x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai wants tallest flagpole

A record-breaking 200-metre flagpole could be built in Dubai by the man who has just finished constructing what is currently the world's tallest.

The 133-metre flag in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, currently holds the record for the world's tallest. Trident support in Jebel Ali built the structure.
The 133-metre flag in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, currently holds the record for the world's tallest. Trident support in Jebel Ali built the structure.

A record-breaking 200-metre flagpole could be built in Dubai by the man who has just finished constructing what is currently the world's tallest. David Chambers, whose company Trident Support is based in Jebel Ali, is negotiating with an unnamed major organisation over the project.

If the plans get the go-ahead and the structure is erected early next year, it would be the second time that the UAE has held the record for the tallest flagpole. The 123-metre flagpole on Abu Dhabi seafront, also built by Mr Chambers, was the tallest unsupported flagpole in the world when completed in 2002. Mr Chambers, an American, has just built a 133-metre pole in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, which - for now, at least - is the record-holder.

The foundations are made up of a circle of concrete four metres thick and about 20 metres in diameter, from which at least 10 concrete piles stretch 20 metres into the ground. The construction of the Turkmenistan flagpole, which carries the country's national flag, "went beautifully", said Mr Chambers. "We had a couple of delays due to crane availability, but then everything went great." The Ashgabat structure will hold the record for only a few weeks, however, as Mr Chambers will soon erect a flagpole in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, that is 162 metres tall.

Just seven years ago, the record-holder, a flagpole in Vancouver, Canada, was little more than half this height, at 86 metres. Assembly in Baku has been delayed because at a late stage it was decided to paint the flagpole bronze instead of white. "All the sections are on site but the paint they want is very special and it has to be brought from outside," Mr Chambers said by telephone from the construction site in Baku.

"We shipped all the white paint in our containers and started to paint, but at the last stage the president decided they should paint it a bronze colour. I've sent everyone home." Assembly should start in about two weeks and if the weather is favourable - winds must remain below 12 metres per second, or 43kph - assembly will take a further fortnight. "We're quite concerned about upper lifts," Mr Chambers said. "With the lower section it's OK, but when you get up to the top it begins to swing and we want to be careful."

The list of flagpoles Mr Chambers has created is a roll call of the world's tallest. His first contract was to build a 100-metre flagpole in Bahrain and then, six years ago, he created the flagpole on Abu Dhabi seafront that flies the UAE flag. After that he built a 126-metre flagpole in Amman, Jordan, followed by a 130-metre structure in Aqaba, Jordan. According to Mr Chambers, the limit on the height of flagpoles is imposed by the difficulty of erecting them, rather than engineering.

Structures as tall as 400 metres are theoretically possible, but the size of the cranes used to lift the sections into place imposes a limit of about 220 metres. Beyond this, potentially hazardous helicopter lifts have to be attempted. Mr Chambers said finding a crane in Dubai big enough to lift the proposed 200-metre flagpole would not be a problem. "The crane is not an issue in Dubai because some of the biggest cranes in the world are in Dubai," he said.

"It's in the third-world countries we struggle because they don't have 2,000-tonne cranes, but in Dubai they are a dime a dozen. Also, we don't have to transport things that far, so it's very easy for us." Trident Support's flagpoles are made in 12-metre sections from plates of steel up to 50mm thick. A Jebel Ali subcontractor carries out the steelwork, while the flags, which weigh about 400kg, are made from polyester or nylon by suppliers in Dubai. Several flags are made for each flagpole and changed monthly for repairs.

The tallest supported flagpole in the world is in North Korea and sits on a pylon 160 metres high. @Email:dbardsley@thenational.ae