04 Dec 2022
Having firmly stamped its hallmark of excellence in the construction sector back in 2004 with the world-class Bahrain International Circuit, leading contractor Cebarco is now poised to add yet another distinctive landmark to its enviable portfolio with the Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB).
The flagship of the KAR Group of companies, Cebarco broke ground on the new exhibition and conference centre in Sakhir in May 2020 – just as Covid-19 hit the Gulf region.
The scope of its main contract entailed the construction of the exhibition and convention centre on a 309,000-sqm plot of land. The 149,000-sqm main building will include 10 exhibition areas, totaling 95,000 sqm, along with dedicated areas for retail and events.
Chairman and CEO of the KAR Group Dr Khalid Abdulrahim attributes the company’s success in winning this project to its track record in delivering projects on time and to the high construction standards expected by its clients.
According to Dr Abdulrahim, the client’s brief to the company was to set up the largest exhibition centre in the Gulf that offers great flexibility in terms of space and is easily maintained to reduce operational expenditure. Given that the complex would be required to accommodate a diverse range of events, it needed to be able to adapt to the cyclical loads – for instance, with air-conditioning (AC) systems that permit chillers to be on standby or ramp up quickly when loads change.
“Costs were an important factor to the developer and Cebarco provided significant savings through ‘value engineering’ the design,” says Dr Abdulrahim.
German consultants Tilke Engineers and Architects is responsible for the design and supervision of the state-of-the-art exhibition centre.
When Cebarco started work on the project at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, nobody realised at the time that the world would essentially come to a stop. “Whilst we managed to work through the difficult and challenging Covid times, we were certainly impacted by the global restriction to travel and factory closures around the world,” Dr Abdulrahim points out.
During the pandemic, Cebarco tried to procure materials more locally and from local merchants – which was generally more expensive – rather than take the risk of relying on receiving goods from overseas, he explains.
The contractor faced a challenge with cost escalations due to Covid. “We have experienced a significant increase in costs and availability of basic materials due to Covid, factory closures, global demand, even a ship stuck in the Suez Canal and, more recently because of the conflict in Ukraine. Whilst we have managed to cope with shortages of supply, we have, nevertheless, suffered financially as a result,” Dr Abdulrahim states.
Given these challenges, Cebarco has been racing against the clock to meet schedules and in these efforts, it has made some incredible achievements. Dr Abdulrahim explains: “What is probably the first such accomplishment of its kind in Bahrain was a 10-crane lift of the main entrance steelwork. This was carried out because our client wanted to open certain parts of the works ahead of the final completion date. “Topping all these achievements, however, is managing to have 12 million manhours worked without a single Lost Time Incident (LTI).”
However, the most significant comment, according to Dr Abdulrahim, was the personal words of appreciation and recognition received from His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, at the inauguration ceremony on November 21. Dr Abdulrahim wished to sincerely thank His Royal Highness for the personal acknowledgment.
Apart from Cebarco, a host of companies under the umbrella of the KAR Group are involved in the EWB project. KARTEC Services delivered the entire mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) and extra low-voltage (ELV) systems including 13 chillers with a total cooling capacity of 5,500 tons, nine substations, and more than 70 km of mains cables; KARTC supplied the tower cranes and other lifting devices; KAR Facade was responsible for the aluminum and glazing works; and Marmara, Aqua Art and the group’s new company Aqua Lux are joint suppliers of tiles and sanitary ware for the project.
The KAR Group, meanwhile, has opened its Riffa Gharbi shopping centre this year and intends to launch a six-star ladies spa, treatment facility and gym soon.