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Innovative precast technology saves 20 mil Dirhams at Abu Dhabi’s new fishing port

Abu Dhabi fishing port

03 February 2012 - Abu Dhabi’s current fishing port is over 40 years old. Its structures are deteriorating, and it doesn’t have the capacity to support the regions rapid growth in population and accompanying increase in the demand for marine services.

Aurecon has recently completed a commission for the City of Abu Dhabi to develop a New Fishing Port to be constructed next to Saadiyat Island on reclaimed land.

Initiated in September 2009, the project’s maritime works involved reclamation of 43 000 m² of land, as well as a quay wall. The 776 m and 18 m deep wall around the port is now complete, and has set an industry precedent in innovative precast technology in the region.

A tight squeeze

“Because there was only 5 m between where the wall needed to be constructed and the sea, bringing the water level down so that precast panels could be attached to the wall was a major safety risk as it would require the use of heavy duty equipment over a prolonged period of time. Added to this, using such heavy equipment so close to the sea edge would be both expensive, and risky,” explains Aurecon project manager Nasser Abdalla.

The solution

Aurecon, who provided project management, design management and construction supervision for the project, worked together with contractors Soletanche Bachy Dubai to develop a novel way around this problem. The contractor recommended fitting the precast panels to the wall panels prior to the construction phase, and not as a retrofit. “Accordingly, the construction of the wall and fitting of decorative panels became what is essentially a one-step process and negated the need for excavations,” explains Abdalla.

Aurecon’s careful review of this design found that the process was indeed viable if the regular gap was left between each precast panel and wall panel. The off-site casting yard for the panels was carefully monitored by Aurecon as the project required very strict tolerances, as well as careful installation supervision.

“This innovation made it possible to deliver a great wall design with aesthetically pleasing cladding whereas, using conventional methods, it would have been impossible to do so, given the lack of space,” says Abdalla. “This process not only overcame safety challenges, but ensured massive savings on both time and money to the tune of 20 million Dirhams,” adds Abdalla. What’s more, it’s the first time this innovation has been used in this region, and as such, a patent will soon be launched on the system.

All-important replicability

“Importantly, the innovation has vast scaling-up potential. Apart from quay walls, use of the innovation can also be applied to include excavations requiring the fitting of patterned or non-patterned facings to facades, such as car parks, cut and cover tunnels etc.,” claims Abdalla.

Looking to the future

“It was immensely satisfying to be part of a project that not only set new standards in industry, but one which leaves lasting legacy,” believes Abdalla.

The port’s impact on local fisherman will be significant. It will ensure that they can work more efficiently in terms of an easier, more direct passage out to sea, as well as ensure that fish can be brought back from sea quickly with no delays. Added to this, the port is also billed to benefit local tourism once complete, serving as an attractive stopover site for visitors.

Construction of the port’s accompanying infrastructure and superstructure, including drainage systems, a fisherman’s hostel to accommodate approximately 1 400 fishermen, admin offices, fish market, cleaning facility, block and crushed ice factory, outdoor and indoor auction area, as well as ship maintenance yard, is set to be initiated this year for completion by the end of 2013.

Project team

  • Nasser Abdalla – Senior Project Manager
  • Professor Hossam Refaat – Ports and Marine Expert
  • Wim Frencken – Project Leader
  • Ken Gillard – Project Director
  • Stephen Hennel – Site Supervision and HSE
  • Sunil D’Souza – Site Supervision


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