Dubai firm builds tallest flagpole - again

UAE company that created record-breakers across the globe is building a 165-metre flagpole for Tajikistan.

David Chambers of Trident Support stands inside a section of the flagpole built for Azerbaijan.
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A company from Dubai that makes the world's tallest flagpoles has ambitions to reach yet higher into the sky, one metre at a time. Trident Support has created record-breaking flagpoles in a string of cities across the globe and is now building a 165-metre flagpole for the city of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Ambitious nations have hired the company to create ever higher flagpoles that will get them into the record books albeit temporarily for just a few million dollars.

Last year the Jebel Ali-based firm erected a 133-metre pole in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, which was at the time the world's tallest unsupported flagpole. Earlier in May last year, a 162.9-metre pole took the record when it was completed in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. The accolade is set to pass to Dushanbe in September, when its flagpole is due to be completed. To ensure more countries have the world's tallest flagpole, at least until something taller gets built, David Chambers, the firm's managing director, said that from now on they would not build flagpoles more than one metre higher than the record holder at the time.

"That's right, it will be 166 metres," he said of whatever flagpole follows the one in Dushanbe. "We're going to stick to a policy of one metre at a time. There won't even be a two-metre jump." It is possible the 166-metre flagpole could be built in the Gulf region; Mr Chambers said he had "very strong interest" from Oman and Qatar. Trident Support's extreme flagpoles are made in sections of about 12 metres using steel up to 50mm thick and cost from US$3 million (Dh11m) to $5m. A Jebel Ali subcontractor carries out the steelwork.

Mr Chambers's bulging order book includes a 60-metre flagpole scheduled to be erected in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, before the World Cup. The company has completed a 63-metre flagpole for the Gateway of India in New Delhi. Recent projects include erecting about 30 eight-metre flagpoles at the Yas Marina Circuit, which played host to the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. The first major flagpole created by Mr Chambers's firm was a 100-metre structure in Bahrain followed in 2002 by the 123-metre flagpole on the Abu Dhabi seafront.

His other tall flagpoles include one in Amman that measured 126 metres and another in Aqaba, Jordan, that extended the then-record to 130 metres. Typically, the monster flags that fly on the poles weigh about 300kg and Trident Support makes about five for each customer from nylon or polyester to allow for frequent changes for repairs. The flag for Azerbaijan, to be hoisted in May to coincide with the country's national day, will measure 35 metres by 70 metres, making it the largest flag flown on a flagpole.

However, given the heavy winds in Baku, Mr Chambers said the flag would need changing every three days or so, while in other cities flags can last several weeks at a time. As flagpoles get taller, larger cranes are needed to erect them, and Mr Chambers said this was likely to cause complications in Dushanbe. "There's a very good chance we'll use a helicopter in Tajikistan because we're having challenges getting a big crane transported there," he said.

"They would have to import one and it's very expensive. We're looking at bringing in a small crane and finishing the last 30 or 40 metres using a helicopter rented from Russia." Although it would be the first time the company has used a helicopter, Mr Chambers said the aircraft would be operated by an experienced construction firm to ensure the operation was safe. Trident Support believes it is possible to build flagpoles up to 220 metres without helicopters, assuming large cranes are available, but has not calculated the absolute limit.

"They could certainly go bigger, but it's a question of the erection method and transportation," said Mr Chambers. "Beyond this it's conceptual."