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Samsung, Besix and Arabtec vying for Burj Al Alam project

Burj Al Alam will be the second tallest building in Dubai (SUPPLIED)

By Sona Nambiar

Fortune Group will announce the main contractor for its Burj Al Alam project in a month's time, said a senior executive at the property developer yesterday.

Samsung Engineering, Besix and Arabtec Construction are believed to be in the race for the contract, said a senior official at the developer, but he did not reveal the final value of the contract.

Meanwhile, Middle East Foundations is currently carrying out piling and foundation work on the 510-metre-high tower, which will be the second highest building in Dubai after Burj Dubai.

"It will also be the tallest commercial tower in the world," said Syed Muhammad Ali, Chief Executive Officer of Fortune Group, in an exclusive interview with Emirates Business. "We are in the final stages of finalising the contract for the project but cannot reveal the main contractor due to confidentiality reasons."

The 108-storey building, which has been designed by Nikken Sikkei in the shape of a crystal flower, will be located in the Business Bay area. Arup is the structural engineers on the project.

Mobilisation will take time from the contract being awarded and construction work will start by the end of March or the first week of April, Ali added.

"Shoring has been finished but piling will be completed first below the tower, which will then be the first part of the project to start. Then we will continue piling through the shopping mall and the parking area and then the main contractor will take over the project."

However, he admitted that the project will now be completed by 2012 from the original 2009 date due to delays in design approvals and land permission issues.

"We got the initial approval very quickly. But the land sold to us ran through a camel track and it took more than a year for the developer to assist us with the issue, which was finally cleared by the third quarter of 2007. Then the approvals for the design details took one and a half years so that it could fulfil all the objectives of the project and hence the further delays," said Ali.

"We could not go in for the soil testing until the design was finalised."

The developer has launched a construction-based payment scheme and Ali said they were actually first in the market to consider that option.

"We did not want to pressurise our investors and took the decision to assure our clients so that they could make their payments easily. The investors were happy that it was linked to the actual construction," he said.

According to Ali, the price fluctuations of building materials are a blessing in disguise for the project.

"It is good for our company as the construction cost of the project would have definitely come down by 25 per cent," he said.

Ali said the UAE has witnessed an unnecessary panic reaction to the global economic slowdown. "Nothing was going wrong and no company was going bankrupt in this country. I would say believe in what you see and not what you hear," said Ali. "There are so many rumours in the market, which are completely incorrect."

Meanwhile, a senior sour-ce at the Pakistan Business Council in Dubai has urged the government to help genuine investors who are facing a cash crunch by asking banks to grant a six-month grace period.