Group acquires German ambulance builder
n January 2010, the Beijing based Four DimensionJohnson Industries Group (FDJI) completed its acquisition of leading German ambulance manufacturer KFB-Extramobile GmbH. FDJI purchased the company as part of its ongoing diversiﬁcation plan. The move follows on from the 2007 acquisition of UK-based Johnson Security Limited by FDJI, a strategic development of the Beijing based companies signiﬁcant inﬂuence in the Cash-inTransit security providers sector. Stephen Reeves, Head of Business Development says: “In this extremely competitive ambulance sector, the quality and performance of KFB products are second to none, and it is a great boost to us to have retained the sales, engineering and production teams. Looking forward the signiﬁcant challenge will be to transfer engineering knowledge to our team in China so that we can leverage lower production costs to deliver quality assemblies back into the Nürburgring Plant.” Over the past 30 years, KFB-Extramobile has become a leading name in the production of specialist emergency vehicles and complimentary medical technologies, making KFB a valuable addition to the Four Dimension Group. FDJI will retain the knowledge and experience within KFB-Extramobile by working jointly with existing KFB senior management in efforts to improve operations and push into new markets. KFB are perhaps best known for their innovation and patent portfolio, the KFB air suspended stretcher table, for example, has changed the way van converted ambulances operate ergonomically. KFB were also the specialist vehicle converter that provided China with a signiﬁcant delivery of specially adapted ambulances for the transportation of patients suspected of carrying the SARS virus. More orders are expected to follow now that KFB are part of the FDJI family. For more information please contact Dennis Folz at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +49 26 91 - 93 50 61
River running dry?
riends of the Earth Middle East (FOEME) has said in a report that Israel is diverting millions of gallons of saline water into the River Jordan every year, while more than 100 million cubic feet of raw sewage also pours into the river every year. Without fresh water, it’s thought that the river could run dry as early as next year. “If immediate action is not taken the River Jordan will run dry by 2011,” says Baha Afaneh, the Jordanian coordinator for FOEME. The report said Israel diverts more than 46 percent of the water from the river, Syria draws around 25 percent, Jordan 23 percent and ﬁve percent is drawn by the Palestinians. The ﬂow of the River Jordan has dropped from an annual rate of nearly 46 billion cubic feet to less than 3.5 billion feet per year during the last 50 years. The report from FOEME added that sewage is the only thing keeping the river ﬂowing.
IN FOCUS Top six
Paint industry merger
D Air traffic in the Middle East is the fastest growing in the world, and as such the region has been implementing various aviation projects in order to cater for the increasing number of passengers at various airports. MENA Infrastructure takes a look at six of the biggest airport projects in the GCC.
New Doha International Airport Estimated value: US$11 billion Schedule: Due for completion in 2015
Al Maktoum International Airport Estimated value: US$8 billion Schedule: Phase one opens in June 2010
Abu Dhabi International Airport Estimated value: US$6.8 billion Schedule: Opening of the centrepiece Midﬁeld Terminal is expected in 2015
King Abdulaziz International Airport – Phase 1 Estimated value: US$1.5 billion Schedule: Completion is expected in 2012
Expansion of Muscat International Airport Estimated value: US$1.2 billion Schedule: Completion expected in 2012 Concourse 3 at Dubai International Airport Estimated value: US$1.17 billion
Schedule: Completion expected in 2012
eveloped through the NASA Product Exchange Program, Insuladd is an energy-saving paint additive that has been selling throughout the world since 1996. EdenPURE – a name that is also synonymous with energy-saving – recently merged with Insuladd to show the world how the Insuladd additive provides additional comfort and energy savings. EdenPURE is most typically recognised for innovative and proprietary products like the energy-saving GEN3 infrared heater. The expert advertising campaigns of EdenPURE have already brought energy-saving products to millions of satisﬁed customers throughout the US and Canada and EdenPURE is now poised to proceed with a global presence. Resource Partners Enterprises, LLC is the direct B2B division associated with the EdenPURE brand and is responsible for spearheading the Insuladd merger. With the experience and marketing prowess of EdenPURE, Resource Partners will ensure that Insuladd becomes a formidable product throughout the world. Given the huge success behind the EdenPURE heater, this objective is both realistic and highly attainable. Both Insuladd and EdenPURE management teams agree that the merger is going well thus far. Insuladd is currently still being sold via insuladd.com, just as it has been for many years. EdenPURE is working hard to quickly and seamlessly move all the Insuladd-related websites, order numbers and advertising efforts under its own umbrella. The process is moving smoothly and the transition should go unnoticed by most buyers. Resource Partners Enterprises, LLC CEO Michael Lawrence had this to say: “We’re very excited about the enormous potential the paint additive presents to our already wellestablished market and we look forward to global expansion. We take pride in being able to introduce an ongoing stream of revolution- ary products to our extensive retail dealer market.” Multiple hardware chains across the United States currently carry various Resource Partners products. This should make for a powerful combination when paired with the ongoing international sales of Insuladd.
Fast fact 48% 27%
Qatar Saudi Arabia Kuwait UAE
Overall, the GCC witnessed awards worth a total of about US$8.6 billion in March. Also, over US$1.7 billion worth of projects in the GCC were completed in March. The most number of projects completed were in Saudi Arabia, worth a total of about US$963 million.
IN FOCUS Tackling housing demand
Company Index Q2 2010
Companies in this issue are indexed to the first page of the article in which each is mentioned.
espite the recent downturn in Dubai, the MENA region still has a large demand for housing construction. This demand is being fuelled by both the rapid expansion of the expatriate population in the region as well as increased demand among the domestic population as the number of family members per household declines. In Saudi Arabia alone it is estimated that over 1.5 million new housing units will need to be constructed by 2013. For the construction industry to keep up with this demand, as well as keep costs under control in the current economic environment, new methods of construction will need to be introduced. Traditional methods such as block construction will most deﬁnitely need to give way to faster, more economical techniques such as cast in situ monolithic construction. This type of construction not only offers a more durable product but also better quality at lower cost, to the end user. Aluma Systems, a leading worldwide supplier of formwork systems, has developed a new all aluminium panel system speciﬁcally targeting this market sector. Aluma EasySet is a unique light-weight and cost effective modular formwork system. The system is well suited to the needs of the region as it can be used in virtually any housing application, from single villas to mid-rise and high-rise, where reinforced cast in situ concrete is the chosen method of construction. This new system also readily responds to such persistent jobsite challenges as limited crane time since the system’s lightweight construction allows it to be quickly and easily manoeuvred from set-up to set-up manually without the need for any special tools or skills required for the labour. Furthermore, the system’s all aluminium construction provides the contractor with a system that can be re-used hundreds of times with minimum maintenance and care.
Acquris IT HB 140 AES Arabia 168, IBC Al Tamimi & Company 86 Aluma Systems 8, 33 AMECO 20, 38 Ammann 44, 45 Aquarius 17, 108, 109 Atlas Copco Services 48, 49 Basamok 66 Belimo Automation FZE 110, 111 Biwater AEWT 156 BK Giulini 76, 81, 149 Bovis Lend Lease 50 Build Safe UAE 50 ComAp 10, 100, 101 Delta 15, 130, 131 Dubai Metro 114 DuPont 59, 150, 151 Dutco Balfour Beatty 50 Flowserve 20, 107 FlyDubai 136 Frost & Sullivan 114 FXFOWLE 102 Gannett Fleming 54, 55 Global Investment House 86 Gulf Research Centre 86 GulfTalent.com 128 Hoffman Mineral 84, 85 IBM 102, 128 Impactt Limited 50 Inkmaker 76, 79 International Road Dynamics 27 International Safety Council 128 IIR 67 Johnson Security 30, 31 Jotron 139 Jotun 76, 77 King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) 102 Kryton 62, 63 KTH Royal Institute of Technology 128 Kuwait Financial Centre 114
Leighton Holdings 34 Meydan 160 Middle East Centre for Sustainable Development 102 Middle East Dredging Company (MEDCO) 86 Monodraught Ltd 112, 113 Nalco 4, 21 Nutshell Natural Paints 82, 83 Ofﬁcine Maccaferri 54, 57 Omnisec AG 154, 155 Opus Technologies 164 Pearl-Qatar 86 Qatar Education City 86 Qatar Financial Centre 86 Qatar Science and Technology Park 86 Q-Free 132 Regent Energy Control 2, 64, 65 Resources Partners Enterprises 32, 167 Saudi Railway Company (SAR) 114 Schlatter Group 124 Scicorp 96, 97 Shell 86 Siemens IFC, 134, 142 Sky Lighting 140, 141 Skylit Technology 98, 99 Speedar 22, 23 Technoﬂex 46, 47 Tiger Proﬁles 6 Titan Cement Egypt 60, 61 TYPSA 40, 41 United Development Company (UDC) 86 Unival Group 144, 145 UT Technology 164 Volvo Construction Equipment 42, 43 Vossloh 124, 125, OBC Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants 13, 152, 153 Varmekabel 127
A princely position 34 www.menainfra.com
Big interview.indd 34
aving spent 23 years at the helm of one of the world’s major project development and contracting organisations, Wal King, Chief Executive of Leighton Holdings, has seen a fair amount of ups and downs – not least the global recession that hit last year. At the time King admitted that “a few of our tail feathers were singed”, but the company seems to have made a fast and full recovery after recently announcing an 82 percent rise in profits from AUS$220 million in 2009 to AUS$400 million – and the company continues to go from strength to strength by winning contracts and acquiring new work, including AUS$1.8 billion since March 2010 alone. Looking at Leighton’s operations, what would you say are the biggest infrastructure challenges in the market at large? Big infrastructure projects are becoming more complicated in terms of design, the risk profi le and community engagement whereas 20 years ago, infrastructure projects were nowhere near as complicated. In terms of environmental approvals, community approvals, sustainability, the complexity of the projects is increasing, and it becomes an almost square off function. The projects are getting much bigger and larger, but they’re also becoming much more complicated. And what would you say are the challenges in the Middle East, speciﬁcally? We work in 20 countries around the world and each of those countries has their own particular challenges in terms of culture and work practices, they all have their own unique cultural differences and issues. In the Middle East specifically the cultural differences are somewhat more amplified by the fact that most of the workers are actually imported workers; and then of course you’ve got the religious aspects and different culture, which are much more magnified in the Middle East than other parts of the world.
Reigning supreme in the world of construction, Wal King, CEO of Leighton Holdings, reveals why evolving with the times has proved a key strategy to getting – and staying – at the top.
So how do you ensure that the Middle East cultural heritage is maintained, despite the advent of new developments? Well, we deliberately have a partnership with some very senior and trustworthy Arab gentlemen and so we look to build our organisation around the culture. At the end of the day, it’s based on mutual respect and the ability to work in that environment. Urban planning is an increasingly important subject in infrastructure development. Do you have to work closely with urban planning departments to get the appropriate planning permissions and so on?
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Absolutely, and you know the planning processes are becoming much more complicated in terms of new direction with the communities, sustainability, pollution – it’s a much more complicated process down the line than it was. In the Middle East we do have a partnership where we own 45 percent of the company Al Habtoor Leighton, and the process that we go through requires engagement at all levels with the local authorities and with the Arab community, our partners. Our strategy is very much one of consultation and working together with the people. And looking at sustainability; you touched on that very brieﬂy. An increasing number of companies around the world are championing the importance of sustainability, so how is Leighton building a greener focus into its design and development processes? I would always broaden the concept of sustainability. It doesn’t only mean focusing on green issues and sustainability; in its broadest context, it means being able to have a business that goes forward and embraces all of the issues of sustainability and includes and embraces profitability – if there is no profitability, there is no sustainability. We need to embrace the environment and recognise the needs of the community wherever we work – if we work in Indonesia or Mongolia, we need to have this cooperative arrangement recognising the needs of those communities and that includes energy conservation, recycling, energy efficiency, etc, the list is very long. But a lot of people talk about sustainability as issues that relate only to the environment and the minimisation of power usage for example, but it’s a much broader subject than that. Sustainability in the broadest context is the concept that you have a license to operate that will only continue to be good if you satisfy the environmental issues, community issues, mutual respect issues and include the needs of the client as well as profitability. And what are your views on using sustainable materials and resources? Wherever possible we use sustainable materials and resources but in some cases, of course, it’s dictated by our client. If it’s our own development then we develop to the highest standards in Australia. We were the first to build the highest rated building, the Green Square South Tower, which was a five-star Green Star rating for office design from the Green Building Council of Australia. However, quite often these things are dictated not by us but by our clients. If we’re in a location in, let’s say Central Indonesia, sometimes these materials are not available. So in Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane, of course, yes we do use the most effective and sustainable and renewable materials and we recycle. We’re a big recycler and in our earth-moving business we strive to have more energy efficient uses of our equipment and the like. It’s a complete all-embracing ecologic strategy, but the strategy has to be pretty much in tune with the local situation. To what extent are building and environmental standards important in your opinion? Well, they’re continuing to evolve in terms of energy usage, material usage and it’s a matter of keeping in contact with the demands of the community on the one hand, but also in terms of our license to operate, keeping in contact with in our own ethical standards. Our own ethical standards are that we do the best possible job, the best possible thing in the environment within which we work. Our core values very much dictate that we do the right thing. Looking at the global economic crisis last year, what impact did that have on you in terms of your projects? Did you have to make any cutbacks, for example? The biggest area that was affected was our property business where property work came pretty much to a standstill. However, if you went back to the start of the global financial crisis there were dire consequences predicted that the world was coming to an end;
1. Al Shaqab Equestrian Academy Project: The Equestrian Department and Riding Academy at Al Shaqab share a goal of providing education of the highest calibre in classical horsemanship. The world-class equine management facility will include an equine breeding facility; an equine hospital; an Olympic standard indoor arena with adjoining outdoor arena; and entertainment facilities. Location: Qatar Value: AUS$317 million Status: Construction started in June 2006 Completion: Due January 2011 2. Emerald Palace Project: The Emerald Palace is located in the Palm, the world’s largest man-made island, and covers almost 100,000 square metres. The Emerald Palace hotel is a seven storey classically styled building and features an imposing Palladian dome surrounded by landscaped gardens. The 200 exclusive residences range in size from 165 to 1300 square metres, including spacious terraces or balconies. Location: Dubai Value: AUS$293 million Status: Construction started in June 2007 Completion: Due June 1010 3. Information Technology & Communication Complex Project: The Information Technology & Communication Complex (ITCC) is a state-of-the-art facility that will be used as the centre of commercial and industrial business operations. The ITCC offers a viable and attractive community of knowledge-based industries such as information technology, infocom technology, high tech research and development, and ofﬁce and logistics solutions for multinational corporations. Location: Saudi Arabia Value: AUS$887 million Status: Construction started in August 2009 Completion: Due in July 2012
Big interview.indd 36
Big interview.indd 37
of course, that hasn’t happened and the recovery, particularly in Australia, has been much quicker and more powerful than people predicted. Yes, we had to adjust our business strategies, but we’re always adjusting our business strategies. In our particular case, we’re on a continuing journey and that continuing journey requires us to be in tune with the environment. When you encounter a rough period like the global financial crisis, you adjust your business strategy so that the things that you’re doing are compatible with the economic circumstances that you encounter and again we’re adjusting now. We have a continually evolving strategy and that work is never done and never will be done. It’s a matter of continuing to navigate your way through the ever-changing environment and the environment is changing and it’s only in the context of looking backwards that you can see the rapid changes that are happening in the community and the world at large.
Where it all began Wal King: “I ﬁnished my ﬁrst degree at the University of NSW in 1966, and I then worked with the Electricity Commission in New South Wales, which is a power generating authority where I did a Master’s degree. When I ﬁnished that master’s degree, I looked around to join an Australian company and eventually joined Leighton. Back in 1968 Leighton had an annual revenue in the dollars of that day of AUS$17 million a year and of course, this year it’s AUS$19 billion. “When I was looking to join an Australian company a lot of my friends went off to work for overseas companies but you know, I’m strongly patriotic and I looked for a small company to join that had a spirit of adventure, the ability to grow and in hindsight my choice was ﬁrst class.”
You say that you’re constantly evolving. Is that something that’s quite hard to do as such a large organisation? How do you manage that? We’re a very decentralised organisation and our business planning process is what I call “all about the rules of racing”. The rules of racing set out the financial parameters and so on and so forth. And then we delegate to our respective managers, so they have the rules of how they operate and then they have the freedom to operate within that. So it’s the financial and planning discipline but with freedom to operate. In simple terms, its like playing a game of football: everyone knows the rules but once you’re on the field, you have to use your own initiatives and accountability. So we delegate a lot of accountability and responsibility to our senior people but it’s all done within a disciplined framework. And did you feel any impact on operations in the Middle East after or during the ﬁnancial crisis – there was of course a great deal made of Dubai being bailed out by Abu Dhabi – did any of this have an impact on your operations in the region at all? The Middle East was more magnified in terms of the effect of the financial downturn and a lot’s written about the Middle East, but Dubai is just part of the Middle East and is not representative of the region as a whole. Obviously there’s been difficulty in the region, and continuing difficulties in Dubai, but overall the region is very sound. I’m a great believer that we’re in a long-term growth cycle that will go on for another 20 years. It’s like the stock market; when you look backwards in the stock market, like the crash of ‘87, these are mere blips on the horizon when taken over the fullness of time. There is an old saying that says you shouldn’t be too heavily influenced by recent events, but if someone just beat you up and someone else says, ‘Don’t worry you’ll get over it,’ I mean, it’s pretty hard to get over at the time. But we are in a longterm growth cycle and in the next 20 years, there’ll be another billion and a half people that will enter the middle class and that middle class will drive greater growth in the world. When the global financial crisis occurred, a huge economic earthquake happened, much like a real earthquake, and the economic plates of the world shifted and they’re not going back to where they were. So if the last century was the century for America, this century is going to be the century for Asia. Not that America will be smaller or poorer, it will be just less important in the world scale as is the case with Europe; it will not be poorer, it will just be less important.
You’re obviously very optimistic about the coming next decade. Where will you predominantly be focusing your work over this time? Well, we are focusing our work on Asia, the Middle East and India and all of those places where we think growth is important and will happen. Leighton has a magnificent footprint in the world and we have the resources, management and capability to continue to grow. When I joined Leighton in 1968 it was on AUS$17 million a year with about 200 people and now it’s a 40,000 people organisation on AUS$19 billion, and we have an aspiration that within five years, we will have a revenue of AUS$30 billion with AUS$50 billion worth of work in hand. Finally, what do you believe to be the biggest challenges facing the industry as it goes forward? Well the biggest challenge is the continuing need for human capital and capable people and Wal King we at Leighton are continuing to recruit and train. At the end of the day, we only have two things in our business: we have capital and we have people, and assuming that you can get the capital either by equity or through borrowing, success comes down to people. It’s like that pilot that’s flying a plane; good people produce good results. So the greatest challenge for us is to be able to attract and retain and train our people to be effective in an organisation, be well rewarded and produce great results for the shareholders.
Big interview.indd Sec1:39
Quality over quantity
as investors instead of users is over. It is also the time for well-planned government infrastructure investments and properly organising the services that the population really need.
Alejandro López Palma gives his reasons for why quality is more important than cost in the construction sector. Performance is a critical element of any piece of construction, be it equipment or consultancy. In your opinion, does the Middle East offer any particular or unique challenges in terms of performance requirements? Alejandro López Palma. Yes. We have faced some cases where project managers in the Middle East were less proactive than the rest of the world, therefore there are more important efforts spent in moving forward the projects than solving real, important technical issues. The main challenge in this part of the world is, then, to deliver the projects on time. Additionally, I believe that all engineering companies like ours should make a big effort to change certain mentality aspects in some clients that are focusing on the service prices rather than on quality. We have to convince them that the investment cost in design and engineering will have a big saving impact at the time of the construction.
There has been a growing focus on sustainability and greener construction evident in the sector over the last few years in the Middle East. What impact have you seen this trend have on business? ALP. The focus in sustainability and greener construction is more to do with fashion than reality. People do not tackle sustainability issues seriously, but we hope this will change with more mature and committed developers. We cannot keep simply creating massive buildings; we should look forward to more humanised cities where there is a place for kind economies. There should be a new concept in transportation, recreation areas and green areas aiming to improve all residents’ living conditions. The global economic crisis has without doubt impacted the construction sector in the Middle East. What do you perceive as the key opportunities in these challenging times? ALP. The global economic crisis will bring a change of strategy for the construction sector in the Middle East. It will bring better management and seriousness in business, and will be focused on delivery rather than promise. The time for construction without planning for the future and thinking in terms of potential buyers
How difﬁcult is it to convince people in the region of the need to focus on quality rather than cost? How can you change that mindset? ALP. Not all countries in the region are the same or react in the same way. Sometimes it is difficult to convince them of the need to focus on quality because they have financial constraints that do not allow them to accept more expensive solutions. The only way to change that mindset is through our experience in other markets where quality is really important. When they see what we normally do in other markets, they appreciate the quality of a well-done job although it is more expensive. Experience is very important and, after accepting cheaper solutions from our competitors with poor results for some time, stakeholders are slowly realising the value of quality and moving in that direction. As the economic situation improves, most of the people in the region will demand better services with a higher degree of quality. What new developments can we expect to see from you over the next six to 12 months? ALP. We expect to increase our activities in other sectors like transport infrastructure while keeping our current architectural projects. We are focusing more on public clients and in countries with no clear exposition to the current fi nancial crisis. We are very optimistic about our possibilities of being a quality-driven company for markets that can appreciate quality over other factors. ■
Alejandro López Palma, Director for Middle East Countries at TYPSA, has worked in project management on megaprojects such as the Al-Imam University of Riyadh. Present in the Middle East since 1994, he is responsible of the establishment of TYPSA in the UAE and the consolidation of TYPSA in Saudi Arabia.
Eco Operator scheme cuts fuel consumption By JONAS GARDETUN
o matter how environmentally friendly a piece of equipment is, the operator has a greater effect on fuel consumption and productivity in today’s modern machines. Eco Operator is a new training programme from Volvo Construction Equipment that gives operators the practical and theoretical knowledge they need to become safer, more efficient and environmentally conscious while operating equipment. The programme teaches operators correct machine operation and manoeuvring as well as how to plan their work in the smartest, most efficient way. By following these techniques, operators can help save money on fuel, increase overall production and reduce maintenance expenses. Operating in a productive and fuel efficient way often means easing up on the accelerator. Operators are more productive when they slow down and work smarter. Smoother, more deliberate operation also means less stress and fatigue for the operator, yet maintains productivity. And reduced operator stress results in increased operating efficiency. Additionally, good planning and execution decreases wear on the machine and lengthens service life.
Theory and practice Eco Operator is a training programme that consists of both classroom theoretical training and practical, hands-on experience. The content can be further customised with additional modules such as environmental training, simulator-based training and onsite follow-up. For the operation portion, a trainer sits with the operator in his own machine on an actual jobsite. The trainer gives guidance on how to change behaviour in order to operate more fuelefficiency. This not only helps operators learn on a machine they’re already familiar with, but also the training course does not disturb the normal operations of a jobsite – so workers stay productive. Major contractor Skanska was one of the companies to enrol their operators in a similar scheme. In one study where 37 of its operators were given training, it was found that fuel consumption was reduced by five percent – representing savings of over US$300,000 and a reduction in
emissions of 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Some operators reduced their consumption by 25 percent. Some of the tips that operators learn in the Eco Training programme are the importance of ensuring correct tyre inflation pressure (keeping tyres properly inflated reduces wear and lowers fuel consumption) easing up on the accelerator (lighter foot increases productivity); and slowing down (stay in the most economical portion of the engine speed range by slowing down engine speed). Other tips include planning the work (keeping an eye on the worksite, making sure it is clean and removing any obstacles that may cause unnecessary detours); cooperating (consulting with other operators so that wheel loaders, haulers and excavators work together in the most efficient way); shutting down (not idling unnecessarily); and choosing the right equipment (a machine suited to the task saves on fuel and maintenance). The availability of the course will vary from market to market. The roll out will be sequential. ■
“Operators are more productive when they slow down and work smarter”
Volvo ed.indd 42
NEXT BIG THING
Reducing CO2 emission in asphalt road construction Andreas Biedermann explains how new techniques in asphalt road construction can help the world reduce its CO2 output and utilise reclaimed materials that do less harm to the environment.
oads are the backbone of a flourishing economy, yet between 1958 and 2000, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increased from 320 to 386 ppm (parts per million), resulting in a global temperature increase of 0.7°C as a result of mankind’s increasing reliance on overland travel. In response, every part of industry and society is being asked to help contribute to efforts to reach a worldwide reduction in CO2 emissions. The construction industry is tasked with hitting these new targets while also driving down costs. Thanks to new technologies and solutions provided by Ammann, roads can now be built even more environmentally friendly than before; constructed using less energy, emitting less CO2 and using higher rates of reclaimed asphalt and lower operating temperatures. Nowadays, there is still a lot of asphalt being land-fi lled or used in lowperformance applications. To save resources, the available reclaimed asphalt (which consists of high-quality bitumen and pre-prepared aggregates) should be reused in high-performance applications to build new, durable roads. More than 20 years ago, Ammann recognised the relevance of asphalt recycling and pioneered the parallel drum technology, which allows the asphalt industry to produce high quality recycled asphalt. In 2008, Ammann continued its innovative direction with the fi rst counter-flow recycling drum, which enables the asphalt industry to use as much as 100 percent reclaimed asphalt. Lowering the maximum temperature of the asphalt during production and mixing allows a reduction of fuel consumption at the mixing plants because less energy is needed to heat up the minerals and the bitumen. The
second advantage is the significant decrease of asphalt smoke that construction workers are exposed to. There are different methods for the production of low temperature asphalt, such as the utilisation of additives, foaming, special binders or a combination of the three. Ammann provides solutions that range from special modules in the plant control system to additional plant components. The key to success for any of these low temperature methods lies in an intensive mixing technology, whereby the mixing temperature can be lowered by at least 20°C, and often by as much as 70°C. Another trend to reduce production costs is the efficiency of the asphalt-laying and compaction process. With ACE – Ammann Compaction Expert – Ammann is one of the main supporters of developing and marketing these technologies in the global markets. The compaction of the asphalt layer and the underlying soil influences the quality and the lifetime of a road substantially. To reach a good compaction, an operator of a conventional roller compactor has to optimise a huge number of factors ranging from the degree of compaction, uniformity of compaction, influence of weather, asphalt temperature, topology and, last but not least, the movement of the surrounding construction personnel and machines to reduce the risk of accidents. Modern rollers support the operator in controlling a lot of the factors by intelligent control and display technologies. The bundle of these technologies is summarised by the term ‘intelligent compaction’. Fundamentally, most of the intelligent compaction technologies are concerned with the sophisticated control technologies that measure the degree of compaction directly during the compaction process. The sensor also allows the detection of other parameters like positions (e.g. GPS) and temperatures. To ensure quality and the documentation of the process, intelligent compaction rollers store all the data for later analysis. In addition, position detection systems warn the operator in case of critical situations that bear the risk of roll-over accidents (ROPS2, Roll Over Preventative System). Such technological innovations are not only much safer, accurate and cost-effective, they are also much kinder on the environment than their forebears.
“Another trend to reduce production costs is the efficiency of the asphaltlaying and compaction process”
Dr. Andreas Biedermann is head of the process and materials team in the corporate technology development of the Ammann Group. Before joining the Ammann Group he completed his doctorate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH).
A slow evolution
José María Pujol reveals the impact of improvements in operational efﬁciency in the construction machinery sector.
tional and sceptical about trying new ways of doing things.
In your opinion, what are the main challenges currently facing the machinery sector in the Middle East? José María Pujol. Even though the construction sector is one of the most ancient industries in the world, its evolution has not been as fast as in other industries – not only in the Middle East, but all around the world. The construction industry of course is progressing and new technologies are being introduced and incorporated little by little, but not as fast as they should. We have to look to the automotive industry for instance to see how much we still have to improve. In my opinion, this slow evolution is not due to lack of research and investigation or new technology application by western machinery producers, but because of the lack of acceptance or interest by the fi nal user to accept changes in the way things are done. Construction workers are very tradi-
How do you think these challenges should be tackled? JMP. In some countries, even western ones, machinery is used by workers without any experience, and in some cases with a low educational background. The lack of educational background is one of the reasons why it is difficult for those people to be willing to learn maintenance habits or how to use correctly those machines. An additional point is that many construction companies try to reduce costs by using low quality machinery. The Middle East represents a big opportunity for those low quality machines, because machine failure is not machine producers’ fault, but on workers’ lack of experience. The purchasing of machines produced by companies, which have copied a western design and do not know the fi nal use for which that machine has been designed, cannot meet construction and fi nal user exigencies. Construction machinery produced by western machinery producers is almost designed for misuse – western construction machinery makers produce machines with high quality metals and plastic, and test those machines to overcome hard working construction sector exigencies. Western machinery makers are focused on long-term customer relations, customer product satisfaction and customer fidelity. What solutions are emerging to improve the operational efﬁciency of machinery in the infrastructure industry? JMP. To improve the operational efficiency of machinery in the infrastructure industry, working on preventive maintenance is needed.
Small hints and simple little things, like keeping the machines clean and ready to use for next time. Those hints ensure machines run and last longer. As an example, an immersion vibrating poker after being used, should be sank into a bucket of sand to vibrate the sand for five seconds, before being put away. How is Technoﬂex meeting specialist needs in the region? JMP. We collaborate with our distribution network partners on their local fairs, helping them with printed brochures and documentation, in their local language. We teach our distributors product assembly and maintenance. Our products have to be reliable, have to meet customer expectations, but also our products have to have a technical support back up to give best customer service. What impact did the economic crisis last year have on operations at Technoﬂex? JMP. Technoflex faced a great internationalisation process during the Spanish 1992 crisis. That internationalisation process helped Technoflex then, and with the same spirit, it helped it to face current construction crisis too. Technoflex has also made special efforts in cost reduction, particularly on purchasing costs and resources during the current crisis – about 80 percent of Technoflex production is exported to foreign countries and due to that we could keep going during the current crisis. ■
José María Pujol, born in Barcelona 40 years ago, studied college at GMI General Motors’ Engineering and Management Institute in Michigan (USA). Employed since then by Ficosa International, S.A., an automotive component producer with more than 6000 employees in 18 different countries, Pujol has been running different company businesses in France, Italy and Spain, and two years ago began running Technoﬂex, the industrial construction division of the FICOSA group.
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MS. My experiences in the region thus far have taught me that customers here can have very high expectations. Atlas Copco has invested heavily in the Middle East. We are locally present providing an unrivalled level of support to our customers for all of their commercial, technical and educational needs. Our products speak for themselves, offering greater efficiency and reliability – helping make our customers more profitable – while simultaneously minimising the impact to the local environment through lower power consumption, lower emissions and reduced noise levels. Each employee strives to make doing business as easy as possible, helping to maximise the customer experience in all of their dealings with us.
Atlas Copco Services Middle East’s Michael Sagermann explains what is meant by being committed to sustainable productivity and its importance in the Middle East. What does being ‘committed to sustainable productivity’ mean? Michael Sagermann. Atlas Copco recently upgraded its brand promise to ‘committed to sustainable productivity’ and these few words mean many things to our organisation. Sustainability is not just about being environmentally responsible but covers numerous aspects of our operations, such as interacting with our customers; developing innovative, efficient and safe products with minimal environmental impact; having a positive and diverse work environment for our employees; investing in competence development; being adaptive to ever-evolving customer needs, and engaging in our local communities. Productivity is still the core of our activities, helping our customers in being more
efficient and safer, thereby increasing their productivity. Being committed to sustainable productivity translates to us, as a company, that being open about what we stand for, delivering on what we promise, and assuring our customers we are a reliable business partner is imperative in today’s business world. We do everything we can to ensure reliable, lasting results with responsible use of resources (people, natural, and capital). What are the beneﬁts of sustainable productivity? MS. The benefits for Atlas Copco are numerous, such as improving our internal processes and our products, and becoming an even stronger organisation to ensure maximum customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty. Th is is especially important through turbulent economic times, such as now, where maintaining or even growing your customer base is just as important as retaining good people within our organisation. And likewise, what are the beneﬁts of sustainable productivity to customers in the Middle East?
Has Atlas Copco delivered on its new brand promise of being ‘committed to sustainable productivity’? MS. Delivering on this promise will require a lot of hard work for every employee within our organisation. We’ve achieved a lot and there’s still very much more we continue to try to improve upon. As a worldwide company, Atlas Copco was for the fift h consecutive year named one of the world’s most sustainable companies (Global 100 List). For Atlas Copco Services Middle East we conduct a basic measure of customer satisfaction via a Net Promoter Score every six months. We’ve seen positive progression in our scoring year-on-year, but this certainly doesn’t mean that we can sit and rest on our laurels. We have an excellent company culture that helps make us stand out amongst our competition. We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations and throughout the Middle East will continue to be ‘committed to sustainable productivity’.
Michael Sagermann has 17 years’ international experience within the Atlas Copco Group, within various sales and marketing capacities, as well as new product development as Product Manager Middle Range Portable Compressors at their primary factory in Belgium. Since December 2007 he has been the Regional Business Line Manager – Portable Division, for Atlas Copoco Services Middle East based in Dubai.
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When Build Safe UAE launched its new programme to introduce construction worker champions to the industry, it was unaware that safety records in the sector would improve by 38 percent in just 12 weeks. Rebecca Goozee looks at how health and safety can be improved further still.
Safety in construction.indd 50
he Build Safe UAE (BSU) initiative was set up in 2007 to identify and promote agreed health, safety and welfare standards for the benefit of all workers in the construction industry of the United Arab Emirates. One of the organisation’s set goals is to champion the cause of worker welfare in the industry, although the initiative has little direct engagement with the workforces of its members until now, which is set to change with the emergence of Build Safe UAE Worker Champions. Proposed in September 2009, it has been a short journey to the initiative as it is today: in December 2009, projects and workers were chosen and in February 2010 there was a briefi ng session to prepare the ‘worker champions’ before it was launched with a proposed duration of six months. On the pilot’s completion in July, BSU will hold a debriefi ng and share the lessons that have been learnt. This worker champions group is set to promote and create best practices in their respective businesses by working closely with the Build Safe initiative to ensure that it is in tune with the needs and perspectives of workers. In addition to their respective discipline work, the worker champions will work with managers to support their respective businesses workers, activities and facilities in order to promote fewer and fewer accidents. Champions have also been asked to discuss how health, safety and worker welfare on site could be improved, provide feedback to management and BSU on a regular basis and identify how BSU information could be made more effective to improve the outcome of the initiative. By driving safety from the workforce up through the management, it is hoped that construction safety issues will be addressed and rectified. Engaging the workforce positively and collaborating with them will create a culture to improve the performance of companies and constantly maintain good performance records. Initially the worker champion project has been piloted in collaboration with Al Basti & Muktha, Al Habtoor Leighton Group, Murray & Roberts, Al Naboodah Contracting, Dutco Balfour Beatty and Six Construct as a six-month case study to accurately measure and assess its impact. After that it is hoped that the project will expand to include more companies across the region and be used across more construction developments. The main objective behind the pilot study is to demonstrate to the wider construction industry the true benefits of engaging with the workforce at labour level. Elias McGrath, a Project Manager appointed by Bovis Lend Lease to manage the Build Safe UAE operation, explains how the project took shape: “In this project we selected general labourers from various trades who did not possess any occupational health and safety (OHS) qualifications, but who were selected by their managers as excellent examples from within their workforces as individuals who stood out and demonstrated a constant commitment to delivering every aspect of their daily duties in a safe manner.” McGrath goes on to explain that most of the individuals were chosen because they were leaders by good example; they had previously taken proactive measures in the past to stop or prevent an accident from happening, by alerting their management to a potential danger or by directing their colleagues away from a hazardous situation for example. “At the same time, this programme will hopefully develop the skills and understanding of OHS, which could lead to lift ing these individuals to greater positions of responsibility,” he adds. The ultimate aim of the pilot project is to demonstrate a statistical improvement in safety performance throughout the 24-week pilot study. By the 12th week, or half way through the six-month pilot scheme, there had been a 35 percent average improvement in safety performance across all six participating organisations, which is a significant achievement and has resulted in improved productivity and a reduction of loss time reporting. And as the worker champions continue to make more of an impact, it is expected that safety performance will only continue to improve. At Dutco Balfour Beatty there was already a health, safety and worker welfare programme in place before the company signed up to the initiative. “We had focused on the idea of using a worker champion to portray the image of safety amongst our workforce
“At the same time, this programme will hopefully develop the skills and understanding of OHS” Elias McGrath
Safety in construction.indd 51
and we were busy putting the guy in training when the BSU campaign came along so we decided to get involved and put that person into the initiative,” explains Steven van der Vyver, HSE and Quality Manager at Dutco Balfour Beatty. The company chose the Al Ali Multi Complex – Novotel Hotel in Barsha, Dubai as its pilot project site. Construction has reached up to the eighth floor of the structure and there are 1100 workers on site who have so far delivered 339,555 man-hours. Health and safety challenges at the site include working at height with plot area restrictions and ensuring the competence of the workforce, with the aim to promote safety by making the project zero harm by 2012. “We found that our chosen project would be too big for one champion alone, so we decided to get the workers to choose another three people that they would like to see as their representatives and we put these three into Jaana Quaintance the programme as well. We decided that it should come from the workers – they should be part and parcel of the selection process so that they knows they will be represented by someone they have chosen – and hoped this would improve operations on site,” says van der Vyver. “It makes the worker feel important too. It’s not just coming from management, that management are pushing everything on the safety officer, but that the workforce has a voice.” Van der Vyver explains that the project site has been divided into seven areas, which are further broken down into five zones. “If we fi nd two to three people not wearing safety glasses in a zone, the zone scores a zero and we treat the entire zone as non-compliant.” He goes on to explain that operations at the fi rm have so far improved immensely. “Normally we would have someone in safety speak to the workers and it will have an effect for a while, but it’s soon forgotten, so when they have people working alongside them and that they are reporting onsite conditions on a weekly basis, they tend to think more. No doubt it’s had a profound impact on our business – less accidents and fewer cases of onsite conditions occurring in the workspace.”
“The objective was to recognise workers as stakeholders in health and safety and to empower them to make a difference themselves”
Dangerous conditions While conditions are changing across the UAE, the same can’t be said for the rest of the region – at least not yet. At the end of last year Bahrain’s Labour Ministry reported that deaths at construction sites across the country had doubled in the past four years. According to the report that was published by Gulf Daily News, 35 workers died from January to October 2009, compared to 18 in 2005. It also shows that figures are steadily going up with 36 killed in 2008, 29 in 2007 and 21 in 2006. Occupational health and safety head Abbas Salman Matooq commented that most of those killed had fallen from under construction buildings, been hit by falling debris or become trapped in machinery. Matooq believes that companies that continue to flagrantly flout safety rules will ensure deaths continue to increase. “These companies hire cheap labour and purchase cheap equipment to cut costs,” Matooq told the paper. “Construction accident inspectors work hard to enforce construction safety laws by distributing safety brochures that are printed in several languages for the workers' safety. But we have noticed that no one follows these rules and that's the reason so many accidents happen.”
Performance In order to measure improvement, performance is recorded weekly and each Sunday the worker champion groups apply a generic audit tool – that was developed specifically for this project – on each of their participating projects. The tool scores the weekly safety performance of the project site according to the number of compliant and noncompliant observations checked in each high-risk work zone. Scores are then collated on the Monday and a group average is produced. “The idea is to promote positive safety behaviours and therefore performance charts are produced and displayed around site, each marked with a percentage score,” explains McGrath. “Th is gives the workforce, and visitors, a snapshot of the up-to-date safety performance on site.” So far, McGrath says that the feedback from the participating companies has been very encouraging. “They have all witnessed an increased awareness of OHS in their workforces. The workers are becoming more actively involved in OHS prevention activities and are speaking up when they see things are unsafe, plus they are more readily identifying risks – their perception of risk has defi nitely improved. Workers like to be involved and appreciate being engaged proactively rather than reactively after an accident occurs.” And one person who knows this more than most is Jaana Quaintance, Senior Project Manager for Impactt Limited Middle East and North Africa, a company focused on
Safety in construction.indd 52
improving working conditions in supply chains to bring business benefits to both ends of the chain. Quaintance actually proposed the idea for the whole focus group back in September 2009, when she was approached by BSU for feedback on how to improve conditions on the site and safety rates. “Our approach at Impactt is change-focused, innovative and practical, and enables companies to mitigate the business risk they face from poor working conditions,” she explains. “We have found in our experience that the worker champions model is helpful for promoting worker engagement in a business, and ensuring that their power as key stakeholders is harnessed for good within that business. Furthermore, our experience has shown that engaging workers in this way can be a cost-effective force for achieving long-lasting and positive change within an organisation.” Quaintance explains that previously, whilst there was a lot of work being done at management level to improve health and safety levels across developments, it wasn’t necessarily fi ltering down to the labour level, which is of course a critical part of changing the culture. “The objective was to recognise workers as stakeholders in health and safety and to empower them to make a difference to health and safety themselves – that’s where I came in. Worker engagement isn’t a common theme in the Middle East and I was expecting it to be a little more difficult to implement than it was, but in fact the response was great. “And these worker champions have really become the eyes and ears of the health and safety managers on a daily basis. They’ve been trained on how to talk to their colleagues about health and safety and how they should react if they fi nd something is not meeting the standards.”
Improving processes Despite the initiative receiving high praise from many of the participants and the workers themselves, McGrath reveals that the project has not always been smooth sailing. Indeed, at the beginning of the project he explains that language communication was one of the biggest challenges that the project had to overcome. “At the very start we brought all the worker champions from each of the five participating companies together in one big room in order to brief them about the programme ahead, why they were selected and what we hoped to achieve. With such a large group of mixed nationalities participating, each with different backgrounds, speaking different languages, it was a huge difficulty.” However, McGrath overcame this when they brought in mentors to support each worker champion team. The mentors are all senior OHS managers who are
able to communicate with the workers and facilitate their development throughout the programme. “We also meet quarterly with the senior company managers of these organisations to review the challenges on site and address changes to improve the programme’s deliverables,” he explains. “Recently, for example, we revised the audit tool and simplified it to a check in the box system, which the worker champions responded to favourably. Previously we started with a more technical and timely tool that works using calculations, but the worker champions didn’t feel this was very practical, which led to us listening to the feedback from the mentors and redeveloping something to suit, which resulted positively.” It is just this kind of reaction that will ensure the project continues beyond the pilot and expands to more companies and across more developments. The benefits are clear and the costs are nothing – the worker chamSteven van der Vyver pion tool is excellent for any construction stakeholder to apply to any construction project with large and multinational workforces. And there is no doubt that the pilot will enable the shortcomings to be seen and structure the initiative to be even better. At Dutco Balfour Beatty, van der Vyver believes that it is crucial that the project gets rolled out across more developments. “It’s not a one off thing for our larger projects, our smaller projects are the more volatile ones and that’s where people seem to take more chances so we are certain that we will roll it out across our projects. We might just have one worker champion on a project instead of say four or five, but I defi nitely predict a full-scale roll out.” There is certainly a lot of potential for it to be used across the board, and it would be fantastic to have worker champion teams actively supporting workers to engage with their colleagues, and tighten the loop between what is coming out of the site in safety reports and what the workers are doing in the following month. Van der Vyver has bigger ideas: “If this kind of project can be taken on worldwide by major companies it will make a huge difference to the workforce, when there is a spokesman for health and safety in the business. It will be a big positive for any company that adopts this worker champion initiative.”
“If this kind of project can be taken on worldwide by major companies it will make a huge difference to the workforce”
Safety in construction.indd 53
Sustainability is the new buzzword among the Middle East’s construction sector. Maccaferri’s Romani Ibrahim and Gannett Fleming’s Sheldon Kauffman discuss whether the region can respond to the typical challenges posed by such a shift in attitudes and practices.
Does the Middle East offer any particular or unique challenges in terms of its construction equipment performance requirements? How is your ﬁrm addressing these needs? Romani Ibrahim. With sustainability and using existing resources more efficiently, we see growth in the need for trying to reduce truck movements. Increasingly, there are solutions that enable the end user to consider re-using siteworn materials, or reducing the amount of imported construction materials. For example, we do this through the use of geogrids that reinforce existing soils, making them perform better than an un-reinforced soil. Also, a gabion retaining structure filled with appropriately sized crushed concrete demolition waste can dramatically reduce truck movements and imported tonnages of materials. Delivery of flat-packed gabion products can then be carried out by smaller, lighter vehicles. How do you see technology driving the construction sector in the Middle East? Have there been any particular developments or improvements recently that you see having an impact on the sector?
Sheldon S. Kauffman. With the growth rate projected across the Middle East in the next 20 years, integrated planning models with real-time information are absolutely critical. In addition, traditional execution planning, which lays out a master plan then addresses each project separately, is no longer sufficient. Gannett Fleming is very active in geospatial information services (GIS). The future of GIS goes far beyond mapping. It will include full infrastructure development planning and execution management. An owner should be able to follow a project from the strategic plan, through cross-ministry coordination, to conceptual design, contracting, permitting, construction, and operation. As the technologies develop, I think you’ll see the integration of separate aspects of project development into a single interface that pulls in detailed information from previously disparate soft ware packages in real-time. Eventually this will include everything from geotechnical and planning studies to Building Information Modelling, remote construction monitoring, and facilities management. We see all of these capabilities developing now; full integration is just around the corner.
Construction RT.indd 54
Romani Ibrahim is the Regional Managing Director for Maccaferri Middle East, based in Abu Dhabi. Upon completion of academic qualiﬁcations in the UK, he worked in the ﬁelds of geotechnical/environmental solutions in the construction markets in the UK, Middle East, S.E. Asia and Africa. He has been a specialist in Geosynthetics and their use in engineering applications for over 10 years.
RI. It is perceived that environmental consciousness costs a lot, but technology can drive the construction sector in the Middle East by means of improvements in material quality, information technology and project management; reducing the environmental impact but with lesser fi nancial burden. There can be a balance between functionality, commerce and the environment, but we believe in the long run that the environment is the most critical. Currently, technological advances in the Middle East have been focusing on structural engineering projects in commercial and residential properties. Thus far, there has not been much development in the way we construct or use products differently in infrastructure/civil engineering applications to reduce environmental impact. The reliance on traditional solutions and use of natural resources, especially within concrete, is still very high and can be reduced with a little thought from the design community. For example, why build a concrete retaining wall when we could do it with other techniques and products that are more environmentally friendly, utilising recycled materials or site-won fills where possible? This is technology that is available today that is not yet being fully embraced by the engineering community. An impetus from clients is required in order to refocus project teams away from the ‘easy’ traditional options. Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration in construction around the MENA region, seen through the increase of LEED practices and the introduction of other assessments, such as BREAM. What impact has this trend had on the construction business? RI. The LEED/BREAM practices and the Estidama Pearls Rating System in the UAE are necessary and increasingly common tools to help improve the way we procure our built environment. Maccaferri’s focus is on the reuse and recycling of materials within infrastructure construction. The impact of excavation and transportation of materials has an environmental cost and people are starting to listen and understand that it is everyone’s responsibility. Our starting point is: How can we do this better by reusing what we already have in the vicinity? For example, with pavement construction or soil reinforcement, it is just not credible to expect one type of product – Geogrid, reinforced fibre, or even any traditional method utilising natural resources – to perform equally well with each soil type. Therefore, by offering a large range of products, we open opportunity for solutions rather than just the commercially-driven turnover. Hence, we are trying to customise a solution specific to the clients’ prevailing conditions, and this is where we are finding a local en-
gineering knowledge of site conditions is important. In response to the market, we are exploring the use of more recycled materials within our products before and after use, to reduce the environmental impact. A result of this is that we can now offer gabions and rockfall netting made from recycled steel. SK. Not long ago it seemed that everyone was excited about sustainable development. While progress continues on showcase projects, such as Masdar Village, the emphasis on green practices has declined since the economic downturn. I believe this is temporary and can be attributed to two key factors. First, green development takes more time than the current pace of development allows. Each step toward green building design has more consequences that need to be analysed and resolved. Secondly, going green often requires a greater initial investment than conventional construction. Currently, some of the construction supply lines are not yet in place to support green building to the level necessary. The demand for water, transportation, and better housing are great and immediate across the region. Even in places like Abu Dhabi, with well-planned growth, pressure for better, faster results is mounting. When timelines and budgets are tight, the tendency is to meet the need first and ‘green it up’ later. I believe once the market improves and the most pressing concerns are met, we will see a renewed and long-lasting emphasis on sustainable practices. What are the key opportunities on the horizon over the next 12 months for the construction sector? How are you planning to take advantage of these opportunities? RI. Amid all the current expansion in private developments, the region needs improvements in public infrastructure and we will continue to focus on this sector. Rail in particular can be a sustainable method of transportation. The geotechnical challenges are likely to be interesting. We believe best value comes from early involvement of the supply chain to build early trust and share solution innovation, ultimately reducing whole life project, environmental and commercial costs. For example, the use of highway reinforcement products can reduce construction depth and increase fatigue life. Another is the use of lower embodied energy products in construction over void/abandoned mine shaft s as well as very weak formations. Bringing responsible manufacturers and suppliers to the table late in the project procurement cycle leaves little room for value engineering or product innovation. We see company growth in the Emirates in 2010 to increase our local presence in order to enhance our offering of robust, good value solutions to the market.
Construction RT.indd Sec1:56
Sheldon S. Kauffman serves as International Development Director with Gannett Fleming, Inc. He develops and implements the corporate business plan for all international activity. A retired US military engineer ofﬁcer, Kauffman holds a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master of science from Drexel University.
Building standards From 1st January, Abu Dhabi made sustainability in construction compulsory with new building codes and regulations, which set a minimum standard for all the elements involved in project delivery, from the design of new building to the way redundant structures are demolished. The code is a turning point for the Gulf green building movement. An entire economy will have to adhere to internationally-deﬁned standards of sustainability by law. Abu Dhabi’s projects are only
SK. The demand for more interconnected cities, more clean water, and more energy to power an ever-increasing number of homes and businesses will drive the market during the next year. The economic downturn served to temper much of the thirst for extravagance and one-upmanship that previously defi ned the market. What we are seeing now is a more thoughtful focus on practical solutions. Water conservation, relieving traffic congestion to improve safety, and a very serious look at quality assurance and consistent building codes are the new priority.
part of what is being built in the region. But they constitute one of its largest components. The rest of the Gulf lags behind Abu Dhabi, but is trying to catch up: Dubai is working on a building code that will incorporate demanding green building standards, while the Qatar Sustainable Assessment System was launched in April 2009 and the Saudi Green Building Council has been formed to promote sustainability in construction. Source: cmguide.org
Gannett Fleming offers a variety of technology solutions to help national and municipal ministries effectively manage this type of smart growth to ensure the vision of the region’s leaders is carried through to completion. Our commitment to the MENA region and extensive experience around the world in niche services such as intelligent transportation systems, traffic management, transit facilities, water and wastewater treatment, and leadership in sustainable design for everything from LEED-certified buildings to green highways, will help us to meet our client’s needs now and far into the future.
Construction RT.indd Sec2:58
Growing with your surroundings “Working in the steel industry I meet many members of the community that surrounds me. I feel like the business should be integrated within the community it lives in, but still have a duty yo keep my eye on the business, bottom line. How do you strike a balance?” From Dina Bateson, Morocco
Medhat Stefanos offers his advice on integrating a business with a community.
The challenge is one that many organisations face every day – many industries working in developing countries have a challenge with their corporate social responsibility management and implementation. There are two approaches to serving your community. One being the philanthropy (monetary donations) approach and the other a community-based development approach. If your approach to corporate social responsibility is philanthropy then you need to actually work in a developed and educated environment and fi nd the right strategic partner that would be able to best utilise your donations. Having said that, we at Titan Cement Egypt don’t believe that philanthropy is the best approach to actually develop your business while growing your community. Directing your corporate social responsibility towards a community-based development approach has proven to truly make an evident impact on the community, the working environment and the business bottom line. We at Titan Cement Egypt look at the communitybased development approach as an opportunity to improve our bottom line rather than a setback. Developing the surrounding community has had an impressive impact on our business. The key to developing your surrounding community is to truly understand their needs and the relationship they have with your business. They are your team members, your suppliers, your distributors and your customers. Their problems directly impact your production optimisation, your sales volume and your overall efficiency.
“Part of our responsibility to our community is supporting their interests”
Architect Medhat Stefanos is currently residing as Group Commercial Director of one of Titan’s largest business units, Titan Cement Egypt. For more than 25 years, Stefanos has been one of the founders and shapers of the construction material industry in Egypt. Through his career he has managed to enhance the performance of the overall industry to become one of business bench markers for the region.
The impact you have on your community does not have to always directly affect the individuals. Maintaining a clean environment, providing a safe workplace, or even growing your business to provide job opportunities has an intangible impact that is sensed by the surrounding. On a different level, teaching and developing your working surroundings builds a level of ownership within your community that has a high impact on your product preference and hence your bottom line. Part of our responsibility to our community is supporting their interests for instance, sponsoring their local activities or helping them celebrate their social and religious events. That provides your organisation with a sense of personality to go with its corporate face. At Titan Cement Egypt we pay a lot of attention to our community, our environment, and the people that surround us. We have built into our culture a level of awareness to how our decisions impact the people and the planet as well as the profit. Once the values were established within our entire organisation, the balance became very unproblematic task. It is important to note that our contribution to our community is not a compromise against our bottom line. Making truly correct business decisions, one has to look at all dimensions and the impact that decision will make. And your community is one of the aspects that need to be considered while making your decisions. To truly utilise your corporate social responsibility to everyone’s best interest, learn more about your surroundings, understand their needs, link them back to your business, and fi nd the window where you will be best able to contribute and get back in return. That window is where you will best be utilised: where you will always want to give more because you actually get back more. ■
ASK THE EXPERT
Alireza Biparva explains how to optimise concrete performance in hot weather construction environments.
hile many industries may flourish in warm climates, high temperatures and humidity create many challenges for the construction industry. Hot, dry weather can lead to excessive surface moisture evaporation during concrete curing. Wind is also the enemy in this environment as it exacerbates the accelerated evaporation process. These factors lead to shrinkage, cracking and finishing difficulties that in turn lead to reduced concrete strength in buildings and structures – problems that should be mitigated from the onset of and throughout construction. Kryton’s Krystol Internal Membrane (KIM) is a waterproofing admixture designed to specifically address many of these issues. Although Kryton’s KIM’s primary function is to act as a concrete waterproofer, it ultimately accomplishes this function while enhancing the durability of the concrete, since there is a direct correlation between permeability and durability. By managing the heat of hydration, KIM can reduce shrinkage and cracking by up to 25 percent and assist in internal curing that ultimately leads to a more durable and waterproof concrete structure. A loss of concrete consistency is another major concern when working in hot weather conditions. Hot weather impacts the setting time of concrete by accelerating the hydration and causing it to dry too quickly. In general, acceleration in the hydration process will increase slump loss, whereas retardation in the hydration process will decrease slump loss. An effective solution is to use an admixture to act as a set retarder to mitigate this process. In many cases the addition of Kryton’s KIM will greatly enhance performance in this area. The workability and consistency of the concrete mix should be sufficient to place, consolidate and finish the concrete. However, concrete loses fluidity over time, known as slump loss. Slump loss is directly related to the reduction of the free water in fresh concrete. The free water in fresh concrete is reduced mainly due to hydration of the cement
and by evaporation. Therefore, conditions that accelerate the rate of moisture loss and the rate of cement hydration, such as high ambient and concrete temperature, low relative humidity and high wind speed, can also accelerate the rate of slump loss. All concrete has slump loss or it would never harden. In normal slow setting, the concrete gradually loses its entire slump and then proceeds to harden. However, what is important is an abnormally high rate of slump loss and there are several ways to manage this. The most common solution is retempering. Retempering is defined as the “addition of water and remixing of concrete that has lost enough workability to become unplaceable or unstable”. However, while adding more water makes concrete workable for placing, it will reduce the strength of the cured concrete due to an increase in the water/cement ratio. In addition, excess water will cause an increase in shrinkage, resulting in more cracking and less durable concrete. Keep the concrete cool. Cooling the mix by replacing ice for part of the mixing water will significantly lower the concrete temperature, decreasing slump loss. On site equipment – from the mixers to the conveyor belts – should be kept shaded and cool as much as possible to protect the concrete A good example of how Kryton’s KIM has performed in this environment is the Emirates Call Center in Dubai. Th is project was running behind schedule and due to tight timelines, Kryton’s KIM was selected as the waterproofi ng system in place of membranes. Additionally, this project was being completed in August 2008 where temperatures were often in the mid to high 40°C range. The entire raft slab and vertical walls were cast with Kryton’s KIM dosed concrete, while the horizontal joints were waterproofed with the Krystol Waterstop System. Th is project was delivered on schedule in large part because of the efficiency of the hot weather concreting process assisted by Kryton’s KIM admixture.
“High temperatures and humidity create many challenges for the construction industry”
Alireza Biparva is Technical Services Rep/Concrete Specialist, Research & Development at Kryton International Inc. Biparva received his MASc. in civil engineering from the University of British Columbia, specialising in cement-based materials, and Bachelor Degrees of Engineering from Shiraz University of Iran. He has published several research papers in international journals and conferences.
ASK THE EXPERT
Sand and steam solutions
Many companies drilling for oil in the Middle East are looking at Canadian technology. Regent Energy Group’s Laurie Venning outlines why Canadian companies could be beneﬁcial for improving sand control and improving steam distribution.
irstly we have lots of experience. In Canada we have a very large number of unconsolidated reservoirs and these sand particles wear on tools and pumps. We began working toward solving heavy oil sand issues over 10 years ago when we started working with the operators. It was determined that a simple, robust sand control solution that mimics a barefoot completion as close as possible, would be optimal for horizontal wells in thermal heavy oil recovery schemes. Regent’s solution to these problems has been our patented transverse rolled slotted liner (TRS) completions. We engineer slot widths to retain the erosive reservoir sands but allow for smooth production of a small percentage of fi nes and reservoir fluids. These TRS completion liners worked so well that we carried on in a commercial capacity. Secondly, our slotted liners are much superior. Our TRS system creates what we call a true ‘keystone’ slot. That means the sand will form a stable bridge around each slot. We know the seamed slot self-cleans. We have also developed and patented a new cleaning system, which we call Hot Pig, that uses heat to singe off all the burrs and wickers (to 95 percent clean), and we have completed tremendous amounts of R&D to develop our new slotting machine, QAT. This has allowed us to keep our costs and prices in line and given us a tremendous competitive advantage. Thirdly, in Canada, we are now very focused on the even ditribution of steam. With the help of our customers, Regent has focused on steam distribution practices and the reservoir’s ability to handle latent heat transfer in order to lower SORs. The internal tubular configurations are also a factor. Everyone is trying to figure out how to inject steam more efficiently and evenly over the horizontal length – we know we have figured this out. Now, we are waiting for production results to evaluate our models on SOR reduction. These steps give us a huge advantage and we have worked very hard in establishing a partnership approach with our customers.
The Canadian sand control market is dominated by one product as opposed to the products offered for traditional sand control completions. There are many reasons for this. We know our product works and we work extensively with our customers to provide a highly engineered and customised sand control completion for their reservoirs. We have proven that gravel packing is not always the answer. A large part of the world has been sold old practices like cased hole gravel packs without having alternatives. We provide very productive alternatives as our Canadian clients know. We have already shown how our technology works to Occidental Petroleum in the Middle East and our manufacturing plant in the Sultanate of Oman has helped Oxy to drastically increase its production. None of our company’s success or growth would have happened if that weren’t the case.
Laurie Venning is the founder and Senior Vice President of Regent Energy Group. With over 15 years’ experience in sand control products and engineering, Venning has helped cultivate a steady stream of new markets, including Latin America, and has helped his customers effectively solve many issues concerning the production of heavy oil.
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The right foundation Salah Mokhtar outlines the key beneﬁts of soil stabilisation in the road construction process, and why it is so important.
“Our solution helped to solve real construction problems successfully, economically and in an environmentally friendly way”
Why is soil stabilisation so important in the construction process? Salah Mokhtar. It’s necessary to fi rstly build a stable base course before the sub base, and the base and then the wearing layer is on top. It is vital that the necessary bearing capacity is achieved. Th is means that the soil must be stable under mechanical and static pressure as well as traffic vibration, and in all weather cases. With soil stabilisation we are able to build irreversible, durable, economical, environmentally friendly traffic bridges with very low maintenance. Particularly, unusual cases in Asia and Africa – where there is either only low cohesive soil or heavy clay soil – are solved from our consultant office in Cairo. What are the challenges contractors and developers in the construction/infrastructure sector typically face with regards to soil stabilisation? SM. Challenges include never actually meeting the correct condition or an assumption that it has been met when it fact it hasn’t. The contractors are looking for strong construction materials and therefore excavate the soil, which is a weak construction material, and replace it with gravel, sand and so on. Th is results in a huge cost of transportation and also pollutes the environment. The excavated soil also results in a great deal of waste. How does your solution address some of these issues? SM. The Swiss soil stabilisation technology solves all these issues because it treats the soil in a natural way without adding any binder, glues or chemicals. We have copied nature and the sedimentation process, but instead of over several million years, which is needed to change rocks to soil or soil to rocks, it occurs immediately after the mix and dry back. The OMC (optimum moisture content) inside the treated soil will be reduced, thus no water is inside or out. The end form is no water permeability and a very high bearing capacity. In more that 95 countries around the world, our solution helped to solve
real construction problems successfully, economically and in an environmentally friendly way. What are the key beneﬁts in terms of cost reduction, faster project completion times and addressing environmental issues? SM. A twin effect is that we can save between 20 to 50 percent of money and time, as well as increase the loading capacity of the in-situ soil. Cases for successful use in several countries are in the construction and rehabilitation of roads, in avoiding seepage on disposal areas, irrigation projects and in the immobilisation of polluted material. A high compressive strength, security against frost heave, increased tensile strength and highly reduced water absorption will be obtained after a proper compaction. Our soil sedimentation technology guarantees the road to your success. ■ Having studied Economyand Comupter Science in Zurich University, Salah Mokhtar is currently Chairman of Basamok AG. Mokhtar is committed to the transfer and spread of Swiss soil stabilisation technology.
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face The changing
of project finance Although times are undoubtedly leaner than at any point in the last three years, those involved in project finance in the Middle East are still bullish about the health of the sector. By Ben Thompson
he image was blunt, offensive even: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum depicted sinking in a sea of debt. As a piece of journalism, the illustration in the November 29 edition of the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper was crass and right on the edge of acceptability (over it, as far as the Dubai authorities were concerned: they reacted by removing the paper from shelves). But as an indicator of the strength of feeling regarding Dubai World’s call for a temporary moratorium on its debt obligations, it was right on the money: as far as the international finance community was concerned, the emirate’s credibility as an investment destination was dead in the water.
I was in Dubai last year when news of the looming debt problems first surfaced; the reaction was mixed. “It might slow the pace of recovery for a while but I don’t think it’s going to be one of these cataclysmic moments that suddenly means equities fall off a cliff,” said Stephen Pope, Chief Global Equity Strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. His attitude mirrored that of many of the bankers, analysts and construction industry experts I spoke to at November’s Big 5 event, with the majority keen to play down the potential impact on global and regional markets. Others, however, were less sanguine. “The panic button’s been hit again,” suggested Francis Lun, General Manager of
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Fulbright Securities, while Faisal Ghori at consulting firm ME Ventures warned that there would be “repercussions throughout the GCC”. The real impact has been somewhere in between. While fears of another global economic meltdown – the dreaded double dip recession – largely failed to materialise, the debt crisis did have implications for the infrastructure community, not least in terms of the availability of financing for projects both large and small. Back in November, anyone proclaiming the wisdom of using massive debt to finance large infrastructure projects would have been politely shown the door and intercepted by the men in white coats on the way out. The strong growth in the availability of credit for project financing since 2002 came to a screeching halt in the second half of 2008, as since then international banks have shown little willingness to take on project-related loan exposure outside their home markets. For many, the crisis in Dubai marked the end of an era.
Project ﬁnance: a brief history Limited recourse lending is used to ﬁnance maritime voyages in ancient Greece and Rome
The development of the Panama Canal is the ﬁrst major instance of project ﬁnancing in infrastructure
Use of project finance is widespread in the US oil and gas industry during the early 20th century
A new phase “International banks do the bulk of the project finance in this region,” explains Eckart Woertz, Executive Director of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Council. “In Saudi Arabia it’s maybe 50 percent, but in the smaller Gulf countries, probably 70-80 percent of the project finance comes from international banking. Of course, their liquidity position is now strained and with the Dubai crisis they have been even more reluctant to lend money.” Shankar Krishnamoorthy, Chief Executive of GdF Suez Energy’s Middle East and North African operation, agrees, suggesting that the world of project finance has changed significantly in comparison to three years ago. “The certainty of transactions has vanished,” he says. “Liquidity is not what it used to be, and the pricing has gone through the roof.” But despite the problems experienced in Dubai and increasing public unease regarding the dangers of large-scale borrowing, using debt to fund large capital expenditure projects still has a bright future in the region – and it could be argued that it is now needed more than ever before. The Middle East project finance market is also in much better shape than recent headlines would have us believe. Indeed, the bullish view is that any well-structured project can find financing; banks are conserving capital and rebalancing their books, but
Project ﬁnance for high-risk infrastructure schemes originated with the development of the North Sea oil ﬁelds in the 1970s and 1980s
Project ﬁnancing in the developing world peaks around the time of the Asian ﬁnancial crisis
Growth in the OECD countries means worldwide project ﬁnancing peaks around 2000
Project ﬁnance schemes become increasingly common in the Middle East, many incorporating Islamic ﬁnance
Market demands perceived
Conceptual planning and feasibility studies
Design and engineering
Transport and manufacturing
Deﬁnition of project objectives and scope
Conceptual plans and speciﬁcations
Construction plans and speciﬁcations
Supply chain issues
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“All of the Gulf countries have been in privileged positions over the last 18 months in that they have basically been able to keep on spending” Eckart Woertz
it is a myth that they have stepped out of project finance altogether. In fact, the rollercoaster Middle East project finance market could be about to enter a new phase of growth. Since 1995, project finance deals around the world have been completed to the tune of more than US$1.5 trillion, but global activity dropped by 40 percent over the last 18 months as the funding costs of banks increased, making long-term finance scarce and expensive. Even so, the Middle East still represents a big market for project finance deals. “In 2009, regional project finance activity was probably 50 percent of what it was in 2008 – but you have to bear in mind that it was coming down from an incredible peak,” explains Jonathan Robinson, Head of Middle East Project Finance at HSBC. “Globally the project finance market had a quarter of a trillion dollars of project finance activity in 2008. So even with the drop-off in activity you’re still talking about a very big business, and the Middle East still occupies a very important role in the global project finance market. It’s just changed. It’s changed because the economics have changed. It’s changed because the number of international banks who are still in this business has decreased, and those who are left are lending less money than they used to or are being more selective. And it’s changed because the regional banks are to all intents now primarily focused on local currency funding, their US dollar capacity is very limited, and the secondary market has all but dried up.” After closing GCC deals worth no more than US$20 billion in 2009, project financiers are predicting the value of completed transactions in the region could rise by up to 50 percent this year and to $40 billion in 2011. While this would still be less than in 2007 – when the Middle East was the world’s biggest project finance market – the oil price rebound over the last 12 months has restored confidence among project sponsors and delivered fresh urgency to the GCC infrastructure programme. “All of the Gulf countries have been in privileged positions over the last 18 months in that they have basically been able to keep on spending during the recession,” says Woertz. “They had savings that they could mobilise for counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus, so with the exception of Dubai, everybody has been able to keep projects going.”
Procurement and construction
Startup for occupancy including testing
Operation and maintenance
Completion of construction
Acceptance of facility
Fulﬁlment of useful life
Such government intervention has proved reassuring, and led to a number of high-profile deals. Last June, Bahrain’s US$2.1 billion Addur power and water project closed its financing, while July saw one of the year’s largest deals – the US$4.1 billion Dolphin Energy financing. The equity markets are improving, too. Earlier this year, the Carlyle Group – the US buy-out behemoth that launched a US$500m regional fund in 2007 – acquired a 30 percent stake in General Lighting Company in Saudi Arabia, its first stake in a Gulf company after two investments in Turkey. And local houses also plan to start investing again, with Saudi Arabia’s Amwal AlKhaleej closing in on four potential investments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Big projects, bigger challenges Driving this growing appetite for project finance is the power and water sector, with a number of big deals currently in the pipeline. Despite tightening credit conditions, five groups have bid for Saudi Electricity Company’s 2000MW PP11 independent power project, even though the tenors of the supporting finance were 20-22 years long. To help make the deal more attractive, SEC offered to take a 50 percent equity stake in the project, its second IPP; the first, for a power station in Rabigh, was closed last July with SEC taking a 20 percent stake. Indeed, the GCC project pipeline suggests there will be at least two big independent power and water projects (IWPPs) every year for the indefinite future; next up are four more power IPPs – required to help meet SEC’s power capacity needs to 2019 – at a rate of one every 18 months to 2016. But while this presents a huge opportunity for suppliers of equipment and services, it’s going to present a considerable challenge to the Gulf project finance industry because of the fact that so many other major schemes will be seeking long-term finance deals over the next decade. It raises a key point regarding the project finance market: that it has become, even more so than it was in the past, a matter of survival of the fittest in which only the most attractive projects – those with the best risk-versus-returns ratios – will be able to attract funding. “We’ve been following the market closely, and the international banks are being very choosey,” says Abraham Akkawi, Head of Ernst & Young’s Infrastructure and PPP Advisory Practice in the Middle East. “They want good pro-
Disposal of facility
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jects and risks that are well-balanced, with little demand risk, and where the off-take risk is borne by the public sector in some capacity or another.” In fact, he sees this as the biggest hurdle in terms of tempting the private sector back into the infrastructure market. “There’s hardly any appetite by the private sector to get involved in financing for infrastructure – whether it’s equity or debt – where the private sector bears the brunt of the demand risk,” he explains. “In other words, unless the government is putting mechanisms in place to guarantee a certain level of payments, investors are not really interested.” Another issue is the lack of standardisation in dealing with the international community. “Every country has different ways of dealing with risk. And that’s making some financial institutions very selective in terms of who they deal with and where they invest,” says Akkawi. Indeed, location is important, as the strength of the market varies from country to country. “Places like Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are quite strong at the moment,” he adds, “but Dubai is a different story. Until they sort out the restructuring that’s going on, it’s unlikely there’s going to be a flood of project finance money available very soon – although having said that, the government has just embarked on several opportunities for the private sector to participate in, such
as IWPP and others that are ongoing. Even so, I would say that the opportunities for project finance are far more promising in oil-based economies than in service economies at this stage.” The third challenge he sees is around enhancing the role of local institutions. “Local banks are funding,” says Akkawi. “It’s just that they’re still not very aggressive in taking on longterm structured financing deals. We’re seeing some baby steps, but it’s still the international banks that are coming in and taking the longer view.” He believes that the governments of the GCC have to work harder on assisting the locally based banks in order to help them get into long-term financing. “We have seen this be successful in other jurisdictions such as Egypt, where the government has been pushing local banks to get into 10,12, 13-year financing deals. It’s about stimulating local economies and institutions.” Bankers clearly have a role to play in this, but the starting-point is in GCC government infrastructure plans – and in this regard, more regional co-ordination is required to regulate project borrowing. For instance, the appetite among international banks for GCC project debt has been hit by a number of fluctuations in government policy, not least the decision to cancel the Saudi Landbridge private finance plan
“Unless the government is putting mechanisms in place to guarantee a certain level of payments, investors are not really interested” Abraham Akkawi
A lost decade for project ﬁnance? According to World Bank and PPIAF ﬁgures, the years following the Asian ﬁnancial crisis represented a lost opportunity for the project ﬁnance community, as investment commitments to infrastructure projects with private participation in developing countries fell dramatically and took 10 years to once again hit precrisis levels. However, the decade also witnessed unprecedented development in the MENA region, and saw the construction of some of the world’s most iconic projects.
2000 Burj Al Arab, Dubai 2002 Kingdom Tower, Riyadh
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and suspend the Saudi National Water Company’s privatisation programme. Other discouraging factors include an uncertain regulatory environment in some sectors and perennial concerns about loan security, particularly when it comes to projects sponsored by government-related entities. Such anxieties must be addressed; after all, if Gulf governments themselves appear to lack the necessary commitment to make such schemes work, what incentive is there for global banks to try to win project finance mandates?
Diversifying the mix But building up the financial strength of local institutions is only one solution to the region’s funding challenges. And while project financing is slowly recovering from the fallaway seen in early 2009, developers will increasingly need to look at a mix of funding options for their schemes. The recent difficulties in securing favourable project finance loan terms have prompted many developers to look at capital market solutions – either to complement loan funding or refinance expensive loans with more attractive bonds – as having funding alternatives means developers will be under less pressure to put in their own money as equity in projects.
Islamic financing is also proving attractive as developers look to diversify their funding mix. According to a recent report published by the Dubai International Finance Centre, infrastructure projects are ideal for Islamic financing, in part because of Islamic finance’s preference for equity-based and asset-backed projects. Furthermore, many infrastructure schemes benefit the wider community, which fits well with the moral underpinnings of Islamic finance. An example of this is the US$100 million International Finance Corporation Hilal Sukuk listed on NASDAQ Dubai and the Bahrain Stock Exchange, the proceeds of which are funding infrastructure and health projects in Yemen and Egypt. “The sources of funds available for infrastructure financing can be increased with the expansion of the Islamic financial industry into other non-bank entities (such as investment banks and Takaful companies) and funds (such as mutual, hedge and pensions),” argues Habib Ahmed, Professor and Sharjah Chair in Islamic Law & Finance with the Institute of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at Durham University, and author of the DIFC report. “Investment in Islamic instruments that fund infrastructure projects can be facilitated if a variety of securities with different risk/return/maturity profiles exist.”
2008 World Trade Centre, Bahrain
2006 Palm Jumeirah, Dubai
2010 Burj Khalifa, Dubai
2007 Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
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US$40bn Predicted value of GCC completed transactions by 2011
It certainly represents a huge untapped market: according to an analysis by Ernst & Young, to date only 22 percent of the US$40 billion in Shari’ah-compatible financing within the GCC has gone into infrastructure projects. By their nature, such projects tend to involve large investments, and as most Islamic financial institutions have a relatively small capital base they will only be able to finance components of a project rather than the whole deal. Shari’ah-compliant financing is likely to constitute only a part (or tranche) of the total funding, with the majority of the financing being supplied by conventional financial institutions. As such, Robinson believes its potential as an alternative to traditional methods of project financing will be limited. “At the end of the day, whether it’s Islamic or conventional, you have to understand how to do project financing well,” he asserts. “You have to understand the industry. You have to understand the risks. Conventional banks have been doing this for a lot longer than the Islamic banks, and as a result the
Islamic banks don’t have that body of expertise built up to understand the risks. And if you don’t understand the risks, you’re not going to be successful. So I don’t see them becoming a dominant factor, although I think it’s realistic to say they’ll be an increasing element.” Akkawi agrees that Islamic financing’s share of the market is increasing, but echoes Robinson’s scepticism regarding its widespread adoption. “I think Islamic finance as an instrument will play a role in partially financing some of the infrastructure, but it’s unlikely to overtake traditional financing because of some of the challenges and limitations associated with Islamic finance, not least around ownership,” he says. “Many infrastructure projects don’t lend themselves easily to an arrangement whereby ownership rests with the provider of the financing, as mandated in Islamic finance. There is certainly a desire by the Islamic finance market to get into the infrastructure sector, but I don’t see them becoming a prominent player. I see them
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Stability returns to Cityscape A sense of stability is returning to the regional real estate investment market thanks to government-led infrastructure programmes – but it will take time to become fully established, according to senior executives speaking at Abu Dhabi’s Cityscape exhibition in April. Gurjit Singh, Chief Operating Ofﬁcer of Sorouh Real Estate, said government investment in infrastructure – including rail and transport links, logistics, oil and gas and energy projects – will have a beneﬁcial effect on the property market in Abu Dhabi. “These investments are going to bring more employment creation which will bring more demand for real estate both for residential and commercial projects,” he said. John Bullough, CEO of Aldar Properties, agreed, adding that while the last few years have been challenging it was now time for the sector to focus on potential growth opportunities. “We have all felt the pain,” he said. “The last 18 months have been cathartic for the market. We now need to give investors solid future prospects and that is a long-term play. This isn't a quick win. Property is a longterm investment.”
continuing as a bit player, and growing, but they will not dominate the infrastructure play.”
Building the future
“I could easily see the Middle East once again becoming the largest project finance market in the world in the next few years” Jonathan Robinson
There is no doubt that the Gulf is now a lenders’ market, and it is the borrowers that have to do the bulk of the spadework in terms of attracting the requisite funding. Certainly, banks could do more to build project expertise in the region and develop secondary infrastructure debt markets. But getting the right returns is now finance’s top priority. Investing in infrastructure debt is a low-return activity and completing deals is hard work, takes time and delivers less than trading in short-term financial instruments. Around 80-90 percent of loans that banks provide are short-term (between one and three years) leaving project finance – which traditionally relies on loans with maturities longer than 10 years – to suffer from the liquidity crunch. Nevertheless, analysts maintain that the situation is steadily improving, thanks largely to the rise in alternative sources of finance. “During the crisis governments had to step in and provide either some higher-level of guarantee or liquidity or additional funding to get projects going,” says Akkawi. “Now, from the projects we’re involved in, we’re seeing significant appetite by the private sector to get involved and help provide finance. We’re not yet back to where we were three years ago, when a good project with good off-take was being financed at around 125 basis points above LIBOR, but the pressure is easing. We’re certainly not at the 300 basis points above that we saw during the crisis – we’re probably in the middle at this stage. Around 200 basis points above is typically the type of margin that banks are currently looking for.” How quickly the market can rebound, however, is more
difficult to gauge. “It’s going to depend on the next two or three big projects coming to market and how the market reacts to them,” continues Akkawi. “There are several projects in Abu Dhabi and Saudi that are coming to market in the next 18 months, and they’re going to probably shape the future – at least in the mid-term – for such financing. So I’m bullish and cautious at the same time.” Woertz, too, is reluctant to call how the market will pan out over the next few months, given its dependence on international banks. “Depending on what your opinion is of the world economy, you are either optimistic or pessimistic,” he offers. “Should we face a double dip recession there would be renewed problems; but should there be an ongoing recovery, that would be very helpful for the project finance market.” To survive, sponsors need to go to the right what liquidity pools: tap the Islamic finance market, look at local currency financing, and look at the export credit agencies – quasi-government entities that help domestic companies win deals through loans and guarantees – that now account for almost half of all project finance raised in the Middle East. Such agencies have stepped up their activity in the region and ameliorated the downturn in bank lending. Indeed, Robinson believes there is still massive scope for a buoyant market. “I do not see a return to 2007/2008 levels of activity in the foreseeable future, certainly not in the forthcoming five years,” he says. “But I think if we get back to a level of activity that is 60-70 percent of that, then it will have been a tremendous achievement. I could easily see the Middle East once again becoming the largest project finance market in the world in the next few years. Even if it’s not at the level of 2007/2008, it’s still a significant market.” n
Opportunities in the paints and coatings industry The paints and coatings industry is set to see massive growth over the coming ﬁve years. MENA Infrastructure asks a panel of experts for their thoughts on the signiﬁcant drivers and the biggest challenges facing the sector.
Infrastructure applications together with the arid conditions in the region put a huge amount of stress on paints and coatings solutions. How is your company working to create ever more durable solutions for users? Eirik Kristensen. Jotun invests US$27 million annually on research and development. Our lab in Norway and the regional labs in Dubai and KL work to produce new products and improve the current ones to keep the Jotun assortment the best products in the market using the cutting edge technology available. Most of our premium products are based on pure acrylic binders that provide high durability for the paint system and excellent protection for the structure, this includes, ‘Lady’, the premium interior paint, and the Jotashield exterior range that includes Jotashield Tex Ultra a high performing paint that provides crack bridging ability up to 2.6 mm, the reason why it was specified to protect the Dubai Metro elevated rails. In addition to that, last year, we launched Jotashield SuperDurable, a silicon-acrylic paint that protects property for as long as 20 years. Christophe Rizzo. As a dispensing system manufacturer, Inkmaker produces machines and as such doesn’t produce any paints and/or coatings. However, Inkmaker can help its customers to develop products to face these critical conditions. The accuracy, the flexibility and the repeatability of our machines can help the R&D teams to work better and more efficiently to do its own tests. We have had a great deal of positive feedback from our Nordic customers who have seen
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Eirik Kristensen is currently Jotan’s Regional Marketing Manager for the MENA region whose responsibilities also include India, Spain and Turkey. Kristensen joined Jotun in 2005 and has previously held senior positions within the advertising and marketing industry.
Christophe Rizzo started his career at Inkmaker in 1997 as a technical engineer. After two years, he moved to the after sales service and three years later, started as sales manager for the French, Scandinauvian and Polish markets. Today, he is Sales Director for the EMEA countries, North and South America.
Roberto Wurst has been working in the chemical industry for over 25 years. He joined BK Giulini 10 years ago as General Manager of the subsidiary in Argentina, thereafter moving to the German head quarters where he heads the Business Unit Bekaphos as director since late 2006.
numerous advantages from our technology and software including, speed of production, homogenisation of the colours, accuracy up to 0,01gr, reports, statistics and logbook.
can see that changing and we expect a lot of projects to arise in the coming few years. We have to make use of this time and be prepared, armed with the best products and best expertise.
Roberto Wurst. The main application of our paint additives is focused on the improvement of the production process of the architectural paint itself. Dispersing agents and defoamers play their part in optimising the manufacturing steps as well as improve the storage stability and the scrub resistance of the fi nished paint. One of the main challenges of future innovation will be focusing on natural and renewable resources. BK Giulini made a fi rst step in the defoamer product category creating Lopon E 81, which was developed on the basis of vegetable oils.
Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration in construction around the MENA region, seen through the increase of LEED practices for example. In your opinion, how is this trend reﬂected in the paints and coatings industry? RW. Water-based emulsion paints and coatings have been used successfully as protective and decorative
What do you see as the biggest challenge in the protective coatings industry in the MENA region? And what are the biggest opportunities? CR. The paints and coatings manufacturers from the MENA regions have three big challenges: to respond to the economical increase of their internal market, to face the European competitors and to improve their product quality. The MENA region, even through this economical crisis, is still investing in new projects and new construction. Th is is attracting European paints and coatings manufacturers, ready to play a role in this new business, and with that they bring quality and experience to the sector. MENA manufacturers must increase their production quality and capacity by getting an automatic dispensing system. Inkmaker can help by increasing the speed of production with repeatability, reducing production and time waste, and offering all reports in accordance to the ISO standards. Only those who can respond to these three points will have a successful future. RW. Due to an increasing awareness regarding sustainable and environmentally friendly products, one of the most important demands is the reduction of VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which we supported for many years through our stabilisers for water-based paints. Polyphosphates exhibit excellent performance, they are completely inorganic and are obtained from natural resources. The VOC-content of poly-acrylic dispersants has also been reduced significantly in the last few years. EK. We see the biggest challenge as also being the biggest opportunity in this market. We can say that we have a ‘feast in famine’ situation. Currently the protective coatings industry is witnessing a slow down, but we
coatings for many decades and constitute industrial benchmarks. Over the years these systems were adapted steadily to the changing demands of the market replacing more and more of the solvent-based recipes. Today water-based systems are available for nearly all kinds of applications and the raw materials used are available in abundance. EK. When we think of sustainability in Jotun we do not only limit it to established standards in various markets – we are aware that green building is a growing trend in the world nowadays and that several standards including Estidama and GS 11 are followed. Jotun meets those standards. We have products that have low VOC; Fenomastic Emulsion Gold for instance is as low as 73 on VOC. In addition to that, we do not use any dangerous chemicals in our products even if their use is not locally banned where we operate. Moreover our products are Formaldehyde and APEO free. CR. Inkmaker is absolutely sensitive to the sustainability of its products, just like the paints and coatings industry. Everybody has to develop in this direction if they want to go hand in hand with the future business. All players in the paints and coatings industry are focusing their R&D on green technology. Today we already have some ecofriendly products in place, but I am sure that this is only the beginning. Inkmaker, at this point, is helping its customers to respect the environment by reducing storage and waste products. Additionally, Inkmaker soft ware is counting solvent consumption and gives VOC statistics reports. What do you predict as the most signiﬁcant driver of the paints and coatings sector in the MENA region over the coming ﬁve years, and why? EK. From our point of view, paints in the coming five years will be based on one or more of three main drivers that are performance, sustainability and functionality. The market will demand products that can perform well, i.e. have good characteristics for affordable prices.
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What the analysts say According to recent research from Frost & Sullivan, the Middle Eastâ€™s paints and coatings industry is set to reach US$2.7 billion by 2014 spurred largely by investment in large-scale infrastructural and industrial projects. But ensuring such paints and coatings solutions are both ďŹ t-for-purpose and properly applied will be vital if contractors and end-clients are to reap the rewards of technology innovations in this area.
Moreover, the market will demand products that are well produced for the wellbeing of the population and the environment, which means becoming as green as possible. On top of that the market will demand products that function with an added value to a normal paint, such as protection against bacteria. CR. The next five years will be a very difficult time for MENA paints and coatings manufacturers because they will face European competitors and be under pressure from requests of higher quality from their customers. But I am sure that those who increase their own production quality will be able to overcome this situation and emerge stronger than before. Moreover, the future in MENA companies will offer their products to the European market. The driver is the quality and the crisis is showing that those who invested in quality in the past, are suf-
fering less today. Over the next fi ve years this investment will give only benefits. RW. We fully agree that sustainability is a key future driver in this sector, as in so many others. BK Giulini takes an active part in this process with dispersing agents based on polyphosphates and polyacrylates, defoamers and other additives sold under the trademarks Polyron and Lopon. Dispersing agents are essential components of emulsion paints, providing the even distribution of the pigment and filler particles, enabling long-time storage and improving the abrasion resistance. In addition to these effects, dispersants have a positive influence on the levelling, the covering quality and the gloss of paints. With this long-time experience as a partner in the paint industry, BK Giulini can provide solutions for all kinds of dispersing problems in water-based systems. Our additives are suitable for VOC free systems (Blue Angel). Â„
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Nanotechnology improving paints
Michael Back explains the beneﬁts of using the latest nanotechnology for microtechnology to insulate new and existing properties.
ollowing our success in winning HRH The Prince of Wales Carbon Positive and Cutting Edge Awards 2009 within the UK, with the development of a new insulating technology within the paint industry and following its very successful launch at the EcoBuild in London, it has now been recognised that it will have equally outstanding benefits for the Middle Eastern climate. With everyone trying to improve their carbon footprints and energy costs, retrofitting existing buildings with new technologies can be costly and time consuming and sometimes totally impractical, but using our latest nanotechnology this can be done with a simple coating system. Even if you have already gone to the expense of retro fitting your property you can still achieve savings on your energy costs by simply applying a few coats of paint. Application of this product on a new build is even more cost effective as a direct replacement to the existing paint finishes you would be using. Th is is not just about sustainability and reducing carbon output, it is also about providing an eco-friendly
product which is practical, cost-effective, energy saving and inherently healthy for people right now as well as in the future. The use of non-VOC paints is becoming more established amongst specifiers and Nutshell’s products are ticking all the right boxes for them; however, new product development is now enhancing the benefits of using these products. Using nanotechnology, Nutshell has launched a new thermal insulating paint that offers thermal radiation reflection – in other words, used internally or externally the paint will reduce heat loss from inside a living space by reflecting an average of 87 percent back into the room, resulting in lower energy requirements and money saving. In addition, applying Nutshell’s thermal insulating paint will also reduce the amount of heat able to penetrate from outside, keeping cooled environments cool, reducing the work load on air conditioning systems and doing its bit to cut the world’s carbon output. The remarkable characteristics of thermal insulating paint are the result of the latest 2010 water-based Eco Plus paint incorporating the new Surfapore Thermodry technology. Nutshell is the only natural paint manufacturer to offer this product. International Standards Testing Independent certification agencies certify that the use of Nutshell’s Surfapore ThermoDry Nano Emulsion reduces their thermal conductivity by at least four times (0,1292 W/mk), EN12667). There are other benefits too: the nanoparticles are water repellent, further increasing thermal insulation qualities and also help to reduce temperature variation, protecting against condensation and mould. Nutshell’s thermal paint is the company’s only emulsion to contain traces of VOCs, but the tiny amount is 20 times below the European Commission 2010 limit. As a business, we set out to provide paint and related products that are sustainable and healthy. I feel we have achieved this in a way that contributes to environmental wellbeing, but also has an immediate impact in terms of personal health and cost-saving. Industry’s collective goal should be to convince more people to embrace pro-planet attitudes and environmentally positive consumer behaviour by offering products that not only contribute to long-term ecoaspirations but have immediate and practical benefits in terms of improving health, reducing energy requirements and saving money.
“Using nanotechnology, Nutshell has launched a new thermal insulating paint that offers thermal radiation reflection”
For more information please visit www.nutshellpaints.co.uk Michael Back is the Managing Director of Nutshell Natural Paints. Mr Back is also responsible for the research and development of new environmental and energy saving technologies, and for increasing the international awareness of Nutshell Natural Paints and ﬁnishes.
Nano from nature
Neuburg Siliceous Earth is a naturally occurring nanostructured ﬁller material, whose speciﬁc particle structure imparts coatings with very good mechanical and chemical resistances, while being easy to incorporate into the formulation.
he extraction of natural mineral fillers has been pursued for more than 200 years. During this period, the requirements placed on such fillers, and consequently the products themselves, have changed considerably. With respect to product consistency, purity and functional properties, functional fillers have to respond to ever higher and more stringent demands. In connection with innovations in paints and coatings, there is often reference made to ‘nanotechnology’. In this context, quite frequently, products and materials are proposed which – in view of a missing, generally accepted definition – do not really deserve this designation. In theory, an ultrafine natural mineral filler with a mean grain size <1 μm could be called a nano filler, which would mean ‘nano from nature’. Neuburg Siliceous Earth, with primary particles of way below 500 nm, would easily fit into this category. There are no uniform rules yet, but from scientific publications it can be concluded that only products with grain size distributions <100 nm should be considered as nano materials. The majority of natural mineral fillers do not meet such a requirement. However, from a technical application standpoint, it is often not of critical importance whether or not a material can be called a nano filler. It is rather the total (eventually composite) particle structure observed on the nanometer scale which gives rise to specific technical application effects in coatings. This refers not only to dispersion, stability and rheology, but also to flattening, elasticity, hardness, wear resistance and corrosion protection. The particle structure of Neuburg Siliceous Earth offers an outstanding example of such a situation (see image). The image covers an area about 12 μm wide. Distinctly visible is
the natural fusion of the kaolinite particles of rather conventional appearance with a corpuscular quartz. The particular character of Neuburg Siliceous Earth lies in the fact that the corpuscular quartz consists of a high number of aggregated, partly dispersible primary particles, which rarely exceed a size of 200 nm. On the other hand, in this functional filler the kaolinite is found in a state that indicates it has already been subjected to extensive delamination. The combination of these two particle phenomena as created by nature gives rise to a number of beneficial properties in paint and coatings systems, which very often cannot be matched the same way by other natural or synthetic fillers, including the so-called nano fillers – and this is without including costs. Another advantage: because of its fine particle size and the rounded grain shape of the quartz portion, Neuburg Siliceous Earth only exhibits very low abrasivity vis-à-vis dispersion aggregates and processing equipment. In view of the mineral hardness of the quartz, the coatings formulated with Neuburg Siliceous Earth offer outstanding abrasion and scratch resistance. These are important reasons for Sillitin and the surface-treated Aktisil to be used in wear-resistant parquet floor coatings. In addition, the flattening action of Neuburg Siliceous Earth allows for the elimination of additives otherwise intended for such effects. The fine particle quartz also has a positive influence on the resistance against chemicals, which is why the siliceous earth is eminently suitable as a functional filler for use in chemically resistant and anti-corrosion coatings. The natural combination of corpuscular quartz and lamellar kaolinite ensures rapid incorporation and excellent dispersion – in particular, in aqueous systems – along with a
A Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) photograph of Sillitin Z 86 basically low sedimentation tendency. Plus, if a sediment is formed, it will be easily redispersed. This way, Neuburg Siliceous Earth can also serve as a functional filler to ‘stabilise’ coarser particle size fillers. The good integration of the filler into the polymer network leads to excellent mechanical properties. This effect of good ‘integration’ into the polymer network can be further enhanced by a surface treatment (e.g., with silanes). By modifying the filler surface, the compatibility with the polymer is increased, which leads to outstanding rheological properties as well as good mechanical characteristics and excellent resistance against abrasion and chemicals. The effects enumerated confi rm that the properties of coatings cannot be improved with synthetic nanofi llers only. In fact, nature has developed some ‘natural nano-structured fi llers’ that make it possible to develop high quality coating formulations with very good performance. Hoffmann Mineral is an innovative ﬁller specialist whose products are based on Neuburg Siliceous Earth, which the company extracts, improves and distributes. The company’s know-how and production plant are also used for third-party toll conversion. The company prides itself on a century of supplying Siliceous Earth products, while continuously developing materials for a variety of applications. Find out more: www.hoffmann-mineral. com
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Cash-rich C ash-rich Qatar Qatar is is one world’s one of of tthe he w orld’s fastest g rowing fastest growing economies – economies outstripping even outstripping e ven China China and and India India with with recession-defying recession-defying growth growth of of 18.5 18.5 percent percent forecast forecast for 22010. 010. MENA MENA for Infrastructure Infrastructure reports on why reports o nw hy the the world is is Qatar’s Qatar’s world oyster. oyster.
an-made islands: check. Ultra-modern skyline: check. A ruler with big ambitions: check. It’s a familiar scenario in the Middle East. But whereas Dubai’s development dream has been dented in the wake of the downturn and recent debt crisis, the tiny peninsula a couple of hundred clicks to its west – while moving at a far less frenetic pace of construction – has established itself as a less brash, but equally modern, alternative to the UAE’s party capital. Welcome to Qatar, the Gulf ’s next big development hotspot. Dubai became an entrepreneurial magnet and global real estate playground precisely because it lacked the natural resources that are now making Qatar one of the region’s most important destinations for construction and development. Once an economy based on pearl
hunting and fishing, the tiny Gulf state is capitalising on its gargantuan gas reserves to create a knowledge economy and is ploughing billions into infrastructure projects, healthcare, education and real estate. Qatar’s per capita income is now more than US$70,000 a head, elevating it to one of the wealthiest nations in the world, while the economy grew 11 percent last year – an impressive figure considering the fi nancial maelstrom. The IMF is predicting the economy to grow 18.5 percent this year, while inflation is expected to be just one percent. Unlike the unfettered development of its near-neighbour Dubai, Qatar’s transformation has been carefully measured. Much of this growth will be fuelled by Qatar’s vast energy reserves, primarily natural gas. The country’s oil reserves are 15 billion barrels – a modest figure by Middle Eastern standards – but since becoming the Emir of Qatar in 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has invested mammoth sums into exploiting the potential
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How Qatar is transforming its skyline and diversifying the economy Energy City Qatar Energy City Qatar is currently in design as a residential development covering around 700,000 square metres of land, including 5000 residential units, marinas, a mall and golf courses. As the Middle East’s ﬁrst energy business centre, Energy City Qatar will cater to the commercial, technical and human resource needs of the oil and gas industry operating in the Gulf region.
Cost: US$2.6 billion
Musheireb Formerly named Heart of Doha, this 35-hectare district is the developer Dohaland’s ﬂagship project. It will be home to 27,000 people and will contain over 200 buildings and 1000 residential units. The development will be built close to the Souq Watif and Doha’s West Bay business district. Part of the project will feature original buildings, which will form a Heritage Quarter. Construction is currently underway on the ﬁrst phase of the project, which is due to be completed in 2012.
Cost: US$ 5.9 billion
The Pearl-Qatar A 985-acre reclaimed island off the coast of Qatar, the Pearl-Qatar is the country’s ﬁrst international urban development venture, its largest urban development and the ﬁrst to offer international investors freehold. The four-phased mixed use development comprises 10 distinct, themed districts, to be developed over ﬁve years, and will include beachfront villas, elegant town homes, luxury apartments, ﬁve-star hotels, marinas, schools, restaurants and shops.
Cost: US$ 5 billion
of its enormous natural gas fields. Today, the oil and gas industry accounts for around half of the state’s GDP and almost three-quarters of government revenue. But the Qatari government isn’t just sitting idly on an enormous cash mountain. The hydrocarbon revenues are instead being pumped into diversifying revenue streams – with infrastructure being one of the main beneficiaries. The transportation and tourism industries have been the focus of much attention, while major developments such as Qatar Education City, Sidra Hospital, Hamad Medical Centre, Qatar Science and Technology Park, and Qatar Financial Centre offer proof that the diversification strategy is well under way. “The hydrocarbon-related revenues are being put to prudent use, in my opinion,” suggests Ahmad Anani, partner in charge of law fi rm Al Tamimi & Company’s Qatari office. Anani says he believes the gulf state is doing an “excellent job” diversifying its economy: “The country has a highly publicised vision focused on improving human capital, providing regional outstanding healthcare services, developing the education sector, promoting research and development and making the country a regional fi nancial hub and an international fi nancial centre over the longer term.” In order to attract foreign investment, Qatar recently passed a law that allows foreign investors to have up to 100 percent ownership in businesses such as consultancy services, IT, and services related to sports, culture and entertainment, as well as distribution services. Faisal Hasan, Head of Research at Global Investment House in Kuwait, suggests the policies rolled out by the government will improve the country’s economic competitiveness. “Allround economic developments are underway in Qatar, from the core projects of the hydrocarbon sector to the infrastructure, real estate and financial sectors,” he says. “Diversification of the economic base is highly important to reduce the country’s reliance on hydrocarbon assets, and the government is expected to maintain high levels of capital spending on education, health and transport, in order to support the expected population growth, which is projected to remain strong over the coming years. Th is, in turn, will support domestic demand.” Qatar has fairly liberal economic and fi nancial policies, which aim to achieve sustainable development by diversifying income resources, increasing public sector contributions and encouraging foreign investment. The government is also building up its foreign exchange reserves, improving domestic liquidity and meeting external debt repayments. Infrastructure will be a major benefactor of the hydrocarbon revenues, with the government budgeting US$20 billion alone for road projects over the next five years, as well as constructing a 22km bridge between Continued on p.86
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PRIME DESTINATION With 41 new hotels set to open in Qatar this year alone, there are high hopes that the country’s rapidly developing infrastructure will make it a global tourism destination on a par with Dubai. Qatar’s government is believed to have set aside US$17 billion to develop tourism facilities and it aims to have a 400 percent rise in hotel capacity by 2012. QTA’s Chairman Ahmed Al Nuami explains how the organisation plans to attract the tourists.
Has the global economic downturn signiﬁcantly affected the growth of the country’s hotel sector? AAN. The ongoing investment in infrastructure, energy and sports has led to an increase in personnel coming to Qatar, as well as corporate and government ofﬁcials coming from various countries. Additionally, Qatar’s tourism industry has seen a boost as the result of the rapid expansion of Qatar Airways. Doha has become a preferred transit point for passengers from Europe and Asia. Qatar is expecting a very promising year in 2010 as we continue to invest in the infrastructure of the country and the tourism sector.
Can you describe the main appeal of Qatar as a tourism destination? AAN. Qatar is not looking to attract mass tourism, but rather a speciﬁc niche within the market. We have built our infrastructure to support a very speciﬁc demographic, namely business-focused tourism and high-end leisure tourism. More than 90 percent of visitors are coming to Qatar for business purposes. As Qatar has a stable economy and we offer business-oriented tourism, we have seen an increase of visitors inquiring about new business opportunities – especially during this challenging economic environment. What differentiates it from other GCC tourism destinations such as Dubai, for instance? AAN. We do not compete with our neighbours. Tourism represents for the GCC a ﬁeld of new and endless opportunities. Having said that, each GCC country offers something different to visitors. What makes Qatar unique is that we represent the bridge between traditional Arab heritage and global innovation. Qatar is a world-class destination that attracts premiere business, leisure, medical, sport and education tourism, while preserving and maintaining our authentic heritage and rich past. How much potential do you see for the country’s tourism sector and how big a part will tourism play in the growth of the country’s economy? AAN. Qatar is a country rich in natural resources. The strength and stability of our economy is derived in large part from signiﬁcant reserves in oil and gas. Though Qatar currently has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves, economic diversity is a top priority of the government to ensure future stability for our country. Tourism is one of the important pillars in this economic diversiﬁcation strategy. Qatar Tourism Authority launched a new strategy in November 2008, which aims to grow the tourism industry in Qatar by 20 percent in the next ﬁve years. The strategy includes targeting ﬁve percent of the estimated 50 million passengers who will come through the New Doha International Airport when it opens in 2012, to stay an additional 48 hours. In ﬁve years’ time, tourism will be a strong and active contributor to the country’s GDP.
The global economic recession has not affected tourismrelated activities in Qatar, and hotels are still doing good business. With the opening of new hotels, the occupancy has been spread. Hotels have reported an increase in revenue this year, and we expect the situation to improve further in the coming year. What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to making Qatar’s tourism sector a success? AAN. It has been a little over a year since the QTA launched our new strategy. We are surrounded by countries who are ahead of us in the game of branding themselves. Relative to our neighbours, we are still a young brand and it will take time for us to establish our brand and to reach our goals.
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Continued on p.84 Qatar and Bahrain that is projected to cost US$3 billion. The new US$1 billion airport, due for completion in 2011 with an annual capacity of 25 million passengers, will even include a US$1 billion subsea tunnel linking the airport with the fi nancial centre. With other schemes in development, Qatar is joining the likes of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in terms of megaprojects.
Turn up the gas Of course, most of these projects wouldn’t be possible without the backbone of Qatar’s economy – natural gas. Th is diminutive gulf nation boasts reserves of almost 26 trillion cubic metres, around 14 percent of the world total. It houses the world’s third largest gas reserves after Russia and Iran and is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), while its four new LNG plants will double production capacity. In 2008 alone, LNG capacity shot up by 40 percent. Th is rise, coupled with rising oil prices on the back of a weakening US dollar, will boost revenues and generate “phenomenal growth”, according to analysts. Qatar currently produces 54 million tonnes of LNG but this is set to mushroom to 77.1 million tonnes per annum by 2011. “These figures suggest notable progress, as output capacity amounted to 30.9 million tonnes a year only two years ago,” explains Hasan. “Qatar’s biggest strength is continuous expansion in its LNG capacity, and the country has significant expansion plans to increase production over the next three years.” Indeed, the country is shelling out US$100 billion on boosting capacity and upgrading infrastructure in the next few years. “Qatar has significant growth prospects left , with de-bottlenecking expected to add 12 million tonnes a year of LNG production capacity and a significant margin left to satisfy future domestic demand growth,” confi rms Samuel Ciszuk, IHS Global Insight Middle East Energy analyst. One of the main earners for Qatar will eventually be the Pearl GTL (gas-to-liquids) project based in Ras Laffan. Once constructed, it will be the largest GTL plant in the world; operating under a production-sharing agreement between Qatar Petroleum and oil giant Shell,
it is set to churn out 140,000 barrels a day of petroleum products. Phase 1 of the project is due to come online later this year, and Shell senior executive Gerrit-Jan Smitskamp told Reuters that a 50,000-strong workforce is already working on the project and that twice as much concrete has been poured compared to that used to construct the world’s tallest building – Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. The downside of this growth in the energy sector – coupled with population growth – is the heft y environmental price. Qataris have the highest carbon footprint on the planet – a surprising statistic considering the bulk of the country’s energy comes from burning natural gas, which has half the emissions of coal. Qatar’s carbon emissions have quadrupled since 1990 as a result of its soaring energy use, fuelled not just by population growth but by the demands of its natural gas reserves and the amount of energy required to liquefy the gas. Consequently, electricity demand in the country is rising by around seven percent a year. The government is, however, addressing these issues and at last year’s Carrob World 2009 summit, it unveiled aggressive strategies to reduce CO2 emissions through partnerships between
“I’d been growing grass in the deserts, so I didn’t really have any technical challenges”
industries and the government. It also launched a US$70 million 10-year project with Shell, Qatar Petroleum, Imperial College in London and the Qatar Science & Technology Park, aimed at reducing the country’s carbon footprint.
Storm clouds The strong growth forecast by the IMF and economists for Qatar bucks the trend of modest growth predicted for fellow GCC countries. Undoubtedly the hardest hit by the global recession has been Dubai, which threw billions of dollars at creating an opulent oasis in the desert. Eventually the real estate bubble burst, people lost their jobs and Dubai was forced to accept a handout from Abu Dhabi. Qatar is a different prospect, says Eckart Woertz, Executive Director of the Gulf Research Council. “It has a solid revenue stream from its energy exports, which Dubai does not have, and it has less over-ambitious white elephant projects, because it was a latecomer to the real estate game.”
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THE 2022 DREAM Qatar throws its hat into the World Cup ring. In 12 years’ time the greatest prize in world football could be contested on Qatari soil if the Gulf state is awarded the rights to stage the 2022 Fifa World Cup Finals – the ﬁrst time the tournament would have visited the Arab world. Despite this being a tiny nation with an embryonic footballing heritage, the bidders are conﬁdent of welcoming fans from four corners of the globe with state-of-the-art stadia and infrastructure. Bid CEO Hassan Abdulla Al Thawadi told reporters last year that now was the time for the world’s favourite game to come to the Middle East. “It’s time and we are ready to make history,” he remarked. Qatar is up against South Korea and Indonesia in the battle to host the 2022 tournament while the likes of England, Russia, Australia, Spain and Portugal are bidding for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FIFA has given Qatar the green light to its bid, but perhaps the ﬂy in the ointment to Qatar winning is the sweltering summer heat. Temperatures tend to top 40°C during the day and rarely dip below 30°C once the sun retreats in the evening, hardly conducive for end-to-end action on the pitch. However, Qatar’s bid team are conﬁdent they can overcome this problem with indoor, airconditioned, stadia. Scorching hot desert outside; pleasantly cool conditions inside for both players and fans. Indeed, the impressive indoor Aspire Sports Hall in Doha stands as a real-life blueprint for potential World Cup venues. If the extreme temperatures can be controlled then, Qatar’s chances look favourable. Unlike some other Arab nations, security is not a concern, while the government has the ﬁnancial muscle to pump an almost inﬁnite supply of funds into staging the event. All eyes are now ﬁxed ﬁrmly on December 2010, when the right to stage this prestigious and highly lucrative tournament will be announced.
Since the financial crisis, the Qatari government has taken measures to stabilise the economy, including a financial institution bailout plan that involved purchasing the investment portfolios of all banks on the Qatar Exchange (DSM). Additionally, the government has made several budget cuts that improved the bottom line performance of the economy. Anani says the government’s policies have averted a nosedive in GDP. “The Qatari economy could have been as vulnerable as all the other economies of the region,” he explains. “I believe the key to Qatar’s success is the government’s commitment to the development plan, commitment to reform, the private sector’s commitment to growth and the commitment to expand the country’s hydrocarbon infrastructure. This has helped Qatar focus on overcoming the obstacles in its way. Timely action by the government has improved liquidity and confidence-building measures helped the economy to remain on track. Also, implementing key policy initiatives at the right time has always been Qatar’s main strength and helped it to remain the least affected. Qatar is adopting a proactive approach for further liberalisation of the economy.” Nevertheless, despite the country’s strong economic foundation and the government’s damage limitation strategies, Qatar has not been entirely immune from the economic woes that have befallen its GCC neighbours. Consumer prices across Qatar plunged by 4.9 percent overall in 2009 as the country suffered from deflation due to a slump in property prices. The slump exceeded expectations and ended a period of record inflation in Qatar, which peaked at 15.2 percent in 2008. Qatar’s Central Bank, however, predicts inflation will peak at between two and five percent this year. In the first nine months of 2009, house prices across Qatar fell by 20 percent and are expected to ease by a further 15 percent in the country in 2010 due to completed projects flooding the market with property supplies. Keith Edwards, Head of Asset Management at The First Investor Asset Management investment bank, told Arabianbusiness.com: “We expect 2010 to be the bottom of the market in terms of prices, but we don’t necessarily see any upturn in 2011 as being aggressive because of the supply coming in.” But while property may be set for a slump, this will not endanger the country’s burgeoning construction sector, which is set to grow exponentially this year with a massive 40 percent of the country’s state budget already earmarked by infrastructure projects, as the country works to catch up with its more developed neighbours. With natural gas in demand worldwide and billions of dollars being poured into the creation of a capital city to rival the likes of New York or London, it seems Qatar’s progress is unstoppable.
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One of the largest and most ambitious real estate developments in the Middle East, the multi-billion dollar Pearl-Qatar is the jewel in the crown of one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Rebecca Goozee speaks to UDCâ€™s Managing Director Khalil Sholy to ďŹ nd our how the project is progressing.
JEWEL IN 92 www.menainfra.com
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ne of the fastest changing nations in the world, Qatar’s rapidly transforming skyline is a clear symbol of just how far the state has come. And at the heart of Doha’s development boom, spanning over four million square metres, is the Pearl-Qatar. Eventually set to create over 32 kilometres of new coastline and become home to over 40,000 residents in more than 15,000 dwellings, the reclaimed island has been built 350 metres off shore from one of the most prestigious districts of the capital city. Actually a string of several islands built on a former pearl-diving site – after which it was named – the project is a new, upscale city complete with a thoughtfully designed, planned and developed mix of residences, engaging public spaces and marinas in 10 themed districts (Porto Arabia, Viva Bahriyah, Costa Malaz, Isola Dana, Abraj Quatriers, Perlita Villas, Giaardino Villas, Qanat Quartier, Medina Centrale and Floresta Gardens). It is linked to the mainland by a four-lane, super highway lined with palm trees. And while the numbers are certainly impressive, the developer, United Development Company (UDC), has gone to great lengths to ensure a private and exclusive residence for its clients, and has long been interested in investing in long-term projects to the benefit of the country. Established 11 years ago, the company’s mandate and mission has been to become a cornerstone of the development of Qatar, and it certainly seems to have done so, being involved in a number of other high profi le projects in the state. For Khalil Sholy, Managing Director of UDC, innovation in design and construction is playing an increasingly important role in developments and none more so than the Pearl-Qatar. “Nowadays people are becoming more selective and it is vital that a project is innovative because that sets it apart from other developments – we cater for the sophisticated buyer or investor so we continue to put a lot of emphasis on the innovative side of our projects, particularly at the Pearl-Qatar.” And as you would expect, the ambitious and innovative project has faced a number of construction challenges, mainly due to its immense size. When construction started in 2006, the fi rst item on the to-do list was land reclamation. Th is wasn’t the fi rst time land reclamation had featured so heavily in a development in the Middle East region; projects such as Palm Diera and Palm Jumeirah in Dubai and Al Raha Beach and Khalifa Port at Taweelah in Abu Dhabi have transformed previously uninhabitable space into solid land. And as the population increases and available land resources are
Country focus-Qatar.indd Sec1:93
The Pearl-Qatar in numbers
4,000,000 square metres
800 hotel rooms
350 metres offshore
32 kilometres of coastline
Once a month scientists carefully map the coastlines of the development and coastlines of its neighbours to make sure that the sea is not carrying unwanted deposits or scouring away valuable areas. So far the results have been good; in particular the area outside the PearlQatar that was dredged for infi ll has begun to rehabilitate with a sea grass coverage of 80 percent. And it has also been reported that the new ocean environment is now seeing a lot of sea life return to the area and move back to inhabit the three new coves of the development, with fi sh life so abundant that it is almost two and half times that of a nearby reef. Sholy goes on to highlight all the support for the island’s sustainability project and explains about the award-winning district cooling system that is in place. Stemming from as far back as Roman times, the basics behind the district cooling system used at the PearlQatar are a variation on a system invented over 2000 years ago to run hot water through cities to provide heating for buildings and homes. Today, district cooling has been modified for use in warmer climates and works by chilling water in a central cooling plant, before being directed through a network of insulated pipes to residential and office buildings, which then ventilate cool air when required. Energy wise, it is designed to save 40 to 60 percent of the power required compared to conventional air conditioning systems. And these energy savings also translate to lower power generation requirements; hence lower harmful gas emissions. There are also a number of economic benefits associated with conventional air conditioning systems, including a reduction of initial capital investment and lower operation and maintenance costs. “There is a huge investment in this kind of technology from our side,” adds Sholy. “And we believe it will reduce energy consumption substantially.” The Pearl-Qatar will also be the fi rst project of its kind to adopt the ENVAC waste disposal system, a technology that will be installed around the island to reduce waste transportation and improve hygiene. Rubbish thrown in bins will be transported through a network of underground pipes at speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour. Th is innovative high-speed underground waste collection system will reduce both the need for waste storage and waste collection and will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with waste management. “Th is will of course use recycling methods, so it will be compacted and then sent to recycling centres in order that the material be re-used.” And that’s not all. UDC has put plans in place to have the Pearl Qatar become the ultimate ‘smart island’. The concept behind plans to be a ‘smart island’ includes the latest technology in advanced security systems for audio,
video and data, as well as management systems, metering and energy monitoring. “We have fibre optics that go through the infrastructure and spread all across the island to ensure that the buildings on the island and the retail and F&B outlets have a vast menu whereby the sky is the limit in utilising technology for the project,” reveals Sholy, confident that the developers have thought of everything to ensure that the Pearl-Qatar is utilising the very best technology options for the island and its residents. “We have focused on quality in all aspects of this project and continue to look towards the future in order to best harness the power of technology to make life better at the Pearl-Qatar,” he continues. “The island will offer an ultra-modern living environment in one of the world’s most relaxed and serene locations.” “What is really exciting about the Pearl-Qatar is that the island has been conceptualised and designed with the future in mind. We are creating a truly integrated smart island,” Hussain Naimi, Manager of Information Technology for UDC, told AME. “We have focused on developing an extensive, high quality, fibre-optic infrastructure network that means that the island will always be ‘future-ready’. So as wireless and hard-wire products evolve and advance, the Pearl-Qatar will always be ahead of the game.” Indeed the Pearl-Qatar stands to be one of the most technologically advanced communities in the world, employing a range of technologies that will not only put residents at the height of technological sophistication, but will also serve to minimise pollution, save energy and protect the local environment.
Looking forward The first phase of the Pearl-Qatar, Porto Arabia, was designed to be a landmark asset for the large development and attract international interest. Consisting of more than 5000 residential units in high-rise towers, townhouses and terraced apartments, as well as 300,000 square metres of retail space, a 400-berth marina and a four-star hotel, it has certainly attracted some interest. And in May last year the first residents arrived to settle in. Sholy explains that for 2010, UDC is focusing on completing Porto Arabia, estimating that approximately 90 percent will be fi nished. “The retail component, which is close to a million and a half square feet, would be largely complete and operational,” he says. “The marina, which will berth about 800 yachts, will be complete and operational, plus several other precincts will be underway. Qanat Qatari will be 80-90 percent there and combined with Medina Centrale there will be another close to 150,000 square metres of retail and F&B outlets, in addition to around 6000 residential units and townhomes. Th is is our focus for 2010.”
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shrinking, reclamation projects are a good option for those regions tight on space. Reclamation for the Pearl-Qatar fi nished ahead of schedule in July 2008 and in a report published at the time, Rewert Wurpts, President of the Central Dredging Association, was quoted as saying that the “reclamation on the Pearl-Qatar was perfect and the soil is ideal for building solid foundations.” The work, carried out by the Middle East Dredging Company (MEDCO), a joint venture between UDC and the Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering (MEDE) company of Belgium, called for the excavation of approximately 18 million cubic metres of material, reclamation of an area of approximately 4.2 million square metres, around 180,000 cubic metres of concrete quay walls, and around 45 linear kilometres of rock revetment and sandy beaches. Since reclamation began on the project, back in 2006, there has been a huge focus on sustainability at the Pearl-Qatar. A whole new ocean environment was created by the 28 kilometres of sandy beaches and 19 kilometres of sea wall and with 400 hectares of island reclaimed from the sea, the environment and ecosystems that characterised the area were changed forever. Island developments have not had the best environmental reputation in the Gulf, but UDC hoped this project would be different. Instead of using the ‘rainbowing’ technique, where dredging spoil is simply sprayed into place, blighting the seabed for kilometres around a development, the Pearl-Qatar used a different method. A coffer dam was built around the entire development to ensure that all dredging run-off was captured and most infi ll was then taken from within the dam area to limit the impact on the seabed. And so the Pearl-Qatar was born. Talking after the reclamation, Wurpts added: “MEDCO’s performance in this particular project was perfect...it was perfectly planned, perfectly organised and over and above this, the environmental impact assessment was perfectly executed.”
Keeping cool Indeed, it appears that sustainability has been high on the list for the developer from the project’s outset. Before UDC embarked on this project it completed a detailed environmental impact study in order to monitor the project’s affect on the environment from the start of construction, which it hopes to continue long after it finishes. “We’ve found that the marine environment around the PearlQatar is much richer than when we started, and we are continuing to monitor this on a monthly basis. We’ve been supported by the environment authorities and found that we’ve contributed to both the above ground landscape and the marine environment,” explains Sholy.
Living at the Pearl-Qatar Although the Pearl-Qatar is yet to be completed, residents started moving in 12 months ago. The ﬁrst residents were handed the keys on 1st May 2009. A large number of retail outlets also opened last year, in fact; the ﬁrst residents were welcomed by more than 40 high-end shops and several service providers including banks and chemists. And last November saw the spectacular new marina at the Pearl-Qatar’s Porto Arabia open to much fanfare.
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Innovative biologic treatment technology How to increase wastewater and solid waste treatment efﬁciency with no capital costs. By Derk Maat
any waste treatment and solid waste handling facilities have difficulty in consistently meeting treatment criteria and local regulatory requirements. Upsets can occur, generating odours on a seasonal basis during summer and peak seasons. Problems can also arise as facilities approach design capacity due to increases in population or as production changes are made. But BIOLOGIC products can help reduce waste treatment costs (reducing sludge volumes and aeration requirements) while increasing overall treatment efficiency. Like all living organisms, microbial populations contained in waste handling systems that are responsible for the ultimate stabilisation, or treatment, of the waste have a minimum nutrient requirement. Frequently, the concentration of many of the nutrients contained in existing waste systems is insufficient or not in a usable form for microorganisms to maintain microbial cell synthesis and growth. The lack of the required nutrients is typically the limiting factor in the treatment or ultimate stabilisation of waste. In addition to the many required micronutrients, organic nutrients are also required by microorganisms. These organic nutrients are sometimes known as ‘growth factors’ and are compounds necessary for organic growth because they become constituents of organic cell material that cannot be synthesised from other carbon sources. Growth factor requirements differ from one organism to another, but the major ones fall into the following three classes: amino acids, purines and pyrimidines, and vitamins. BIOLOGIC products are a group of biological waste system additives containing a proprietary blend of organic micronutrients, all of which are biodegradable and completely non-toxic, in a form readily available to microorganisms. The relative concentrations and proportions of the various components contained within the BIOLOGIC products have been explicitly engineered to stimulate a specific group of microorganisms called facultative anaerobes. BIOLOGIC products do not contain bacteria
or enzymes, but rather are designed to stimulate existing bacteria found in biological systems. With the addition of these products to a waste handling/treatment facility, the biologic pathways are no longer inhibited due to the lack of essential nutrients, and as a result biological activity, growth and metabolism are substantially increased. By stimulating these specific microorganisms, tremendous benefits in waste treatment can be achieved, including a considerable increase in treatment efficiency along with substantial operational cost savings. Programmed additions of BIOLOGIC SR2 are introduced into wastewater systems to aid in maintaining a dominance of selected biological cultures. A typical treatment programme entails a higher initial dosage of BIOLOGIC SR2 followed by regular maintenance applications. The maintenance dosage aids in stimulating the activity of desirable facultative anaerobes in any wastewater treatment facility. Organic solids are more completely broken down in the process. Malodours are reduced or eliminated, as the growth of odour-producing organisms is minimised by the overwhelming competition provide by the carbonreducing bacteria. The fi nal effluent quality is improved through the increased facultative bacteria, which function in the presence or absence of dissolved oxygen. BIOLOGIC SR2 does not contain bacteria or enzymes but stimulates the indigenous microbes in waste sludge digestion facilities, which results in less odour and more efficient biodegradation of solids. By adding BIOLOGIC SR2 to sludge handling systems, biological activity, growth and metabolism of specific solids-reducing microorganisms that benefit wastewater treatment efficiency is achieved. No harmful chemicals are added to the sludges, therefore they will not contaminate the groundwater if land application is involved. Odours are also reduced to an almost unperceivable level. Thanks to the significant increase in solids digestion efficiency, large operational cost savings are involved, due to a decrease in the overall sludge quantity requiring disposal. The improvement in effluent or compost quality depends primarily on how the facility was performing originally. If a plant is operating at or near the theoretical optimum for that type of system, the expected improvement will generally be less than for a plant operating poorly. Odour is generally reduced very rapidly to an acceptable limit within hours. ■
“The lack of the required nutrients is typically the limiting factor in the treatment or ultimate stabilisation of waste”
Derk Maat is SciCorp International’s CEO. SciCorp International Corp. was founded in 1989 to manufacture and distribute the revolutionary BIOLOGIC line of wastewater treatment products.
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A Natural Micronutrient Supplement Increases treatment efficiency with NO CAPITAL COST
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The use of BIOLOGIC® in Wastewater and Solid Waste Treatment Facilities Many waste treatment and solid waste handling facilities have difficulty in consistently meeting treatment criteria and local regulatory requirements. Upsets can occur generating odours on a seasonal basis during summer and peak seasons. Problems can also arise as facilities approach design capacity due to increases in population or as production changes are made. BIOLOGIC® products can help reduce waste treatment costs(reducing sludge volumes and aeration requirements) while increasing overall treatment efficiency. Some of the locations where BIOLOGIC® products can effectively and economically be used to improve performance and eliminate odours are: • • • • • •
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BIOLOGIC® brand products do not contain bacteria but rather are designed to stimulate existing bacteria found in biological treatment systems.
For more information contact us at www.scicorp.net
NEXT BIG THING
The power revolution Idika David explains why alternative energy solutions are the future.
he world sure could use the next big thing in technology; it could use the power revolution. Something on the scale of railroads, automobiles or the internet – the kind of breakthrough that emerges every so often and builds industries, generates jobs and mints fortunes. While no two booms are exactly alike, some hallmarks are already showing up. Indicators are pointing to alternative energy, more efficient power distribution and new ways to store electricity – all with minimal impact to the environment – as candidates for the next boom. The biggest barrier to widespread commercialisation of renewable-energy generation – solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal as well as energy storage, such as hydrogen fuel cells for electric vehicles (EV)
and hybrid electric vehicles – has been cost. Developments that enable lower costs and improve performance are emerging continuously, rapidly moving renewable energy from the lab to commercialisation and mass production. Using alternative energy solutions of the present time employs effective production of power and energy with environmental safety and maintenance in mind. People have been stressing their desire to use fossil fuels for energy production purposes and scientists and researchers have proved this as fatal. Fossil fuels cause irreversible damage to the environment and are nonreusable energy resources. Eventual overuse will result in depletion and fi nally the entire reserves of fuels will disappear. Hence, in order to save irreplaceable energy resources, we need to use alternative energy solutions. Today, many alternative energy solutions are available for use even though most of them are in the throes of infancy. Some of the most common ones include new manufacturing processes that reduce cost and manufacturing time, such as thin-fi lm solar panels made by coating semiconductor layers onto glass or roll-printing a conductive substrate directly as the electrode; improved energy storage capacity, which extends the range that an electric vehicle can go between charges; and new designs to improve efficiency, such as a solar energy system comprising concentric circles made of thin lenses that focus the sun’s rays onto a postage-stamp-sized, high-tech solar cell. This system has a combined heat and power efficiency of nearly 80 percent, a significant improvement over conventional solar systems’ 14 percent efficiency. New manufacturing methods, including one that ‘prints’ solar cells on nearly any surface, allow incorporation of solar panels directly into the materials from which the buildings are made. New scientific breakthroughs, such as a cheap catalyst that can generate oxygen by splitting water molecules, freeing hydrogen ions to make hydrogen gas, is another potential energy solution. Called artificial photosynthesis, the process mimics how plants use sunlight to split water to make usable energy. ■
“Developments that enable lower costs and improve performance are emerging continuously”
Idika David oversees affairs at Skylit Techniques Limited and has a bachelor of Engineering, from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, with MSc in Power. David has over 16 year’s experience in engineering designs, installations, operations and maintenance. He has vast experience in rural and urban electriﬁcation, industrial and manufacturing automations, power and alternative/ renewable power systems.
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Business critical power and energy solutions Delivering reliable power to manufacturing sites at the edge of the electricity grid can be a major challenge. Mohammed Qaraqi explains the types of systems available and the process involved in installing independent power systems.
audi Arabia is considered one of the most developed industrial countries in the region with a number of key manufacturing centres offering companies guaranteed continuous and reliable power. However, as the demand for additional manufacturing capacity grows, the pressure is on some companies to locate their business outside these areas, resulting in the need for an alternative source of power – whether in the form of small private power stations or standby power systems. Al Rowad National Plastic Company is a good example. In 2008, the company built a new 20,000m 2 plant at Dammam producing biaxially orientated polyproplene (BOPP), with a production capacity of 30,000 tons per year. The location of the plant meant it was unable to reliably access electricity via the grid network this year, a particular issue as the process of converting raw materials and resins into plastic fi lms and covers placed a huge electrical power demand on the facility. The production lines feature hundreds of electrical motors with variable speed controllers all managed by a complex PLC system and it is estimated that for every hour of production lost the company would suffer significant fi nancial losses. As part of the independent solution, ComAp systems developed and installed a power management system that combines five paralleling systems designed to automatically synchronise the mains with PRIME (standby in the future) Mitsubishi diesel generators delivering a capacity of 1.6MW/380V/60Hz each (total 28.8MW).
High quality power systems rely heavily on the latest technology. In this application the generator controllers used were ComAp InteliSysNTs, which incorporate J1939 CAN communication. This technology enables the system to create a seamless link with a wide choice of additional peripherals, such as colour displays like InteliVision 8 and the SCADA soft ware for intuitive monitoring and trouble free systems supervision. The system also features five main distribution boards (MDB’s), 6000A bus system, type tested Form 4b construction with an impressive 100kA/1 sec short value made possible by the Merlin Gerin air circuit breakers, and Schneider high quality components are used throughout. Each of the MDB panels incorporates three main incomers and two bus couplers – all of which are fully controlled by ComAp controllers (InteliMainsNT), specifically designed to connect groups of generators to the mains (in the future). The project specification also required harmonic active fi lters (square D type) each with 300A capacities designed to guarantee a total harmonic distortion below five percent. Power factor correction was achieved through six capacitor banks with different capacities (600kVAr, 900kVAr and 1000kVAr). The standby control system is centrally supervised using a flexible webbased SCADA system called pControl (supplied by Swiss company 42technology) that uses the LAN communication to link the generator controllers and main distribution panels to a computer that displays a complete visualisation of the plant and power system with touch screen control. Any infrastructure project or manufacturing plant developed at the edges or away from the grid need reliable power as an absolute minimum; but new fully integrated control systems bring much more, including easier installation, greater compatibility, increased automation and continuous monitoring capabilities with remote communication. These benefit-rich, custom-designed packages are equally attractive to engineers, power distribution companies and infrastructure developers as they are to manufacturing sites like those operated by Al Rowad National Plastic Company.
“High quality power systems rely heavily on the latest technology”
Mohammed Qaraqi studied at the Riga Civil Aviation University in 1994 towards a degree in Aircraft Electric and Navigation Systems before leaving with a Masters Degree in Radio Electronics. His career began working as a maintenance engineer in Jordon before moving to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to join ComAp Systems in the capacity of Managing Director.
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In the midst of a crippling recession, how practical are sustainable goals for the world’s most notoriously oilrich region? By Lucy Douglas
ustainability is nothing new for the construction industry. It has been the word on the lips of developers, architects and engineers across the globe for several years now, and the countries of the Middle East have been increasingly putting themselves at the forefront of this growing market. With Gulf economies looking to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions – which currently rate among the highest in the world – sustainable infrastructure has proved a logical venture to pursue. Speaking at the Doha Green 2009 Conference, Mario Seneviratne, Director of Dubai-based sustainability consultants Green Technologies, said that green buildings could potentially reduce carbon emissions by 33 to 39 percent and could “significantly help in tackling environment problems”. With various Gulf states competing to be seen as the global leader in this field, an impressive number of mega-projects have been commissioned across the region in recent years, each claiming to be bigger, better and above all greener than the last. However, in the wake of the global fi nancial crisis, the UAE alone has seen some 953 projects worth an estimated US$400 billion shelved or cancelled altogether. With fi nancing a major issue, it begs the question: is sustainability still something developers can afford in today’s difficult market? The answer remains something of a conundrum. For a region that boasts such tremendous oil wealth, sceptics suggest that the expensive pursuit of alternative energy sources and sustainability are low priorities in a time of recession, even for the economies that have suffered relatively little. Saudi Arabia’s recent plans to spend US$170 billion over the next five years on traditional oil refining projects highlights the underlying caution of investing money in less certain sustainable ventures.
“There is a growing realisation in the development community that there are advantages to building green” Thom Bohlen
Road to recovery With the global economic situation still on its way to recovery, investors are understandably approaching projects in a much more tentative manner than before. According
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King Abdullah Financial District First announced in 2006, the King Abdullah Financial District is set to be the Middle East’s ﬁrst ﬁnancial district on a scale to match the major global ﬁnancial centres. Due to be completed next year, the King Abdullah Financial District is a 1.6 million square metre development in north Riyadh. When it is completed, the KAFD is set to have more than 3 million square metres of ﬂoor space, which is designed to include premier ofﬁce space, residential units, a ﬁnancial academy, recreational facilities, retail units and religious spaces. Designed by New York-based architect ﬁrm, FXFOWLE, the KAFD incorporates various fundamental features of sustainability. The buildings of the development are oriented in such a manner so as to optimise the climatic situation of the site, speciﬁcally the sun and the wind conditions. All the buildings incorporate large-scale highly efﬁcient facades that are designed to reduce energy.
to Thom Bohlen, Chief Technical Officer at the Middle East Centre for Sustainable Development, one of the biggest challenges facing his organisation today is that project budgets remain tight. And while conceding that many clients are still unwilling to shell out the extra upfront costs required for sustainable materials, Bohlen believes that developers not only can, but must, continue to meet sustainable guidelines if they are to stand any chance of success in the long-term. In fact, he maintains that while initial costs remain high, these are often mitigated over the entire lifecycle of a project – especially once operation is taken into account. “There is a growing realisation in the development community that there are advantages to building green, and moreover it is necessary to keep up to date with the industry in order to succeed in today’s market,” he says. It is easy to see Bohlen’s point. Despite huge numbers of shelved projects, sustainable developments are popping up like mushrooms across the Gulf. And while some local developers in the region are still approaching
“Without sustainable features the design would be incomplete” Sudhir Jambhekar
expensive sustainable ventures with trepidation, influential government initiatives combined with interest from leading international firms are encouraging a continued focus on sustainability. Mega-projects such as the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Saudi Arabia and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi – both of which have the concept of sustainable development at the heart of the master-planning process – are evidence that sustainability is much more than simply a fashionable feature for modern infrastructure. Indeed, for Sudhir Jambhekar, senior partner at the global architecture company FXFOWLE, sustainability is now integral to the design process. “When a new client comes in, one of the first things we do is talk about the design and sustainability aspects, and how they are intertwined. Without sustainable features the design would be incomplete.” FXFOWLE is widely considered one of the pioneers of sustainability in the architectural world. The fi rm is responsible for designing the world’s first completely sustainable building – the Conde Nast
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Building in Time Square, New York – and is currently working on the 1.6 million square metre KAFD in north Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Jambhekar is not concerned about the effects of the recession on the movement toward sustainability. “I don’t think it has affected it much,” he says. “It has just affected business in general.” He concedes that a number of FXFOWLE’s projects in Dubai have been put on hold for the time being, but emphasises that sustainability is still a major concern, with designers continuing to push for it in the projects that are going ahead. Moreover, he is keen to point out that overall costs involved are no longer significantly higher than traditional ways of working. “Groups like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) are now coming up with more factual data to suggest that the cost of doing sustainable work is really not excessively high,” he explains. “They’re also coming up with much more definitive data to suggest that if buildings are more sustainable, owners are able to get extra money on rent or resale as well.” Jambhekar estimates that a sustainable development will cost around three to six percent more than a non-sustainable project, but will generate around 10-11 percent more return on investment, making them a much more cost-effective long-term choice for developers. In addition, sustainable features are likely to be attractive to prospective occupants, whether residential or corporate. One of the greatest benefits for an occupant is the potential saving that can be made on utility costs. Low water-use plumbing features, for example, will cut a household’s basic water costs as well as being socially responsible in the arid climate of the Gulf.
Challenges of the Middle East The physical conditions of the Gulf region certainly pose a number of challenges for developers working towards sustainability. For example, the high temperatures and hot winds dictate that large-scale cooling systems are a necessity for many developments, while desert conditions mean a scarcity of fresh water supplies. Water shortages have been a pressing concern in the region for a number of years. The Middle East has a mere one percent of the world’s available fresh water shared among five percent of the world’s population, and it is predicted that by 2025 the countries of the Arabian peninsula will be using more than double the amount of water naturally available to them. Indeed, the necessity for fresh water supplies in the region generated a huge amount of interest from American and European water companies just prior to the recession, and firms such as German company Berlinwasser and American utility giant General Electric have invested billions of dollars into water reuse and desalination technologies across the Gulf in order to capitalise on steadily increasing demand.
Such projects are becoming increasingly commonplace. In order to increase both energy and water efficiency, Saudi research and development institute the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) is joining forces with technology giant IBM to develop a solar-powered water desalination plant. The collaboration hopes that the plant will generate some 30,000 cubic metres of water per day to serve around 100,000 people in the city of Al Khaji using ultra-high concentrator photovoltaic technology. Indeed, the hot desert climate is not without its rewards. The Gulf is a prime region for solar energy, and consequently designers and developers are incorporating features such as solar powered external lighting systems and water heating systems into their projects. The number of larger scale solar power plants in the region, however, is still relatively small in comparison to regions that do not benefit from such an abundance of light. This is largely due to the extreme costs involved in the development of this kind of technology. While there are large-scale solar initiatives currently underway, the costs are proving to be a hindrance to their development. Masdar Power, the unit of the renewable energy company behind the mega project, is developing a 100MW concentrated solar power plant in Abu Dhabi, while in Masdar City itself, solar rooftop panels have been incorporated into the building designs to generate electricity. However, plans to maximise the use of this resource have run into problems because of what Nawal Al Hosani, Associate Director of Sustainability to the project’s property development group, calls the “ridiculous” costs involved. Though across the region solar technologies are still being explored, the issue of cost is providing a significant obstacle during this time of economic recovery.
Future history While the construction industry has slowed in the region as a result of the economic downturn, the benefits of sustainability are so great that developers cannot afford to ignore them. Political influence surrounding this subject is huge, and the governments of many Middle Eastern countries have made sustainability a central concern in their plans for economic recovery. With states such as Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar all competing to become major players on the world stage, their long-term government initiatives – Plan 2030, Strategic Plan 2015 and National Vision 2030 respectively – all emphasise the importance of sustainability to economic growth. This is largely based around the common concern that economies established on finite fossil fuel resources must endeavour to diversify in order to remain strong in the long term. Jambhekar points out that state leadership has proved to be one of the most significant influences on the national
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approach to sustainability. “In Dubai, for example,” he explains, “Sheikh Mohammed has made public statements about his desire for Dubai to be totally sustainable, and that makes a big difference to public feeling because it comes from the top.” Similarly in Qatar, the National Vision of Sheikh Hamad and Sheikha Mozah aims to transform the nation into one capable of sustaining its own development by 2030, and this initiative has inspired organisations such as Dohaland to work towards a fully sustainable future. One of Dohaland’s primary aims for its projects is to match the existing aesthetic and design of Doha while still ensuring sustainability. Unlike more flamboyant Gulf states such as Dubai, skyscrapers are not the favoured residential spaces in Qatar’s capital, and developers seek to emulate the traditional living compounds. Dohaland’s director of projects, Mohammad Al Marri, believes that it is imperative to combine cultural traditions and contemporary sustainable ideals. “When you live in the desert you cannot really afford to waste resources in any way,” he said at the inaugural Doha Green and Sustainability Summit 2010. “Efficiency was paramount for our ancestors, and it was reflected in their architecture and the systems they put in place.” Incorporating traditional techniques for cooling or heating a building is a growing trend in the development of sustainable infrastructure across the region. Basic features such as the orientation of a building in relation to the sun are taken into account in the initial stages of design. Even cutting-edge initiatives such as Masdar are using age-old techniques alongside pioneering technologies in revolutionary developments. In
terms of the basic city layout, streets will be set on a diagonal in order to block some of the hot winds that are generated in the surrounding desert and maximise cooler breezes at night. There are also plans to use traditional wind towers that draw warm air across water, cooling it in order to provide indoor ventilation across the city. Th is passive ventilation system can reduce the operating energy use of a building by more than 60 percent. Jumbhekar reiterates the importance of using such methods when designing a new development. He emphasises the obligation that architects have to their clients to make sure they fully understand the climatic conditions, the issues surrounding their resources and their historical influences, while still ensuring long-term sustainability of the designs. “It’s a balancing act between learning from history, interpreting it and then trying to look to the future,” he explains. “I truly believe that as an architect I have an obligation to this world to present the time that we live in now.” ■
“When you live in the desert you cannot really afford to waste resources in any way” Mohammad Al Marri
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ASK THE EXPERT
The oases of the future
Tony Wynes reveals why it is imperative to create innovative systems that improve water quality.
f a lake or enclosed seawater has negligible through flow of water, an unmixed and heavily stratified water body is created. Numerous reports show that these water bodies have low dissolved oxygen (DO) in the deeper waters (8m+) and often toxic blue green algal blooms. This low DO, coupled with a high temperature drop through the water column, means that the water body will be struggling to support fish, aquatic flora and fauna. Thermal stratification in water bodies is caused by heating the surface waters. As convection is the major method of heat transfer within a water body, hot water rises and cool sinks, thus it is unable to mix. This leaves a very warm top layer (epilimnion), a cold bottom layer (hypolimnion) and the transition layer (thermocline or metalimnion). As plants require light for photosynthesis, which creates oxygen, this leaves the epilimnion with plentiful oxygen, but the hypolimnion with very little or no oxygen and no way to mix the two layers. Waterbodies worldwide suffer with significant increases in concentration of manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe) in the water column in the summer. Academics attribute this to anoxic bottom water caused by the onset of thermal stratification. Together with a lowering of pH, certain bacteria are thought to contribute to these elements release from bottom sediments. Algal blooms, caused by an increased concentration of algae in the surface waters, are unsightly and possibly toxic. They require sunlight and nutrients to survive in large numbers. If they become too large, sunlight to the bottom water is cut off, depriving the plants of the ability to photosynthesise. This decreases the oxygen levels in the bottom waters, killing the aquatic life living there, which in turn increases the amount of bacteria needed to break down the food and further decreases the oxygen concentration in the bottom waters. The cycle continues until there is no marine life left in the waterbody except algae and bacteria. AMG has spent 38 years innovating systems that improve the quality of water in reservoirs and the sea. Our cutting edge ‘Aquaerator’ has no moving parts and is the scientifically proved answer to many waterbody problems,
particularly stratification and oxygen deficiency causing metals in suspension. Unfortunately few people realise that bed water is a higher density than surface water. Thus it is vital to place aeration and mixing devices on the bed, using a simple principle. It takes more energy and costs more to force air down from the surface, whereas a bubble plume from the bed rises naturally towards the surface. Our EU financed technology, creates a highly turbulent rotating bubble plume of water/air, causing considerable additional entrainment whilst rising. It produces a surface plume flow of 4.5tons/sec from 10m depth or 13.4tons/sec from 20m in reservoirs. Municipal wastewater treatment is vital to improve the quality of life of the whole population and for increasing the overall water available for recycling. Existing wastewater technology has a high carbon footprint due to the electricity used to recycle it. Thus we have designed an Aquaerator that will prove more energy efficient by using less electricity. Another asset is that it is easy to move from the bed for cleaning and replacement without the major cost of emptying the main operating tank. Each state or country must create environmental management plans for water and wastewater to determine total water requirement for personal consumption and the growing of food crops taking climate change into account. These should identify the most energy efficient systems to ensure the lowest carbon footprint. I hope each region will build reservoirs, lakes and dams on rivers to store the most vital commodity for the continuation of human life, water. Trees can surround water bodies to reduce the effect of climate change and sandstorms to form the oases for future generations.
“All life on the planet ceases without clean water”
Having commanded Royal Navy Minesweepers, Tony Wynes set up Aquarius Marine Group Ltd 37 years ago as a diving maintenance and environmental consultancy. This led him to invent and coordinate the design of the ‘Aquaerator’, which is patented in many countries around the world.
ASK THE EXPERT
To motorise, or not to motorise
David Stevenson explains the importance of ﬁt for purpose ﬁre detection and prevention technology.
ire spread through ductwork is generally considered to be mitigated against by the use of ductwork and fi re dampers in compliance with various codes of practice. The codes recognise various qualities of dampers and their method of operation, but regulatory guidance states that all alternatives are equally acceptable. Th is leaves the customer to take up the cheapest option – such as the thermally operated fire curtain damper – for regulatory compliance. Th is is not an effective method of preventing the spread of cold or even warm smoke, and certainly would not always be 100 percent effective, even against the spread of hot smoke, depending upon the efficiency of any thermal triggering device.
Contradictory guidance A further potential confl ict between the regulatory authority, whether local authority, building control officer or the risk assessor, is the subject of maintenance, again because of wooliness in the guidance. The guides state that in ‘dust laden’ and similar atmospheres, the operation of the damper should be confi rmed by testing at intervals suited to the degree of pollution. It has long been recognised that checking damper operations is more easily carried out with motorised actuators than with manual operation. The risk assessor will normally take frequency of checking into account and may well require an enhanced level of checking over and above that which is sensibly achieved by manually checking fusible link-operated dampers. However, if again the minimum specification has been accepted by the building control authorities, the risk assessor's expectations may be deemed incompatible. Code of Practice BS5588: Part 9 states that ‘all fi re dampers should be simple in their operation, with the minimum number of moving parts’. In fi re performance terms the code only requires the dampers to satisfy the integrity requirements of BS476: Part 20: 1987 and whilst it recognises the enhanced insulation that an intumescent damper can provide, and even acknowledges the existence of intumescent dampers with integral,
detector-operated smoke blades, the basic recommendation is for fusible link-operated integrity, only dampers. Such dampers are recognised as not generally being fully effective in resisting smoke, but it does state that the ‘integrity only’ damper will ‘assist’ in reducing or retarding the movement of smoke. Without qualification, such a statement could be seen as highly optimistic. Much more guidance is given on the activation of fire/smoke dampers by smoke detectors. Indeed, there are positive advantages in life safety terms in actuating fire/smoke dampers by smoke detectors in addition to thermally activated devices, particularly in buildings presenting a high or special life hazard such as hotels, hospitals and other non-domestic buildings involving a sleeping risk and entertainment premises as an example of a special risk.
“Much more guidance is given on the activation of fire/smoke dampers by smoke detectors”
Concerns Codes of practice, such as BS5588: Part 9 heavily promote the concept of dampers for isolating the duct between the separate compartments which handle the risk of fire spread. However, very little guidance is given on the specification, or performance of such. Dampers dividing compartments will invariably be fairly simple robust mechanical dampers that are operated by a fusible link if the regulatory guidance is followed. Such dampers do not react to smoke ingress into the duct until the smoke has a temperature sufficiently elevated to operate the fusible link. As a consequence, in a slowly developing fi re, significant volumes of smoke can spread through this ductwork, potentially putting people at risk in remote positions before the damper has operated. The fact that dampers are not generally designed to provide smoke resistance is of a lesser concern than the fact that they will not operate early in the fi re event. How can a damper be installed such that it does activate early enough to make a contribution to the control of smoke spread? The only sure way is to have the damper so that it operates from a smoke detector, preferably closing in a controlled manner using motorised actuators, fit for the purpose.
David Stevenson is Managing Director of Belimo Automation FZE.
Benjamin Jones looks at why the Middle East is employing increasingly green ventilation technology and the impact this is having on the sector.
e find ourselves in a time of flux and great change. This is suitably illustrated by the differing approaches of Middle Eastern countries to environmental issues, associated energy conservation and the building services they choose. For a generation most countries in the region have had cheap energy aplenty, but this is quickly changing. Recently the US military warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015, with the chief economist International Energy Agency predicting that output of conventional oil will peak in 2020. This has been recognised in the Middle East region, but it will not affect all countries immediately or equally, and so the steps a country takes towards energy conservation is considered inversely proportional to its known oil reserves. Some countries are making tremendously exciting advancements in establishing green credentials. For example in the United Arab Emirates Vice President and Prime Minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has decreed that all new buildings in Dubai must apply the highest international standards of sustainability. Initially, Dubai has found this to be the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard accredited by the United States Green Building Council, but latterly has begun developing its own ratings system to be known as the World Energy and Environmental System for Development, Optimisation and Measurement (WESDOM) standard. This standard demands postoccupancy evaluation of the performance of a building to determine whether it meets design and environmental criteria. These standards can only lead to more energy efficient buildings and to the pioneering of new and inspiring energy efficient products. Monodraught has always sought to explore, develop and create innovative low-energy building service solutions. One of Monodraught’s most successful products is the Sunpipe that supplies sunlight to a room from roof level. Here, the Sunpipe’s patented Diamond Dome directs
daylight into a silverised mirror-finished aluminium tube to reflect it to the ceiling of a room where a diff user then evenly distributes the light. The Diamond Dome and diffuser also seal the Sunpipe from the ingress of sand, rain, and insects. The Sunpipe is effective in sunny, overcast and rainy conditions, requires no maintenance and is compatible with many building designs. For example, multi-floor solutions are possible and common, but there is some loss of transmittance as the length of the system increases. When compared against a roof light, a Sunpipe eliminates glare, significantly reduces heat gains in the summer, and minimises heat losses in the winter. Recently, Monodraught introduced a new range of Sunpipes manufactured from 90 percent recycled aluminium, thus improving the product’s strong environmental credentials while continuing to deliver superb performance. Monodraught is based in the UK and has a distributor in the Middle East who has seen increased interest in their Sunpipe day-lighting system. For example, around 450 Sunpipes have recently been installed into the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) in Abu Dhabi. These Sunpipes will deliver natural daylight to the undercrofts and stations of Masdar’s visionary personal rapid transport system, and have unique reinforced domes that are capable of withstanding 28 tonnes of weight. In addition, the widest Sunpipe in the world has been installed, which has a staggering width of 7.5m. Monodraught is actively looking to develop other products in its inventory, such as the Windcatcher and Windcatcher Sola-boost natural ventilation products, to meet the demands of a Middle Eastern climate. For example, in very hot climates, it is accepted that untempered supplied air may not be appropriate and so Monodraught is actively investigating passive cooling techniques for the Windcatcher and Sola-boost natural ventilation systems. Monodraught feels that it is well placed to meet the challenges of the future Middle East market place. Its product inventory is well suited to meet requirements for energy efficiency and its research and development team are constantly monitoring and anticipating changes to local employed standards. Furthermore, Monodraught’s involvement in new, large scale, environmentally sensitive developments, such as Masdar City, gives a vision of the future today. Therefore, Monodraught feels that because it can meet the exacting demands of the local climate and the environmental standards of the Middle East, it can meet them anywhere.
“Some countries are making tremendously exciting advancements in establishing green credentials”
Benjamin Jones is a Research Engineer with Monodraught Ltd, responsible for the investigation and implementation of new and existing low energy ventilation and day-lighting technologies. Jones is studying for an Engineering Doctorate in Environmental Technologies and is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers Natural Ventilation and Schools Design Groups.
DESTINATION EVERY WHERE 114 www.menainfra.com
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How the advent of high-speed rail could transform the Gulf region.
report by Kuwait Financial Centre released earlier this year revealed that GCC nations are planning to invest a total of US$109 billion on rail projects – many of them high-speed – in the next 10 years as officials look to solve traffic congestion issues. “Already some of the countries in GCC have put forward plans for alternative transport systems such as the Dubai metro and Saudi Arabia’s various rail plans,” said the report. “We believe that this might result in relieving some amount of stress from the road network. Also, the pan-GCC railway planned at an overall cost of US$60 billion will open lots of interesting opportunities for pan-GCC travellers.” At the moment, the only option to travel across GCC is either by road or by air. Saudi Arabia is currently the only GCC country to have a railway, although the network is still in the nascent stage, and while Dubai has recently launched its metro system, overall the region’s rail infrastructure is virtually non-existent. Nonetheless, the GCC region’s growing population is increasing demand for transport infrastructure. Train services across the six GCC states will “facilitate movement and travel of GCC citizens – as well as expatriates – and boost regional trade,” according to Mohammad Bin Obeid Al Mazroui, GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs. And he’s not the only regional expert to recognise the inherent benefits in expanding the rail network. “Rail can be looked at from three distinct perspectives: mass rapid urban transportation, long distance travel and freight movement,” says V.G. Ramakrishnan, Senior Director of Frost & Sullivan’s Automotive & Transportation Practice for South Asia, Middle East & North Africa. “Rail provides for quick, clean and rapid movement of passengers and goods over short and long distances, while the space required for putting up the infrastructure is considerably less compared to air or road transportation.” Studies have shown that the numbers of people that can be transported from point A to Point B via rail also compares very favourably with rival modes of transport – a key consideration in a region where increasing population and population density figures in metropolitan cities is on the rise. “Th is is the prime driver for considering rail systems the world across,” says Ramakrishnan. Not only does rail provide for rapid urbanisation of the population, but it also helps major cities to attract additional investment. “Many countries in the Middle East are promoting service and manufacturing sectors in an attempt to diversify away from a reliance on oil and gas, and the growth of the middle-class in the region is a strong driver for the growth of railways. Both blue and white-collared workers, executives and their families need a reliable, reasonably priced and safe transportation system. Railways fulfi l that need very well.”
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Pg 118 SAUDI
Pg 122 METRO MANIA
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ON TRACK FOR GROWTH Kuwait
he region has been discussing the proposed GCC Rail Network for many years now, with good reason: many of the key ingredients for such a project – including good levels of cooperation between member nations, low barriers to conducting business and low barriers to cross-border trade – already exist. Nonetheless, in terms of infrastructure, Ramakrishnan believes there are a number of key requirements that need to be met for such a scheme to be a success. “First, common gauge systems, track speed, signalling and operating systems will be essential for the network to be functional. And in addition, operational issues such as track speed and the use of technology to enhance efficiency will also need to be agreed upon and employed across nations to get the full benefit out of the system.” As a result, harmonisation will be key given that all six Gulf countries have plans to build their own national railways, which will eventually combine to form the 2177-km GCC network. “Nations in the region – particularly UAE and Saudi – are developing their economies and increasingly trying to attract investments in non-oil-based sectors,” Ramakrishnan says. “These countries are the largest economic engines in the GCC and also have large populations in regional terms. Competition for resources will increase and managing conflict will be a critical challenge that needs to be overcome – just witness the fallout from the common currency debacle. Effective policy and a cohesive operational framework will be required to ensure smooth operation of the proposed GCC Rail Network, while how the benefits will be shared by nations (for example, key positions, shareholding, local employment, vendor contracts, headquarters, etc.) will also need to be handled carefully.” Moves to start tendering on phase one of the inter-emirates rail network show the UAE scheme is steaming ahead of its neighbours. If state rail company Union Railway can complete the first phase of its US$11 billion rail network within the ambitious time frame it has set for itself, the company will have set the standard not only for the UAE railway, but also the planners behind the GCC’s five other rail projects. By incorporating industrial projects into the 264km scheme, Union Railway has set a template for the regional development of rail projects. The line supports state energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s ongoing production programmes at the Shah and Habshan oil and gas fields, and later phases will contribute significantly to the development of the oil, natural gas and petrochemical industries in the UAE. The rail network will then grow to encompass 100 locomotives and 5000 freight wagons by 2017, transporting cargo and people in equal measures. None of the UAE’s neighbours have yet reached such an advanced phase on any of their rail projects.
Arrival: TBC Estimated Cost: US$11.5 billion Track distance: 683km Alongside the construction of a 165km, four-line metro network, ﬁve passenger and freight lines are also currently under consideration, with a total length of 518km of double track.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
Passengers using a pan-GCC railway due for completion in 2017 could be whisked along at 350kph under a proposal for a super-high-speed network
A speed of 350kph is nearly 40 percent of the cruising speed of an Airbus A380 jetliner
The speed jump from the planned 200kph would come at a steep price: the project cost would rise from US$15bn to an estimated US$25bn
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UAE Bahrain Arrival: 2017 Arrival: 2030
Estimated Cost: US$11 billion
Estimated Cost: US$8 billion
Track distance: 1300km
Track distance: 184km The network will include light rail trains, monorails, trams and other systems, to be developed in phases by 2030. A feasibility study for the project is due to be completed by late 2010.
The network will link the seven emirates and their industrial clusters. Phase one is planned as a 270km link between the Shah gasďŹ eld in Al Gharbia and the Ruwais oil and chemicals complex.
Qatar Arrival: 2026 Estimated Cost: US$23 billion Track distance: 600km+ Plans include include a line connecting Ras Laffan and Mesaieed, a high-speed link across the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway, a freight link to the GCC network and a Doha metro network.
Oman Arrival: TBC Estimated Cost: TBC Track distance: 475km Phase one includes three lines: Section 1 will extend from Muscat to Sohar, Section 2 from Sohar to Khatmat Malaha, and Section 3 from Sohar to Al Ain, with a secondary link to Buraimi.
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Hazm al Jalamid
KUWAIT Tabuk Dube
HARAMAIN HIGH-SPEED RAIL PROJECT
What: A double-line high-speed rail system that will link the Muslim holy cities of Medina and Mecca via King Abdullah Economic City, Jeddah and King Abdulaziz International Airport. It will connect with the national network at Jeddah.
Why: The railway is expected to carry three million passengers a year, including many Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, helping to relieve trafďŹ c congestion on the roads. Line length: 444km
Key Existing lines
Operating speed: 320km/h
Capacity: 38,000 passengers daily
Start date: March 2009 ETA: November 2012
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SAUDI LANDBRIDGE What: A cargo and passenger railway that will link Jeddah on the Red Sea coast with the ports of Dammam and Jubail on the Gulf coast, via the capital Riyadh. Why: The Saudi Landbridge will primarily be a freight/container line interoperable with the North-South railway link, but will also offer overland passenger transport. Line length: 1065km in total Operating speed: 220km/h (passengers); 120km/h (freight) Capacity: 300 million passengers/ one billion tonnes per year Start date: January 2005 ETA: TBC
UAE OMAN Pilgrims circumambulating the Kaaba in Mecca
SAUDI EXPANDS ITS REACH
owhere symbolises the GCC’s railway ambitions better than Saudi Arabi, and the Kingdom’s impressive railway expansion project envisages over 3900km of new track over three main projects. In addition to the Saudi Landbridge Project linking the Kingdom’s east with its west, two other major new rail projects are moving closer to fruition. These include the 450km Haramain High-Speed Railway to link Jeddah with Makkah and Madinah, and the 2400km North-South Railway, which is being given priority due to its importance to industrial development. Sponsored by the Public Investment Fund, this line is integral to planned phosphate and bauxite mining projects in the north of the country and will link them with processing plants and smelters on the Gulf coast. The North-South Railway, which starts from Hudaitha in Al-Jouf province and passes by Hail, Qassim and Riyadh provinces, plans to start transporting minerals this year and passengers in 2013, according to officials. “It’s a challenge, but we’re working very hard to meet it,” says Dr Rumaih Al-Rumaih, Deputy Chief Executive of Operations at the Saudi Arabian Railway Company (see interview overleaf). The railway is of strategic importance to the national economy, as the processing of phosphate – which exists in commercial quantities in the resource-rich northern region of the country – will place the Kingdom second internationally in their export, besides enabling advances in the lucrative fertilizer industry. It will also increase oil, agricultural and industrial products transportation, as well as goods and passengers. Al-Rumaih says the railway will transport 15,000 tons of minerals in a single trip, adding that each train will have 100 carriages. He says the trains and carriages for the railway would reach the Kingdom in August and September in order to start the transportation of minerals by the end of this year. “We have already completed 800km of railway out of a total of 1486km,” he says, highlighting progress on the project. Bids for the second phase of the Haramain rail project are due to be submitted in July, including contracts for track, signalling and rolling-stock, and also maintained that the Saudi government would go ahead with plans for the troubled Landbridge project, despite a number of setbacks. The railway, connecting Jeddah on the Red Sea coast with Riyadh, Dammam and Jumail on the Persian Gulf, was initially due to be completed this year but has run into a series of unexpected delays. Al-Rumaih says: “It’s a must. It will be built, it’s only a question of how and when.”
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THE KEY TO THE KINGDOM Dr Rumaih M. Al-Rumaih, Deputy CEO of the Saudi Arabian Railway Company (SAR), outlines progress on the country’s North-South Railway project and explains why rail is so important for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Another important function of the railway is its linking of a number of cities, neighboring areas and villages, which will lead to their development socially, economically, industrially, agriculturally and commercially. In the future this will also help to establish advanced industries in the north of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Improving remote areas currently distant from more market-driven cities in the Kingdom, such as Riyadh, will be a major advantage of the project. In turn, this will create opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth in the country’s economy as it develops.
Why do you think rail is becoming an increasing viable transport option for the Middle East region? What are the advantages of using rail as opposed to air or automobile transport? Rumaih M. Al-Rumaih. Once the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) North-South Railway (NSR) project is completed and in operation, the map of the entire region will be signiﬁcantly smaller, with the rail network opening up remote areas and eventually extending across borders. This will inevitably mean an increasingly viable transport option in the entire Middle East, with rail linking the Kingdom together with its neighbours, and linking the region to major rail networks beyond. The advantage of rail is that it is a safe, secure and affordable alternative to both air and road travel, and will connect the mining centres in the north to the processing and export ports in the South. Rail travel to the regions that the SAR passenger services will be running through will offer a more comfortable, secure and scenic route. Additionally, being more affordable than air travel to destinations such as Sudayr, Qaseem, Hail, Jouf and Haditha means that many travellers will opt for rail rather than ﬂying, despite the additional time it might take. Why is rail becoming increasingly important for Saudi Arabia? RMAR. Since the invention of the steam locomotive by James Watt in 1794, rail has been an increasingly crucial national infrastructure tool for countries across the world as they develop, as a viable option for both industry and travel. Despite already boasting an existing rail network, the development of an expanded rail transport system in the Kingdom is crucial to improving the nation’s economic viability, whilst positively impacting its neighbours in the region. The ﬁrst priority for SAR is the design and construction of the Mineral Line of The North-South Railway. This connects the phosphate and bauxiterich mining-cities of Al Jalalmid and Az Zabiiah in the north with the agricultural district of Al Basayta at the Al Zabirah Junction in the east. These will then be linked to the processing and export facilities of Ras Az Zawr, currently under construction inside the Arabian Gulf port and industrial city of Al Jubail, in the south. Ras Az Zawr will be the gateway from whence all the Kingdom’s minerals will be exported to the rest of the world. Once in full production, phosphate production will produce 2.92 million tons per year of Diammonium Phosphate Fertilizer (DAP), for export to high growth markets and nearby Asian nations in particular.
The scope of the challenge Total length of railway 2400km Number of bridges 107 Number of culverts 2679 Earthwork quantities 497 million m3 Nafud desert earthworks (volume per km) 0.915 million m3/km Concrete sleepers Over 4.6 million units Rail UIC 60E1 Over 286,000 tonnes
From a regional perspective, SAR aims to eventually provide a safe transport alternative for expatriates and tourists between the Kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council nations, and beyond to countries such as to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey. What does the SAR project mean for the Kingdom and how will it impact the mining and production industry? RMAR. Saudi Arabia hosts some of the largest, but undeveloped,
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Dubai Metro Red Line completed in 49 months
metro network. Even the long-dormant plan for a US$3 billion Baghdad Metro has been dusted off, to some incredulity, with selected international groups receiving documents from the Baghdad Mayoralty requesting expressions of interest in revising the masterplan for future development. Indeed, it seems the only hurdle to the wide-scale implementation of metro systems across the region is the global economic downturn, which has had a brutal impact on the projects market in every sector since last year. “There are a number of challenges involved in getting rail projects across the region up and running, including investment and the rate of return on such projects, the long gestation period required for returns
30,000 workers employed in construction of Red and Green lines
57,000 trips per day were made on average in ﬁrst two months of operation
to flow, and the critical mass of passengers,” confi rms Ramakrishnan. “Rail projects are a long-term commitment and investments are made with a 10-15-year horizon, but undoubtedly the global slowdown would have forced a critical re-evaluation of the assumptions and fi nancial projections associated with rail and metro projects in the region.” For instance, having picked up the tab itself for the Red and Green Lines of the Dubai Metro, the emirate’s Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) has indicated it plans to issue the forthcoming Purple Line as a public-private partnership. And with Dubai’s real estate boom brought to a shuddering halt and many of the projects on the outskirts of the city now shelved or cancelled, RTA officials say they will consider re-routing the Purple Line away from these areas. Even so, the appetite for such schemes remains high, and the projects currently underway represent a sea change in the region’s attitude to rail transport and have the potential to revolutionise trade networks from the GCC to the Levant to North Africa.
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Dr Rumaih M. Al-Rumaih
phosphate rock deposits in the world. It has been estimated that once the NSR is in operation, the Kingdom’s phosphate exports will rank amongst the largest in the world. Transportation to the plants in Ras Az Zawr and Jubail is a critical logistical factor for the processing and export of the Kingdom’s phosphate. Once operating, the SAR railway project will integrate the mining industry into a more dynamic and sustainable value chain. This is why completing of the mining line is the ﬁrst step, followed by the freight and passenger line. The SAR freight and passenger line will be in operation by 2013. The freight will clearly open huge opportunities and new horizons for businesses and producers in the Kingdom, in terms of expanded access to local, regional and international markets. Can you explain the timeline for the SAR project? When do you expect it to be fully operational? RMAR. The NSR timeline is set out in three steps by order of priority. Civil and earthworks, as well as track-laying, have been underway since 2007. The ﬁrst part of the NSR to be completed will be the mineral line in late 2010. Freight will then operate in 2011-12, and ﬁnally passenger services from Riyadh to Haditha in 2013. The SAR project is the largest railway construction project in the world today; what are the main infrastructure challenges of such a large project? And how are you tackling these challenges? RMAR. The challenges are many, but our resolve and determination is greater. As you say, the NSR is part of the largest railway project under construction in the world today. The total length of the railway is an estimated 2400 kilometres, and includes sidings, yards, maintenance shops, stations and administrative facilities. SAR has commissioned the best consultants worldwide to ensure that our decisions are based on the best and most reliable
engineering and technical solutions. In addition to this, SAR ensures that young Saudi engineers are recruited and actively engaged with the consultants on the ground, training abroad, at the various project sites, or in our head ofﬁce, all year round. In August 2006, two early action contracts commenced for earthworks, crossing 282km of the Great An Nafud Desert. The main infrastructural challenges are the civil and earthworks through some of the most formidable terrain in the region, if not the world. However, we have made substantial progress, and some of the ﬁgures involved are truly amazing. For instance, through rolling sand dunes reaching heights of up to 60 metres, the combined earthmoving efforts included 120 million m3 of excavation and 150 million m3 of embankment. In April 2007, three civil and track works contracts were awarded, encompassing a combined length of 1794km and requiring an additional 67 million m3 of excavation and 38 million metres cubed of embankment. Each of the contracts has established on-site crushers for the production of sub-ballast, as well as on-site concrete sleeper plants, with combined production to exceed four million sleepers. In the scope of the entire project, these are just a few of the challenges in the early construction phases of the rail track. Upon completion, operating and maintaining the locomotives to run smoothly will also require enormous logistical and technical deployment. One of the factors critical for smooth rail operations is the signal and telecommunications system being installed. SAR will be deploying the latest state of the art, European Rail Trafﬁc Management System (ERTMS) Level 2 – a radio system for voice and data communication – proven to be the most reliable signalling standard. We look forward to welcoming our industry partners and regions aboard as our mega project gets on track.
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154 contracting companies employed in the construction of the Red Line
n 9 September 2009, Dubai opened the fi rst phase of the city’s metro project. Running the length of the city, the Red Line offers a swift , affordable alternative in a city that has been desperately short of public transport infrastructure. “Metro projects are expensive by their very nature and require critical mass to justify investment,” says Ramakrishnan. “The fi nal objective of Dubai Metro is to link Dubai with Abu Dhabi and connect the manufacturing hub of the UAE with the fi nancial and service hub of Dubai along with Jebel Ali, and a very strong link between all key sectors of the economy is being developed.” He believes this kind of strong linkage will be essential for nations in the region to put more metro systems in. “Some nations will invest in a metro to keep the competition with Dubai going, but from a fi nancial standpoint we need those certain linkages to be in place for further investments in metro systems to be attractive over the long-term,” he says. “For example, Qatar is adopting an integrated transportation
Three million passengers used the system in the ﬁrst two months of operation
approach with rail providing just one element of the transportation infrastructure. Th is may be one of the options to make projects viable in the region.” Whatever their approach and whatever their resources, across the region from Casablanca to Tehran, the major cities of the Middle East are launching or overhauling plans for inner-city metro schemes to address years of underinvestment in the transport sector. Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Surface Transport Masterplan – incorporating a line connecting Ras Laff an and Mesaieed, a high-speed link across the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway, a freight link to the GCC network and a Doha metro light-rail network – is painstakingly methodical. Kuwait has ambitious plans for a 165km, four-line
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Full steam ahead
Railway projects are transforming the region and its transport options. Jost Sigrist and Wael Attari discuss the key areas for growth and identify some of the biggest challenges facing the rail installation industry.
The rail industry offers some of the most exciting business opportunities in the Middle East region; from the North-South line in Saudi Arabia, to Qatar’s proposed integrated rail network to the Abu Dhabi Metro. What role is technology playing in improving rail infrastructure across the region? Jost Sigrist. Rail technology has been developed significantly over the last few years through worldwide efforts. The Middle East region will be able to take advantage of these improvements and implement the latest technology in a fast manner. With the introduction of high-speed trains technology has become an important factor in building railroads. At the same time safety requirements are also steadily increasing worldwide. New standards set by governments and railroad companies force suppliers to develop new technologies and to improve all their applications. All technical standards and new developments are under very close supervision from international and local committees to ensure that all involved suppliers and partners work at the highest available technical standards and continuously develop new, better solutions. Wael Attari. Functioning, highly efficient rail transport is based mainly on carefully coordinated technologies, well-trained and dedicated personnel and a close focus on customer support and expectations. The technological infrastructure components, rolling stock and communications technology are not simply interchangeable. High-speed transport calls for infrastructure components different from those used in heavy-haul or local transport. Suppliers of infrastructure technologies have accordingly responded and offer operators of networks and rail construction companies tailored systems with high safety standards, optimised lifecycle costs, and a lot more besides. Governments in the region have already committed over US$100 billion to rail projects in order to reduce road congestion and improve the quality of life. Where are the key areas for growth in this sector in your opinion?
“Overall this initiative will give a positive signal to many industrial companies and service providers, even outside the traditional rail business” Jost Sigrist JS. The Middle East region only started a few years ago to invest heavily into rail projects and therefore we expect the whole industry to benefit from these huge projects. A large part of these funds will probably be spent directly on new infrastructure, but there will also be a lot of investment into building rail tracks as well as the trains and all necessary systems. So overall this initiative will give a positive signal to many industrial companies and service providers, even outside the traditional rail business. It is also a unique opportunity to acquire new skills and develop new business opportunities for the region – with a large involvement from local companies and experts there will be an entirely new industry, which will develop over time. The initial investment into rail projects will generate many new businesses and provide a lot of jobs in all these countries. WA. In my opinion the key areas for growth are genuine need, best-fit solution, funding availability and committed political leadership. The key rail technology growth
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driver is the political will for economical and ecological transport and for a region’s economic development. Playing a role in the growth of rail-bound haulage will then be high-speed lines, cargo haulage services and local public transport. For rail technology suppliers with close customer proximity such as Vossloh, product competence and technical expertise, customer support before, during and after the construction phase all play a major role in making the best-fit solution viable and a reality.
“Functioning, highly efficient rail transport is based mainly on carefully coordinated technologies, well-trained and dedicated personnel”
Wael Attari What are the biggest challenges facing the rail installation industry in the Middle East? How are you tackling these challenges? JS. There is not too much experience and know-how available in the local market, especially not for the large projects. Technically we believe that there is good experience and know-how available worldwide to install a state-of-the-art infrastructure. Even though railroad companies are traditionally in a local set up or even under control of governments, all the necessary providers are acting globally. In addition there are many technical standards now rolled out and applied worldwide so there is no need to develop specific requirements and new technical standards in order to realise new infrastructure. It is clear that some adaptations will be necessary, but a lot of experience and know how is already available in the region and therefore we expect the Middle East to tie up in partnerships with experienced companies or countries for consulting and project management. WA. The challenges facing the rail industry are both technical and cultural by nature. The prevailing climat-
WA. Vossloh is continuously developing products and services tailored to meet the customers’ requirements and expectations. In acquiring Vossloh Rail Services (VRS), the Vossloh Group has expanded its services lineup. VRS offers customers a services package accompanying the entire lifecycle of the rails. For newly installed heavy-haul and high-speed lines, life-cycle costs can be dramatically lowered if preventive maintenance with our high-speed grinding technique is carried out during normal services and applied soon after the line comes on stream. And even during the construction phase, VRS is in a position to supply a complete logistics package, ranging from rail storage via stationary and semi-mobile welding to the on-site shipment of the rails to the contractors.
Wael Attari has been Vossloh’s Executive Regional Director for the Middle East since December 15, 2008. A graduate in electrical engineering he holds an MBA from Capella University, US. Before joining Vossloh he held different senior positions with General Electric and OTIS Elevators. Jost Sigrist holds a degree in engineering and after several years with the Rieter Group in Switzerland, where he was responsible for several business units in manufacturing, he acted as Vice President of Rieter Automotive in Detroit 2005- 2007. Since 2007 he has been CEO of the Schlatter Group.
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Cutting down on chaos Can the Middle East learn from cities around the world when it comes to predicting better commuting options?
he Middle East faces huge problems with congestion. In a 2007 report conducted by recruitment company GulfTalent.com, daily commuting times in Dubai (the regionâ€™s most congested city) averaged one hour and 45 minutes â€“ resulting in reports of stress and fatigue among drivers. Other cities in the region hardly fared much better, with Cairo named as the second-most congested city with average daily commuting times of one hour and 33 minutes. Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, was the least congested city, with an average commuting time of just 46 minutes.
Roads in the Middle East are also the second most dangerous in the world, with 18 of every 100,000 people losing their lives in crashes, according to Robert Marks, a senior official of the International Safety Council. During a recent visit to Doha, the road safety official told reporters that the regionâ€™s roads ranked second only behind Africa in terms of danger to users. Over the last decade, spending on transport infrastructure in Dubai and other Gulf countries has lagged behind investments in more glamorous mega projects such as luxury real estate and leisure developments. But tightening credit markets and the global downturn have put many such projects on hold, leading Middle Eastern leaders to refocus on essential infrastructure investment as a means of stimulating economic growth.
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Dubai’s new metro system and a growing awareness of the role of rail in the region is evidence of this shift in thinking. But it is the region’s road traffic networks – especially their interaction with and impact on commuting patterns and public transport infrastructure – that perhaps require the greatest development, particularly in the implementation of intelligent transportation systems. And help is at hand thanks to initiatives currently underway elsewhere in the world. For instance, as part of its commitment to business analytics, IBM recently announced a new collaboration with KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden to give city of Stockholm residents and officials a smarter way to manage and use transportation. Researchers are using the company’s streaming analytics technology to gather real-time information from the GPS devices on nearly 1500 taxi cabs in the city and will soon expand to gather data from delivery trucks, traffic sensors, transit systems, pollution monitors and weather information. The data is processed using IBM’s breakthrough streaming analytics soft ware, InfoSphere Streams, giving the city and residents real-
time information on traffic flow, travel times and the best commuting options. For example, a resident could send a text message listing their location and desired destination. The technology would instantly process the real-time traffic, rail and weather information and provide anticipated travel times via car and public transportation, giving people an accurate and instant view of the fastest way to get to their destination. For the past year, IBM has worked with the city of Stockholm to monitor traffic flow during peak hours. The congestion management system has reduced traffic in the Swedish capital by 20 percent, reduced average travel times by almost 50 percent, decreased the amount of emissions by 10 percent and the proportion of green, taxexempt vehicles has risen to nine percent. “We are just beginning to learn what is possible with such analytics,” says Gunnar Söderholm, Head of the Environmental and Health Department for the city of Stockholm. “We are excited to be working with KTH to investigate smarter transportation solutions to better manage our roadways and public transportation systems and help commuters get to their destination the quickest way possible.” The value of InfoSphere Streams is its ability to analyse and integrate any type of data input – text, voice, images, video, databases, weather reports, news, sounds, market feeds
Intelligent commuting Commuter sends SMS giving current location and destination details to central system System analyses realtime trafﬁc, rail and weather conditions based on information gathered from sensors around the city
Responds with anticipated travel times via car and public transportation
and application data – continuously in real time. The soft ware automatically determines what information is relevant to solving a particular problem and continually refines results as new data “streams” in, giving organisations instant and accurate insights that can translate into a competitive advantage in a constantly changing market. “Less than a year after it was unveiled, our streaming analytics technology is experiencing rapid growth and adoption in the marketplace,” adds Arvind Krishna, General Manager for IBM Information Management. “From scientists to financial institutions, organisations of all types are turning to IBM streaming analytics to gain instant insight from their data.” KTH was recently awarded an IBM Shared University Research Grant that will accelerate the development of intelligent transportation systems and further its research with the City of Stockholm. “IBM streaming analytics technology’s ability to combine different types of data and analyse it in real-time is critical in pushing the boundaries of our research,” explains Haris Koutsopoulos, Professor at the Transportation and Logistics Division of KTH. “Together we are changing how people will think of their commute and how cities manage traffic.” Additionally, IBM announced a new version of its streaming analytics soft ware that includes enhanced processing speeds of up to three times faster and real-time predictive analysis for data in motion. The new version includes predictive analytics capabilities that allow organisations to make real-time predictions and discoveries based on data in motion. Predictive analytics allows organisations to better understand and predict future behaviour and answers questions like: which type of vehicle part is most likely to fail, where will crimes occur at a given time of day, and what is the likelihood a patient has a heart attack during surgery? Because predictive models can be applied directly to the huge volumes of data in InfoSphere Streams, it generates real-time analysis and determines the likely outcomes in seconds and minutes. Streaming analytics soft ware is a part of IBM’s more than US$10 billion investment in business analytics, which includes organic innovation and acquisitions. In addition, IBM has assembled 4000 analytics consultants with industry expertise, and opened a network of seven analytics centres of excellence. ■
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Mobile measurement of pavement markings Poul Svensgaard reveals why new mobile retroreﬂectometer technology is increasing road safety and ensuring compliance with international safety standards.
afe driving is very much related to proper guidance of the traffic and high quality pavement markings are the key to reduce the risk of road accidents. Using a mobile retroreflectometer, road markings can be measured in full length and width to ensure compliance with standards. When driving at nighttime and under difficult weather conditions, drivers relay on pavement markings and road signs to guide them safely to their destination. International standards exist (e.g., the European CEN and the US ASTM standards) explaining how to measure and what minimum retroreflection levels to meet. Outside the EU and the US, CEN and ASTM standards are increasingly being implemented as one way to improve driving safety. Hand-held retroreflectometers are today the only instruments accurate enough and accepted for contractual valid measurements of road markings. DELTA’s LTL2000, LTL-X and LTL-XL instruments are very much the standard used by the market, but hand-held instruments have limitations. Hand-held instruments provide sample measurements that are not representative of retroreflection measurements of the full length and width of pavement markings. The use of handheld instruments typically needs costly closure of roads. More recently, mobile retroreflectometers have been introduced on the market. A mobile retroreflectometer allows measuring the full length and width of pavement markings. A mobile retroreflectometer is mounted on the side of a car and measurements are taken at normal driving speed without disturbing the traffic flow. Data on measurement results and location are automatically stored for later review. An overhead camera may film the road and allow for later visual check of stretches of pavement markings not meeting the standard.
Existing instruments on the market have, due to the technology used, difficulty in providing precise measurement results. The so-called ‘fi xed geometry’ technology does not compensate for car movements or bumpy roads. Tests show that these instruments run by a professional team typically show a systematic and random error of at least 10 percent and the errors have been documented to be as high as 50 percent in other tests. A new patented mobile retroreflectometer technology developed by DELTA offers increased measurement accuracy in line with hand-held instruments under all driving conditions, including bumpy roads and curves. This technology is able to compensate for car movements by digital processing without any moving parts. Field tests carried out in Denmark and Sweden in October 2009 confirmed that DELTA’s LTL-M mobile retroreflectometer measured as accurate as the hand-held reference, with systematic and random error in the range of 3.5-5.3 percent. The report can be located on www. roadsensors.com. Besides measuring the full length and width of pavement markings, LTL-M records also raised reflective pavement markings (RRPMs) and line geometry. LTL-M can be integrated with existing mobile road measurement systems as well as used as a standalone unit easily mounted on any type of vehicle. LTL-M is designed for easy, on-the-spot calibration and maintenance with no or minimal downtime. Mounted on existing road measurement vehicles as an add-on instrument, LTL-M can be used in parallel to other measurements already being undertaken, meaning no extra kilometres to drive to add pavement marking information. DELTA is convinced that offering an accurate and easy-to-use mobile retroreflectometer will increase mobile retroreflection measurements in the future, with the benefit of safe driving. The mobile system will allow road authorities to check the condition of the pavement markings more frequently and in full length. The data generated will be used by road authorities to identify where maintenance is really needed and thus spend the maintenance budget more effectively and improve driving safety.
“Data on measurement results and location are automatically stored for later review”
Poul Svensgaard is Executive Vice President of DELTA’s Light & Optics Division. Svensgaard has an MSc in Electrical Engineering and has studied at Henley Management College. He has held numerous management roles within product marketing and sales as well as executive positions with global business responsibility. Svensgaard is heading the current MENA focus at DELTA for its line of road safety instruments.
Road tolling in an urban environment Per Jarle Furnes offers an insight into why innovative, concerted road tolling can help reduce congestion and ďŹ nance public transport.
uring the last decade, road tolling has grown popular as a means of fi nancing road infrastructure developments across the world. Several cities have developed various forms of tolling, with the intention to reduce traffic and fi nance their road investments. Based on successful urban road tolling scheme implementations in cities like London, Singapore, Oslo and Stockholm, we will discuss some critical aspects of these schemes. The most prominent difficulties many cities face are traffic congestion, increased travelling time and pollution. London had, in the year prior to the introduction of their congestion charging scheme, the same average travelling speed as one hundred years ago. Hence, reducing the congestion will increase travelling speed, which again is expected to have a strong positive impact on business activity. Reducing travelling time and congestion further has a positive impact on air pollution levels and the environment. Open Road Tolling (ORT), where the user pays a one-off fee at a toll gate, is the preferred choice for most cities. Elements like discount schemes as a function of travelling time and/ or area exemptions adds severe complications to the operations model, which increases the cost due to the increased service-level performance requirements these issues bring to the front end and back office systems. Equally critical are the efficient procedures implemented to handle those users that drive without making legal payments. Users in cities like London and Stockholm have valid licence plates and public licence plate registries are kept up to date, so highly capable Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology severely reduces the operational costs in these particular cities. However, the quality
of licence plates and licence plate registries vary from country to country, and this must be taken into account when considering different urban tolling schemes. When combined with high infringement fees, ANPR works well as the sole technology for capturing traffic data. However, the geography and local legislation will in most situations promote combinations of ANPR and wireless electronic tags to capture passage data. The most popular wireless technology options are RFID tags, the CEN-approved (European Committee for Standardisation) Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). The most prominent reason why CEN DSRC is preferred in many largescale implementations where end-users take part in the scheme is that it simply offers the best cost-benefit ratio. CEN DSRC is backed by international standards enabling multi-vendor supplies similar to the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) business. It also has multi-application capability and high security comparable to that of the bank sector. All this comes at low capital expenses together with the fact that the end users can install the CEN DSRC tag themselves. The recommended solution in most urban road tolling schemes is the use of CEN DSRC as primary data collection with ANPR as the technology of choice for enforcement. We also need to reiterate the pre-requisites to implement an ORT scheme in an urban environ-
ment. Those are public acceptance, alternative public means of transportation, political motivation, legal framework, contractual liability and road agencies inter-operability for enforcement of non-local vehicles. Several cities have implemented a full scale urban tolling scheme with great success. Various toll schemes such as that in Stockholm have proven that users can actually understand and accept such implementation due to the reduction of traffic at peak hours and greater road quality based on larger investments in road infrastructure. However, developing public transport systems parallel to introducing road tolling is crucial. In many cities this has meant investments into increased public transportation capacity, intelligent bus systems, and park and ride systems. In Stockholm a 20 percent decrease in pollution was reported along with 20-30 percent reduction in travel time, when the combined measures became effective in 2006. The key issue is that tolling can fi nance the road infrastructure and public transport scheme but should also be implemented to encourage drivers to use alternative modes of transportation. Â„
Per Jarle Furnes, Master of Science and Master of Technology Management, has been involved in the intelligent transportation business since 1992. Furnes has been appointed to several CEN and ISO standardisation committees. His work for Q-Free has included roles in R&D, Project Management, as Chief Technology OfďŹ cer and currently New Business Development.
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Green wave of mobility
In the face of climate change, dwindling resources and rampant urbanisation, our mobile society has to develop mobility strategies for the future that place the emphasis not only on economic efﬁciency but also on ecological intelligence, says Hauke Jürgensen.
oday, we are already consuming 25 percent more resources than the Earth is capable of providing. Unless counter measures are taken, energy consumption by the rapidly increasing world population will produce about 85 gigatons of CO2 by the year 2050 – with drastic global consequences. Against this alarming backdrop, the paradigm shift towards increased environmental awareness and sustainability has already begun. Governments around the globe are planning investments in environmental stimulus projects to the tune of more than US$430 million, especially in the area of mobility, which is responsible for more than one quarter of the entire final energy consumption. Industrial companies, too, are trying to do their part. For Siemens this is nothing new: over a 100 years ago Werner von Siemens said, “I won’t sell the future for quick profits.” True to this credo, the company has accumulated green budget investments in the magnitude of $US1.2 billion and around 14,000 related patents and is considered to be the worldwide number one in this field. Examples abound in the area of mobility where Siemens technology helps speed up traffic and reduce emissions. In Münster in Northern Germany the innovative adaptive Sitraffic Motion traffic light control now ensures that red and green phase times are coordinated with actual traffic volumes, reducing the number of stop-and-go cycles, boosting rush-hour travel speed by up to 35 percent and minimising congestion, noise levels and exhaust emissions as a result. According to a study undertaken by the Ruhr University in Bochum, “the resulting scope
of improvements is unexpectedly high,” with both private and public transport benefiting from the “extensively faster channelling of through-traffic” and “the improved quality of the traffic situation for city buses”. But to provide the urgently needed combination of economic and ecological efficiency, the architecture of future mobility needs to be more than a range of individual measures. This is why Siemens is working on completely integrated, multimodal transportation and logistics solutions. This vision of ‘Complete Mobility’, based on the intelligent and highly efficient coordination of all urban and interurban transport modes and information systems, is the most promising answer to the above-mentioned key challenges of our time, such as population growth, urbanisation, climate change and finite fossil fuel resources. The advantages that can be achieved from the focused networking of the infrastructures for road, rail and air transportation alone are demonstrated by the city-wide low-emission zone recently introduced in London to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Monitored by a special automated license plate recognition system, only vehicles satisfying a given exhaust standard may enter the zone. This restriction of individual vehicles has been made possible by the tightly meshed public transport network, using for instance regional multiple-unit trains of the Desiro type, high-capacity airport feeders such as Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect, and modern buses featuring innovative hybrid technology. Buses using the Siemens hybrid drive, for example, operate with up to 38 percent fewer emissions, are particularly quiet when accelerating and do not emit any exhaust gases in the process. This coordinated range of technical innovations translates into a 20 percent decrease of street traffic in London’s inner city, corresponding to a CO2 reduction of 150,000 tons per year. And the best thing: far from being hampered, individual traffic is even benefiting from these measures because the flow of traffic has been accelerated by no less than 37 percent, according to the result of an investigation conducted as soon as eight months after introduction of the city toll. On average, commuters now need almost one sixth less time to get to work. ■
Hauke Jürgensen runs the Munich-based Intelligent Trafﬁc Systems unit of Siemens as responsible CEO since August 2009. He is familiar with the ﬁeld of trafﬁc from a range of different perspectives. From 1998 to 2001, for instance, he was Director of Business Administration for the Rail Electriﬁcation & Rail Automation business of Siemens Transportation Systems Inc. in Portland, Oregon, US.
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The rise and rise of low-cost ﬂying.
ny frequent traveller knows that all too frequently, you don’t get anywhere near what you pay for with air travel. The popularity of low-cost carriers like easyJet and Ryanair in Europe and JetBlue in the United States is therefore easy to understand – many consumers will happily trade already-decreasing amenities and services for lower ticket prices on short, simple fl ights. So it was to great fanfare that flydubai – a low-cost airline designed to cater to a region brimming with expats – was founded in March 2008. Begun at a cost of Dh250 million, it is completely owned by the Government of Dubai and operates out of Dubai International Airport between various cities in the Middle East and Africa. Though not part of the Emirates Group, flydubai was founded by Emirates Chairman Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, and is led by Ghaith al Ghaith, a former Emirates executive. According to him, it had long been the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, to have a low cost carrier headquartered in Dubai. He recognised the need for Dubai to have its own low cost airline to serve the largely expat population in the region and to ensure more people would be able to travel to more des-
tinations more often. The capacity constraints at Dubai International Airport made the establishment of another airline in Dubai impossible before now. However, with the recent opening of Terminal 3 and the expansion of Terminal 2, these constraints were no longer a barrier to Dubai having its own low cost airline and flydubai took fl ight in spring 2008. Two years into the running of the fledgling company, and Ghaith is pleased with the success of the airline thus far. “We only started commercial operations with fl ights to Beirut on June 1 last year,” he explains. “Since then we have begun fl ights to a further 10 locations, bringing our total now to 11 operational destinations. We recently announced Kuwait City and Muscat as our next double daily routes with fl ights starting in March.” To help meet rising demand for services, the airline recently took delivery of seven 737-800NG aircraft on schedule from Boeing, including the fi rst Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft equipped with Goodrich Corporation Duracarb carbon brakes. In July and November last year, it signed aircraft financing, maintenance and logistics deals worth around US$520
million. And it also moved into a new headquarters building on the North side of Dubai International Airport, near to Terminal 2. “We are more than pleased with the success of flydubai to date,” says Ghaith. “Flydubai brings a fresh approach to travel and has its own unique business model. It was not modelled on any other airline, although we have tried to take the best of other airlines from around the world and adapt them to the market in this region. The flydubai model aims to make travel a little less complex, a little less stressful and a little less expensive for travellers. We’ve kept these basic principles in mind when conceptualising our business model. And, going by the enormous number of passengers that continue to travel with flydubai, I think we’ve successfully achieved what we set out to do.” The original order for 50 Boeing 737s at the Farnborough airshow was valued at approximately US$4 billion and marks the biggest single order by a Gulf-based lowcost carrier for the aircraft. The reason for making such a large order at once was twofold: “First, to assure the best price possible for the fleet and second, because only once we have our fleet in place can we move forward and make decisions on the route network, staff appointments, etc.” says Ghaith. Flydubai currently serves and will continue to launch a mix of destinations that are commercially popular as well as those that are currently underserved by direct fl ights from Dubai. “Our aim is to expand the region’s low-cost air travel sector by making travel more affordable and accessible for everyone,” explains Ghaith. “I think all the destinations we currently fly to and will fly to in the future have great potential, especially since
Top ﬁve Low-cost airlines
Air Asia, Malaysia
Air Arabia, UAE
4. Ryan Air, Ireland
5. US Airways, US
Dubai is a country dominated by a strong expatriate population. With flydubai, travellers now have the option to travel more often – be it for business, leisure or to visit friends and family back home.” In terms of geographical reach, flydubai will serve those countries that are within a five-hour flight radius of Dubai. This takes in a population of 2.5 billion people and gives flydubai access to one third of the world’s population. “It is important to us to expand our network quickly to give our passengers the widest possible range of destinations to fly to. But some of our routes are proving to be so popular that we need to add extra capacity to existing routes to keep up with the demand.” And even though it has only been 10 months since the airline started commercial operations, it is expanding rapidly. “We are proud of our achievements and have been on track with our plans; to be honest, I am overwhelmed by the great response we have received,” says Ghaith. “Like any business, our rapid expansion has meant we’ve had a very steep learning curve, however, we’ve met these challenges well and are in a strong position this year. Also, as flydubai continues to expand, another one of our challenges will be to continue to attract and recruit the right number and calibre of staff to ensure we can continue to offer our customers the excellent levels of service that we have started with.” There is plenty to look forward to in the future, too. “We have not even completed a year of operations yet and have already achieved more than we set out to do. I am excited about everything we do. I’m looking forward to flydubai evolving as a company and helping to expand the region’s low-cost travel sector even further.” ■
FLydubai’s geographical reach gives it access to one-third of the world’ population
Safety in security
Johan Öhgren outlines the main challenges currently facing the aviation sector and reveals the importance of security.
In your opinion, what are the main challenges currently facing the aviation sector? How are you working to tackle these challenges? Johan Öhgren. Security, security, security and volcanic ash. However, volcanic ash is out of our hands, so security is our strongest point. We are currently working as the Swedish coordinator in the EU (Pidea+ - Eureka) project called IMATERA, which is a ‘naked camera’ project. This is a THz-camera project, able to see through clothes. However, the current installed systems have several integrity drawbacks that make it difficult to use in many markets, especially in the MENA region. This is why we have integrated the integrity issue in the systems design from the start. What challenges in particular make the MENA region an attractive business proposition for a European company such as yours? JÖ. The challenges for us are to make the airports not only safe but also able to do so without slowing down the security scanning process and without infringing on the travellers integrity. This is a legacy from our European horizon, especially our Swedish one since intrusion in personal privacy is always a big issue in Sweden when it comes to different types of CCTV systems. Sweden has very strict laws against privacy intrusion. Since the MENA region has the same general view on personal privacy, we are able to think outside the box and design our systems with this in focus. With the ever-increasing expenditure and expansion into the region’s airports, standards and expectations are higher than ever. What measures are you taking as an organisation to ensure your solutions are viewed as pioneering within the industry? JÖ. Since we are who we are and we are based where we are, we have a huge advantage. Our THz-camera sys-
tems will have solved the privacy issue from the start. Instead of the current systems being slow, expensive and personally intensive as well as personally invasive, our new systems are working in near real-time over longer distances, with higher resolution and together with our smart software it will not need any specially trained operators. And instead of having to understand and view a THz picture of a human being, the software will present any suspect objects hidden under the clothing as encircled areas on top of a normal video image, hence making both the staff and passengers more at ease and therefore not invade anyone’s privacy. We will be able to do so, with less staff then currently necessary with the current systems on the market. How do you hope to capitalise on the phenomenal growth in passenger throughput numbers, baggage and freight? What are your plans for the coming 12-24 months? JÖ. We are for the moment searching for investors and business partners willing to invest in the project, hence making it into a product earlier than otherwise possible. Since the project has a huge market and EU is funding much of the research part, it’s a rather risk free investment making it very lucrative for bold entrepreneurs. Another benefit is that it can be used in many other applications, for example as a security tool for road-block/checkpoints looking for suicide bombers, scanning customers in shopping malls without causing any privacy issues and of course as a robber identity tool since our technology can also see though ski masks and motorcycle helmets. ■
“The software will present any suspect objects hidden under the clothing as encircled areas on top of a normal video image”
Johan Öhgren, owner and CEO of Acquris, has a high experience in the security ﬁeld. Since Acquris has developed its own systems over the past 15 years, it was natural for the Swedish Defence Research Institute (FOI) to ask Öhgren to head the SME part of the IMATERA project.
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Multi-level security systems for real protection David Vollmar reveals why unival is focusing on the integration of multi-level security systems in order to provide reliable solutions for international clientele.
What do you mean by multi-level security and what are the solutions that unival group supplies? David Vollmar. We are constantly analysing the security threats that our clients are facing today and it is very clear that the current threat level has seriously increased. Th is means that the time of stand-alone security solutions is over. Modern security will always be comprised of a multilevel system of interacting and synergetic security products that provide the best possible protection in the actual scenario. This also means that even small organisations have to invest in proper intelligence and security assessments to provide sufficient security for their personnel and their assets, when operating in today’s high-risk areas. The biggest threat today comes from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have become the signature weapon of international terrorism, as they are simple, cheap and deliver a disproportionate effect. IEDs cannot be extrapolated into anything other than a major threat to political stability worldwide. Our company has therefore shaped a highly effective product portfolio especially designed for the fight against IEDs and ballistic threats in order to support our clients in building a modular and multi-level security system to protect their organisations, whether operating with a small or large security budget. Has the current ﬁnancial crisis had an impact on the security market? What markets do you specially focus on? DV. The importance of a sustainable security infrastructure is essential for economic and political growth; the security market will therefore see no drop in the coming years but will be among the fastest developing business fields. Security cannot be underrated, as people will not be willing to make long-term investment without proper security, as they are not able to protect their investments and assets. In my eyes security planning has to be an essential part of infrastructure development and needs to be integrated in the initial planning phase in order to
avoid the fatal compromises that we see in a lot of projects today. The Middle and Far East region is therefore among our core markets in the coming years. With the growing demand for security even among smaller organisations that wish to expand their business into potential risk markets, which promise much higher growth rates than saturated Western markets, our main focus is on solid risk assessment and good consultation. The products that we supply need to be specially designed for the area of usage, have to be modular and have upgrade potential for future viability. Also important is the ease of use for customers.
“The importance of a sustainable security infrastructure is essential for economic and political growth”
If you say multi-level security, what product groups are part of a solid concept? DV. Speaking of our own product portfolio we have identified three main fields, which we strongly highlight: intelligence, counter measures and physical protection. This means gathering of information in order to make a strategic decision as intelligence. Counter measures against IEDs – especially radio controlled devices (RCIEDs) with smart digital jamming equipment – and physical protection in the form of up-armoured security vehicles and construction security in order to protect with special hardware against the worse case. Reality shows that worst case planning has to be applied if operating in risk areas; as there might be no second chance, you surely want to protect yourself with a complementary and modular security infrastructure. Our products are covering these fields and we train our clients to apply their security infrastructure for the respective scenario. I also expect the insurance industry to request higher security standards for future infrastructure projects. What development do you expect to see in your company over the next 12-24 months? DV. We want to be among companies that are outstanding in product innovation. As a German company we always put a lot of attention into quality and sustainability. ■
David Vollmar is Managing Director of the unival group of companies with headquarters in Bonn, Germany. The group is active in more than 30 countries worldwide with a strong focus on emerging countries in need security infrastructure against blast and ballistic protection.
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Fighting fire with fire
Bust, broke, an Ozymandias folly: numerous charges have been levelled at the UAE by foreign press recently. With its reputation increasingly questioned, the authorities have begun undertaking measures to bring the country’s safety levels in line with the rest of the world – starting with improved ﬁre safety and protection. By Ian Clover
he UAE is awash with contrasts and contradictions. Alongside vast blankets of scorched deserts lie lush and lazy oases of manicured gardens and cool patios; cloud-piercing skyscrapers rise up majestically from the uniformly flat horizon; traditional souks jostle with mega malls for tourists’ cash, and even the seven emirates that comprise the UAE are uniquely distinct from one another – some brash, some bold, others traditional and humble. Yet perhaps the UAE’s greatest contradiction is most evident in its attitude towards progress. For a state so in thrall to cutting-edge technologies, state-of-the-art construction methods and the opportunity to secure continued investment, the UAE’s often archaic practices can sometimes hinder its physical and economic development. Press reports on Dubai’s imminent demise have been widespread, while Abu Dhabi is still sometimes viewed from a Western perspective as a place far too moderate to be able to attract the influx of investment, businesses and motivated people that Dubai has been able to. In response the UAE has, rather understandably, closed ranks when reporting its internal investigations of malpractice, neglect and economic malaise. However, in a refreshing display of openness, the Civil Defence has recently highlighted one social and economic issue that they are currently working tirelessly to address – the country’s poor fire safety and protection record. “The authorities are very conscious of how the UAE is perceived from abroad,” says Stuart Kerr, General Manager
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for Exova Warrington Fire Consultants, a firesafety consulting firm that has been operating in the UAE since 2000. “They are concerned about the country’s reputation worldwide and, let’s be honest, to have a fire in one of their high-profile buildings would certainly damage the reputation of the country.” A report by the country’s Civil Defence released late 2009 saw the authorities admit that a large percentage of buildings in the UAE lacked basic fire safety and prevention measures. After inspecting 5300 buildings (including 1105 residential properties), the ‘vast majority’ lacked even basic fire safety fittings, such as smoke and fire alarms, while many had faulty or ill-fitted central gas systems. Statistics revealed by the Civil Defence show that there were 1543 reported fires in the UAE in 2009, causing a total of 30 deaths and 115 injuries. “It’s fair to say that all of the emirates in the UAE have been looking at their fire safety procedures and regulations more and more recently,” says Kerr. Fire regulations that pre-existed in the country were not routinely enforced, the government lacking the resources to properly monitor the fast-paced construction that had swept through Dubai and Abu Dhabi. As a result, rogue traders and irresponsible developers found it all too easy to ignore the authorities and undermine the efforts and endeavours of honest traders, suppliers and construction companies that were committed to achieving high levels of quality control.
Taking action In typically swift and decisive fashion, the UAE’s Civil Defence response to these findings has been to recognise and adopt US and European safety certificates, including the International Fire Consultants (IFC) certification, which is a standard that all new construction projects must adhere to. “There hasn’t been a great deal of consistency between the emirates,” says Kerr. “But what I think we have got now is a common objective to improve fire safety standards; to have an internationally recognised code adapted for us in the Middle East, with procedures and policies in place in order to control the design, the construction and the use of buildings. “US and European design standards have been adopted and adapted – often adapted and modified in response to this kind of climate, and even this kind of culture; that is, how people behave differently in a fire. The authorities are
Official measures It may have taken a while, but both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have recently issued their own safety, best practice and ﬁre codes for construction workers, developers and businesses to abide by and adhere to. Dubai Municipality’s Building Department’s safety code has been issued in both Arabic and English and lays down stricter ﬁre safety preconditions for construction sites, prioritising the early installation of permanent ﬁre prevention devices. Additionally, the Abu Dhabi International Fire Code is based on the International Code Council standards that are applicable to the USA and were announced as a “new era of safety” by the Civil Defence earlier in the year.
also looking at developing their own policies and procedures, often ones which mandate that someone has to be responsible for the execution of supervision onsite, something that’s historically been badly implemented due to lack of onsite understanding.” Enforcing these regulations has also proven traditionally difficult. In the US and Europe, buildings that do not comply to set codes and standards face the risk of closure, whereas currently the Civil Defence gives owners 60 days to fix the problem or face a prosecution that carries a fine of at least AED10,000 and a minimum prison sentence of three years.
Changing attitudes So why the sudden shift in attitudes towards fire safety? Could it be that, after the IMF re-evaluated its growth forecast for the UAE at the beginning of 2010 (adjusting anticipated GDP growth from 2.4 percent in October 2009 to less than one percent by February of this year), the UAE no longer feels confident in building bigger and better, and instead is more concerned with building safer and stronger? “I don’t think this increased awareness is down to any downturn,” says Kerr. “I simply think the market in the UAE is maturing and it’s just a natural progression of a mature market to seek a better understanding of the requirements and risks that people face, particularly in high-rise or large assembly-type buildings.”
Since the turn of the millennium, the UAE has been at the forefront of sophistication in terms of its infrastructure, its telecommunications, its construction industry and even its media image. It was able to woo its legion of foreign observers for years, dazzling them with the jaw-dropping CGI of the Palm Jumeirah and its ilk, and backing up their promises with tangible build-progress and astonishing growth. Yet in the stark light of this post-recession world, and with many projects laying half finished throughout Dubai, the emirates’ authorities have had to resort to their wit and sophistication once more. Aware of the groundswell of ill will directed at the UAE over the past 12 months, the Civil Defence has sought to address as many issues as it can, with fire safety being chief among them. Innovative passive protection techniques are being adopted in all new-build projects, safety codes have been drawn up and even three new fire stations have been opened in Dubai alone in 2010 (at Al Barsha, Port Saeed and Lessilye). As the pace of construction has slowed (556 construction projects have been shelved or cancelled completely since late 2008), growth in fire protection companies and stricter accreditation standards has increased. “The authorities are trying to increase the quality of fire consultant, with efforts being made to mandate that these consultants are a registered legal entity in the country,” says Kerr. “Once they’re pre-qualified, they become part of a shortlist of experts responsible for not just the design but also the supervision and construction of all ongoing building projects. This is all regulatory-driven. The authorities always wanted to get to this stage, it’s just taken a while to engineer a shift in attitudes and practices.” The next step is for tougher regulations on building sites and the products used on them. These signs all point encouragingly to a maturing market. After almost a clear decade of wooing, wowing and wizardry, the recession brought the first signs of storm clouds to the emirates. So while the economy picks up and consumer confidence is sought once more, what better way to re-attract the cash than by getting its safety record and reputation in order? “The country is driving standards up,” concludes Kerr. “Awareness has increased and the market is maturing. There’s now a consistent approach to fire safety in the UAE and, while we’re not quite where we want to be, we’re getting closer.” ■
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Tall order Constructing (and more importantly, occupying) the world’s tallest building – a structure that features more than 150 available ﬂoors and expects to hold up to 35,000 people at any one time – presents certain signiﬁcant risks to both designers and building managers alike. So when it comes to ﬁre safety at Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, structure and operations is everything. The highest-risk part of the Burj Khalifa is its high-speed elevators. To assist in the evacuation of occupants, designated elevators feature a so-called ‘lifeboat evacuation’ mode, allowing ﬁre brigade personnel or trained staff to transport occupants from upper portions of the tower to designated discharge levels. The elevators – all 57 of them – include full operating capability on both primary and emergency power, water-resistant equipment, means for visual inspection of the elevator shaft and raised elevator door thresholds on each ﬂoor opening to minimise the ﬂow of sprinkler water into the shafts. There is also a 5500kg capacity elevator for ﬁreﬁghters and building service work. For those who choose to take the stairs during evacuation, highly ﬁre resistant concrete walls surround all stairwells. Even so, evacuation procedures in such a tall structure raise a number of issues. “People cannot be expected to walk down 160 ﬂoors all at once, so there are pressurised air-conditioned refuge areas approximately every 25 ﬂoors where they could wait safely or rest on the way down,” explains Eric Tomich, an architect with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the American ﬁrm that designed the building. These areas of refuge are separated from the main structure of the building by a two-hour ﬁre resistant construction and are pressurised to minimise the migration of smoke into the compartment. While the Burj’s design is based on a defend-in-place strategy – one where the structure is geared towards isolating the problem and protecting the residents within – there is a possibility that an escalated event may require a full building evacuation. To ensure safety in such an eventuality, the Burj Khalifa features a home automation system that consists of LCD panels displaying detailed emergency information to speciﬁed groups of building occupants. These displays can be found dotted around in key locations such as individual residential units and areas of refuge. In addition, multi-alarm sensors that include smoke, heat and optical sensors are located in all rooms throughout the building. In emergency situations such as during a ﬁre, the system will immediately notify occupants in the area through an emergency voice/alarm communication system in both Arabic and English. The main ﬁre safety systems installed within the Burj Khalifa are the ﬁre alarm, sprinkler and smoke evacuation systems. The full height of the building, from basement to level 160, is fully sprinkler-fed. On the building management and operations side, crisis response plans in place in the tower have been developed using the guidelines outlined in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) disaster/ emergency management and business continuity programmes, and NFPA’s recommended practice for pre-incident planning.
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ASK THE EXPERT
When every second counts
Andrew Moody of DuPont explains why ﬂuorotelomer-based aqueous ﬁlm-forming foams are the most effective agents currently available to ﬁght ﬂammable-liquid ﬁre in military, industrial and municipal settings.
ritical criteria that are used to select an aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) are that they extinguish the fire quickly and provide the best burn-back performance have a minimal environmental impact have a low toxicity and biopersistence profile and are approved by global regulatory agencies. DuPont fluorosurfactants are high-performing ingredients in AFFFs that provide the required low surface tension and positive spreading coefficient that enables the formation of an aqueous film on top of lighter fuels. It is this film formation capability that provides rapid extinguishment, burnback resistance and protection against vapour release. With over 35 years of leadership in the science of fire suppression, DuPont is uniquely positioned and
committed to providing high performing, safe, reliable fluorosurfactant additives for AFFF that meet regulatory guidelines and global direction. In alignment with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010/15 perfluroctanoic acid (PFOA) Stewardship Program, DuPont is transitioning current fluorotelomer products to Capstone short-chain products. DuPont Capstone repellents and surfactants are high-performing, fluorine-efficient short-chain molecules that cannot break down to PFOA in the environment. Capstone repellents and surfactants are low in toxicity and are not bioaccumulative by published regulatory criteria. The critical function of foam is to quickly extinguish the fire. Th is allows for the protection of life and important equipment. Preventing or minimising the environmental impact from combustion gases or other pollutants that are present in fi res is also important. Specific to AFFF there are several global programmes that are focused on reducing or eliminating long-chain perfluorinated chemicals. The European Union (Directive 2006/122/ECOF) has banned the use of perflurooctanoic sulfonate (PFOS) based AFFF material effective June 27, 2011. Canada and Japan have similar programmes in place or are draft ing similar regulations and bans on foams containing PFOS. AFFF foams that use DuPont fluorosurfactants do not contain or breakdown to PFOS. Customers can have confidence that AFFFs that use DuPont fluorosurfactant additives meet regulatory requirements and are the most effective agents currently available to fight flammable liquid fi res (Class B) in military, industrial and municipal settings. Additionally, fluorine-free foams are often promoted as environmentally friendly alternatives to AFFF. Although such foams may not contain fluorine, their environmental profi le is comparable to – and in some cases worse – than fluorine-containing products. A paper published by the Fire Fighting Foam Coalition regarding commercially available fi re fighting foam agents indicates that fluorine-free foams are at least an order of magnitude higher in aquatic toxicity than AFFF agents. In summary, AFFF foams provide the best extinguish time and burn-back performance for all ranges of fires. Fluorine-free foams only meet the minimum certification testing requirements and may not be effective on all ranges of fi re.
Andrew Moody is the EMEA Business Leader for DuPont Surface Protection Solutions (SPS). Based in Paris, Moody has held a number of assignments within SPS during the last 12 years. Prior to joining DuPont, he worked in the Fine Chemical industry and has a PhD in Organic Chemistry. For more information, please visit www.capstone.dupont. com
ASK THE EXPERT
Fire prevention and occupational safety
Barry Bell looks at the role of hypoxia work in active ﬁre prevention and the implications for occupational safety.
lthough fi re prevention technology is already widely accepted in European countries, it is still relatively new in the Middle East region, if not completely unknown in some parts. The interest in the application of fi re prevention is, however gaining impetus here, clearly recognisable by the huge amount of emails I receive from companies with assets that they feel need protecting, and engineering practitioners that wish to apply the technology in their projects. One of the most recurring questions I have received relates to the impact of fi re prevention systems, or reduced oxygen concentration levels, on the human being. First of all, I will explain the basic concept of fi re prevention for the benefit of those who may not know what we are talking about. Traditionally, high value assets, whether they be mission-critical IT/communication equipment, state archives housing irreplaceable documents or artefacts or high volume chemical storage facilities where water-based fi re suppression systems were deemed undesirable, gaseous fi re suppression systems were employed. The common denominator for the function of inert gaseous suppression systems is fi rstly the reliable detection of a fi re, followed by an electro-mechanical activation of the suppression system followed by rapid oxygen depletion within the targeted space. Oxygen levels in the targeted space are typically reduced to between 111,5Vol percent within 30 to 60 seconds. The required extinguishing concentration is then maintained for at least 30 minutes. The design standards for gaseous fi re suppression systems impose strict life-safety measures to protect human beings from harm. In comparison, a fi re prevention system would be designed to permanently reduce oxygen levels within a target space to a volume concentration whereby combustion of the materials cannot take place. The oxygen
“The required extinguishing concentration is then maintained for at least 30 minutes”
If you would like to read more, visit the MENA Infrastructure website to see the extended version at www.menainfra.com Barry Bell is the Managing Director of Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants, Middle East, and a licensed Fire Engineering Consultant in the United Arab Emirates.
concentration levels vary according to the materials being protected. For the majority of class A combustibles, levels between 14 and 15Vol percent are sufficient to prevent a fi re. The common denominator for the function of a fi re prevention system is the utilisation of the natural air, whereby the air is passed through a molecular diff user, separating the oxygen and nitrogen content. While the oxygen content is discarded, the nitrogen is guided into the target space, diluting the air within the space and thus reducing the oxygen concentration to the desired level. The oxygen level within the target space is monitored by multiple oxygen sensors that communicate their measurements to a control panel, which in turn regulates the production of nitrogen. In this manner, the desired oxygen level can be maintained permanently within the target space. So the question is: “How does this affect human beings who enter a space protected by a fi re prevention system?” To answer this question, we need to understand a little more about hypoxia, a condition whereby a deficiency in oxygen supply to the body’s tissues/ cells occurs. Apart from ‘classical’ hypoxia, which is almost an exclusive problem for mountaineers and, to a lesser extent, for air-travelling business people, hypoxia is also used for altitude training and a variety of sports training as well as many other purposes. As a consequence, more and more people are being exposed to hypoxia. Although there are some minor physiological differences between simulated (isobaric) and real altitude (hypobaric hypoxia), these are not relevant for occupational health and safety. Therefore the term altitude in this article includes the situation of simulated altitude (achieved by isobaric hypoxia) or equivalent altitude (a term that is often used for aircraft cabin pressure). ■
A central element of homeland security
In an exclusive interview with MENA Infrastructure Herbert C. Lüthold comments on information security management in a society that is more and more dependent on ICT.
How important is a high-quality information and communication technology (ICT) for an economy? C. Lüthold. Today’s global society wouldn’t have developed without available ICT. Thus, ICT is defi nitely among the so-called critical infrastructure of a state, together with energy and water supply, emergency and rescue services, transportation and traffic, banks and insurance companies, government and public administration. If you consider that most of these infrastructures are dependent on ICT, its importance is clear. Since the overwhelming majority of information and communication
infrastructure is privately owned, the quality of information can succeed only through close partnership between government and industry. A functional and high-quality ICT has become an essential key factor and location advantage for a prosperous economy. How can the protection of ICT infrastructure be guaranteed in a state? C.L. There are three areas to be differentiated. First is the governance on the ICT, the information relevant for homeland security and the privacy laws imposed by the state to protect its citizens and thus the private sector. The governance over the critical ICT infrastructure, whether concerning availability or reliability, is one of the key issues. With all-IP applications and internet, this has become a demanding challenge. Especially also because the remaining critical infrastructures are controlled and monitored via IP networks, be it e-Government, military C4I, or business-to-business applications. The second important point: what kind of information is relevant for homeland security? Th is requires a state’s full control – duplicating and falsifying official documents and messages can be performed quietly by third parties using today’s technology. Finally, the point of data protection and privacy is a key issue when it comes to dealing with electronic data in a state. Under the pretext of terrorist countermeasures, the privacy of all citizens or companies has diminished considerably in recent years. But man has also introduced his own risk by the way he handles his electronic data, be it using Google or Facebook. The protection of a country’s ICT infrastructure is and will increasingly be a central element of homeland security. To have the competence to control ICT infrastructure and its risks can only be solved by a government organisation co-operating professionally with the private sector. The organisation should carry out the following primary tasks: ensure by appropriate preventive measures that only
few mishaps occur; dangers and threats are to be detected as early as possible in order to provide appropriate countermeasures or to allow avoiding risky technologies; the effects of mishaps on society and state are to be kept to a minimum, and the technical causes of faults are to be determined and corrected. What measures can a state take in the ﬁeld of ICT security in order to minimise the risks related to dependence on international political and economic interests? C.L. ICT security is of quite a respectable importance. Aspects to consider are the value of information, processes, training, organisation, technology and costs. Many states have governance of all the abovementioned aspects, but not of the technology. ICT security products – technologies that are primarily deployed for measures to mitigate risks – are sometimes used without any further consideration. State organisations have to be increasingly demanding and ask the producers of ICT security products for more transparency. Th is means that for critical ICT infrastructure only ICT security products that reach a certain level of confidence should be utilised. What is Omnisec AG’s contribution for the protection of critical infrastructure of a country or company? C.L. Omnisec AG is a global provider of high-security trustworthy and transparent ICT security solutions for civilian agencies, military organisations and international companies. It is important for us to evaluate ICT risks together with the customer in order to take appropriate security measures and to establish the so-called security operation. Our wide ICT security products portfolio and know-how allow us to be a reliable and trustworthy partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
Herbert C. Lüthold is Senior Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Omnisec AG.
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TRAVEL & GADGETS & BOOKS & LEISURE & MONEY Books p166
A look at the latest book releases
Why Meydan signals the future of racing
Dubai becomes the leader in smart home technology
PLUS Hotels p162 Combining ﬁve-star luxury and an ecoconscious outlook
The Gulf’s golf guru Peter Harradine on design, real estate developments and what he really thinks of celebrity courses.
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world where the sun always shines, the air is clean and the understanding of the phrase ‘leisure time’ is unparalleled: the Gulf is a golfer’s paradise. And while Dubai has traditionally been the centre of golf course construction to date, as with other luxury industries, others in the region have quickly followed suit. But how do these oases of green come to thrive in the desert? For that, the region’s builders turn to Peter Harradine, a thirdgeneration golf course architect and Dubai resident since the 1970s. Harradine was working for an English company when, in 1976, he was asked to do a job setting up an irrigation line from the airport. “I’d just been to the United States on a similar project and had some experience with that, so they said okay, you go,” he explains. “My ﬁrst thought was, ‘Excuse me, where the hell is Dubai?’ Because back then, of course, there was hardly anything there.” He stayed for six months and, after helping “a very nice sheikh” grow an alfalfa ﬁeld, was asked if he wanted to stay and go into business designing and landscaping gardens. While he initially said no, preferring to return to Europe and do golf courses, he eventually agreed to an impressively ﬂexible contract with the sheikh that allowed him monthly visits to Europe and legal rights over his projects, which persuaded him to stay on as a landscape architect. While the golf courses didn’t come until later, Harradine feels he make the transition from gardens to golf at the right time – after he’d established his own company in Dubai with funding from his sheikh client. “The golf courses started here in the late 1980s,” he says. “I’d been growing grass in the deserts, so I didn’t really have any technical challenges. It’s pretty easy to move sand around, and there are special grasses that are very heat-proof and salt-proof.” While it took time to establish a business, he feels that he had an advantage being in the Middle East from the beginning, as he’s been able to pick up projects in neighbouring countries as well as back in Europe. “It’s a good hub to operate from. If I’d stayed in Europe I would have missed out on this market, I think.” It also dovetails well with how he likes to work, visiting each site at least every month. “I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never really looked for work, people seek me out. I’m going to Armenia, we’re building in Khartoum, in Russia. Eastern Europe has slowed down quite a bit, but we see signs of recovery.” Unfortunately, he feels, golf has come too far under the inﬂuence of marketing and PR, and isn’t
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“I’d been growing grass in the deserts, so I didn’t really have any technical challenges”
serving the needs of its most important constituents: the players. “I think there was a lot of unnecessary money thrown around to promote some places, to get these celebrities involved. My son, who is studying to become a landscape architect, thinks he should have just gone on tour, hit a ball 300 yards, and boom, become an instant golf course designer.” Harradine speaks for his clients, describing himself as a good golfer, but decidedly not a professional. “The way the pros play is good for golf and good for the business, but these guys have no clue whatsoever on how a normal player plays. Our advantage is that we can design normal courses and good courses for people to enjoy themselves, whereas these topnotch players have to produce a monument, which is usually very hard to play. Normal golfers pay the
Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, Final Round
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fees, and I think they’re incredibly frustrated on these courses, paying hundreds of dollars for six hours of punishment. One has forgotten in these real estate projects that these courses shouldn’t be built to sell houses – they’re for people to play golf on.” Given the choice, if there was money left over he’d decorate the clubhouse, improve the greens or build another nine holes, rather than build houses. The courses though, rarely make enough money to support themselves independently, so the houses are a necessity. But Harradine bemoans the fact that such a model attracts homeowners who like the cachet, not golfers who insist on quality. Harradine is unapologetically evangelical about his beliefs. “I’m trying to spread the message, at every conference and every opportunity. I think golf
is the greatest game on earth, and I think it’s misunderstood. The only reason it’s played by the elite is because it’s expensive. In the UK and America where they have public courses, I think that’s great. We’re getting scolded by environmentalists now, which I think is wrong. It’s a great game. I say to everybody, one of my greatest memories is that I played with my children, ﬁve or six hours of quality time that you can have with your kids. I used to play with them for money, and lose at the beginning, and then they wanted to play all the time! Then they beat you fair and square and you stop letting them win. A grandfather can play with his grandchild and still win, depending on handicap. You can’t do that with squash or tennis; with chess you’re concentrating on the game, but golf is social. It allows you to judge your opponent, because there are so many ways to cheat. A guy who cheats at golf will cheat you anywhere else.” At the outset of the recession, the company saw four projects cancelled or delayed in quick succession. “A lot of people have been sacked when they could have stayed on; people panicked. What was going on in Dubai wasn’t sustainable, it couldn’t go on like that. There are things starting up again here, slowly, so I think a lot of those jobs and projects will come back. We had an incredible site, right in the middle of the dunes, which would have been an incredible course; we’re just waiting for better times. Delayed is not cancelled.” Harradine, who has spent a great deal of time in Switzerland, compares the success of Dubai to that northern bastion of neutrality. “They positioned themselves in a way that made people want to invest, and Dubai is the same. It’s between East and West, it has a visionary ruler, they have a lot of courage here, and they’ve really gone for it. They have no oil, no culture, no real history, but it’s been an incredible success because of the people who run it.” He’s also been in a unique position to watch Dubai expand, both in the inﬂux of business travellers and new permanent residents. Gone are the days when all the expats knew each other, he says, but they still gather to do business: “It’s a city now, it was a village then; we have to make a point of meeting, and sometimes the only time we meet is on the golf course – that’s the great thing about golf.” And for that reason and many others, he only sees his business expanding. “I’ve built about 160 golf courses, high and low, salty and sweet, you name it, there aren’t really any technical challenges anymore. We could build on the moon if we had the money.”
And they’re off… Dubai Racing Club CEO Frank Gabiel Jr tells MENA infrastructure’s Julian Rogers why Meydan signals the future for racing in the region.
he starting stalls ﬂash open and the ﬁllies competing in the curtain raiser to the evening’s racing instinctively react, bursting out onto the smooth virgin surface. A roar goes up from a fervent crowd – racing’s nobility, wealthy Arabs and ordinary racegoers all here to witness another piece of Dubai history and a new dawn for racing in the region: the ﬁrst ever meeting at the new Meydan racetrack.
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Right up until its opening for the Dubai International Racing Carnival on January 28th, labourers were swarming all over the shiny new development as they put the ﬁnishing touches to what is, without doubt, the largest and most spectacular horse racing venue in the world. And it ought to be, especially seeing as Meydan Racecourse is estimated to have cost an eye-watering US$2.7 billion – around twice the amount shelled out on Dubai’s new Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Meydan’s gleam-
DETAILS. RACING ing grandstand – the centrepiece of the development – is a quite staggering 1.6 kilometres in length and houses 72 luxury suites and restaurants. The whole venue can hold upwards of 60,000 spectators while the rooftop Bubble Lounge can accommodate 4500 people alone. With state-of-the-art surroundings, including the world’s longest LED television screen at 110 metres, this place oozes opulence on a grand scale – indeed, the common consensus of opinion from spectators is that Meydan has raised the bar for racetracks, with one trainer’s assistant describing the development as “mind-boggling” in terms of its scale. Top Italian jockey and local favourite Frankie Dettori was unequivocal when he labelled Meydan the “best track in the world”. Plaudits like this are music to the ears of Dubai Racing Club CEO Frank Gabriel, who played a vital role in the concerted effort to ﬁnish the project in time for the Carnival. “We all worked many hours in getting this facility open,” the US-born racing chief explains alongside the track’s azure-coloured rooftop swimming pool the morning after the night before. The original two construction ﬁrms were sacked after the development fell behind schedule, prompting fears Meydan wouldn’t be ﬁnished in time. Fortunately, the substitute builders delivered on their promises. “With any project like this there are a lot of challenges and probably the biggest one was time,” Gabriel explains. “However, we were able to manage the time to the best of our ability and open on January 28. With Meydan we were asked to look at the future of racing and how we would develop the sport in the UAE in ﬁve years. We were also always conscious of the fact that the ﬁrst priority was to offer a safe facility for the horses and jockeys and a good facility for the media, fans and guests,” he explains. You could be forgiven for thinking that a multibillion-dollar racecourse development would be packing meetings into the racing calendar thick and fast. However, Meydan will only stage 21 days racing a year between November and March. This is partly why the whole site, part of Meydan City, will include an iMAX cinema, a ﬁve-star hotel (290 rooms with balconies overlooking the track), a racing museum, golf course and marina for 80 yachts. The other elements are there to keep the place open for business 365 days a year – even when the horses are at home, Gabriel says. He adds that the idea of staging more race meetings depends on avoiding the hottest months of the year, and that while the limited days of sporting action are sure to draw the crowds, the goal will be to see the hotel and other facilities busy, particularly for corporate events, exhibitions and conferences.
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Gabriel has taken Meydan from the drawing board to reality in just 34 months. The concept was the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose love affair with the sport is only matched by his passion for transforming Dubai into the world’s premier business and tourism hub. Meydan, which boasts a turf and dirt track, is built on top of the old Nad Al Sheba racetrack – a sporting arena that had served up some the best racing in the world but that had reached its ceiling for attendances. Nad Al Sheba was the stage for the World Cup since 1996. “We were pretty much handcuffed in increasing attendance for the Dubai World Cup because of the infrastructure and the grandstand [at Nad Al Sheba].” Gabriel recalls. “It had served us very well for 14 years and there are some great memories, but we wanted to take that existing 40,000 to 50,000 capacity and increase it by an additional 15,000, which is why we decided to build Meydan.” The facilities outside of the racing will be key to Meydan’s success, with Dubai hit hardest by the global economic storm during the past two years. Maybe if Dubai had foreseen the ﬁnancial strife on the horizon Meydan would have been shelved. However, if Gabriel is worried about Dubai’s woes affecting the project, he isn’t showing it. “The economic situation has affected everyone in the world; however we were able to maintain a good relationship with our partners and sponsors and we hope 2010 will be a successful racing season,” he concludes. “The horse has always been a big part of the culture of the UAE, and you only have to look across this region to see how important horse racing is.”
“With any project like this there are a lot of challenges and probably the biggest one was time”
The Grandstand has a 60,000 capacity and is also home to Meydan Museum Imax Theatre and Dubai Racing Club
Hotels with a conscience Is it possible to combine five star luxury with saving the planet? Noel Massoud, CEO of Jinan Hotels & Resorts, thinks so. He sits down with Diana Milne to explain the company’s eco strategy.
he news of a new hotel management company opening for business in the GCC is hardly headline grabbing, but there’s something quite unique about the concept envisaged by Noel Massoud. As CEO of Jinan Hotels and Resorts, he aims to build the Middle East’s ﬁrst green hotel chain with an emphasis not on luxury, but on health, well-being and eco-friendliness. It’s a far cry from the brash glitziness of many of the region’s more established hotel chains. But Massoud says he foresees high demand for such a concept in the Middle East: “I think there is big potential in the Middle East and everywhere else because I think everybody is going in that direction and awareness of environmental issues is growing worldwide. People are aware that they need to change some of their habits and that it is everyone’s responsibility to cut waste and reduce emissions. It is not just the responsibility of one organisation or country.”
The green agenda Jinan is part of the Al Dhiyafa Holding group and will live up to its green principles by minimising its carbon footprint and waste production while conserving energy sources within its hotels. Guests will be encouraged to eat healthily and to take part in exercise and spa activities at the hotels and to embrace what the hotel is calling its Livingmore concept. Describing some of the green measures the company will be taking, Massoud says: “First of all we hope that our hotels will all be LEED certiﬁed from the beginning and for the hotels that are not built as green or sustainable buildings, we will introduce the maximum activities or maximum applications to reduce energy whether it is water, gas or electricity, try to cut all the extra waste that is consumed using new technology and control recycling as well.” The ﬁrst Jinan resort, the Jinan Al Dhafrah Hotel and Resort, will be built in Zayed City – a develop-
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ment situated around 140 km from Abu Dhabi. It will be four-star hotel consisting of 84 duplex apartments and six suites set in 50,000 square metres of grounds. Massoud describes why this was Jinan’s choice as a ﬁrst venue: “This city needs hotels and other accommodation facilities and because it will be on the outskirts of the city, it will be a kind of oasis with lots of trees.” Jinan has also signed its ﬁrst international deal to manage a hotel for Egypt’s Minerva Travel, the Ein Shanda Hotel, which covers an area of 32,892 square metres and is made up of 25 suites, 40 rooms, 10 tents, shopping centres, a swimming pool, food outlets and a bar. It will provide guests with a sustainable desert tourism experience. Massoud says guests at the Jinan hotels won’t be expected to comply with strict rules and regulations when it comes to the fulﬁlment of the ﬁrm’s green ideal, but that the hotels will be equipped with facilities to ensure sustainability is an ever present process behind the scenes at Jinan’s hotels and resorts: “Our guests will not be penalised or told off, but the equipment that will be used will automatically be reducing energy,” he says adding: “And besides, just the idea that these hotels are eco-friendly
“First of all we hope that our hotels will all be LEED certified from the beginning”
DETAILS. HOSPITALITY will encourage other hotels to follow suit. At the end of the day it will also give you good ﬁnancial results because as long as you use less energy you have less costs.”
Winning partnerships Jinan’s environmental credentials echo the work of the Abu Dhabi government to establish the emirate as a leading centre of research into environmental technology in the region. The biggest such project will be Masdar City, which will be the world’s ﬁrst carbon-free city and a hub for scientists from all over the world. Massoud said Jinan has already formed a partnership with the developers behind Masdar and that he is hopeful that one of his hotels could form part of the project: “We are in direct contact with the people from Masdar and the people from the environmental agency in Dubai and the environmental agency in Abu Dhabi in order to work with them to see how all our efforts could bear fruit for them. We are in contact with them and hoping that they will take us on board with them.” Any partnership with Masdar would be a great coup for Jinan which must compete in an already
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overcrowded hospitality market against a backdrop of tough economic conditions. According to Abu Dhabi’s Planning and Economy Department, the emirate’s government is developing hotel projects worth an estimated value of US$62 billion over the next ﬁve years. And an additional 3000 hotel rooms were added in the emirate by the ﬁnal quarter of 2009. Massoud denies however, that he is concerned by the situation: “We’re not worried. Everybody is affected in the world but it’s all relative. What Dubai and Abu Dhabi have achieved in the last two years has been phenomenal and still the business is there. Tourists are still coming, the hotels in Abu Dhabi are still enjoying high occupancy. In Dubai they are enjoying good occupancy, not as good as last year, but it is still acceptable and good if you take the worldwide economic situation into account.” He goes on to say that he believes there is space in the Middle East hotel market for its hotels and resorts because of its environmental theme: “In the hotel or hospitality business, everybody is competing with everybody but we feel that we will take our part in the market hopefully. There is enough room in the market. The more people talk about awareness and alternative energy, the more push that gives us because while everybody is talking about it, we are trying to make it real.” Once Jinan has established a strong presence in Abu Dhabi, it hopes to conquer Dubai before spreading out to other parts of the Middle East, including Qatar and Jordan, having already started management of a hotel in Egypt: “We hear that things will be better. So at least we will be ready to take it over when the tide goes up.” He says that service at his hotels will be of a high enough standard to compete with its rivals in those markets: “Don’t forget that at the end of the day it’s all about service. And good service goes back to basics. Keep it simple and basic.” Massoud himself should know a thing or two about good service. He has a long career in hospitality, having studied hotel management in Germany, before working for 28 years for InterContinental Hotels. In his previous role he was General Manager of Abu Dhabi’s prestigious Emirates Palace Hotel, which he said is his most favourite he has worked in: “I think every hotel has its own charm but naturally Emirates Palace was the top.” He’ll be applying many of the lessons he learnt from his career in the luxury hotel sector to Jinan Hotels & Resorts. But with the company taking the lead as the region’s ﬁrst eco-friendly chain, there will be plenty of new standards to be established and lessons to be learnt.
Award winner Despite having only been set up last year, Jinan Hotels & Resorts has already received a prestigious award from the Middle East Hotel Expansion Congress’ Excellence in Hospitality Awards. It was given the Best Tourism Initiative award in recognition of its green credentials. Speaking after the receiving the award, Noel Massoud, said: “Our goal has always been to associate the Jinan brand with excellent quality, exceptional service and environmental sustainability. With the increasing social and environmental responsibility among people globally, we are honored to be at the forefront of this wave in the Middle East region.”
DETAILS. INTELLIGENT LIVING
The rise of the smart home Despite the downturn in Dubai, the UAE looks set to become a leader in smart home technology.
icture the scene. You’re halfway to work and realise you’ve left the lights on/the door unlocked/the windows wide open/the air conditioning on fullblast. What are your options? In times past, you’d either have to perform a sharp U-turn in order to remedy the situation or continue with your journey and spend the rest of the day worrying about whether your home would still be there when you got back. But the advent of smart home technology could be about to provide a third, more intelligent option: mobile remote control. Of course, smart home technology is nothing new. People now expect that if they are spending millions of dirhams for a place to live, it should come with the latest in gadgets and comforts, ranging from smart systems that allow owners to control the ambient conditions of their home from the touch of a keypad, to the best in home cinema and entertainment systems. But what is revolutionising the sector is the ability to perform such tasks remotely, via a mobile application or interface. For example, leading multi-room entertainment and control provider Opus Technologies has just supplied the ﬁrst resident on Nakheel’s Palm Island Jumeirah development, Andy Dukes, with a major upgrade to his multi-room entertainment system. As well as incorporating new touchscreens, the latest Opus system beneﬁts from armchair control using an iPhone or iPod touch. “Andy was the ﬁrst resident to move into Palm Jumeirah Island and opted to have a multi-room audio entertainment system installed throughout his home,” explains Steve Simpson, Opus’ Regional Manager for the GCC region. “It’s fantastic that he’s also become the ﬁrst to upgrade his property with our state-of-the-art touchscreens in order to enable iPhone or iPod touch control for a wonderful user experience.”
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Smart appliances While most home automation technology is focused on lighting, security and entertainment, smart appliances may be on their way as well. Ideas include:
Trash cans that monitor what you throw away and generate online orders for replacements
Refrigerators that create dinner recipes based on the ingredients stored inside
Washers and dryers that send text message alerts when their cycle has ended
DETAILS. INTELLIGENT LIVING The potential applications are signiﬁcant. Opus cabling has been installed into the fabric of every one of Nakheel’s 1386 prestigious Signature Villas, Garden Villas and Canal Cove Townhouses on the Palm Island Jumeirah development, and similar solutions are becoming increasingly commonplace in new-build property developments across the Gulf. The cabling or pre-wire of such large-scale developments facilitates residents the option of having a multi-room control system installed at any time, without the disruption and costs normally associated with running cables and other infrastructure retrospectively. Typically, the only visible evidence of this system are the ﬂush-mounted in-ceiling speakers, the on-wall touchscreens and stylish remote control. Opus iPhone/iPod touch control offers users full system control from the palm of their hand, in any Opus equipped room, and replicates the intuitive interface of the touchscreen. “I’m completely thrilled with my Opus system, but when I was informed about an upgrade package offering control by touchscreens and my iPod touch, I simply couldn’t resist,” explains Dukes. “The new touchscreens are so intuitive and an absolute pleasure to use – I particularly enjoy using my iPod touch to control the audio in my villa. The ability to select the room I’m in and then effortlessly control the system is a brilliant feature.” Apart from the ease and time-saving beneﬁts this gives the home owner, it also means they can be far more precise about how much lighting or air conditioning is used throughout the day, saving energy as well. Saleem Al Marzouqi, CEO of UT Technology, believes such interfaces will revolutionise the way people in the region think about energy efﬁciency. “Smart homes are not only about providing technology, they also contribute to conserving the environment and reducing pollution,” he says. “Smart home applications rationalise 30 percent of energy consumption, providing around 50 percent of space needed for technology infrastructure and provides people with more control over their appliances. This helps in rationalising energy consumption by controlling usage of electricity, water and gas.” Technology companies are betting that consumers and businesses are still willing to pay for smart home technology, even during a global recession. But while the global market for smart home technology is potentially huge, the real opportunities for smarthome technology in the Middle East comes not from the consumer market but from the business to business market. In the region, the biggest potential customers are hotels and utility companies.
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Setting up a smart home The idea of a smart home might make you think of George Jetson and his futuristic abode, or maybe Bill Gates, who spent more than US$100 million building his smart home. But while once a draw for the tech-savvy or the wealthy, smart homes and home automation are becoming more common. About US$14 billion was spent on home networking in 2005, and analysts predict that ﬁgure will climb to more than US$85 billion by 2011. Here are some examples of smart home products and their functions.
C CAMERAS will track your home’s exterior, even if it’s pitch-black outside p
AV VIDEO DOOR PHONE provid vides more than a doorbell – you get a picture of who’s at the door
MOTION SENSORS will send an alert when there’s motion around your house, and they can even tell the difference between petss and burglars
our-digit DOOR HANDLES can open with scanned ﬁngerprints or a four-digit code, eliminating the need to fumble for house keys
AUDIO SYSTEMS distribute the music from your stereo to any room with connected speakers
CHANNEL MODULATORS take any video signal – from a security camera to your favourite television station – and make it viewable on every television in the house
REMOTE CONTROLS, keypads and tabletop controllers are the means of activating the smart home applications. Devices also come with built-in web servers that allow you to access information online – enabling smartphone control
DETAILS. BOOK REVIEWS 1
Construction Materials, Methods and Techniques: Building for a Sustainable Future By William P. Spence and Eva Kultermann
2 Building for a Changing Climate: The Challenge for Construction, Planning and Energy By Peter F. Smith
With a practically universal consensus that our climate is changing rapidly, there is extensive debate about what we can do to mitigate the damage being caused. It is becoming increasingly clear that a large part of our resources will have to be directed towards adapting to new climatic conditions. Nowhere is this more evident than in the built environment. In this book, sustainable architecture guru Peter Smith lays out his vision of how things are likely to change, and what those concerned with the planning, design and construction of the places we live and work can and must do to avert the worst impacts. MENA Infrastructure says: An invaluable mine of information on the global environmental crisis.
Sustainable and Resilient Critical Infrastructure Systems: Simulation, Modeling, and Intelligent Engineering
By Kasthurirangan Gopalakrishnan and Srinivas Peeta
As our critical infrastructure becomes increasingly interdependent, the need to ensure that it remains resilient and sustainable, whilst at the same time being adaptive has become a key focus area for the future. This book is looks at recent advances in simulation, modelling, sensing, communications/information and
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Comprehensive coverage of the most up-to-date green methods for residential and commercial building construction, along with the construction materials and properties needed to carry them out. A logical and well-structured format follows the natural sequence of a construction project. MENA Infrastructure says: A thoroughly rounded, need-to-know guide that could prove critical to success in the green building sector.
LEED Materials: A Resource Guide to Green Building By Ari Meisel
It may be good to be green, but it’s still 4 far from easy and an architect’s knowledge of materials can make or break a building’s green rating. Though LEED’s performance-based criteria exclude individual materials and products from earning points toward certiﬁcation, their speciﬁc use can. Apply a material in the wrong situation and you may not get credit for it. Fortunately, with a little insider knowledge, you can also use one material to get credit in two, three, or even more areas. LEED Materials is packed with critical information on nearly 200 materials, products and services. MENA Infrastructure says: This book ﬁts well alongside other LEED references in any architects’ library.
The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture By Alanna Stang and Christopher Hawthorne
From the arid deserts of Arizona to the icy forests of Finland, the authors of this book have travelled the globe to ﬁnd all that is new in the design of sustainable homes. Six different climactic zones are presented in The Green House – waterfront, forest and mountain, tropical, desert, suburban and urban; there is also a section on mobile dwellings. Each chapter features a series of homes. Projects are presented with large colour images, plans, drawings, and an accompanying text that describes their green features and explains how they work with and in the environment. MENA Infrastructure says: A beautiful book and one that is an indispensable reference for anyone interested in sustainable design.
intelligent and sustainable technologies that have resulted in the development of sophisticated methodologies and instruments to design, characterise, optimise and evaluate critical infrastructure systems, their resilience, and their condition and the factors that cause their deterioration. MENA Infrastructure says: Particularly pertinent for those involved with infrastructure planning, design, ﬁnancing and maintenance.
DETAILS. FINAL WORD
Extraordinary solutions for extraordinary problems “A cost-effective and reliable total solution to a stubborn wastewater problem” Samir Fayyad on the importance of finding the right solution for water and wastewater problems.
fter a major petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia completed its main product process design and development, they realised that a very important issue was left unattended, namely, the plant’s difﬁcult wastewater stream. The 9000 kg/hr waste was predominantly 4.5 percent sodium sulfate, along with other chemical COD/BOD (such as acetophenone, cumene, dimethylbenzyl alcohol, phenol, acetone, alpha methyl styrene, formaldehyde, formic acid, methanol, ketones, acetol, sodium acetate, and sodium formate) in various concentrations ranging from 30 to 5000 ppm. The wastewater presented a challenge to the client, as it was more than expected. The discharge limits were speciﬁed as up to 2000 ppm of TDS and suspended solids, 150 ppm of phenol and 800 ppm of TOC. The concentration levels indicated above rendered an initial proposal to use RO unviable since the high inlet COD, solvents, and organic chemicals would foul or damage the RO membranes. AES engineers started working on alternative treatment methods. A direct biological treatment for the incoming waste was not feasible due to the elevated feed salinity. This could hinder the biological growth of activated sludge and result in insufﬁcient treatment. With this in mind and the exclusion of the RO technology, a valid option was thermal evaporation. A two-stage evaporation process was selected. The wastewater is initially introduced to a falling ﬁlm evaporator (FFE) followed by a vacuum cooling evaporative crystallizer (VCEC). A mechanical vapour recompression fan is used to pressurise the steam vapour, heating it up and forming more vapour. The slurry from the FFE with 20 percent dry solids con-
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“The wastewater presented a challenge to the client, as it was more than expected”
Samir Fayyad is a Vice President, Technical at AES Arabia, a water and wastewater treatment company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For more information on solving problems related to water treatment and reuse. Please contact Asad Iqbal Khan, Senior Executive, International Business, AES Arabia Ltd. Phone +966-1-4772398 Ext. 1180, Fax +966-1-4785456, Mobile +966-555-207569, www.aesarabia.com
tent is ﬂashed in the sealed VCEC crystallizer running under vacuum. The sudden change in pressure causes more water to evaporate from the slurry, raising the concentration and forming crystals of sodium sulfate salts. The vapour ﬂashed in the VCEC is condensed and sent along with the FFE condensate to the biological treatment. A progressive cavity pump moves the slurry from the VCEC tank to a specially constructed pusher centrifuge to raise the solids content more than 90 percent, the crystals chutes down to a ﬂuidised bed drier where it totally dries and is then pneumatically conveyed to powder storage silos to be stored, waiting to be emptied into the next dry powder bulk transfer truck. The sodium sulfate crystals now have a commercial value and can be sold to other industries, like glass manufacturing. An ejector is connected to the FFE vents and creates a slight vacuum removing any escaping gasses and non-condensables. The mixture is pumped to the biological treatment section preventing possible ambient air emissions from fugitive gases. The condensate collected from the evaporation steps is pumped through a plate and frame heat exchanger heating up the cooler incoming wastewater and distributed to four long-retention biological reactor tanks. A high concentration of activated sludge is maintained in the biological reactor tanks (around 12,000 ppm). This high concentration coupled with the long retention time helps break down the refractory COD and reduce the toxicity through dilution with the bulk volume of water in the bioreactor tanks. Two subsequent membrane bioreactor tanks (MBR) are used to extract treated water from the biological system that can either be re-used in the plant or disposed of safely. The plant has state-of-the-art design features and offered a cost-effective and reliable total solution to a stubborn wastewater problem while meeting environmental regulations and the clients also set discharge criteria.