Middle East's Marine & Coastal Projects Take Centre StageBy Iqpc Middle East, PRNE
Monday, November 1, 2010
DUBAI, UAE, November 2, 2010 - Marine and coastal developments in the Middle East are increasingly
attracting global attention. Dr. Benno Boer, Ecological Sciences Advisor Arab
Region at UNESCO, Craig Thackray, Head of Marine at Scott Wilson, and Magdy
Youssef, Director of the Lusail Complex at Qatari Diar, were approached to
provide input from the NGO, consultant and developer perspective on why this
Dr. Benno Boer, UNESCO, commented:
"The Arab States in the Gulf have established themselves as important oil
and gas producers and exporters. This caused a lot of social and economic
transformation. Very important international airports and airlines have been
established, and destinations such as Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi and others are
now very well known in the world. The leaders and the people have wisely
developed their countries as peaceful locations that are highly attractive
for business. Massive coastal and marine development projects have been
developed more recently and this has generated even more visibility."
Magdy Youssef, Director- Lusail Administration Complex, Qatari Diar,
agreed adding, "Elsewhere global markets are not keeping pace with expected
growth opportunities in the Middle East so there is a renewed interest in the
global community to take a hard look at coastal development opportunities
within the region. Coastal developments are relatively new to the region and
interest is expanding into integrating the use of land and sea."
Commenting on the changes achieved in the last ten years Dr. Benno Boer
said, "In the past, large-scale coastal construction was mainly based on gas
and oil facilities, harbours, and desalination plants, but now it includes
massive man-made islands for human living, as well as airports, hotels, etc.
In addition much of the coastline has been used to establish weekend
recreational housing. There is a huge change that took place in the last
fifteen years. When I first came to the Gulf in the late 1980s, there were
plenty of beautiful remote beaches, and undisturbed coastal habitats. A lot
of this has now been converted into man-made structures."
Thackray said there has been significant change in the Kingdom of Bahrain
in the last 10 years. "The Kingdom has seen a transformation of the original
coastline with the provision of reclaimed land for future housing, industrial
and infrastructural development."
The international construction community is looking to draw on the
experiences from the Middle East mega construction projects, Magdy commented.
His perspective of the essential element to marine project success is: "A
clearly defined masterplan is the key element that controls the types and
sizes of building to ensure maximum exposure to the sea. The transition areas
between land use and sea use must be clearly integrated into the master plan,
such as roads, parking, public facilities, safety, and security and most
importantly the waterfront land use to create appropriate activities along
Thackray added that an integrated project team approach under a standard
form of contract with good client coordination to enable professional
delivery is also key. Dr. Benno gave a perspective of project success focused
around water security and environment,
"We have to be aware that desalination plants are absolutely essential
for human living in the Gulf, and not only in coastal communities. Therefore
marine pollution, especially oil pollution, has to be kept at an absolute
minimum. We see the danger of oil pollution these days on TV, discussing the
disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. We should at the same time not forget the
massive oil spill of the 1991 Gulf War, which caused over a million tonnes of
oil to be released in the shallow waters of the Gulf.
"In addition, we need to understand that the Gulf is a highly productive
ecosystem, unlike the terrestrial deserts. The Gulf has a diversity of sea
grass beds, macro-algal reefs, coral reefs, mangroves and salt marshes, all
of which are primary producers in the food-chain. Coastal and marine
construction should always involve a dialogue between decision makers,
engineers and environmental professionals, such as ecologists and biologists.
This is very important in order to avoid or minimise damage to important
ecosystems. Good environmental technology should be applied, and there is an
increasing will and economic reality to do so. Some of the Governments around
the Gulf are highly supportive of this development."
When asked to select examples of best practice in marine and coastal
projects Diyar Al Muharraq was mentioned due to an excellent design that
considers all critical aspects such as durability, flushing, impacts on
surroundings, constructability and value engineering and the Pearl Qatar as a
good example of what a waterfront development can offer to residents and
Dr. Benno would like to wait for the impact of developments to be
assessed for environmental impact before passing judgment. He commented that,
"Until now, regretfully, I have seen quite a lot coastal projects with a lack
of environmental consideration, even though, many of them claim they have
excellent designs. However, the good news is environmental awareness in the
Gulf exists at a good level - it now depends on the good performance of all
sectors of society to make the best out of the knowledge that we have.
"UNESCO Biosphere Reserves can most certainly play a leading role, as
long as they receive good support by the concerned authorities. The public
and private sector show very good support, and I laud them for that, and I
call on others to join this important process. Some of the environment
agencies in the Gulf are already performing very well, whereas others could
show a lot more interest, and they could do a lot more and much faster.
UNESCO is ready to assist."
Dr. Benno Boer, Craig Thackray and Magdy Youssef have all spoken at
IQPC's Marine & Coastal Engineering event series. To engage in similar
debates you can attend the Marine and Coastal Engineering Jordan event taking
place 12-14 December at the Kempinski Hotel Aqaba for the next installment.
This will meeting provide an opportunity to gain insight into regional marine
and coastal project case studies. To register visit
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