Construction has commenced on the 12-storey, $100m [120 billion Iraqi dinar] Al Rawdatain five-storey hotel in Karbala in Iraq, reports Range Hospitality CEO Munaf Ali.
“The water table in Karbala is very high, which means you dig about 1m down and you hit water, so it is a long and lengthy dewatering process.
"Currently there are a number of wells pumping away for most of the day, and this will probably go on for another month or so before they carry on with all the excavation work, shoring and creating the waterproofing membrane,” says Ali.
The main contractor is the Tadbir Construction & Development (TCD) Group, which has 500 hectares of developments under construction in the Middle East.
“It has done a lot of work in the Gulf, the UAE and Iraq already. For us it was trying to find someone who already has experience and was willing to go there, and that has worked on large-scale projects in the Middle East region.”
In terms of supply-chain challenges, Ali says that while a lot of material has to be imported, “a lot of essential building materials are available.”
While the local workforce is adequate for basic construction work such as bricklaying and plastering, specialist trades such as MEP have to be imported.
“The government understands and acknowledges that there is a limited quantity of skilled labour available, and we are trying to reciprocate where we can in terms of skills transference.”
Al Rawdatain will be a steel-framed structure rather than a traditional concrete building, an area that TCD has considerable experience with.
“This is more expensive obviously, but it means the building gets built a lot faster as well. The steel structure will probably be constructed by one of the large steel fabricators here in Dubai.
“It will be built in sections and shipped over for pre-assembly on-site, where they will be pieced together as they arrive. This means we can go from ground level to 12 storeys in five to six months’ time, as opposed to building it floor by floor, and doing all the concrete work afterwards. The final build quality is also much higher with a steel-framed structure.”
The main reason for going this route is the timeframe, says Ali. “It is very important for us to be able to deliver the project on time. We are looking at the middle of 2013. We have a small grace period until the end of the year, but we are very confident we can deliver on time. Using the steel structure, we will be able to deliver on time.”
Ali is adamant that the project will adhere to international standards. “Just because it is Iraq does not mean that it lacks building standards and regulations. In fact, the bigger the project, the more stringent are the requirements.”
A particular problem that the project has had to address is the inclusion of underground fuel and water tanks in case of interruption of essential services.
(Source: Construction Week Online)