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Flying sand to the desert.

In Dubai, major buildings are emerging from the desert at great speed. On occasion, the sand used is flown in via td.Pro.

Dubai can hardly quench its thirst for sand.

At 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa is now the world’s tallest building in the Emirate of Dubai. An even higher one is planned. Expo 2020 in Dubai additionally reinforces the construction volume. The other Gulf States – such as Qatar, which is preparing for the Men’s 2022 World Cup – also rely on sand imports. The principle construction material for the skyscrapers is reinforced concrete – two thirds of which are sand. Some 450 million tons of sand were required for the aggregate on artificial islands such as The Palm Jumeirah, The Palm Jebel Ali and The World in the shape of palms or world maps on Dubai’s Persian Gulf coastline.

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This exhausted Dubai’s resources of sea sand, which is also suitable as a building material. Consumption of this raw material is increasing worldwide. The British geologist, Michael Welland, describes sand as the silent hero of our time. After air and water it is the resource most in demand worldwide. In addition to its function as a building aggregate, sand is essential as an element in many cosmetics, coastal protection and as a basic material in microchips in Smartphones and computers. According to a UN report, each year an unbelievable 30 billion tons of building minerals are consumed alone to produce concrete – the largest part of which is sand in its various forms and compositions. The 26 tons from Germany now on approach to Dubai mean the project can be finished on time after all.

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Work halted:

following an average in the Suez Canal, southbound vessels in the Mediterranean are queuing up. On board one of these freighters is one of the most coveted goods in the desert state Dubai – sand. And if it isn’t supplied to a major construction site quickly, work will be halted. For the major German construction company responsible for completing the work in the Emirate of Dubai amid tight deadlines and looming contractual penalties, such a situation is a nightmare. Although the start of the desert can be seen from the construction site – the golden sand is not suitable for construction projects. Thousands of years of winds have left the sand smooth and round. However, to bind concrete and aggregate, sand grains need corners, edges and a rough surface.

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And this quality can be found, for example, in Germany or Australia. A sand dealer near Cologne therefore takes a call: “We need 26 tons of sand in four days. In Dubai.” A timescale of three days – enough for the td.Pro standard solution to transport the sand from Frankfurt (FRA) to Dubai International Airport (DXB). First of all, it is packed in 25-kilogram sacks for transportation by truck. At the Lufthansa Cargo Center, the handling experts calculate the loading distribution and staple the sacks afresh: 90 on each cargo pallet. At 1.5 tons in weight per cubic meter, sand is a challenge for airfreight. Cargo pallets need to be distributed in the plane to maintain balance. Just 36 hours after the first call, the MD-11F takes off en route to Dubai.