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Clients in denial as concrete decay stalks Dubai buildings

Concrete buildings in Dubai are at risk of collapse because designers and clients are ignoring research on concrete durability, materials experts warned this week.
'Rapid concrete deterioration is a significant problem across the Gulf region, but is particularly acute in Dubai,' warned Concrete Society director David Ball. Ball is also founder and chairman of concrete additives firm David Ball Group.'Relatively recent structures are showing signs of disastrous deterioration. I have seen buildings in need of repair before they're even open.'Ball said that clients and designers Dubai were 'in absolute denial' of the problem. 'They won't acknowledge that they need to design in protection, and are creating a nightmare for themselves.'Extreme environmental conditions with high temperatures and humidity, sulphates and chlorides make concrete attack more likely in Dubai. The Emirate has an exposure class of 12, which compares to a maximum class six in the UK's most aggressive environments - for marine or sewerage structures, for example.Sheffield University emeritus professor of mechanical engineering Narayam Swamy supervised a major research project by the University of Sheffield in Dubai, completed in 1998. Research by local universities in Dubai is ongoing.'Normally concrete should give 50-60 years but in the Middle East deterioration becomes apparent after five to 10,' Swamy said this week. He warned that concrete subjected to Dubai's blistering heat and humidity falls prey to 'micro-cracking' that is invisible to the naked eye.

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