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World Tunnel Congress 2018 In Dubai: The Middle East Consolidated Its Position As Powerful Emergent Market

Held in Dubai, from 21st to 26th April by the Society of Engineers (SOE) and the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA), the World Tunnel Congress and 44th ITA General Assembly were a momentous occasion and an undoubted success for the global industry.

Focused on "The Role of Underground Space for future cities", the world tunnel congress shared a light on the sustainable aspects of developing underground construction. The challenge faced today by many key players of the industry (Engineers, urban planners, architects), when building new underground facilities is to fully respect the surrounding nature.

The opening ceremony was well attended by VIP guests, delegates from government and private sectors, presidents of international engineering associations, representatives from major engineering and tunnelling companies, as well as key stakeholders in tunnelling industry from all over the world.

Inaugurated by Eng. Dawoud Al Hajri, Director-General of Dubai Municipality and President of the Society of Engineers and Prof. Tarcisio Celestino, ITA President, the ceremony was rhythmed by high-skilled lectures and speeches, notably the Muir Wood Lecture given by Edward Cording and the Landmark Lecture on roman underground road network in Naples given by Stefano de Caro. Eng. Suleiman Abdelrahman Alhajri also gave a lecture on major works on-going in the UAE.

From this point flowed presentations, working groups, seminars. With 125 technical papers presented orally and 60 posters, the World Tunnel Congress has once again consolidated its position as the world's premier tunnelling event.

During the 44th ITA General Assembly, Copenhagen was chosen to host the World Tunnel Congress in 2021. Next year it will be in Naples, Italy and in 2020 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The ITACUS technical session highlighted various innovative concepts including those presented by the Young Professionals Think Deep Programme, such as a virtual reality model of hard rock wastewater tunnel used in Stockholm. Also, the digital twin tunnel presented by Karin Dehaas showcased the potential benefits of a fully digital tunnel, allowing to identify with precision the surrounding environment and to share data to predict aging behavior, malfunction or failure, in order to preserve the existing nature around underground constructions.

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