Al Karamah School, the first school in the UAE for children with ASD

Dedicated to serving a set of local pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the Al Karamah School is the first institution of its kind in the UAE, enhancing the educational landscape and social care system in Abu Dhabi.


Bringing the client’s vision to life

The client had a clear vision and aspiration of what and how they wished to achieve with this landmark project that would satisfy a significant need for the country. The partnership operator, contractor and design teams were driven forward by the ambition and expedient decision-making of the client to design and deliver this major build within a defined, out-of-term timeline – 4.5 months.

This project is particularly special, as the building is completely crafted around the way in which young people with ASD engage with their environment. The work has created a safe and inclusive environment where pupils will be taught a full curriculum by a group of staff that includes a team of dedicated therapists for up to 260 Emirati children.

The building is truly an innovative space that creates an environment like no other in the UAE. The central vision for this building and the desire to create something that makes a real difference to children with special educational needs are what make the project and the final result so important.

A sustainable project

The project was a sustainable operation – waste materials were recycled directly or collected by local recycling companies who were able to put it back into use in various initiatives. Existing MEP equipment was recommissioned and reused and where equipment had to be replaced, it was replaced with greater efficiency. End-of-life solar panels, which were surplus to requirements for the new design were reused on various local projects.

Safety First

Safety was of paramount importance on this project, working around the clock with a peak workforce of 500 operatives across numerous trades. McLaren is very proud of the health and safety record on this project without any lost time accidents and only three minor first aid cases during the project. Works were carried out in autumn and winter months, but the site management team successfully implemented and managed a 'working in heat plan' to ensure the appropriate action is taken in line if there were any unexpected spikes in temperature.

Big Project Middle East – Project of the Year

McLaren worked collaboratively with the client, on a Design and Build basis to find ways to reduce the cost whilst keeping maintain the original design intent and functionality of the facility. The project was a challenging one, especially in terms of time and included some major alterations and additions to change the building use from a ‘mainstream’ school to a very specific Special Educational Needs (SEN) school, with substantial additional safety requirements and equipment installations.

We are very proud that the project received the Design and Build Project of the Year Award 2019 from MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) and subsequently granted a very ‘one of a kind’ award in the form of the Editors Special Award for Contribution to Community as they felt it deserved further recognition. The project also went on to receive many more awards through our amazing design team partners and Client Project Management Team who all contributed to the amazing success of the project.