Sunday, November 27, 2011

My 12 Favorite Mega Projects For 2012

With 2012 almost here in this post I am going to give you my 12 favorite Mega Projects for 2012. Some of these projects are complete, some are still under construction and some will be getting started in 2012. All of the following 12 are truly spectacular!

1. King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), Saudi Arabia. This is the largest of all the Mega Projects in the Middle East and in fact, once complete, will be the largest Mega Project in the world. KAEC will have many different components: Seaport, Industrial Valley, Central Business District, Financial Island, Resort Area, Educational Zone, Residential Area and others. KAEC will span 168 million sqm. The master planner for the project is Emaar who is working hand in hand with SAIGA of Saudi Arabia.

2. Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia. Covered in my last post, Kingdom Tower will rise one mile into the sky and be the world's tallest tower once completed. Construction will begin January 2012 and when construction starts Kingdom Tower will get enormous amounts of publicity worldwide. Kingdom Tower will be so tall it will even dwarf Dubai's mighty Khalifa Tower which currently holds the title of world's tallest tower. I would not be surprised if Qatar or Abu Dhabi announced plans to build a tower even taller than Kingdom Tower!

3. YAS Island, Abu Dhabi. Construction of YAS Island has gone very, very well with Ferrari World, YAS Hotel, YAS Marina, YAS Links Golf Club, YAS Arena, and much, much more. It is a premier vacation and resort destination with a lot more to come. Abu Dhabi has hit a home run with this Mega Project.

4. Reem Island, Abu Dhabi. I have been watching Reem Island evolve since it was nothing but sand. I see it becoming a metropolis and one of the greatest Mega Projects in the world. With developments like Sun and Sky Tower, Marina Square, Shams Abu Dhabi, Tameer Towers, Solaris Tower, Tala Tower and many more Reem Island, once complete, will be the Crown Jewel of Abu Dhabi.

5. Infinity Tower, Dubai. Located in Dubai Marina, Infinity Tower is a true architectural masterpiece. The tower twists at an incredible 90 degree rotation! With development of the Pentominium Tower halted I think Infinity Tower will be the icon development of the entire Dubai Marina for a long time to come. It is completely unique and has no equal.

6. U-Bora Tower, Business Bay, Dubai. Recently completed U-Bora Tower in my opinion is the icon property of Business Bay. As one drives toward Business Bay the great U-Bora Tower can be seen jutting above all other towers in the area. The architecture is unique as U-Bora actually gets larger as it gets taller! A great location to have an office in Dubai and this project contains a smaller residential tower as well.

7. Park Towers, DIFC, Dubai. Another recently completed project, Park Towers is one of the most spectacular residential developments in Dubai. It consists of two residential towers with completely unique architecture from developer DAMAC. Location is first class being right in the heart of Dubai International Financial Center.

8. Pearl Qatar. My favorite Qatar Mega Project. The Pearl has it all: great residential and business developments, 5-star hotels, 3 marinas, numerous retail shopping venues and restaurants, entertainment of all kinds-- in short The Pearl is an entire master planned community and perfect for those wanting residential or business space in Qatar.

9. Amphibious 1000, Qatar. I covered this Mega Project in detail recently and I think it remains one of the most unique and amazing developments currently out there. Construction will start soon on Amphibious 1000 which will be a semi-submerged resort. This means that part of the project will be above water and part will be underwater. A truly amazing concept created by Giancarlo Zema Design Group.

10. Bahrain Bay. A complete master planned development consisting of 7 different zones containing residences of all kinds, business offices, commercial properties, educational facilities, marinas as well as a Four Seasons Hotel, the Arcapita Bank Headquarters, Raffles City Bahrain and Al Baraka Banking Group Headquarters. Currently this is Bahrain's premier Mega Project under construction.

11. Al Hamra Tower, Kuwait. This is Kuwait's tallest tower and to me it looks like a gigantic cobra with its unique architectural design done by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Al Hamra rises 1,354 ft and is the world's tallest sculpted tower. Al Hamra contains both office and commercial space and connects to a large mall/cinema complex.

12. 360 Mall, Kuwait. A unique 82,000 sqm mega mall containing many unique zones including The Grand Entrance, The Gardens, Day Journey, Main Atrium, The Boulevard, Night Journey and the Food Lounge. 360 Mall is really more than a mall, it is a complete destination that offers everything for a great day of shopping and entertainment.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kingdom Tower -- Greatest Mega Project Ever?

Kingdom Tower, to be built in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, may well end up being the greatest and most famous Mega Project in world history. Why? Because it will be by far the tallest tower ever built. So tall it will dwarf Dubai's Burj Khalifa which is currently the world's tallest tower. Nothing on the scale of Kingdom Tower has ever been built and once complete the tower will instantly become a world icon! What follows is a complete description of Kingdom Tower by the architects of the project, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (AS+GG):

At over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) and a total construction area of 530,000 square meters (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the $20 billion Kingdom City development in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea.

Expected to cost $1.2 billion to construct, Kingdom Tower will be a mixed use building featuring a luxury hotel, office space, serviced apartments, luxury condominiums and the world's highest observatory. Kingdom Tower's height will be at least 568 feet taller than Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

AS+GG's design for Kingdom Tower is both highly technological and distinctly organic. With its slender, subtly asymmetrical massing, the tower evokes a bundle of leaves shooting up from the ground-- a burst of new life that heralds more growth all around it. This symbolizes the tower as a catalyst for increased development around it.

The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth. The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology. While the design is contextual to Saudi Arabia, it also represents an evolution and a refinement of an architectural continuum of skyscraper design. The three-petal footprint is ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The Kingdom Tower design embraces its architectural pedigree, taking full advantage of the proven design strategies and technological strategies of its lineage, refining and advancing them to achieve new heights.

The result is an elegant, cost efficient and highly constructible design that is once grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials, life-cycle considerations and energy conservation. For example, the project will feature a high performance exterior wall system that will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. In addition, each of Kingdom Tower's three sides features a series of notches that create pockets of shadow that shield areas of the building from the sun and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

The great height of Kingdom Tower necessitates one of the world's most sophisticated elevator systems. The Kingdom Tower complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and 5 double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 meters per second in both directions. Another unique feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 98 feet in diameter, at level 157. It is an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.

The area surrounding Kingdom Tower is known as the Kingdom Tower Waterfront District. Designed by AS+GG, the 23 hectare Waterfront District provides a cohesive and pedestrian-friendly setting for the magnificent Kingdom Tower while creating a pleasant neighborhood experience nestled along the Kingdom City lakefront. The Kingdom Tower Water District encompasses a high-end shopping mall and additional development parcels that accommodate commercial and high-density residential uses, offices, two luxury hotels and high quality open spaces, including the central Tower Plaza. A serene waterfront promenade connects Kingdom Tower, the various development parcels, the open space areas and the mall together. The result is an exciting mixed use area that offers a concentrated and comprehensive experience including vibrant shopping, entertainment and open space amenities. The Waterfront District also provides an array of connections to other areas within Kingdom City's overall master plan, designed by HOK Architects.

The Waterfront District is subdivided into 13 development parcels, the largest of which are the Kingdom Tower parcel of about 90,000 square meters and the mall parcel of about 65,000 sm. Smaller mixed use parcels of between 5,000 sm and 10,000 sm are arranged in two development precincts, North and South, each with its own unifying palette of materials. The parcel sizes vary depending on the density of each site; the larger sites are farther away from Kingdom Tower, with the smaller sites stepping closer to the tower, creating the effect of an architectural amphitheater around the structure. Views of Kingdom Tower from throughout the District--including the sensitively designed 20 to 60 story buildings around the tower--are spectacular. The buildings closest to the tower are of lower heights, ensuring that the outer buildings also have access to views of Kingdom Tower.

++ Well now you have all the information direct from the architects of this amazing project. I am sure you can see why it is very possible that Kingdom Tower may well be the greatest Mega Project ever!

Here is a link to more Kingdom Tower information from AS+GG. There are many renditions of Kingdom Tower so you can see what it will look like when finished:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amphibious 1000, Qatar

Qatar is going ahead with a $500 Million Mega Project that will even be more spectacular than Hydropolis, the underwater hotel that Dubai was supposed to build but never did. This innovative Mega Project has been designed by the Giancarlo Zema Design Group. It is the first semi-submerged hotel resort and will stretch out from the land into the sea and extend 1km parallel to the land with two arm-like land masses. The project is composed of a land section and a sea section. On the land area will be multiple residential buildings, office buildings and a marina with a modern and flexible harbor. All the structures are situated in a semi-circle around a central tower with a panoramic restaurant.

In the sea section there are four innovative semi-submerged hotels with underwater halls that give amazing views. The four hotels echo the soft lines of the super-yachts that will be anchored at the marina. Large diagonal glass windows make the hotels memorable, each with 75 luxury suites arranged around the perimeter of the building so each unit has a big terrace that overlooks the complex. The activities of the hotel take place in the underwater area that is surrounded by aquariums.

The hotels are situated around a central public welcome area that has an interactive museum on water life and water exhibition galleries, large perimetral aquariums and a glass tunnel that leads to the underwater observatory in the center of the whole marine park. Connected to the welcome area by the arm extensions are fitness areas, gardens and a special outdoor theatre with a moving stage that opens on the sea.

The smaller floating platforms will be anchored floating suites called Jelly Fish with underwater views within an artificial reef. At the end of each platform are lighthouses. It is possible to move everywhere thanks to electrical vehicles that respect the eco-system philosophy. Water transport is also provided by 20m aluminum yachts called Trilobis that are equipped with hydrogen engines and an underwater observatory globe. The bridge that connects the land and sea section is lined with plants that give the idea of projecting the land flora into the sea. The main structure is in steel complete with all the necessary lighting systems and teak flooring.

Amphibious 1000 has to be one of the most amazing Mega Projects under development. Qatar has the money to make it happen and it blends perfectly with the massive amounts of development going on there. Here is a link that will give you more details on the project and show you the unique architecture being used:


Sunday, July 10, 2011

UAE, Qatar, KSA & Kuwait at Top For Ultra-Wealthy Households

The GCC has some of the highest densities of Super Rich people on the planet which is a perfect environment for Mega Project growth. According to the study by Boston Consulting Group(BCG) 'Ultra High Net Worth' households, defined as those with more than $100 Million in assets under management, were most highly concentrated in Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Austria, Norway, Qatar, Demark, Singapore and the UAE.

Qatar, Kuwait and the UAE also made it to the top ten in terms of highest proportion of millionaire households with 8.9 percent, 8.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. The MENA Region showed significant growth in wealth as assets under management which rose 8.6 percent to $4.5 Trillion in 2010 with BCG projecting it will reach $6.7 Trillion by 2015.

Regional Trends in wealth management showed a very high proportion of cash and deposits, low share of bonds and very few managed funds in Middle Eastern household portfolios.

While 56 percent of GCC investors preferred to keep their investment in cash or very short term investments like bank deposits, 31 percent preferred to invest in regional or home equity markets with 13 percent opting to invest in bonds. The trend clearly shows the risk appetite of regional investors remains low, especially when compared to levels seen before the downturn.

In the GCC wealthy households controlled a majority of wealth with Saudi households controlling 81 percent of private wealth in the country followed by Kuwait with 68 percent, Qatar with 65 percent and the UAE with 63 percent.

For the Middle East as a whole the study observed that women controlled about $500 Billion or 22 percent of private wealth in the region. Offshore wealth from the MENA Region reached $1.4 Trillion, with the major proportion held in the UK, Channel Islands, Dublin and Switzerland.

Within the region Dubai sustains its position as most prominent offshore center in the Arab world, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Russia emerging as the most important origins of offshore wealth in the region.

BCG analysts said the recent political turmoil has reversed the trend towards onshoring wealth in some countries in the Middle East but it did not have any adverse impact in household wealth in the GCC.

"For the more stable Gulf states the onshoring trend continues. Some Gulf jurisdictions, such as Dubai, are now attracting more wealth from other Middle East countries as they act as offshore centers themselves," Markus Massi, Partner and Managing Director at BCG Middle East.

It should be clear that all this wealth in the GCC creates fertile ground for the Mega Project boom we are seeing in the region. Despite the world economic downturn the GCC is still going forward with a huge number of superlative Mega Projects and the overall wealth of the region will allow this growth to continue.

Source for much of the information in this post from:


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Top 25 Most Powerful People In The GCC Mega Project Industry

In this post I will give you the 25 most powerful and influential people in the GCC Mega Project industry. The list originates from an exhaustive study done by ConstructionWeekOnline.com. I think you will find it interesting.

1. Mohammed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties

2. Ayman Harari, Deputy General Manager, Saudi Oger

3. Bakr bin Laden, Chairman, Saudi Binladen Group

4. Riad Kamal, Chairman & Founder, Arabtec Construction

5. Zuhair Hamed Fayez, Principal & Founder, ZFP Consultants

6. Mohammed Abdul Aziz Al-Shaya, Chairman & Managing Director, Mabanee

7. Mohannad Sweid, CEO, Depa

8. Khaled Musaed Al Seif, Chairman, El Seif Engineering Contracting

9. Adnan Al-Mubarak, General Manager, Black Cat Engineering & Construction

10. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO, Masdar

11. Said T. Khoury, Chairman & President, Consolidated Contractors Co.

12. Farida Kamber Al AwaDhi, Managing Director, Cinmar Design

13. Ali Hassan Kolaghassi, CEO, Saraya Holdings

14. Khalid Al Malik, Group CEO, Dubai Properties Group

15. Abdulrahman Abdulkader Mohammed Fakih, Chairman, Makkah Construction & Development Co.

16. Khaldoun Tabari, Vice Chairman & CEO, Drake & Skull International

17. Dr. P. Mohamed Ali, Founder, Galfar Engineering & Contracting Co.

18. Abdullah M. Al Zamil, CEO, Zamil Industrial Ind Co.

19. Khater Massaad, CEO & Founder, RAK Ceramics

20. Santosh Joseph, CEO & Founder, Dubai Pearl

21. PNC Menon, Chairman, Sobha Developers

22. Fatima Obaid Al Jaber, COO, Al Jaber Group

23. Youssef bin Rashed Al Khater, CEO, Barwa Real Estate

24. Phillipe Dessoy, General Manager, BESIX

25. Mishal Kanoo, Deputy Chairman, Kanoo Group

Other notables include:

> John Bullough, CEO, ALDAR Properties

> Ziad El Chaar, General Manager, DAMAC Properties

> Jonathan Emery, Senior VP of Project Management, Majid Al Futtaim Properties

> Chris O'Donnell, CEO, Nakheel

> Laurie Voyer, Managing Director, Al Habtoor Leighton Group

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Mega Developers: Cayan

Cayan is emerging as one of the most avant-garde real estate developers in the GCC. Although not as well known as Emaar, Nakheel, DAMAC or ALDAR, Cayan is developing some of the finest Mega Projects in the GCC with a focus on the Dubai Marina. Cayan's mission is to challenge the world of architecture, luxury and exclusivity and create world class properties.


> Infinity Tower--
Type: Residential
Location: Dubai Marina

'Infinity Tower is an 80-storey residential tower that spirals in a smooth curve by an astonishing 90 degrees to give every apartment a stunning view of the sea or marina. Infinity's dynamic twisting shape challenges conventional architecture and redefines standards of luxury. Infinity is also situated in a key location at the mouth of Dubai Marina thus enjoying great views onto the marina, sea and The Palm.'

> Silverene Towers--
Type: Residential
Location: Dubai Marina

'Designed by RMJM, one of the world's top architects, this marvel of architecture offers 35 floors in Tower A and 26 floors in Tower B. It encompasses all the benefits of waterfront living, topped by a unique interior treatment. A captivating glass and mirror effect reflects the blue waters and maximizes the breathtaking view on each floor.'

> The Jewels--
Type: Residential
Location: Dubai Marina

'The architecture of The Jewels is of the very highest level, planned by international award winning designers and architects, RMJM and spearheaded by Hazel Wong, known for her exquisite design on Emirates Towers. The Jewels twin towers rise to an imposing 20 storeys, housing some of the world's finest apartments.'

> Dorrabay--
Type: Residential
Location: Dubai Marina

'Dorrabay is a 22-storey residential Tower strategically located to overlook the beach and the marina; Dorrabay offers a range of panoramic views of the Arabian Sea, marina or boat harbors. The tower's curve design and location at the end of the crossroad between the beach and the marina optimizes the view of all its apartments.'

> Residencia--
Type: Residential
Location: Dubai Marina

'Located at Dubai Marina, La Residencia Del Mar is a brilliant fusion of refined lifestyles, inspired designs and unmatched amenities. With only 14 floors and only 3 apartments per floor residents enjoy total privacy and exclusivity, making it one of the most coveted and exclusive addresses in Dubai.'

> Plaza Residence--
Type: Residential
Location: Jumeirah Village

'A blend of convenience and comfort, in a place where nature is respected and business is a mere stone's throw away. Live in the heart of Dubai's most desirable district. Plaza Residences follows a distinctive plan which ensures that every square foot of space is elegantly laid out. Within the building itself, there's the comfort of a reception lobby, large recreation areas, basement parking for each apartment. Acres of landscaped beauty, including gardens, children's play areas, pools and international shopping arcades are just some of the features that make living a pure joy.'

> Cayan Business Center--
Type: Commercial
Location: Dubai Marina

'Cayan Business Center(CBC) is a 12-storey, ultra modern building designed by leading architects, Schuster Pechtold. This intimidating structure offers offices and its occupants the benefits of spacious, natural-lit areas, high-speed elevators, state-of-the-art ventilation systems, security access and appointed basement parking spaces.'

++ Cayan Headquarters:


12th Floor
Cayan Business Center
TECOM, PO Box 33668
Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 361 9333


King Fahad Road
Al-Meshal Building
PO Box 75294
Riyadh 11578
Saudi Arabia
Tel: +9661 416 3311

Website: http://www.cayan.net/

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twisting Mega Projects Of The GCC

Some of the most stunning and iconic Mega Projects of the GCC are the twisting towers. These towers, some complete and some still being built, are architectural masterpieces and icons of limitless achievement for the Middle East. Here are the top four.

> Al Tijaria Tower, Kuwait--

- Location: Kuwait City
- Height: 55 Storeys
- Rotation: 45 Degrees
- Status: Completed
- Cost: $95 Million
- Architect: NORR and Al-Jazera
- Developer: Commercial Real Estate Company

This tower, also known as the Kuwait World Trade Centre, was completed last year and has become a GCC icon. The project features office space, a four level retail mall, landscaped roof deck, elevators with panoramic views and much more. Each tower floor plate is rotated about one degree per floor giving the tower its twisting appearance.

> Al Bidda Tower, Qatar--

- Location: West Bay, Doha, Qatar
- Height: 45 Storeys
- Rotation: 60 Degrees
- Status: Completed
- Cost: $82 Million
- Architect: GHD
- Developer: The Platinum Tower Company and Golden Lands

This stunning tower won the prestigious 'Architecture Award For Qatar' in the office space category given by Bloomberg Arabian Property Awards in 2010. Forty three floors of the tower rotate slightly giving Al Bidda Tower its 60 degree twist. I think this is one of Qatar's foremost towers and one of my all time favorites for the region.

> Infinity Tower, Dubai--

- Location: Dubai Marina
- Height: 80 Storeys
- Rotation: 90 Degrees
- Status: Almost Completed
- Cost: $272 Million
- Architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
- Developer: Cayman

Once again Dubai does not disappoint. At 80 storeys Infinity Tower will be one of the the world's tallest twisting towers and is sure to become one of the most iconic towers of Dubai Marina and, in fact, all of the GCC. Infinity Tower is a residential tower and its 90 degree rotation makes it the most twisted of all the towers I am covering in this post.

> Ocean Heights, Dubai--

- Location: Dubai Marina
- Height: 84 Storeys
- Rotation: 33 Degrees
- Status: Completed
- Cost: $172 Million
- Architect: Aedas
- Developer: DAMAC Properties

I really think this tower is fantastic. Although it does not twist as much as the other towers in this post, the overall look of Ocean Heights is stunning! Like Infinity Tower, Ocean Heights is residential and located in Dubai Marina. It is interesting to note that the amount of steel used to build Ocean Heights could build two Eiffel Towers!

The twisting towers of the GCC are some of the most spectacular and iconic Mega Projects in the world. Each one is an architectural monument and a tribute to the forward thinking expansion of the region.

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