x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Builders race to erect giant Sharjah flagpole

The 123-metre tall pool, to be erected on Al Jazeera Island, will be the same size as the flagpole in Abu Dhabi.

Land moving equipment and hand crews work on the footing piers where a giant flag pole will be erected in Sharjah. Mike Young / The National
Land moving equipment and hand crews work on the footing piers where a giant flag pole will be erected in Sharjah. Mike Young / The National

SHARJAH // Everyone flies the flag on National Day – but nowhere will it fly higher than in Sharjah.

The emirate is building a 123-metre flagpole, the same height as the one on the Abu Dhabi breakwater, as the centrepiece of a tourist attraction that will eventually include a theme park and amphitheatre.

The flagpole was commissioned only six weeks ago but will be ready by December 2, said Marwan Al Sarkal, chief executive of Shurooq, the investment authority of Sharjah government.

"Every emirate must have a big flag that signifies the unity of the country," he said. "It means a lot for us as Emiratis to see our flag in a unique location, and at such a height that everyone can see it."

The flagpole will be on newly landscaped area of Al Jazeera island, which will also have a new pedestrian walkway.

The island is also home to the country's oldest theme park, Al Jazeera Park, which was closed three months ago for the first time since 1979.

It is being refurbished and will be reopened as a water park by next March, Mr Al Sarkal said.

There are also plans for a 200-seat amphitheatre and dozens of shops and restaurants.

For now, though, the flagpole is the priority. "We knew it wasn't really possible to do everything before the end of the year," Mr Al Sarkal said.

The flagpole is being built by Trident Support, the Dubai company who also built the one on the Abu Dhabi waterfront in 2002 and the world's biggest flagpole in Tajikistan, which is 165 metres high.

"If they'd have called me a week later, we couldn't have done it," said David Chambers, the company's chief executive. "We've never built a pole this size so fast."

The pole will be completed by November 14, and will be taken in 12 metre sections by lorry to Sharjah. It is expected to be completed by November 25 - a week before National Day celebrations.

The pole is based on the design of a 133-metre flagpole in Turkmenistan, which was built in 2006.

"We simply removed the top 10 metres off that design," said Mr Chambers. "This is now one of the strongest poles we've ever built, it's really beefy for its height."

Trident Support is often asked by governments to make record-breaking flagpoles that are slightly taller than those in neighbouring countries.

Mr Al Sarkal said the Sharjah government wasn't tempted to make their flagpole taller than Abu Dhabi's.

"Abu Dhabi is the capital, and we're not in competition," he said.

At the site, scores of labourers were working at a frenetic pace last week to lay the foundations.

The sound of earth movers was a constant drone and clouds of dust were thrown up by the scale of the development.

"There's almost an army here," said Khalid Al Qaseer, project manager of the development at Shurooq. "Everyone is working hard to make sure we meet the deadline."