Obayashi Middle East Construction LLC, a subsidiary of Obayashi Corporation Japan, engages in a variety of construction services, and is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Among Obayashi Corporation’s projects in the UAE are the Dubai Metro Project, and the Japan Pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Bridges spoke with Saad Daghestani, General Manager of Obayashi Middle East Construction.
Tell us about the history of Obayashi in the Middle East and some of the company’s more notable projects.
Obayashi’s presence in the Middle East dates back to the mid-1970s when the company completed many projects in the region such as facilities for the University of Riyadh, the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Riyadh and major bridge works in Baghdad, Iraq.
In 2005, Obayashi returned to the Middle East to re-establish its presence and was awarded the civil works for the Dubai Metro Project. While the project as a whole was awarded to a consortium including other Japanese contractors, Obayashi was the lead civil contractor on the project. During that time, Obayashi was also awarded the civil works for the Palm Jumeirah Monorail Project.
Later, in 2013, Obayashi opened a subsidiary in Doha, Qatar undertaking a major urban development project, Msheireb Downtown Doha Project – Phase 3, including 14 buildings comprising residential, commercial, retail and a major hotel development.
What was involved in the Dubai Metro Project?
The Dubai Metro Project was a ‘mega-project’. It was the first of its kind in the region and implemented state-of-the-art technologies to construct its design/build elements. It consisted of two lines totaling 75 km, including tunnels (13 km), viaducts (62 km), with 45 stations, footbridges, 3 depots, and 2 parking structures.
Obayashi led the design and construction of the civil works consisting of all structural, architectural, interior fitouts, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works.
The Red Line was considered by Guinness World Records at the time as the longest driverless metro line ever built under one contract. The Red Line became operational in record time on 9/9/09.
What role did Obayashi play in the ‘Japan Pavilion’ at the Expo 2020 Dubai?
The Japan Pavilion was awarded to Obayashi by JETRO (The Japan External Trade Organization). The Japan Pavilion has a special exterior façade, an exhibition hall, and a water feature. Final preparations are underway, and we are excited about this project and the opportunity to assist JETRO and the exhibitors at the Expo 2020 Dubai starting on October 1st 2021.
What are your thoughts on the important role Japanese companies have played in Dubai’s economic growth?
The people of Dubai appreciate the involvement of the Japanese contractors in the development of Dubai’s economy.
Taking the Dubai Metro Project as an example, Obayashi’s proactive development of the elevated stations’ “clamshell” roof design has made the shape of the metro stations synonymous with the world’s perception of Dubai as a futuristic city.
In order to accomplish the overall success of the Dubai Metro, whether in terms of design, quality, or timely completion, Obayashi introduced Japanese work ethics based on teamwork, mutual respect and trust, working closely with all stakeholders, including the client, consultants and supply chains. In doing so, the reputation of the Japanese contractors has been associated, throughout the region, with quality, honor and integrity.
This teamwork approach has succeeded in producing a reliable and efficient Dubai Metro, providing comfort and convenience, which has improved the lives of commuters in Dubai.