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Ain Dubai: World’s Tallest and Largest Observation Wheel and its Great History

22 Nov 2021 7min 43sec

The most remarkable landmark of Dubai is born. It is Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest and largest observation wheel. Opened on October 21, Ain Dubai is twice the height of London Eye in the UK, boasting an overwhelming scale that is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. Here, you can enjoy not only the panoramic view of Dubai but also famous skyscrapers. The history of the completion of this great structure, which attracts worldwide attention beyond Dubai.

아인 두바이 사진 제공

[ The View of Ain Dubai. The spectacular rotating structure, which boasts the world's largest scale with a height of 258m and a diameter of 250m, is attractive both day and night. ⓒAin Dubai ]

Opened on October 21, Set against a Stunning View of Dubai
If you are free to travel abroad someday, I recommend Dubai as your first destination. The fact that you can experience the world's tallest and largest observation wheel that has recently opened seems to be enough reason to do so. If you drive for about 40 minutes by car using Sheikh Zayed Road from Dubai International Airport, a huge rotating structure catches your eyes. Ain Dubai has been registered in the Guinness Book of Records with a height of 258m. If you can't guess how big it is, just imagine twice the height of London Eye in the UK (135m high) or Yeouido 63 Building in Korea, which is 249.6m high.

사진 출처 아인 두바이

ⓒAin Dubai 

Ain Dubai had a grand opening at 2 p.m. local time on October 21. If you want to see the panoramic view of Ain Dubai, you should visit Marina Beach. With the sky-piercing skyscrapers as the background, you can lie on the beach and watch the magnificently located observation tower all at heart of the man-made island, Bluewaters. It's attractive just to look at it from a distance, but you have to ride it yourself to quench your long-standing thirst for travel.

휠에는 이층버스 2대 규모의 캐빈 48개가 달려있으며, 캐빈당 최대 수용 인원은 40명이다

[ Cabin ]

At Bluewaters, the dizzying scale of Ain Dubai is even more realistic. The huge wheel with a diameter of 250m and the legs that support it are truly enormous. Each leg of the wheel stands at a height of 126 meters and is long enough to fit 15 London buses. The passenger cabins which carry visitors are also mega-sized. The wheel features 48 cabins equivalent to double-deckers, which can comfortably accommodate up to 40 passengers per cabin. There are three types of cabins: Observation for general visitors, Social for VIP with a middle bar, and Private, which can eat dinner courses during two turns and operate on a reservation basis. The price per person starts at 130AED, so it is not cheap. However, the cost is not a waste just to be able to overlook the entire city for 38 minutes through a 360-degree window from the world's tallest observation wheel. Famous skyscrapers also feel like they're at eye level in Ain Dubai. At sunset, the view of Ain Dubai is so ecstatic that it is difficult to explain unless experienced. After all the dusk falls, it boasts the best night view in Dubai.

ⓒAin Dubai 

Project Leader Leading More than 11 Partners
In the Ain Dubai project, Hyundai E&C was in charge of the overall construction of the observation wheel and related auxiliary facilities. In particular, since the contract was in EPCI(Engineering, Production, Construction, and Installation), which involves design, procurement, installation, and commissioning collectively, Hyundai E&C carried out the construction with a heavy responsibility as the project leader.
"Every moment was difficult from the start of construction in May 2013 to its completion in August 2021," on-site workers said, adding that “the complexity of construction was beyond imagination." The observation wheel is largely divided into Wheel and Cabin, Hub and Spindle, the drive shaft that supports and moves the wheel, and the supporting Legs. In the early days of construction, the site spent a lot of time designing the wheel and confirming the installation methods, manufacturing the iron structures (wheel, hub, spindle, leg, etc.), and laying the wheel foundation. Due to the nature of EPCI contract, it was necessary to consider everything at the design stage from ▶ identification of construction feasibility ▶ procurement of materials ▶ ordering ▶ operation and maintenance. Moreover, Hyundai E&C collaborated with numerous partners from more than 11 countries, including the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy, to create the best observation wheel. Since Hyundai E&C had to lead companies of various nationalities and undergo strict supervision for safety reasons, it had to put a lot of effort throughout the project.

3000t급 메가 크레인을 이용해 허브·스핀들을 거치하고 있다. 허브·스핀들의 무게는 1805t에 달한다. 5 현장 직원들의 아이디어로 탄생한 행잉 플랫폼. 일종의 대형 작업대로 휠이 회전하더라도 별도의 해체나 조립이 필요 없다

[ Ain Dubai features 48 luxurious cabins roughly the same as two double-deckers, with the maximum capacity of 40 passenger per cabin ]

After completing the leg construction in June 2015, the site began preparing to install hub and spindle, the most complex of all processes. Since the observation wheel is a rotating structure, it was necessary to fully consider the changes in stress (resistance of the structure when external force is applied) caused by rotation and the fatigue problem of the structure in advance. In particular, the hub and spindle in the center of rotation are linked to a drive system that operates and controls the observation wheel and had to withstand 3,500 tons of wheel weight. Two 3,000-ton mega cranes were mobilized for the 1805-ton hub and spindle construction, which is equivalent to four large A380 aircrafts. It was a very complex process because the cranes had to be lifted to a height of 130m, then accurately mount the connection between the hub and spindle hole and the leg before welding. The site installed a temporary guide frame for precise construction, repeatedly pushed and pulled by mobilizing various tools, and mounted the hub and spindle in July 2016. The clock on the site was ticking fast with no time to enjoy the successful completion of the most difficult process..

현장 직원들의 아이디어로 탄생한 행잉 플랫폼. 일종의 대형 작업대로 휠이 회전하더라도 별도의 해체나 조립이 필요 없다. 현장은 행잉 플랫폼으로 림 상부와 하부 시공을 동시에 진행했다

[ Hub and spindle are being mounted using a 3,000-ton mega crane. Hub and spindle weigh 1805 tons. The Hanging Platform conceived from the idea of on-site workers. Even when the wheel rotates, there’s no need for separate dismantling or assembly ]

The wheel, which boasts an all-time scale, was divided into eight segments for construction. The Hanging Platform, created by the ideas of on-site workers, really paid off. The Hanging Platform is a large 100-meter-long workbench that does not require separate transfer and reinstallation even if the wheel rotates during the rim work. The rim construction and ground terminal construction could be performed at the same time, which greatly increased work efficiency. The wheel construction, which began in November 2016, continued until March 2018. The site, which completed the installation of spoke cable in August 2019 to increase the wheel's tensile strength, achieved a valuable result of completion after receiving the TOC (Taking Over Certificate) from the client on August 1, 2021 following the ▶ construction of a drive system ▶ construction of installing Bus bar (Cabin Power Supply Facility) and LED ▶ installation of 48 cabins and ▶commissioning and test.

From a Question Mark to an Exclamation Point: Zero Accident in All Processes!
Ain Dubai prides itself on being the best in the world for the safety of its structures. The steels used for wheel, leg, hub and spindle alone are 9,200 tons, and when including components and other structures, they amount to 11,200 tons. This is around 33 percent more than the amount of iron used in the Eiffel Tower in Paris. High-strength special steels are used to support the load while rotating, and they are designed to withstand the 2475 year cycle earthquake and a maximum wind speed of 45 m/s. All preparations have been to made to respond to any emergency. By double-tracking the control system, even if one system fails, the control is possible through the rest of the system, and even in a power outage, the emergency generator and diesel engine will operate to rotate the wheel.

[ 아인 두바이 전경. 높이 258m, 직경 250m로 세계 최대 규모를 자랑하는 이 웅장한 회전 구조물은 낮과 밤 모두 매력적입니다. 사진 제공_ Ain Dubai ]

ⓒAin Dubai 

The 99-month construction period was inevitable to secure flawless safety. The client and operator,  Dubai Holdings and MERAAS, demanded perfection in all aspects, including construction quality and safety. Hyundai E&C has passed the strict quality and safety requirements of the client and supervisor based on its extensive experience and technology know-how in constructing the world's highest and largest buildings. The fact that the project was completed  with ‘zero-accident in all processes’ of 9,253,558 accident-free hours even though it was the most difficult site, also made the project to shine more.

Making the impossible possible and turning technology into art is Hyundai E&C's identity and what we do best. The word ‘impossible’ followed the whole time until the super-large rotating structure that no one had ever tried was completed, but Hyundai E&C overcame many technical difficulties and environments along the way and changed the question mark to an exclamation point. On-site employees also expressed their pride saying, “This project was possible because it was Hyundai E&C!”, adding that “It will enhance Hyundai E&C’s reputation as a global builder, which will have a positive impact on future orders.”