Mace closing the circle on world's largest observation wheel

With seven out of eight sections of the wheel now in place, Mace and its client Meraas can see the Ain Dubai, the world’s largest observation wheel really taking shape. 

At over 210m tall when complete, the wheel will dwarf the London Eye, allowing visitors to take in 360-degree views of one of the world’s fastest changing cityscapes. 

The attraction is being developed as a part of the £1bn Bluewaters Island project, a mixed-use manmade island which sits off the coast in Dubai Marina, adjacent to the Jumeirah Beach Residence. The Beach Residence – another scheme project managed by Mace – was the largest ever single phase residential scheme in the world upon completion in 2007.

Drawing on the expertise that Mace developed when it built the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, the London Eye in 1999, the company is providing project management, cost consultancy services and construction advice to Meraas. 

The complex construction sequence has to date seen the installation of seven out of the eight sections of the wheel, which are fabricated off site, transported to the island by barge and then lifted into place by the world’s biggest crawler crane, a Liebherr LR13000. Each of these sections weights 750 tons - as much as two Airbus 380 aircraft and is lifted onto five temporary support structures. The rim sections are then connected to the hub with 115m long temporary rigid spokes before the wheel is rotated 45 degrees to receive the next rim section. 

On completion, the entire structure will weigh in at 9,000 tons of steel and will be able to carry up to 1,440 visitors in its 48 custom-built pods. 

Mace has a strong presence in the Middle East’s construction sector, delivering a range of consultancy services on some of the largest and most high profile development projects in the region. Besides Ain-Dubai and the Jumeirah Beach Residence, current and completed projects include the Dubai 2020 Expo, the Capital Gate Tower in Abu Dhabi and Doha Festival City in Qatar, one of the largest shopping malls in the world. 

Piers Sidey, Mace’s Project Director, said: 

“The sheer size of the Dubai Wheel means we are pushing the boundaries of engineering design. The step change in size of this Wheel generates multiple increases in terms of required strength and stiffness. Fabrication requires extremely tight tolerances to be strictly met in order to minimize the deviations in flatness and circularity across the diameter rim. It’s really ground-breaking stuff. 

“There have been many technical challenges to overcome in order to get this Wheel fabricated and built. As we near completion of the wheel itself, we are looking forward to the next phases of removing the temporary works and constructing the dramatic terminal building beneath the wheel. 

Jason Millett, Mace’s Chief Operating Officer for Consultancy, said: 

“Mace’s work on this scheme is an outstanding example of how British project management and construction expertise – developed during the construction of the London Eye – is being exported around the world, supporting the growth of the British economy and promoting the UK’s global reputation.”

Images: Meeras Projects Division

Ain Dubain - Mace Group
Ain Dubai Construction - Mace Group

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