Architect’s Playground


Amr Al Bawab Chief Construction Officer at Ciel, talks about the construction of the world’s tallest hotel and how it is a culmination of the group’s work so far

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Published: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 10:48 AM

Last updated: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 10:50 AM

Ciel, the latest addition to Dubai’s skyline, is an architectural marvel that has challenged engineering limits at several levels. Amr Al Bawab, Chief Construction Officer, Ciel said that building superstructures of this type has traditionally presented considerable engineering and construction challenges. However, he feels that computational modelling technology has advanced considerably in the past decade. In conceiving Ciel’s architectural design, the tower’s shape was heavily influenced by wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamic modeling to reduce wind loads on the structure itself. The project management team is also employing collaborative technologies that aid workflows during the building’s construction phase. Al Bawab said: “These innovations have helped accelerate Ciel’s construction timeline, streamline processes, and drive operational efficiencies while reducing overall costs.”

Elaborating on his role in the construction of Ciel and how special the project was for him, he said: “As Chief Construction Officer, my role is to bring together all the respective teams involved in Ciel’s construction and development, while ensuring that everything operates smoothly, and that the construction process remains on schedule and within the project’s budget.”

Ciel is the largest and most ambitious project undertaken at The First Group to date, and while it has presented several challenges, the group’s nearly two-decade record of building large-scale residential towers and hotels in Dubai has fully prepared them for a project of this size and scope.

“As the world’s tallest hotel, Ciel is generating significant buzz globally and has helped shine a spotlight not only on Dubai as one of the world’s hottest hotel markets, but also on our reputation as a developer of world-class hotel projects. It is a very special project for us as an organisation, and I am extremely proud and honoured to be playing a role in its development,” he added.

Role of technology

Al Bawab said that the project management team has employed several collaborative technologies that have aided workflows during the building’s construction phase. “For instance, they have used Oracle’s Aconex cloud-based operation management platform, which each stakeholder in the development has access to.

“The Aconex platform has enabled each party to create, review, and modify documents, drawings, and other vital data in real-time. The software has made it far easier and simpler to track and control processes, from design and construction to signoff and completion.”

CAD software was employed during the development of the tower’s architectural design and conceptual phases. The design team also used software for renders and 3D visualisation tasks.

Outlook on property and construction market in the UAE

Al Bawab said the outlook for both markets is very positive. “Dubai’s property market marked its best-ever year in 2022 in terms of sales transactions and overall values, and this trend has continued into 2023. Abu Dhabi also enjoyed a strong year in terms of property sales. International investors are always eyeing new opportunities in the UAE thanks to its reputation as a safe destination for investment and the country’s position as the region’s second-largest economy.”

Dubai’s hotel sector also continues to post record growth, driven by the increase in visitor arrivals. The city’s hotel development pipeline remains very strong. “In addition to Ciel, we have other significant hotel projects under development in Business Bay and Jumeirah Village and are actively identifying new opportunities in key areas of Dubai,” he added.

Key to motivation

Looking back at his career, Al Bawab said: “Having the right work environment has a great impact on my motivation, whether it’s related to the team I am leading or the executive team I am part of. My passion for setting targets and driving results, while overcoming challenges, gives me a true sense of achievement. Additionally, my desire to help my team members and others within the organization to reach their potential is a reason that keeps me looking forward to coming into work every day.”

On the aspect of Dubai becoming an architect’s playground, he said : “Dubai’s reputation in this respect is not new. The city’s skyline has long been renowned for featuring some of the world’s most impressive and technically challenging architecture. In this sense, we are confident that Ciel will become an icon of Dubai, not just because of its size and scope but also because of its pioneering design. Innovative features include the observation deck with panoramic views of Dubai’s skyline, the Palm Jumeirah, and Arabian Gulf on the 81st floor and a rooftop infinity pool and bar on the 76th floor.”

Another standout design feature is found in the building’s interior, which is composed of vertically stacked atrium gardens featuring trees and extensive green walls that span the entire height of the tower.

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