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Engineers from leave conference

Engineers from leave conference
Close to 1,000 delegates from all over the world, departed Dubai today at the conclusion of PIANC-COPEDEC VII, the international conference on coastal and port engineering.

Engineers from 66 countries leave conference armed with new techniques and methods

Close to 1,000 delegates from all over the world, departed Dubai today at the conclusion of PIANC-COPEDEC VII, the international conference on coastal and port engineering. They return to their home countries equipped with a huge range of new ideas and techniques, empowered to contribute better to their professions with confidence and about to put into practice the theme of the conference ? Best Practices in the Coastal Environment.

Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Dubai Municipality"s Essa Al Maidour, commented that 500 delegates were expected to attend. The final number of experts, scientists and professionals, plus nearly 100 students ? the new generation of coastal experts ? from UAE and overseas, underscored the global significance of the conference.

Directly touching the crucial issue of billion-dollar coastal developments taking place worldwide, he observed it has succeeded in enriching the knowledge of participants who can now apply what they have learned to improving living standards in their respective countries. This is critical given that more than 60% of the world population lives in coastal areas ? and by 2010 more than 80% will live within 100 km of a coastline.

Mr Al Maidour also called for the need to create and regularly update a global "smart database" that can be used in modelling studies about impacts on coastal environments and ecological systems.

During the conference, more than 200 papers were presented by authors from 47 countries. There were contributions from experts in every specialty in the fields of coastal and port engineering and coastal zone management.

Among subjects discussed were port operations and planning, port design, sedimentation and related environmental matters including coastal zone and shoreline management, stabilisation of beaches (both natural and man-made). The presentation by a team of experts working with the conference"s host and main sponsor, Dubai Municipality, on the shoreline impact of large offshore reclamation projects and how it is possible to use advanced modelling techniques to anticipate and adapt to the impacts on the shoreline, was of special local interest.

There were sessions on tsunami, typhoons and other coastal hazards. Risk analysis was also discussed in depth and theoretical subjects such as wave climate and analysis were also in the spotlight. The crucial participation of government policymakers and commercial men of action kept discussion in the many technical sessions focused on real issues.

One of the most important elements identified by delegates leaving the conference was the opportunity to meet industry colleagues from so many world locations. Many noted the vital participation of a huge number of eager young professionals ? the next generation of coastal engineers and scientists who will spearhead even more new technologies, methods and ideas. ?Knowledge transfer is one of the key indicators of success in a technical conference,? said one delegate, ?and it has been fully been accomplished here.?

The chance to experience mega-projects and learn about them first-hand was a big draw for many delegates. Dubai Municipality organised a series of technical tours to developments such as The Palm, Jebel Ali Port, The Lagoons and Business Bay Creek.

The comprehensive variety of topics, established through a rigorous selection process, was also praised. ?Many of the presentations went well beyond the theoretical field of engineering,? commented a delegate from Auckland, New Zealand. ?They dealt with social and environmental issues. The practical application of case studies and solutions being applied to different coastal challenges worldwide was highly educational.?

Participants were similarly effusive about the venue of the conference. A Canadian delegate commented, ?Dubai is not only leading the world in coastal development, it is also leading it in the provision of friendly and conducive atmosphere. The hospitality of the Dubai authorities provides a model other countries would do well to adopt.?

?Although PIANC has been holding conferences since 1987 ? and COPEDEC since 1983 ? this was the first attempt to combine the positive aspects of both,? explained Eric Van den Eede, President of co-organiser PIANC. ?The fact that it has concluded so positively and so successfully is extremely gratifying. Special thanks go to our host and main sponsor, Dubai Municipality, for generously funding a huge number of Fellows from countries in transition who otherwise might not have been able to attend.?

Echoing Mr Van den Eede"s sentiments, John Headland of global infrastructure service firm Moffatt & Nichol said, ?It is the vibrant combination of professionals from what we term the "developed world" with those from countries in transition that really made this such an informative meeting. One especially open, candid, and honest presentation from Sri Lanka ? on the ongoing post-tsunami repairs to the harbour ? really encapsulated for me the juxtaposing dynamic of this conference.?

Waterfront 2008, the exhibition of products, technologies and services running parallel to the conference also concluded today. Jonathan Mead of Jo Bird (UK), manufacturers of storage cabinets for fire safety, lifesaving and emergency equipment for use in physically demanding offshore and onshore industries, said ?We have exhibited at events larger than this but rarely has the quality matched our experience here. Normally we could expect to collect around 150 contacts, perhaps four of which would result in actual business. In this case, we"ve taken around 50 and we anticipate more than 10 will lead to contracts.?

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