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08 June 2023

Five firms vie for Lamar's Saudi contract

Silverene project is expected to be completed by end-October 2010. (SUPPLIED)

By Sona Nambiar

Cayan's Chief Development Officer Ahmad Kasem said the developer is evaluating tenders for the façade and elevators packages of its SR2 billion (Dh1.96bn) Lamar project in Saudi Arabia.

RMJM is the main architect, Turner the project manager and Saudi Diyar Consultants is the local consultant, he told Emirates Business. Drake & Scull was awarded the MEP contract, he added.

"We plan to bring in the top people for the façade and the elevators. SOM had recommended GNH, a Chinese firm, for the Infinity façade work in Dubai. Similarly, we have tendered and invited top players in the international markets for the seven-star Lamar project in Saudi. Five companies are in the race for the façade design. The project is split into seven packages and we are looking at the landscape and interior design as another package," said Kasem. "We are in the process of evaluating these packages and will announce the results this month."

Meanwhile, enabling works have started on its Capital Business Park project in Egypt. "We are looking at packaging the project in the same way as Lamar. It is a total of seven buildings and one building is in the superstructure level. Khatib & Alami Egypt office is the consultant and CRC is the contractor. We have not yet appointed the MEP or façade packages, but are in the process of looking at them," said Kasem. The project is expected to be completed by mid-2012.

The current fall in construction prices has benefited the new projects, he said. "We always leave the door open and look at what is in it for us. We have negotiated for Silverene and Infinity. The prices of steel, equipment and supplies have gone down and we are negotiating on whatever we can to get some benefits from our deal. We purchased steel at Dh5,000 a tonne. A project like Infinity was about Dh570 to Dh580 a square foot on construction costs alone. Unfortunately, that has not changed because the materials were ordered at very high prices and suppliers awarded for the packages way before the prices dropped."

The situation has changed with its Lamar project. "With Lamar, a lot of tenders started to go out a month ago when prices have come back to reasonable levels," he said. When compared to Dubai at the peak period, construction costs in Saudi Arabia were lower by between 10 and 20 per cent for core and shell. "At one point, even the steel here was higher in Dubai," said Kasem.

"The architectural concept is different from one site to another. It also depends on whether the project is mid-to-high-rise towers. In high rises, you use different equipment, the foundation size is different and all the design criteria changes. So the costs can differ," he said.

On the Infinity project, he said around 70,000 sqm of the façade is glass according to a conservative estimate. RWDI does the wind tunnel testing on most projects, but the Canadian University in Montreal worked on Infinity, he added.

The building was designed by SOM's Chicago office and Khatib & Alami is the architects of record. "We faced a lot of challenges during the construction including water leaking into the site but we deployed the top people to overcome all issues. When we finally started the main works, we were four months ahead of time," said Kasem.

"Then we hired Arabtec and they accelerated the process and we finished in six months what would take 10 months. We have now finished with six basements, ground floor, mezzanine and four podiums levels. Salahah Structural Engineering validated the design before it went to Dubai Municipality."

Meanwhile, its Plaza Residencies 1 and 2 in Jumeirah Village is in the enabling works stage. "We have finished enabling works and are preparing to do the raft works in Plaza 1. The main contract has been awarded to CRC. The complete work permit has not been issued and we are working with an interim permit for the foundation. We are talking of the project completion by end-2010. Plaza 2 is under design and we are awaiting the review to finish from the client's end. We will the get shoring permit next month for Plaza 2. The designers for the project are NEB," said Kasem.

Silverene is in the main construction phase. "The project is expected to finish by end-October 2010," he said. "The total construction costs of the project stands at Dh650m."

RMJM is the consultant and Arabtec is the main contractor for the project.