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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Meraas tower to join Dubai's buildings in the sky

Meraas Development, a new Dubai Government-controlled property company, to launch a Dh350bn project .
A scale model of Meraas Development at Cityscape Dubai at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.
A scale model of Meraas Development at Cityscape Dubai at the Dubai International Exhibition Centre.

Meraas Development, a new Dubai Government-controlled property company, unveiled its Dh350 billion (US$95.28bn) Jumeirah Gardens project at Cityscape yesterday. The master development includes three buildings by the Chicago architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill. Mr Smith also designed the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai, that is due for completion this time next year. The centrepiece is 1 Dubai, a building that comprises three towers connected by sky bridges. The building will be more than 600 metres at its highest point ? the Burj Dubai is projected to be 807m ? and is to be located by Sheikh Zayed Road. "Dubai is always redefining itself," said Sina al Kazim, the chief executive of Meraas Development. "We are going to complement the other developers." He said the new tower, which would be the third highest in the emirate and among the highest in the region, would be Meraas's "contribution to the architectural uniqueness of the city". The sheer scale of the overall master development will mean it may take 12 years to build. The Burj Dubai was officially named the world's tallest structure this year. However on Sunday, Nakheel announced it would challenge that record by building a tower higher than one kilometre in Dubai that would take 10 years to finish. Mr Kazim said 1 Dubai would be a mixed-use building made of "mosaic-like glass and aluminium-mesh cladding". Besides its height, the most unique feature will be a series of glass suspension sky bridges between the buildings. They will include duplex apartments as well as restaurants. Meraas is also planning Park Gate, which is made up of three pairs of 30 to 40-storey buildings connected by a shallow archway at the top. Suspended from the middle of the tunnel-like structures are "hanging gardens". The gardens will help shade the development, and together with other gardens and plants, cool the neighbourhood by as much as 10 degrees centigrade, according to the company. Initial construction has already begun on this project in the Satwa and Al Wasl neighbourhoods. A third building is called 1 Park Avenue. It has a curved wave-like design that includes several components that make it environmentally sustainable. Solar panels and wind turbines will be included. The buildings would be spread throughout the gigantic development, along with smaller towers and a park "half the size of Central Park", Mr Kazim said. Seven islands will be built just off the coast with mostly low-rise, residential buildings. A 14-kilometre boulevard with a tram system will snake through the project, while water taxis will be available on a network of canals. Phase one of the project will develop about 820,000 square metres in the north-east end of Jumeirah Gardens. Handover of these buildings would be finished by the fourth quarter of 2013, the company said. Meraas Development is part of Meraas Holding, a conglomerate that also has hospitality, retail, health and education divisions. The company said that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, created Meraas to help "make Dubai a global city". Abdulla Ahmad al Habbai, the chairman of Meraas Holding, said that Meraas had "been given a unique role to help reinvigorate significant areas of Dubai's urban centre". "While we are Dubai-based, we are not exclusively Dubai-focused and are pursuing numerous opportunities elsewhere in the UAE and abroad," he said. Earlier this year, Meraas Capital joined a group of investors to provide the financing to Boston Properties to purchase the General Motors building in New York City for US$2.8bn. Meraas was earlier considering even more dramatic plans for Jumeirah Gardens, including one architectural plan for a group of buildings that fused at the top and rose more than 2.4km. Nakheel's new tower, Al Burj, would be within easy view of both 1 Dubai and Burj Dubai. It is planned for the Nakheel Harbour overlooking the Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah and designed by Australian architects Woods Bagot. The area surrounding the tower would be populated with another 40 towers that are between 20 and 90 floors as well as a canal system and harbour. "It will truly be a magnificent engineering feat," said Chris O'Donnell, the chief executive of Nakheel, on Sunday. Foundation work has already begun and the entire project is expected to take another three years. He said Nakheel would finance the development by pre-selling apartments and the 270 hectares of land surrounding the project, as well as taking out bank loans. Elsewhere in the Middle East, kilometre-high towers are planned in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait's City of Silk development. bhope@thenational.ae

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