By David Ingham 

Fino International managing partner Talal Saeed describes fitting out the Armani Hotel and the private offices of Emaar as “enlightening”

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa

Working on the interior fitout of the Burj Khalifa was both “enlightening” and “surprising,” according to Talal Saeed, managing partner of Fino International. The four year old, Dubai-based interiors specialist was appointed to work on three separate areas of the world’s tallest building.

The largest part of the job was the fit-out of the Armani Residences and the Armani Hotel Dubai, which required painstaking attention to detail and close co-ordination with teams from Armani and Emaar Hotels.

The second part of the work was the tower’s public area, which included the main entry lobby, the Armani café, various restaurants, prayer areas, a health club and spa.

The third and “highest” part of the contract was the corporate offices and the private offices of Emaar, on levels 152-154.

The job, which is now almost done, has taken 33 months and is worth AED400 million to Fino International.

“The specification in the job is one of the highest I’ve ever seen and experienced,” said Saeed. “There are so many consultants supervising and reporting to each other to make sure everything works perfectly.”

Because this is the world’s tallest tower and because Armani was involved in the hotel part, Fino has worked with materials sourced from all over the world to the highest specifications.

Materials such as marble, onyx and gypsum were sourced from countries as far apart as Canada, Pakistan and Madagascar. Those materials were shipped to Italy, where they were treated and inspected, and then sent to Fino in Dubai for cutting and water-jetting prior to installation.

A brand new type of paint, developed by Armani specifically for the Burj Khalifa project, was used throughout the Armani properties. Four coats of the paint had to be applied, with at least 24 hours of drying required between application of each layer.

Reflecting the level of care that has gone into the building, Saeed explained that every single wall in the hotel had to be inspected and approved by SOM, the project architect; Turner, the construction project manager; and Armani.

Fino was also the last company to make use of the crane on level 154 of the building, which it employed to help lift large sheets of glass.

Fino International started the job with around 300 people on site, a figure that rose to around 2500 people at peak times. Around 30% of those people were new hires. Saeed said he has spent almost every working day and some weekends on the site over the last 33 months.

Among the things he remembers about working on the Burj Khalifa are the incredible heights involved, the fluctuations in temperature between ground and upper levels, and the strict enforcement of health and safety procedures.

“You cannot just bring a new employee along and go inside,” said Saeed. “You have to give them a lecture on how to move around inside the building and what to do in case of fire… there were training exercises for the workers almost weekly.”

Now that the job, the largest the company has ever handled, is nearly over, it will be looking to win more jobs in Qatar and Abu Dhabi.

In the meantime, it continues to work towards the completion of its Metro Red Line commitments this month. Fino has also been awarded parts of the Green Line.

Armani Hotel Dubai will open on March 18. Handover of apartments in Armani Residences will begin in February.