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Abu Dhabi is making huge efforts to reduce its dependability from oil exports only. The state government has started working on several projects to develop the city’s infrastructure and other industries including business, trade, and tourism. Following the progress trends of Dubai, the emirate started taking interest to build leisure and entertainment facilities and worth watching destinations to attract tourists across the globe. Recently, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan approved a Bulgarian-born artist Christo, to build the world’s largest manmade sculpture in Al Gharbia (Western Region), which is approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) the south of the city of Abu Dhabi, near the oasis of Liwa.

History of the Mastaba

Christo and his wife Jeanne Claude visited UAE in February 1979 in search to finalize the project site. The original idea of this project was developed in 1977. As it is a very huge project that not only requires enormous investment rather it also needed huge labor to tackle its construction. He has to wait for 33 years to obtain final approval from the rulers of UAE. The main reason for this delay was the UAE’s investment trends. Initially, investors did not make huge investments in such kind of the project; they prefer to make investments in residential and commercial real estate projects. The fast booming growth of Dubai as a region’s hub for business, travel, and tourism played a very important role to drag the attention of investors to make huge investments in projects associated to build leisure and entertainment destinations for tourists. Same way Abu Dhabi’s investors also realized the importance of making investments in such projects. Currently, the State Government of the emirate and developers and investors are working in collaboration to rebrand this emirate from a giant oil-producing emirate to a center of arts and culture in the region. Observing such diversifying trends facilitate him to obtain approval to start this project.

The couple had already prepared the structural feasibility report from 2007-2008 with the coordination of professors of engineering from ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the US, Cambridge University in the UK, and Hosei University in Tokyo, Japan. The project artists finally approved the design concept of Hosei University. According to their design, the entire substructure and a layer of barrels will be assembled flat on the ground. Ten elevation towers will be required to build to raise the entire structure on bars on the site. It will take 3 to 4 days to assemble this baseline structure of the sculpture. Finally, he hired the German engineering firm, Schlaich Bergermann und Partner, in Stuttgart to analyze the report. After completing primary research and feasibility studies about the sculpture, Christo commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers in 2012 to carry out an analysis of the social and economic benefits of The Mastaba.

Facts about Mastaba

With a total project cost estimate of $340 million, Mastaba has been predicted to become a symbol of Abu Dhabi similar to Eiffel Tower has already done for Parris. The project artist got inspired by a “Mesopotamian Mud Bench” used for rest by desert travelers, not by Egyptian Pyramids.

Sculpture Dimensions

Upon its completion, the sculpture will become the largest manmade structure made up of 410,000 multi-colored oil barrels. Mastaba is going to be 150 meters (492 feet) tall structure that will be three times higher than Nelson’s Column in London and taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza. Moreover, the structure will be 225 meters (738 feet) deep at an angle of 60 degree slanted walls and 300 meters (984 feet) wide at the vertical walls. Whereas the top of the sculpture will be a horizontal surface with 126.8 meters (416 feet).

The positioning of Barrels in Structure

All barrels in Mastaba on all four sides including its top will be installed in a way so that they are setting up on their sides. The two vertical walls will be showing circular heads of the colored barrels, whereas slanted sides stacking barrels to show the curved sides. Finally, the flat top of the structure will show a horizontal surface and reveal the rounded length of barrels packed in sculpture.

Colors Scheme of the Sculpture

Christo and his wife Jeanne Claude inspired by yellow and red colors in the desert’s sand and chose a German company to supply the colored barrels for sculpture. The three-dimensional bright multicolored sculpture will display diverse shades in the sunlight. Its vertical sides will become full of Gold during sun shine.

The project will take 30 months (2.5 years) to be completed. Mastaba will be the only permanent sculpture made by Christo. Abu Dhabi government also has plans to develop this project site as worth seeing places for tourists and have plans to build up a luxury hotel, restaurant, and art campus in the area. The project will also possess a complex with parking facilities, worship rooms, rest areas for the public as well as caretaker staff working there. In order to minimize the force of sand and windstorms, developers also have plans to plant Palm, Eucalyptus, and thorn trees around Mastaba. In addition to that, the adjacent area and walkways will be dotted with flowers and grass to create a refreshing environment for the visitors.




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