An iconic restaurant under construction in the luxury Al Raha Beach Resort in Abu Dhabi is set to become a showcase for New Zealand timber.
Global Timber Homes, a New Zealand based company, has started work with local partners Al Ahmadiah Contracting and Trading on the USD 4 million project, creating a large over-water restaurant built from New Zealand’s most hard working timber, radiata pine. Timber was selected for the project as it would give the desired look and feel, and is a sustainable environment alternative.
In the UAE, where concrete and steel are the dominant building materials, the project will set a benchmark in sustainable building and architectural inspiration. The unusual construction method will see the restaurant built on solid sand, which will then be sucked away from the concrete pilings and platform on completion, to create the over-water effect.
John Wootton, of Global Timber Homes, says the Al Raha restaurant is its first major contract in the Middle East. The company worked extensively with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), New Zealand’s economic development agency, in the UAE to establish its market position in the country which helped it to be a top contender for the project. This included a two-year membership in NZTE’s Middle East Beachhead Programme, an initiative designed to support high-growth New Zealand companies looking to expand in the region.
Wayne Mikkelsen, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s Trade Commissioner to the Middle East, commented: “New Zealand’s wood industry, worth US$ 2 billion in exports each year, provides a broad spectrum of products ranging from solid woods, to panels and engineered wood products. In the last few years the demand for wood in this region has increased extensively especially with the introduction of international styles of architecture and a focus on environmentally friendly products. This has opened new avenues for New Zealand companies like Global Timber Homes to establish a strong presence here.”
According to Wootton, assistance and backing from NZTE meant Global Timber Homes were able to demonstrate that they had the New Zealand government’s support. “That was crucial in weaving the relationships that are the fabric of Middle Eastern projects,” he added.
The Al Raha Restaurant project is expected to be completed in early 2010 and will use 10 container loads of New Zealand-certified renewable resource timbers. Global Timber Homes uses only timber that has New Zealand Government certification for strength and durability through its treatment process.
Contracts being sought by Global Timber Homes in the region are at the high value end of the market, with a design currently on the drawing boards for 500 over water homes for Palm Jebel Ali.
“Our work in the Middle East shows that New Zealand timber, impeccable processes and construction using smart technology can create sustainable, environmentally effective and ultra-high quality buildings,” added Wootton.
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