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The final piece of The Link is now in place between the One Za'abeel Towers on Shaikh Zayed Road. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s latest architectural icon is up in the air… in full.

The 230-metre long cantilever – branded as ‘The Link’ - is now in place between two under construction towers that make up the One Za’abeel project built near the Dubai World Trade Centre and the Dubai Frame. At 100 metres from the ground, this is one of the tallest cantilever building placements in the world.

“The tip of the Link is now lifted into place – it will take some time to weld it in,” said Raad Jarrah, Chief Development Officer at Ithra Dubai.

“The closer you deep into the details of what this project entails, the more intricate the design. It’s not just another structure that is being lifted into place – this goes way beyond that.

“There’s a huge difference between a cantilever and a structure that’s supported at either end, such as a bridge. The strategy to build The Link in sections and then sliding one piece after another was in itself a huge challenge.”

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Get on with the topping out

With the bridge firmly in place, the focus of the project shifts to the topping out of the two towers. “The gantries that had been supporting The Link will be removed and then work on the two towers will continue,” said Jarrah. “We could not continue going up until and unless we had The Link in place.

“The weight of The Link is humongous, so it needed the support and anchoring before we continued with the rest of the towers.”

And the weight? For a structure that stretches 230 metres wide, the weight is nothing short of substantial. The cantilevered structure weighs 9,500 tonnes when lifted and 16,500 tonnes when complete.

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Issam Galadari, CEO of Ithra Dubai, and Raad Jarrah, Chief Development Officer, take a spot on The Link. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“Internally, we call One Za’abeel a three-tower project – because the link if we were to place it vertically would be taller than some of the taller high-rises on Shaikh Zayed Road,” said Jarrah.

“The Link on its own qualifies to be another tower of its own… if our intention was to place it vertically.”

What we are delivering with The Link and One Za'abeel will cement our name as a developer in the fabric of Dubai, which is the "City of the Possible"

- Raad Jarrah of Ithra Dubai

Top up

At 235 metres high, the 55-storey residential tower is now looking at a topping out by February/March next, and the 300-metre tall, 67-storey hotel and serviced apartment block by April. The hotel will be operated by One&Only, the hospitality brand owned by Kerzner International. ALEC is the main contractor for the development.

Who manages The Link?

Is The Link going to another observation point far above an ever widening city? “To call it thus would be too simplistic,” said Jarrah. “The Link should not be seen as a standalone, but an integral part of a project that includes the other two towers.

“It adds value to every single component of the development. Yes, it would provide a fantastic platform to view in any direction you want, but all the future activities – residential, hospitality and retail – will benefit from having The Link up there.

“The management will be broken down into several areas of expertise. Some elements will be managed by One&Only, but there are teams handling other aspects.”

The whole One Za’abeel project – situated on a 530,000 square metre site – is aiming for a 2022 completion.