Abu Dhabi hosted the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship in the Middle East and the first in the open air - in front of 11,000 excited fans, a highly charged atmosphere and beneath a monster steel roof structure specially designed and built for the occasion by Al Laith Events Services.
Al Laith Events Services effectively delivered the entire stadium infrastructure - including all the seating grandstands - that was built to stage the event, juxtaposed with the futuristic backdrop of the new Ferrari World indoor theme park on Yas Island.
The production company was Flash Events. The roof design was developed by Serious Stages' chief designer, Dragan Kuzmanov. Jo Marshall project managed for Al Laith, the site manager for Flash Events was Malcolm McInnes and Flash's production manager was Lee Charteris.
Says Jo Marshall, "This was a very demanding event for us, and it was a real privilege to be tasked to produce a staging solution for Flash Events, all of which came together in just two months". The roof structure had to address several technical challenges!
The show was required to be in the round, so there had to be clear sight-lines on all four sides; It had to look amazing and support 34 tonnes of production equipment - all on four ground support legs!
The resulting masterpiece of metalwork and structural imagineering measured 36m wide x 30 metres deep, with a flown roof weight of 22 tonnes supported by four leg trusses spaced 25 metres apart cross-stage and 24m upstage-downstage, giving a trim height of 18 metres.
Considering the vast quantities of metal involved, it was also a creation of great finesse, combining elegance and simplicity.
Unique design elements included the capability to dispense with cross bracing - vital for optimising the sightlines – and the roof was built from a combination of stock items and custom parts from Al Laith. The legs were made from Serious Stages 750 mm square heavy duty tower truss. The main cross stage trusses were made from the proven and versatile SPACE Truss, formed into a relatively flat arch profile. The side upstage/downstage trusses were a completely new type of heavy duty rectangular trussing, and the numerous other bespoke components that were needed to make it all fit snugly together were fabricated both in the UK and at the Al Laith yard in Dubai.
The roof is a self climbing design, raised by eight double-reeved 2 tonne chain hoists. For the UFC build, where there was a very limited time period for the load-in, the roof was pre-assembled into thirteen large sub-assemblies which were then craned into position.
Al Laith installed 1600 square metres of stage decking which stood 0.9 metres off the ground, and they also constructed a variety of other structures site wide.
Four LED screens were flown from the centre of each side of the roof. In addition, there were four 6m x 4m back-projection screens mounted on system scaffolding support structures at the back of each grandstand. The projectors feeding these screens were housed in 19m high system scaffolding projection towers built integral to the screen supports and fully scrimmed so as to provide black-out tunnels. All screens showed IMAG footage of the show. Sixteen tonnes of V-DOSC PA was flown at several points around the support legs and front lip of the roof to ensure good and even coverage across the full seating area. Lighting, sound and video were all supplied by Gearhouse Dubai.
The Al Laith stage crew were co-ordinated on site by Simon Carr and Justin Chadburn, both regular UK-based freelancers for Serious and Al Laith.
Says Malcolm McInnes, "We were really impressed with the speed at which the roof went up - and with the calmness and efficiency of the operation. It was enormous, very impressive, and the Al Laith crew are second to none".
Lee Charteris weighs in with, "Al Laith have been brilliant to work with as always. This was a very big undertaking by anyone's standards, and it's really good that we have all the skills, expertise and resources locally and easily accessible to service world class events".
For more press info. on Al Laith Event Services, please contact Louise Stickland on +44 (0)1865 202679/+44 (0)7831 329888 or Email [email protected]'. For more general info and to contact Al Laith direct, check http://www.allaithscaffolding.com or call +971 (4) 338 8882