CASE STUDY: Dubai Properties' floating villas in Dubai Canal
Dubai Properties in September celebrated the voyage of the UAE’s first-ever water home as it made its way along the city’s newest attraction - the Dubai Water Canal - to berth at Marasi Business Bay.
During the following days, a further eleven homes were floated into Marasi as Dubai Properties marked the next milestone achievement in transforming the bustling commercial hub of Business Bay into a urban lifestyle destination.
Marasi Business Bay, once complete, will not only feature state-of-the-art water homes that come with pools and surrounded by floating restaurants. It will also see the Park, the Pier and the Marina that will eventually comprise 800 berths, stretch along the Dubai Water Canal, making it the region’s first purpose-built yachting hub at the heart of the city.
The logistics challenges associated with getting the villas and other floating assets, such as the yacht club, in place on time for Cityscape Global 2017 were complex and required stringent attention to detail to overcome, according to Dubai Properties.
“We had many challenges, a chain of challenges,” a spokesperson for the property ground told Logistics Middle East. The villas were built in Finland and shipped as break-bulk to Port Rashid, where they were offloaded into the water and then floated up the Dubai Canal, which sounds simple enough on paper.
“We had to optimise the timing of shipping from Finland,” he explains. “During winter, moving the villas would have been a big problem, so we had to make sure that the villas were only going to be ready after winter, then upon arrival here the logistics of getting them off the ships required the use of a dedicated contractor. They were working in double shifts to offload and float the villas and then float them down the canal.”
The double-shifts were required because the window for shipping, between the end of winter in Finland and the opening of Cityscape in Dubai, was very short, and shipping alone took more than 20 days. According to Dubai Properties there was also the added challenge of getting special permits and NOCs to carry out the ‘last mile’ portion of the logistics project and float the homes up the canal to the Marasi development.
“Special permissions and permits had to be secured for the moving of each villa because normal shipping within the canal was affected. We had a very good service with all our contractors from the freight fowarders, to the breakbulk specialists at Port Rashid, to the towing company and our liaison that secured all the paperwork and permissions for the moving of the villas up the canal. We overcame this by not focusing on the challenge itself, but on the solution instead,” he explains, adding that Dubai Properties worked backwards from its desired date of completion.
“We decided a year ago what we needed, where we needed to be in the development of this project by this date and we planned out everyone’s role, what everyone needed to do and how to synchronise everything so that we would all be where we needed to be by now. This coordination was handled by DP Properties itself, we had a dedicated team that was working alongside a management consultant to bring everything together.”
However, Dubai Properties did rely on local logistics contractor Sharaf Shipping to get all the local paperwork and permits in place. “They were the contractor for transportation and logistics and arranged all the paperwork, manpower and equipment needed for that. We used them because we had a long qualifying process for tenders and they had a close relationship with the shipping line that moved the villas from Finland and they also had a very competitive quote.”
Even with this support, the timing of the move for the villas remained a challenge. “The movement of the villas only took a few hours, but the gathering of paperwork and submitting for approval had to be done weeks in advance,” he says. “We still only received permission four hours before the scheduled moving of the first water home. We had to stay on schedule because we wanted the first phase of this project to be ready before Cityscape.”
In addition, the villas had to be moved with the beginning of low tide at 6am, because of height restrictions for navigation beneath the bridges of Dubai Canal.
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“So we had two low-tides and two windows in which to move as many villas as possible.” This kind of aggressive timeframe has become the norm for Dubai Properties over the last year or so. “The timeframe for the project was very aggressive, to put it in perspective none of what you see here would have been in the water 90 days ago.”
Revealed by Dubai Properties Group, a member of Dubai Holding, at Cityscape Global 2016, the AED1 billion mixed-use development Marasi Business Bay is well on track to becoming the city’s most sought-after waterfront destination, elevating the larger Business Bay district that was ranked amongst the fifth must-see neighbourhoods in the world by Lonely Planet last month.
The water homes are a considerable turnkey project for Dubai Properties as the developer introduces a real estate innovation that combines centuries of ship building heritage with cutting-edge design that will forever transform waterfront living in the emirate.