In Focus: Alan Weaver’s Experiences Land Planning in the Middle East
Understanding culture and municipality requirements; meeting tight deadlines
Landscape Architect Alan Weaver’s nearly four-decades-long career began with a degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from Utah State University. In the time since, he has worked for private developers, a landscape architecture firm, and multi-disciplinary firms in both Utah and Atlanta. Before joining Focus, he spent over six years working in Muscat, Oman and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, both on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. These were experiences he will never forget.
A lot of land planners that are hired in the Middle East are from the U.S.; developers there like the innovation and philosophies embraced by our schools and businesses. As in the U.S., understanding the needs of the client/developer and the municipality are key to success. For many developers, money is no object – they want a project that will amaze and attract. Quick turnaround on design is a must – investors are anxious to buy or invest in real estate. Talented planners who are quick at solving design problems thrive in the rapidly-growing region.
Designing to Culture and Available Materials
There are differences, however. Understanding the culture is important. There is no separation between church and state. Every community must have a mosque incorporated into the planning design.
One major difference is in the building materials. “Most of all the framework for the buildings are concrete or concrete blocks,” explains Alan. “The floors and ceiling are concrete. Most of the homes have flat roofs, which are used as outdoor living space.”
Transportation planning is different as well. An example of this is the Warsan Development Master Plan, a 31.5-hectare residential community within an urban area of Dubai. Alan was the Urban Planner. “The road network is more restrictive,” Alan states. “They use tee intersections. If four roads come together, you can’t use a four-way stop. You are required to have a round-about.”
Understanding the importance of working closely with a municipality client was very beneficial during Alan’s time in Seeb, Oman. Working as Project Manager for the Seeb Seafront Corniche project, Alan led the design and construction supervision of this $25 million, 3-kilometer corniche, or coastal promenade, with a seating wall and retaining wall. The client, Muscat Municipality, put the project out for bid and selected a contractor before the project was totally designed. “I spent long hours and weekends trying to finalize the design of the corniche and keep ahead of the contractor on design issues.”
Still, Alan describes the project as his most interesting to date, mainly because of the challenges. The designed corniche had to protect the shoreline from ocean waves impacting the quay wall (the retaining wall used for docking large ships). Even though only part of the corniche was against the ocean waves, the entire length of the corniche had the protective quay wall in case severe storms hit the shoreline. “We had to design the corniche to withstand the corrosive ocean winds,” he explains. The prestigious, successful project was designed and constructed with high-grade materials such as granite and natural stone paving.
Wide Range of Experience
During the six years Alan spent in the Middle East, he worked on over 20 projects, ranging from interchanges and expressways to parcel and community development. Focus Engineering & Surveying is proud to offer his wide range of experience and successful completion of deadline-driven projects to our clients throughout Utah.