Jonathan Hills, general manager of Harlequin Arena, sums up what’s been a busy season across the region for the Middle East event Award-winning company...
S&S: Which projects has Harlequin worked on for Ramadan 2015 and how did they vary?
Harlequin has worked in all Emirates this year for Ramadan, as well as providing tents in Salalah, Oman. We are proud to be partnering with Fairmont Bab Al Bahr again to provide their Cuisine Ramadan Tent and Chameleon Ramadan and Summer Tent, with a unique, contemporary Arabic style. Featuring elegant arch design features, the tent is modern and sophisticated, offering the opportunity for dining and lounge set-ups, as well as semi-private Majlis. We have worked closely with Sundance Events who organised the Hush Lounge 2015 at Emirates Golf Club. In addition to this we expanded into Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah, providing the Ramadan Tent for the new Fairmont Ajman Hotel and the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Ramadan Tent on Marjan Island. The structures provided have ranged from 5 x 5 Canopies within showrooms, to providing covers of 300pax, with a range of furniture and interior design.
S&S: Did you face any challenges along the way this year with any of the projects?
The temperature at this time of year always provides a challenge for Ramadan builds. This year temperatures seemed to peak earlier than usual, with temperatures of over 50 degrees reported in some Emirates during Ramadan builds. The main obstacle our operations manager, Matt Flannery, had to overcome this year was the logistics of building nine different Ramadan projects, spread across the seven Emirates. The planning and time management of crew was key to all projects being handed over with plenty of time to spare.
S&S: Are there any unique designs that you’ve catered for this year, or do most Ramadan tents follow a traditional lead?
This year, many of our clients have opted for a more contemporary Ramadan and Majlis set-up. The main challenge faced this year was to ensure a quality design, keeping the right contemporary Arabic features but within the tight budgets required by our clients.
We provided an interesting alternative for an AC solution this year, for a client who did not want to have any freestanding AC units. With the heat and humidity, this is a difficult task to achieve. The solution that we provided, with the assistance of Aggreko Middle East, was to raise the structure up by 1m on our new Arena Super Deck system. We then installed underfloor ducting to 12 grills incorporated into the floor of the structure.
S&S: How do you ensure a high level of safety standards when setting up the temporary structures?
Harlequin work to British H&S standards and all our structures and interiors are FR Rated. Civil defence-set particular H&S requirements for Ramadan structures, and re-enforcement of these regulations is strict due to incidents that have occured in previous years.
However, a challenge we faced this year — due to our projects in multiple locations — is the differences in the regulations required in each separate Emirate. We welcome the work ILEA are pioneering with the UAE government to produce standardised H&S regulations in the UAE events industry. It is also important for the hotel industry to be aware of the requirements and ensure they are utilising companies that adhere to the H&S requirements. There are still tent companies out there who do not build to standards.
S&S: What other projects does Harlequin work on year-round and are there any new additions or growth plans ahead?
Harlequin provides full turnkey solutions with our full range of structures, interior design facilities, furniture and cooling. We are finding our clients are increasingly more interested in sourcing a supplier that can provide a one-stop solution. We are involved in numerous sporting, corporate and government events throughout the year and always looking at new solutions to further assist our clients.
This year we are proud to introduce an exciting new product to the business in the form of Arena Super Deck. The Super Deck started life as an elevated deck or floor system with weight loading capacities of 20KN/m2 and is ISO 9001, 14001 and 20121 compliant, as well as IAAF accredited for sports events, which is impressive in itself. The Super Deck can be used for single or multi-level structures, stadium conversions, showrooms, viewing decks and mezzanines to name just a few, and is the perfect complement to the existing range of high end products that Harlequin delivers.
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Flow Air and Power
Jonathan Calvert, general manager at Flow Air & Power Solutions, talks us through the intricate process of creating a cool environment during the height of a Middle Eastern summer…
Barasti Summer Tent
This structure will be installed and running for more than five months. As space was an issue, Flow decided to go for a split solution for the cooling. The benefit of the split option is the units will give 100 per cent return as they sit within the area, this will provide for the most efficient cooling. Calvert explains: “Barasti were keen on not having any ducting as they wanted to have an open clear view within the tent. The biggest problem the job threw at us was all the walls were double height and completely glass. It’s difficult enough cooling a tent in a 46C degree environment, but near impossible when you throw in load of glass. We oversized the solution to combat the additional heat loads.”
Special design points:
• 100 per cent return for the most efficient cooling
• 215 Tonnes of cooling
• Large package unit to target hot spot at the bar
• 12,000 CFM of extraction and fresh air for smoking
Zen Studio - Emaar
Emaar’s annual structure is one of the most prestigious and largest projects during the Holy month of Ramadan. The brief was to cool the 3500sqm area to 22C, which Flow managed through providing large industrial style air handlers to allow for an even distribution of cooled and dehumidified air. The aim was provide a system that worked to the specification but, most importantly, fitted in with the beautiful design of Zen Studios. The cooling load was 650 tonnes of refrigerated cooling, and 2.5MVA of synchronised generators were provided by Flow. The company also provided a separate fresh air and extraction system to allow smoking with the structure. Flow handed the system over on June 10th after two weeks to deliver, and predict it will take five days to demob.
Special design points:
• Special ducting to fit into the colour scheme of the design
• No ducting can be seen from outside the tent
• All metal ducting connections were specific designed for the project to limit any reductions of air flow
• All ducting is insulated to reduce any temp loses
• 24hr on-site engineers to deal with any issues that may arise
Mamemo Majlis - Four Seasons Hotel
A double-decker structure facing the beach, Flow is providing the temporary cooling and power package for the duration of Ramadan at the Mamemo Majlis. Catering to a high-end market, Mamemo requested a full turnkey solution with a 100 per cent backed up generator. Calvert reveals: “We delivered 4 x 150KVA of our brand new generators that will allow for continuous uninterrupted power even if a generator were to fail. The tricky part of this project was the time frame as there were only six days to build the structure, AC/power system, décor and fit-out. Our team worked day and night in order to deliver the project.”
• AC units integrated into the walls
• Separate fresh air and extraction system
• Integrated jet diffusers in the walls
S&S: How is temporary cooling evolving?
Having been involved in the temporary cooling industry over the past eight years I have seen lots of advancements. The equipment has become more technically advanced, for example our new air handlers have fourth generation air filters to stop 99 per cent of germs for a clean and safe environment. Our clients have become a lot savvier, they want better aesthetics, more efficient solutions and a safe working environment. For example, our clients are very conscious of the environment so we have engineers on site every day to turn the generators off as soon as the event finishes and only turn them back on at the latest possible time before the event starts. Outdoor cooling has become more popular — it tends to be in either private villas, weddings or an outdoor event where the weather is unbearable.
S&S: How do you ensure the power is sufficient, safe, and efficient?
Most temporary venues require temporary power, for which the AC requires the most. We have invested heavily in state of the art generators that are one of the most efficient in the market. We always try utilise the house/existing power at the venue and the remainder will have to be supplied by the generator. We abide by UAE and UK standards when installing the power solution as all our equipment is event ready, the cables and DBs are plug and play systems, and we only use qualified personnel to install and design the systems. We have put a big emphasis on QHSE, and Flow has just embarked on getting its ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 certification — a complete QHSE management system — which we expect to have by September.
S&S: What was the most power-hungry or heavily cooled project you had this year?
The largest power and cooling project of 2015 was Nadvex and Umex in Abu Dhabi that we did for De Boer. We supplied over 2000tr of cooling with 5MVA of temporary power. In previous years the fuel consumption was extremely high, therefore we guaranteed a fixed amount and — by managing the generator solution correctly — we were able to keep it below the pre-agreed amount.
S&S: Tell us about the process of planning and installing temporary cooling...
For each project we do a heat calculation that takes into account many aspects related to the heat and airflow loads within the structure. Things like size, time of year, people, lights, opening in the tent, type of material the structure is made of etc. After the initial design we always do a site visit to make sure the equipment fits, that there aren’t any surprises, and to measure out the distances. After this point we usually create a drawing with the equipment’s entire layout. If the job becomes an order will do a further visit to the site with the operations team to do a clear and clean handover. Doing the hard work before going to site is key, as making it up on site can be very problematic and time is vital when working in events. Planning ahead is the key to delivering a quality project.
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Julie Doucet, head of commercial at Wicked, explains how the company caters to a range of diverse requests not only for Ramadan, but throughout the entire year…
S&S: Which projects has Wicked worked on this year for Ramadan tents and how did they vary?
This year has been one of the busiest in terms of the number of requests we had for Ramadan structures. We had mixed requests between Ramadan tents and extensions of existing restaurants in order to increase capacities. The sizes varied from 5m x 5m to 20m x 30m Double Deck.
S&S: Did any of the projects throw up specific obstacles along the way?
Our set-up at the Crowne Plaza has been quite challenging as it is on the hotel’s fifth floor restaurant terrace and there is no access but through the hotel lift. The only way for us to get our equipment there was to crane everything. Usually we bring the set-up gradually, which gives everyone some extra time to get organised. In this case, the entire set-up had to be ready to crane by a certain date, which put a lot more pressure on the preparation and challenged every team involved.
S&S: What do you think makes clients choose to go with a Wicked structure?
One of the main reasons, I would say, is the way we approach business in general and on each project. We always try to think out of the box and come up with something new so our clients don't get bored. We are a creative thinking company and the crazier the request, the more we like it! We also have a team that reflects the above and is up for any challenge. The Wicked attitude on site — and in general — makes us easy to work with, which gives our clients the peace of mind they usually seek for.
S&S: Have you had any unusual requests for Ramadan tent designs or are they all quite traditional?
We haven’t had any particularly crazy requests — it stays more or less traditional — but clients ask for a bit of modernity while keeping the Arabic and local feel, of course. Our most challenging set up in regards to structure was the double deck, purely because of the location and the limited amount of time we had to build it. Time is our biggest enemy at this time of the year as clients — especially hotels and restaurants — want as little disturbance as possible in their outlets so they can keep running their daily operations, which means we have to work much faster than usual.
S&S: What elements of the Ramadan tent does Wicked provide?
We provide structures of course but we have realised that, in order to be competitive, we had to provide much more than that. We can provide full interior fit out, air conditioning, and power as well as facilitate requirements such as scaffolding, toilets etc.
S&S: What safety precautions are in place when setting up the temporary structures to guarantee H&S?
We have always been very cautious on every site, firstly because we deal with structures and heavy equipment, working at height etc., secondly because most of the venues where we build are very strict when it comes to safety so we very quickly had to adapt. We always provide method statement and risk assessment to our client. I do think the regional industry is quite aware of Health and Safety.
S&S: Aside from Ramadan structures, what keeps Wicked busy throughout the rest of the year?
We deal with quite diverse enquiries throughout the year. It can be anything from a small catering tent to a big sporting event, or a semi-permanent sales centre for example. We always try to adapt to what comes our way and if, after few enquiries on something that we do not have in stock, we feel it could be a good addition then we take the jump, which is why we have such a diverse range of structure. We also realised that, in order to keep up with the competition, we needed to develop internally our décor and fabrication division, which is what we have done this year— also adding furniture.
S&S: What’s the average set-up time for each structure and how many people on the crew?
The structure is the ‘easy’ part of the set up as it is pretty straight forward and relatively quick. The bigger and longer the structure, the more time we need to install. But what takes the most time is all the fit-out and the finishing details. I would say the average set up ranges from a couple of hours for a small structure like a 5m x 5m, to three or four days for a 20m x 30m Double Deck. This is for structure only. In regards to crew it can range from two or three crew to 12 to 15 crew, depending on the installation time.