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Last week we left readers wondering what terrible things were in store for John at the tail end of the post, and we’ll come back to that, I promise. This week though we are going to take a jump to more recent times.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai - the world's tallest building
Photo Wikimedia commons photographer: Nepenthes

January 4, 2012
Armani Ballroom, Burj Khalifa, Dubai City.

Ahmed Saif Al Zafren, the CEO of Farad Development group, addresses a crowd distinguished guests and dignitaries from the podium. The room is a mix of tuxedos, designer evening gowns, sharp white Dishdashas, impeccable hair styles and crisp red & white shemaghs with shiny black agals. The ambiance fueled by the collective spirit of celebration. It had been, after all, an absolutely historic accomplishment.

He introduces the project architect and engineering team, then the construction and project management teams, including John Tkhaos, Sr. Superintendent and Rebecca Kavner, Sr. site Engineer, all seated at tables near the front of the ballroom. Flushed with pride and humility they stand and turn to face the room as introduced while the audience applauds glowingly.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai - the world's tallest building
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons abac077

The focus shifts to a quiet conversation, taking place over dinner. “Sheikh Hishimy is one of our investors” Ahmed graciously acknowledges, then  leaving his son, Rashad, for last, he makes introductions around the table.”Rashad was a great addition to the site team, It was our pleasure to mentor him during his engineering practicum.” John announced proudly. “I see you’re wearing your Cambridge Engineering ring, Congratulations Rashad!” Rebecca added. “It was a great experience to be part of something so amazing!” Rashad beamed as he spoke in his Cambridge acquired British accent. “I may be putting Rashad on the spot here, but… Would you please tell our guests the story of our fateful day, two years ago, in March? Ahmed asked of his son Rashad.

Rashad pauses for a second or two, and glances at John and Rebecca. “It was March 13th.” He started, “I was on the 85th floor, completing a quantity survey. The wind was just howling through as there are no windows or cladding yet.

Around that time there had been a couple of serious incidents, near misses, but potentially deadly, involving the tower cranes and concrete hoppers. In response, Rebecca had developed a protocol for crane work, had footswitch operated radios installed in all the tower cranes, so they could communicate without taking their hands off the controls, she then developed a computer program for tracking the location of the concrete hoppers. By attaching GPS units, she could tell the exact location of any one of them, from her computer.

So, I’m working on level 85. There is a commotion, I turn to see and, suddenly I’m grabbed violently by terrorists, disguised as construction workers! Yelling and gunfire, workers running everywhere! It’s pandemonium! I’m a hostage! Afraid for my life! They wrestle me to the manhoist gate, one on each side of me. They shout into the intercom, demanding the operator come to the 85th floor! Just then, John appears out of the stairwell! The two thugs turn to look at John as he shouts at them, while at that very second, the manhoist gates fly open! They look back again, distracted by the manhoist, then, like a scene from Indiana Jones, John grabs a 2×4 and charges at all three of us! Knocks the assailants down and pushes me into the manhoist! Gunshots ring out, the gates close and I’m gone!  John takes off back down the stairwell in, terrorists hot pursuit!”

“So what did you do next!?” “Tell us more!” Rapid fire questions shoot from around the table at both John and Rashad. The Sheik spots a contemporary of his out of the corner of his eye. “John, I would like to introduce you to a associate of mine from Jeddah” “Certainly”, John responds while rising, “Sorry to keep you all in suspense, I’ll continue the story when return.”  John is then led away by Sheik Hishimy.

Next post: How will John escape the terrorists!? How does Rebecca’s genius save the day!? Check back next week to find out!

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One thought on “Episode 2: Burj Khalifa: Part 1

  1. How intense! I just want to turn the page of my book to read more, but alas…you keep me waiting!

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