Building Lives: Mission in the desert

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CGTN, July 18, 2022

An impressive new medical facility that is expected to strengthen the Middle East's ability to deal with COVID-19 is rising from the desert of Abu Dhabi.

As one of the latest initiatives to support China's Belt and Road Initiative, the vast project covers a land area of 250,000 square meters with the capacity to produce 200 million doses of vaccine per year.

"We're very proud of this project, which is being completed by our team. We're contributing to something for [all] human beings of the world," said Zheng Chunguang, senior executive of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).

Zheng serves as the deputy general manager of CSCEC Middle East's Building Division, which is responsible for the new project that is nearing completion in the Kizad Port area on the outskirts of the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Though work only began about a year ago, the company, which is among the world's leading construction firms, is on track to deliver the vaccine factory at record speed, with completion expected in the coming months.

Located a 40-minute drive from downtown Abu Dhabi, the site will include a product warehouse, a power station and a chemical warehouse in addition to its main production facility built to service the wider region once it's operational.

Taking great pride in what has been achieved to date, Bulgarian engineer Hristo Donchev said the speed at which the project has progressed was only made possible due to having separate construction teams working around the clock.

As a technical manager, he further explained this approach will ensure construction finishes almost a year ahead of the expected timeframe for similar projects.

"We have done airports, we have done residential buildings, but here it's a little bit different because you are giving something more which is not commercial; it's for the well-being of the people."

Described as the first UAE vaccine factory with direct Chinese involvement, it is only the latest collaboration between the two countries in the healthcare sector. Last year, an agreement was reached for China's Sinopharm vaccine to be produced in the region through a partnership between Chinese biotech giant China National Biotec Group (CNBG) and UAE-owned firm Group 42 (G42) – the same firms also responsible for the vaccine factory.

"I'm proud we have this factory here in the UAE," said Amgad Farzat, a Syrian construction manager involved in the project. He also hopes the facility will help to support other Arab countries.

Having worked in the UAE for many years, Farzat doesn't rule out using the skills he acquired on this and other CSCEC projects in his home country in the future.

"I have worked in [the] UAE for 15 years. I joined China State Construction Middle East last year, which has finished more than 100 iconic projects. I like working here with my colleagues who are from different countries," he said.

"I hope the war will stop and we will build Syria again."

It's likely to be an idea shared by many of his fellow countrymen and women living overseas, given that most of Syria is now back in government control.

Regardless of whether they support the government, it will be difficult to deny that vital infrastructure, perhaps especially in the healthcare sector, will be crucial in providing a brighter future for all.

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