Top commerial abseilers scale Dubai heights to prepare for London’s expansion into the sky
Q Avalon guides UK partners on 251 metre, 40°C exercise setting new rope access record for British experts
photo caption: Greig Littlewood and Nigel How from Avalon Abseiling UK scale the Conrad Hotel Dubai during a joint venture partnership exercise with the Q Avalon team
Two of the UK’s most prolific commercial abseilers have achieved new heights in Dubai in a partnership operation to help prepare for London’s major expansion into the sky.
Industrial abseiling and construction services experts, Avalon, have completed a week-long excursion with their UAE partner Q Avalon, part of the Q Group, to provide technical support for the local team, review competencies at extreme heights and their own abilities working in extreme weather conditions.
Greig Littlewood and Nigel How, both Commercial Rope Access Technicians at Avalon, scaled the highest drops in their careers when they abseiled down the 251 metre Conrad Hotel Dubai to perform technical inspections and undertake checks and procedures at mid-40ºc temperatures.
Planned by Q Avalon, a UAE market-leading provider of industrial rope access solutions, the exercise provided an opportunity to learn how their UAE partners deliver the same skills and quality work despite the environmental hazards and offered an important learning curve for its UK partners.
The experience gained in Dubai will be invaluable as London’s iconic skyline prepares to reach a new level, as prominent landmarks like the Gherkin and the Shard are joined by more than 200 skyscrapers proposed, approved or already under construction.
“This was by far the highest jump I’ve made, at least 150 metres higher than the buildings we regularly maintain in the UK, and the heat affected our concentration levels quite markedly, making everything a lot harder,” said Littlewood.
“These initiatives are really important for us as a business because I was able to learn some useful techniques when working on such high buildings and dealing with huge lengths of rope.”
Ian Stanford, Group Ropes Store Manager for Avalon and Q Avalon, added: “In our industry, we are constantly learning and evolving our service offering; we have to adapt to the changes being made in the construction business and the sheer scales that architects and developers can now reach.
“While the UAE is still a relatively young market in rope access services, the lessons we learnt from the team here in relation to extreme heights has been invaluable. London is getting taller at a fast rate and I’m now looking at the equipment used here, to evaluate what can be mirrored in the UK.”
The Avalon team also travelled to Saraya Towers in Abu Dhabi to undertake a second jump and review the health and safety checks performed by their Q Avalon colleagues.
Littlewood said: “I found the differences between rope access in the UK and UAE interesting. The added heights and huge amounts of rope, coupled with extreme heat, makes even a simple task very difficult. I have a lot of respect for the Q Avalon team doing a tough job in an even tougher environment.”
Q Avalon’s expertise in the work-at-height sector has illuminated some of the UAE’s top sporting events for global audiences, delivering maintenance for the high powered lighting systems at the Dubai World Cup at Meydan and the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
photo: Littlewood and How perform safety checks on the iconic Tower Bridge structure in London
Amir Chaudhry, Director at Q FM said: “Our UK partners give us ongoing support as we develop this emerging business in the region, but it has been a week of shared experiences as Greig and Nigel learnt first-hand the conditions in which our team operate throughout the year. Dust, wind and extreme temperatures are all managed by our team on a daily basis, but the length of rope we require to carry out our services is also a huge undertaking.”
Specialists in onshore and offshore work, Q Avalon more broadly provides a comprehensive range of rope access services to the construction, oil and gas, and rail industries, government authorities, as well as commercial and retail sectors. The company has developed the region’s first live link video survey system, Ropebot, which allows clients to manage and direct the abseiling team remotely.
– Lindsay Johnston, Total Communications Dubai – also photos