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Chinese companies building "green cities" in the Saudi Arabian desert
Date: 2021-04-21

Project rendering

The King Salman Energy Park is a ‘green’ project located in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert. From March to November, the temperature is high (sometimes exceeding 56 degrees Celsius), and the wind speed can easily reach 40 kilometers per hour. As harsh as the natural conditions are, 500 construction workers from both China and the local area have come to work here from China Railway Construction Corporation Limited International (CRCCI). In the future, this megaproject is expected to bring 100,000 jobs (both directly and indirectly). It will also lead to  300  new industrial and service facilities.

The CRCCI construction workers are contributing to this green city in their own way, and the owner of this contract recognizes that they are bringing their remarkable abilities to the task.

The goggles, face mask and windproof scarf are necessity in work.

“Goggles, masks, and scarves for protection against wind and sand, are essential items here, and as important as all of the other construction equipment,” says CRCCI construction manager Wan Chaojie. The SPARK project, named after King Salman, is located in the east of Saudi Arabia. It is about 100 kilometers from the city of Dammam and it occupies 50 square kilometers. The region has a typical climate for tropical desert terrain; it is hot and dry, and has a long summer. Every year from January to March, there are frequent sandstorms, and visibility can be lower than 100 meters. 

In order to prevent heatstroke, a sunshade and drinking water have been deployed every 500 meters along the site, so that there is a place for the laborers to rest while they are on shift. Full-time doctors and clinics have also been specially arranged for the project, and they are on standby to provide heatstroke medicine. In order to protect the health and safety of the workforce, and to prevent the area from being impacted by sandstorms, the offices for the project are surrounded by a chain-link fence and a sand prevention net. The on-site construction team has also been equipped with personal protective gear like goggles and masks. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the project team has established a project lead and a HSE manager to arrange epidemic prevention and control measures. Their role was to ensure that the construction work did not get affected by the epidemic. Following comprehensive and careful study, the project’s management team decided to focus on constructing a sewer and storm system to create a favorable situation during follow-up work. And it turned out to be a good way of expediting the work.

Project construction site

“We managed to optimize the storm water pond construction plan in three months, rather than six,” said senior project manager, Li Hongbing. By using HDPE liners instead of the loose riprap that was in the original design, the team was able to carry out construction in a much shorten time. As a matter of fact, these changes raised by the CRCCI won full trust and praise from the owner of the contract.

Project pipeline implementation site

Prior to that, the first batch of 240 Aramco villas completed by the project team had proven that they were able to withstand the high standards of the Saudi Aramco. The Saudi Aramco are known to be extremely strict in the industry, and when the villas were handed over, they stood out among major contractors. While the project was being implemented, the project team conducted in-depth research into the Aramco specifications. They won an honorary certificate in recognition of their contributions to achieving "10 million man-hours of Lost Time Injury (LTI) during the Phase-1 of SPARK”. This was issued by the contract owner, and the team was ranked top during the owner's comprehensive credit evaluation. The consistently excellent performance of Chinese enterprises means that the local market has realized the development potential of the CRCCI.

Project solar streetlight

SPARK is an integral part of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, and its aim is to provide a world-class supply chain with energy and innovative solutions that can facilitate sustainable economic development. The project team is environmentally conscious and is helping the kingdom to “go green”. Following an in-depth comparative analysis, they made the decision to change the materials of over 5,000 manholes from concrete to GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). By doing so, they were able to cut down on how much concrete they consumed and significantly reduce the amount of construction time. Meanwhile, effective energy conservation efforts were made. 1900 solar energy streetlamps were installed, precipitated underground water was used during construction, and transparent plastic panels were used for the rooves of warehouses. In a word, CRCCI spared no effort at saving energy and going low carbon. It contributed significantly to delivering a green project.

Currently, more than 500 Chinese and foreign employees are working on the project. There are personnel from more than 10 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan. There are only 19 Chinese employees; they make up 3.8% of the team. The CRCCI project team insisted on having a management system in place that allowed both Chinese and foreign employees to take the lead. Corporate culture handbooks were distributed to employees to enhance mutual understanding and respect. The project team also sought to go further in promoting cultural integration, and enhancing the cohesion of the international team. It showed that it valued the religious beliefs of its foreign employees by specially setting up on-site prayer rooms to enhance their sense of belonging. Chinese and foreign employees are working hand-in-hand to build a "Green City" in the desert, under the overall management of the CRCCI.

Measure the body temperature for foreign employees

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