THE MIDDLE East was portrayed as a happy hunting ground for civil engineers in the ICE's prestigious Vernon Harcourt lecture last week.
'Developments in the Middle East have a lot of financial investment and ambition and not a lot of red tape to slow things down, ' said Halcrow director professor Chris Fleming.
In his lecture, 'Making waves in coastal development', Fleming reflected on 30 years of experience working on marine projects - much of it spent working in the Middle East. He was appointed chief executive of the firm's Middle East operation in 1988.
Fleming used the construction of the Al Qasbah canal project, a canal built to link two lagoons on the coast of the Emirate state of Sharjah, as an example of how red tape is not allowed to get in the way of work.
The 923m long canal took just six months to build.
The scheme was needed because the small Al Khalid lagoon had become heavily polluted by a sewage outfall pumping effluent into it for over 20 years.
The government wanted to improve the water quality and Fleming found that the solution was to build a canal between it and the upstream Al Khan lagoon.
Once a canal was constructed the head difference between the lagoons could be used to drive water into the Al Khalid lagoon and out into the Arabian Gulf.
'It's all about creating an imbalance to get the flushing mechanism, ' said Fleming.
Lagoons are popular in the United Arab Emirates as they create private beaches for property developers who build houses and hotels along their shores. Many are manmade.
Careful planning is needed to ensure there is adequate water flow to prevent stagnation, but not so much that precious sand is washed away.
Most sand in the Emirates is too fine for use on beaches as it moves too easily.
'Beaches need to stand at a gradient of 1 in 10 or 1 in 12 so the coarser it is the better, ' said Fleming.