The existing port has been undergoing a programme of constant rationalisation for several years, says Dubai Port Authority head of civil engineering Nazek al-Sabbagh, following an inland master plan devised by consultant Scott Wilson.
In particular, a fairly loose low rise layout in what was spacious desert is giving way to more compact, medium high rise building for the office and factory complexes, while land is released to create new container handling and stacking areas.
Contracts for many of these have been carried through by British firm Dutco Balfour Beatty, which is continuing the work. It will of course be well placed for the future expansion.
For each upgrade area work involves preparing a load bearing surface for the containers, turning over and re-compacting the top 1m or 1.5m of ground, and installing reinforced concrete ground beams for the giant rubber-tyred stacking gantries to run along.
These beams are 1.8m wide and 1m deep.
There are also power lines, drainage and other services to install, and sometimes reconstruction of quay wall to make it suitable for containers.
'We work mainly with the existing fill which is a fairly good material, ' says Bert Van Dokkum, DBB's project manager.
Areas are finished with a layer of 87mm deep interlocking block paving. 'We try to do around 600m 2 a day, ' says Van Dokkum, 'because the schedule for each of these areas is very tight. One area required 90,000m 2 to be done in 75 days.'