Following two high-profile fires in tower blocks in the UAE, the BBC’s Bill Law has written an article entitled “Towering inferno fears for Gulf.”
In it, he quotes expert Thom Bohlen, who asserts that 70 percent of high-rise buildings in the UAE are cladded with highly flammable material that allows fires to take hold easily on the outside of a building, and spread much more quickly than usual.
The article goes on to argue that the severe shortage of housing in the GCC’s boom countries has affected the safety of buildings in all of these countries, including Qatar.
Here, the causes of the vast majority of fires have remained unknown for years, according to the Qatar Statistics Authority.
At the recent Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) meeting in Doha, Steve Wood, Safety and Health director for the US technology corporation AECOM, explained why he thinks this is the case:
“The reason why it’s not known is maybe because they are too busy extinguishing fires and not resourced enough to investigate them.”
In terms of building safety, he added:
“Some clients may go for the least strict requirements, thinking ‘which ones are the least I need to comply?’ “
Credit: Photo of December fire at the under-construction World Trade Center on the Corniche courtesy of Loubina