Abu Dhabi site visit

My visit to Abu Dhabi in November was amazing for several reasons. Firstly I finally managed to go and see my husband in action at the Formula 1 Grand Prix. My blog was on the Lotus Renault team website. See here:

The Mechanic’s Wife

Secondly I went to see a really amazing infrastructure project. Abu Dhabi is building a 41km sewer to transfer wastewater from the most populated areas to the mainland before sending it to a new wastewater treatment works at Al Wathba. It may not sound particularly exciting but there are all kinds of pioneering efforts underway here and I was lucky enough to see them for myself as I rode the 6.3m diameter Herrenknecht tunnel boring machine that was excavating from workshaft 6. Earth Pressure Balance Machines had not been used in Abu Dhabi before, in fact large scale mechanised tunnelling has not been undertaken in Abu Dhabi before, and at the time of award in 2009 both design and build contracts and programme management were new to the Emirate. So the $1.6bn scheme really does have a lot to prove.

Thankyou to everyone who gave me their time during the visit including client ADSSC, programme manager CH2M Hill (particularly Roula Terzikhan who facilitated the visit), main contractors Impregilo and Samsung C&T and COWI who kindly talked to me at length about chloride migration and segment design. The feature will be in the February issue of Tunnels & Tunnelling International.

Finally I spent some time with MEED at the Abu Dhabi conference where we heard from organisations such as Etihad Rail, Abu Dhabi Statistics Authority, the Western Region Development Council, Adwea, Morganti, ExonMobil and Abu Dhabi Airports Company. On the aviation side the emirate is planning for growth of 7 per cent per annum and predicted that 12m passengers would use its airport in 2011, up from 9.7m in 2009. To cope with the growth it is expanding the existing airport facilities through its unique x shape midfield terminal complex to cope with a further 8m passengers by 2018 with additional growth to 27m passengers in the longer term.

In the rail sector plans for the UAE’s first heavy rail line are also progressing well with CEO Richard Bowker telling delegates that the 1200km network was well underway with a main contractor for the first 266km line being awarded in October 2011. 200m high sand dunes, camel crossings and salt flats being just a few of the challenges faced by the contractor consortium of Saipem, Technimont and Dodsal.

I concluded my visit with a 2 hour drive to Dubai. It was hot but the air conditioned car and the smooth 4 lane highway made it stress free. It would have taken less time had I not gone at the speed limit (most people do not it seems) and got lost once I arrived in Dubai (sat nav was installed on my phone but the battery died).  I then went to the MEED office in Media City to visit some former colleagues, have lunch with the Features Editor who commissions most of the work I do for the magazine, and then spent some time comparing notes on the Grand Prix with MEED’s Editor who had also been at the race. Then it was goodbye Dubai and back to my desk in the UK to write up the features. What a great week…..


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