Last month, it was reported that Dubai’s free zones together represent more than $136bn (AED500bn) of trade in the Emirate. Araf Amiri, CEO of Dubai International Financial Centre, said the city’s free zones – such as Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Media City, and Dubai Internet City – have boosted direct foreign investment in Dubai.
The benefits of establishing free zones are acknowledged around the world. In contemporary times, Palo Alto, a 66.79km² charter city in California, has gained acclaim for having propelled the American technology sector onto the world map. Today, major corporations such as Tesla Motors and Hewlett-Packard are marking their presence in the global retail industry from their Californian home base.
In that context, it isn’t altogether surprising that Dubai’s leaders are adopting a similar free-zone model to harvest a localised and home-grown science and technology sector. One of the Emirate’s many initiatives to boost its technology savviness is the establishment of Dubai Science Park (DSP), a free-zone authority based in Al Barsha South.
The free zone’s new headquarters are currently under construction near its existing facility in the neighbourhood. The project features two towers, named North and South, and a retail component, called The Jewel. Both towers comprise two basements, a ground floor, 20 storeys, and a roof, and the total site spans 3.31ha (357,098 sqf). The Jewel’s roof and base are covered with metal cladding, whereas its sides feature glass façades. North Tower is 93.8m tall, and South Tower stands 94.3m high. The Jewel’s height is 29.8m, and it is 69.92m long and 35m wide.
In October 2015, Dubai developer Tecom formed DSP, an entity combining Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park (DuBiotech) and the Energy and Environment Park (EnPark). DSP’s under-construction headquarters form part of a broader development plan for the free zone, which also features a laboratory complex and warehouses.
Belhasa Engineering and Contracting is the headquarters’ main contractor, and Kling is the lead consultant for the project. HDR has worked with Kling on the upcoming headquarters’ design. Piling works, under the scope of the main contractor, were carried out by Delta Foundation, and construction commenced in August 2014.
Marwan Abdulaziz, executive director at DSP, says the project’s phased handover will begin in the second half of 2016.
“North Tower is due for completion in September,” he tells Construction Week. “South Tower and The Jewel will be handed over between October and December.”
All construction works on the project have been synchronised to achieve concurrent structural completion. “We also had to incorporate some new regulations issued by [Dubai] Civil Defence,” Abdulaziz continues.
“Some slabs required more insulation, and certain aspects of the parking areas needed to be upgraded.”