Can’t breathe this

Facilities Management Middle East - - COMMENT - About the au­thor Nikhil Pereira is the ed­i­tor of fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment Mid­dle East.

The UAE cap­ti­vates you with its high­rise build­ings, I re­mem­ber ar­riv­ing on the shores of this Gulf na­tion seven years ago and liv­ing in a sky­scraper tower. As a Goan who grew up on a farm you’d un­der­stand my ap­pre­hen­sion of look­ing down from my bal­cony. I had a great view though.

But for all the time I lived there I won­dered why cladding was such an im­por­tant part of the fa­cades in the UAE, and when a few fires broke out that sum­mer it com­pounded my con­cerns.

I’ve quizzed ex­perts on what has prompted the cladding façade trend in the UAE and I have been met with var­i­ous re­sponses, from be­ing a cost fac­tor to quicker build times and bet­ter aes­thet­ics.

I moved from there the fol­low­ing year af­ter my ten­ancy con­tract came to an end. The new apart­ment build­ing I moved into, which had 28 storeys, had a con­crete façade. It never struck me un­til I moved in and sat in the bal­cony with a cup of tea one evening.

Per­son­ally, I felt safer know­ing that I’m se­cure in a build­ing that’s de­void of cladding.

How­ever, new reg­u­la­tions by the UAE Civil De­fence through its Fire and Life Safety Code for­bid the use of cer­tain sorts of alu­minium com­pos­ite in cladding pan­els.

This is great news for the en­tire real es­tate sec­tor – de­vel­op­ers, in­vestor con­fi­dence, tenants, FM op­er­a­tors and ner­vous bun­nies such as me.

We have seen from past ex­am­ples of how a fire can be con­tained with the right sort of cladding in place. This is best il­lus­trated in the fire in­ci­dent that broke out at the Trump Tow­ers in New York in 2018, where the fire was con­fined and did not spread.

A de­vel­oper that opts for cladding need not be looked at as a de­ter­rent when an FM com­pany is look­ing to bid for a job.

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