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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Gulf officials further idea of unified regional building code

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Construction

By 2015, Qatar and its five Gulf peers may begin operating under a new, unified building code that adheres to international standards regarding safety and sustainability, a senior GCC official has said.

The moves comes as Qatar embarks upon billions of dollars worth of construction projects, and as residents here become increasingly critical of the nation’s constant building fires and occasional work site mishaps.

Qatar, like many of its neighbors, has not yet developed an official fire safety and building code. According to Civil Defense, the nation relies on various US and UK standards when approving blueprints for construction projects.

Plan moves forward

In June, GCC countries agreed to test the idea of a unified building code through a pilot project that would run from 2015 to 2018, according to media reports in Oman, where officials met to discuss the proposal.

Previously, ministry officials, construction heads and representatives from all six Gulf countries agreed to establish such standards by the end of 2014. At the time, it was also reported that countries who signed on the initiative would only have to use the code as a guideline.

However, during the most recent meeting, there was discussion of making the code mandatory for signatories.

In an analysis piece on the initiative, ConstructionWeekOnline reported this week that while the GCC appears to be moving forward with the unified code plan, debate continues about its merits.

The publication quoted Grahame McCaig, general manager of Gulf Contracting Company, as saying:

“I think building codes will vary between regions and countries but ostensibly a code about how you build or construct things is pretty much uniform no matter where you go. There are always statutory requirements in terms of permitting or bureaucracy, but you have to accept that different countries want things to work in different ways.”

The piece also questioned the enforceability of a unified code, due to high levels of bureaucracy and inefficiencies across countries. Regarding this, McCaig added:

“I’d like to see a uniform approach across all countries to implement minimum standards of health and safety and statutory bodies to make sure they are complied with, such as the HSE executive in the UK – it must have teeth.”

Qatar focus

A unified code could certainly help improve building conditions in Qatar. Previously, Awni Najim, a health and safety coordinator at the Lusail City development project, asserted that some of Qatar’s oldest buildings are sturdier than the structures going up today.

The reason: Priority is placed on aesthetics over safety.

According to the Times of Oman, GCC states are currently operating under 11 different codes. Because Saudi Arabia is the only nation to have its own national code, its neighbors are expected to base their own new standards on KSA’s.

Officials added that each nation was welcome to customize their codes to fit the local requirements, as long as they adhere to international standards.

Thoughts?

8 COMMENTS

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A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

lack of a single Qatar or unified GCC code is not the issue. It’s implementing and enforcing the code with no exception that is the issue.

I also agree with the article, buildings built from the 80’s all the way up to 2003 are sturdier than new builds today. This is due to Chinese construction products replacing more quality products, shortage of skilled labor and strong drive to cut costs and time.

Also, building owners and construction companies lack pride in their work, therefore anything that stands and has windows will do.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I agree, I had the misfortune of staying in Ezdan in West Bay and when the fire alarm was sounded, they lost power, I crawled on my hands and knees down 5 flights of stairs in pitch darkness. I asked to speak to management at the time about why their emergency lighting didn’t work and how dangerous hundreds of people coming down a pitch black stairwell is. The reception looked at me as if I’m from Mars, management refused to talk to me. I wrote a complaint, they didn’t respond. Death trap.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Consultancy firms can make their job a lot easier by simply rejecting Chinese made materials.
Main contractors take on projects for a loss or incur budget overrun hence compromise quality
heck chinese made components even made its way to the US F35 fighter jets,

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Shortage of Skilled Labor would be putting it rather politely.

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I often disagree with you, but on this I totally concur.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Are they looking to standardise the number of fires per building, per year in all the GCC? It would help us to know which buildings are on fire and when.

Seriously though the lack of qualifed manpower used on construction projects is a huge worry and the standard is there for all to see. Even supposed luxury developments like the Pearl or Zig Zag Towers leave a lot to be desired for the money they cost.

McTunder
McTunder
6 years ago

Trouble is, someone is getting filthy rich here… Let’s face it: the costs for appartments are completely unrealistic. Extreme low cost labor, fairly cheap properties (except maybe the Pearl), lowest quality components, no basements.. all things that usually drive up costs elsewhere, but still 1st world prices. If free markets would be at play the costs for appartments in Doha would not be half of what we see today!

Al Kohol
Al Kohol
6 years ago

When it comes to building safety, electrical installations and their safety in Qatar with my background I have to say that Qatar is one of the most dangerous places on earth. The occurences of flashing arcs in self-declared 4 and 5 star hotels here are totally inacceptable.

Long story short: there is no building safety in Qatar. If you want to live there you need to bring your own Electrician and your own Air Conditioning Maintenance Engineer to check the basic wiring, electrical safety and the Air Conditioning safety with EU safety regulations. If you do this you will hardly find any safe accomodation to rent – regardless of the artificial prices.

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