Palaces in the sand
For the last decade, construction and real-estate companies have been reclaiming land from the deserts and the sea in the UAE and RSK has been providing some of them with environmental support. Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, is one of the most famous and extensive, as it occupies a land area of 25 km2. It is a leisure island that boasts the Yas Marina Circuit, which has hosted the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009 and is thus one of the top tourism attractions for Abu Dhabi.
To create these islands, engineering companies reclaim land by filling in sabkhas, low-lying coastal salt flats. Creating new land from the sea is not unique to the UAE, other regions such as Hong Kong and New York City are growing by similar methods.
Arabtec Construction, a UAE construction company, won a £425-million contract to build more than 1000 villas in West Yas on an area of 440,000 m2 on the western shore of Yas Island and adjacent to the inner lagoon. The lagoon was identified an ecological hot spot, as it supports a diversity of habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass meadows, large expanses of mangroves and intertidal mud flats.
The development project consisted of low-rise villas facing the extensive mangrove marine park. The project required a construction environmental management plan and third-party environmental auditing to comply with the relevant safety and environmental-related regulations. Since 2016, RSK, from its base in Abu Dhabi, has worked on many well-known projects in the region, so was hired by Arabtec to undertake the construction environmental management plan for the West Yas Island development project.
Our regionally placed specialists were also tasked with undertaking the quarterly third-party environmental audits for the project as part of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s requirements. The scope of work included developing the audit strategy. The audit reports are submitted to Arabtec and the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council. To date on this ongoing project, we have hit our targets without incident and within budget.