MENA INFRA Issue 6
As Iraq swaps Humvees for JCBs, can the country's rebuilding process provide a much-needed boost to the regional construction industry?
PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES Al Habtoor Leighton CEO Laurie Voyer on expanding beyond the UAE BAY OF PLENTY Inside Bahrain Bay with Chief Executive Bob Vincent www.menainfra.com � Q3 2010 A FAREWELL TO ARMS As Iraq swaps combat for construction, what challenges does the country face in its rebuilding process? FROM THE EDITOR 5 UNTAPPED POTENTIAL As Iraq swaps Humvees for JCBs, can the country's rebuilding process provide a much-needed boost to the regional construction industry? raq is increasingly waking up to new sounds in the morning: amid the continuing crackle of gunfi re and exploding IEDs, the nation's long-suffering inhabitants are now just as likely to be woken by the drone of jackhammers and earthmoving equipment as the country's rebuilding process begins in earnest following the withdrawal of US combat troops at the end of August. Across the country, scaffolding is springing up over the bullet-marked walls and workers are swarming over construction sites as Iraq embarks on its return to some semblance of normality. And as the massive recovery effort picks up momentum, foreign firms stand ready to take up the challenge. Oil money from rising production is powering growth, and now that the government has awarded oil-field contracts worth billions of dollars to BP, ExxonMobil, China National Petroleum and others, foreign clients are looking for help in financing everything from pipelines to power grids to workers' camps. And in addition, pent-up demand for housing and better infrastructure is also proving a big draw for international fi rms. Indeed, for all its security issues and political infighting, Iraq remains an economic powerhouse waiting to be tapped � and the government's decision to kick-start a US$186 billion development plan, announced back in July, is welcome news for a region that is looking for new ways to massage an economy that has collectively struggled in the wake of the global fi nancial crisis. The Iraqi government's aim from the plan is to achieve an average annual economic growth of 9.38 percent, develop its sagging infrastructure, reduce regional differences, provide 3.5 million jobs and diversify the economy away from a dependence on oil and gas. Everything from ports to bridges to roads to affordable housing solutions is set for an overhaul as the country looks to stimulate growth. It's especially good news for regional construction and real estate companies who can bring in their much needed expertise to Iraq, and Gulf fi nanciers who are sitting on cash, I "US$100 billion of the proposed project costs will be financed by the state budget while the remainder will be funded through local and foreign investments" unwilling to invest in their own stock markets and property sectors. According to Abdul-Zahra Al Hindawi, spokesman for the Ministry of Planning and Development � the agency in charge of supervising the implementation of the plan � about US$100 billion of the proposed project costs will be fi nanced by the state budget while the remainder will be funded through local and foreign investments. Th is suggests that despite its problems, Iraq may just be the place to invest in right now. It's certainly on the radar for the big fi rms: Laurie Voyer, CEO of major UAE contractor Al Habtoor Leighton Group, tells us in an exclusive interview that the country will play an important role in its continued expansion across the region; meanwhile, regional real estate players such as Al Maabar, Bloom, National Holdings, Bonyan and Al Hanthal are all in advanced talks with the Iraqi National Investment Commission on starting projects in Iraq. As ever with these types of developments, cooperation and collaboration will be key to their success. "The experience and technology knowhow of the international companies, plus the contacts and cultural knowledge of local partners, will provide a great formula for success," says Namir El Akabi, CEO of domestic construction firm Almco, in our cover story. If the Iraqi people and international fi rms can embrace this new spirit of partnership and work together, then the rewards could be rich indeed. Ben Thompson Managing Editor CONTENTS 7 28 Building a powerful presence MENA Infrastructure catches up with Al Habtoor Leighton Group CEO Laurie Voyer to discuss expansion, experience and the value of doing the basics well 42 Bay of plenty Bahrain Bay CEO Bob Vincent reveals how the mega project is set to boost the economy of the GCC's smallest nation, and how it rode out the crash of the property market Qatar hero 74 The Gulf's budget boom Lucy Douglas takes a look at the Middle East's affordable housing sector and asks how this can help the recovering property industry When Qatar discovered oil and gas back in the 1930s, its capital Doha rapidly morphed from a small settlement into a sprawling city. Dohaland CEO Issa Al Mohannadi believes that now is the time for the city to go back to its architectural roots 92 54 Just like starting over With Western troops beginning their exit of Iraq, Ben Thompson takes a look at what the future holds for this resource-rich but brutally war-torn nation CONTENTS 9 Ask the Expert 36 Catherine Houska Nickel Institute 40 John McNamee Ischebeck Titan 66 Barry Bell Wagner Fire Management Consultants 72 Rob Schomaker Biddle 84 Brian Fitzpatrick and Tim Risbridger EC Harris 116 Patrick Laemmle PANOLIN AG Executive Interviews 52 Lars-G�ran Andersson Volvo 68 Mark Fenton Honeywell Life Safety 88 Poul Svensgaard DELTA Light & Optics 122 Filippo Fantechi Contax Partners 98 68 38 Lasting impressions John Best looks at the value of reputation in the construction industry 62 Protect and serve Dean McGrail discusses the latest trends and technologies in fire protection and exactly why the MENA region needs to comply 80 MENA's deadliest threat? The construction boom of the GCC has attracted scores of people to the region for business. But this population growth has brought a potentially fatal danger into the picture 90 Simply safer sign posts Craig Pyser explains how specially engineered road signs can help save lives 118 98 Back on track? Why Doha is embracing the need for improvement to its mass transport network 10 CONTENTS Roundtables 100 Rail 110 Paints and coatings 132 Wastewater Details 147 In the rough? Can the UAE's golf industry stay on the fairway, post-recession? 152 King of the green With golfmarnoch's Steve Marnoch 154 Harbouring ambitions A look at the region's luxury marina developments 156 Travel 36 hours in... Mumbai 158 Agenda Your guide to the region's events in the coming quarter Industry Insight 48 Alineza Biparva Kryton 50 Chen Liang Gannet Flemming 70 David Stevenson Belimo 86 Sebastian Althen Siemens 126 Richard Menezes Utico 140 Tony Wynes Aquarius 106 Asset preservation With corrosion prevention a major construction challenge, are we doing everything that is needed to ensure the viability of our critical infrastructure? 118 Building a greener future With H�l�ne Pelosse, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency 124 Taking health, safety and the environment seriously Floris Schulze outlines how to create a safer energy infrastructure 132 135 High and dry MENA Infrastructure takes a look at the challenges raised by water treatment and reuse technologies in the region 138 Sane in the membrane With OrangeBoat's Jantje Johnson 142 Designing sustainable sports fields With Humberto Urriola of Atlantis 144 Long lasting connections By Lenzen Hebe-Und F�rdertechnik's Armin Lehmann 62 NG Oil & Gas MENA Summit 12th - 14th April 2011 The Jumeirah Meydan Hotel, Dubai The NG Oil&Gas Summit is a three-day critical information gathering of the most influential and important executives from the Oil & Gas industry. 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Chairman/Publisher Spencer Green Worldwide Sales Director Oliver Smart Finance Director Jamie Cantillon Editor Ben Thompson Find Out More, Contact NG Oil&Gas Summit +44 0 117 921 4000 Associate Editor Lucy Douglas Contributors Ian Clover, Rebecca Goozee, Nicholas Pryke, Julian Rogers, Stacey Sheppard, Marie Shields, Huw Thomas Creative Director Andrew Hobson Design Director Sarah Wilmott Associate Designers Tiffany Farrant, Michael Hall, Crystal Mather, Cliff Newman, Catherine Wilson Online Director James West Online Editor Jana Grune Project Director Thomas Gabriel Project Manager Thomas Mayne Sales Executives Alec Berry, Darren Harvey, Peter Haytread, Anton Kouprianov Production Director Lauren Heal Production Coordinators Renata Okrajni, Aimee Whitehead VP North America Jason Green Operations Director Ben Kelly IT Director Karen Boparoy Marketing Director John Funnell Subscription Enquiries: +44 117 9214000, www.menainfra.com General Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org (Please put the magazine name in the subject line) Letters to the Editor: email@example.com GDS International GDS Publishing, Queen Square House 18-21 QueenSquare, Bristol, BS1 4NH Tel: +44 117 9214000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ngomenasummit.com 14 UPFRONT Interest returns to the UAE T here have been rumblings about the turn around of the UAE's construction industry for almost a year now; some reports rather optimistically suggesting that the sector was on track to enjoy a return to the lucrative state it was in pre-recession before the end of the year, others more reasonably predicting that wheels of change will not be set in motion until at least Q1 2011. However, the last quarter has thrown-up evidence to suggest that the eagerly awaited recovery of the country's iconic development industry could be well and truly under way. Slow but steady, the recovering real estate market is beginning to pick itself up, a fact evident in the steadily improving times taken to settle outstanding contracts and a general increase in consumer and investor confidence. According to Shaikhani Contracting, a branch of international business conglomerate Shaikhani Group, the improving contractor-payment scenario is best reflected in Dubai, where several major developers have begun to repay costs that have been outstanding since the economic downturn brought the country's construction boom to a halt two years ago. "Some US$714.8 billion worth of construction projects are now at in the early stages of development in the UAE" With close to US$500 billion in projects shelved or cancelled as a result of the downturn, the UAE took the hardest hit in the region. However a recent report from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicated some US$714.8 billion worth of construction projects are now in the early stages of development in the UAE, either in design or already under construction. Recent market projections show that 26,650 apartments and villas will be handed over in Dubai alone this year as the region enters a recovery phase. In addition, the transport sector looks set to keep large-scale construction projects in the country ticking over, with the US$7 billion international airport and a new port facility at Khalifa Port underway in Abu Dhabi, as well as extensive plans for the Dubai Metro under development. Indeed, Shaikhani Contracting has attributed the resurgence of the construction sector in the UAE to the ongoing support and investment from the government. The report from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry further revealed that over the course of 2010, a large amount of construction and infrastructure projects are due to be awarded. In addition, an analysis of the biggest projects in the region by value indicated that five of the top 10 schemes are to be found in Abu UPFRONT 15 Dhabi. With the increasing attention of construction firms towards breaching new markets, focusing on the public instead of private sector, and forging new partnerships to increase competitiveness, the UAE is regaining its momentum as one of the world's leading construction destinations. "This welcome development regarding the faster interval of payment for dues owed to contractors bodes well for our plans to grow our operations in the UAE, and we are very excited to witness the resumption of construction activities and become one of the most active contractors working on projects across the country," explains Rizwan Shaikhani, Managing Director at Shaikhani Contracting, highlighting the renewed confidence in the market and activity that is being generated as a result. Back in June the firm had announced aims to secure AED60 million worth of domestic contracts this year, including contracts for the construction of private villas in the Al Khawaneej area of Dubai. Another company set to capitalise on the renewed confidence in the region is Danube Building Materials, who has announced plans to leverage nine retail facilities in the country. "Our confidence in the UAE construction market has never wavered, as indicated by our continuous expansion activities across the country and our investments in growing the presence of `Danube BUILDMART' in major shopping malls," said Rizwan Sajan, Chairman of Danube Building Materials. "We are pleased that our strong belief in the potential of the UAE market will be rewarded by the positive developments and increasing prospects in the construction industry." Similarly, William Dewsnap, Head of Valuation for Abu Dhabi at Cluttons property consultancy firm, is positive that going in to Q3, post Ramadan, activity within the industry is going to flourish. "I think the general sentiment in the market is that people are quite hopeful that things will pick up and the number of transactions will start to increase." The July market update report from Cluttons reiterates the renewed interest that the UAE is beginning to draw. Large stocks of property in Dubai caused significant price reductions in 2009, which in turn are proving very attractive to buyers today. The Abu Dhabi update read, "Despite risk of oversupply, sales from the majority of freehold developments within Abu Dhabi appear to have continued at a slow but steady rate throughout much of 2010." "I think there's still plenty of activity to be seen," says Dewsnap, "particularly in the Abu Dhabi market as these new units are completed and as people start to see properties as a tangible asset that they can actually live in or rent out, rather than just being a pipedream. [Buyers] may have paid for it, or started to pay in phases, two or three years ago, but when the product is actually handed over and delivered, that's when people's confidence then starts to increase." News in pictures Dubai Metro celebrates its fi rst birthday. Coinciding with the event, Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority announced that the service had carried 30 million passengers in its first year. By August 2010, the number of people using the Metro had grown 183 percent since October 2009. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel chat as they re-launch direct negotiations for peace between Israel and Palestine at the State Department in Washington, DC. IKEA are among the group of internationally renowned European retailers, which also includes Marks and Spencer and Toys 'R' Us, that will set up in a new US$1.6 billion multi-purpose complex in Doha, planned to be the largest in Qatar. The complex will contain a full retail centre, entertainment park and two hotels. 16 UPFRONT Dubai debuts IWPP project I n a further sign of the growing interest in independent water and power projects in the region, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) recently announced its intention to build the first IWPP in the emirate and awarded the consultancy contract to three international firms. A consortium of HSBC, as the financial consultant, alongside Clifford Chance as legal consultant, and Mott MacDonald as technical consultant, will advise DEWA on the key aspects of implementing this debut IWPP with the private sector. The project � a 1500MW power and 120MIGD water plant to be located in Hassyan � aims to meet the growing demand for power and water in Dubai and marks the first time DEWA has considered employing an IWPP structure, where the plant will be built, owned and operated in partnership with the private sector. Future projects are expected to follow and will utilise the same structure. "The IWPP partnership structure has been very successfully employed across the GCC, and represents a sound and timely solution to meet the growing demand for key infrastructure in Dubai" Cairo to get Dubai-style ski mall Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Group (MAF) will invite bids for its US$772 million Mall of Egypt project, one of the biggest shopping centres in North Africa, in November, according to an MAF official. The project is now in the detail design phase that will be completed in October before the contract for the main building goes to tender in November, according to Richard Reid, Development Director of Mall of Egypt and Senior Vice President of Development in MAF Properties. The mall promises to be a major development project. An indoor skiing facility similar to the one in Mall of the Emirates is planned in the 160,000-squaremetre mall in Cairo, and with 350 stores, a 17-screen cinema complex, a Magic Planet, and an outdoor plaza and dining facility, the mall will target tourists and customers in the residential areas of Cairo's growing suburbs. Reid added that Cairo's large urban population of 20 million, the rising standard of living and disposable income, and the small number of malls attracted MAF to start another project in Egypt. He expects the construction to have a "big multiplier effect" for the Egyptian economy, with the project set to hire 7000 Egyptian labourers through a local contractor and the mall retailers to employ thousands of people. Egypt has emerged as a booming retail destination, attracting millions of dollars in investment from GCC countries. UAE developers Emaar Properties, Al Futtaim Group and Damac Properties are also investing in major projects in North Africa's booming economy. London-based design firm RTKL, the architects behind Bahrain's City Centre and Mirdif City Centre, has already been commissioned to design Mall of Egypt. DEWA, one of the pre-eminent integrated utilities in the GCC region, has a long-standing history as a safe, reliable and cost-effective utility provider in Dubai. The IWPP programme is expected to enhance DEWA's ability to continue providing best-in-class services whilst meeting the growing demand from a large customer base in Dubai. In the past, DEWA has built, owned and operated power and water projects itself. An IWPP will introduce the private sector into the provision of long-term essential public infrastructure, leveraging capital, technical solutions for the new plant, international operating experience and other industry best practices. "The IWPP partnership structure has been very successfully employed across the GCC, and represents a sound and timely solution to meet the growing demand for key infrastructure in Dubai," says Jonathan Robinson, Head of Project Finance for the MENA region at HSBC. "HSBC has acted as financial adviser to many of the GCC countries on similar projects with great success, and we look forward to working with DEWA on this and future projects." Encouraging private participation in Dubai's energy sector and adopting the best practices available internationally in the energy business are key principles in DEWA's remit, and the announcement represents a key step on the road to meeting these objectives. UPFRONT 17 Great crawl of China f you thought your daily drive to the office in Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh or any of the Gulf's other congestion hotspots was a chore, spare a thought for unlucky commuters in China, where some Beijing-bound travellers were held up in a traffic jam that lasted for over 10 days during August. Thousands of motorists were caught up in a 60mile tailback that took several weeks to clear. While many motorists took detours, some ended up trapped for up to five days, sleeping in their cars and taking shifts behind the wheel. The gridlock resulted from a combination of peak seasonal travel, increased freight traffic and road construction. But it was made worse by a lack of I Beijing is projected to have 5 MILLION cars on its roads by the end of the year information about traffic conditions available to some motorists, according to analysis from US-based research group the Texas Transportation Institute. As the traffic jam grew, many continued to drive into it � probably not knowing what they were in line for, because while traffic reports in China's major cities are thorough, they aren't as good or as easy to get in outlying areas. In recent years, China has embarked on a huge expansion of its national road system but traffic periodically overwhelms the grid. According to government data, Beijing is on track to have five million cars on its roads by year's end, with the four million mark passed last December. And the bad news for frazzled Chinese commuters is that the situation could get worse before it gets better: estimates suggest that with around 1900 vehicles added to Beijing's street each day, it could take years to get traffic under control. "If there's no traffic jam in the city, that would be news," said Niu Fengrui, Director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, while the head of the Beijing Transportation Research Centre, Guo Jifu, warned that traffic in the capital could slow to under 15 kilometres an hour on average if further measures were not taken to limit the number of cars. Private cars are currently kept off Beijing's roads for one day per week depending on licence plate numbers, but an alternative solution could be the launch of a socalled `super bus' aimed at improving public transport while minimising the impact on road traffic. Due to be tested in the coming months in the western part of Beijing, the bus will travel on rails and straddle two lanes of traffic, allowing cars to drive under its passenger compartment, which holds up to 1400 people. "We're going to start laying down test tracks along a sixkilometre stretch towards the end of the year," Song Youzhou, Chief Executive of design firm Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment, told AFP in August. "From the second half of 2011, we're planning to test the bus with passengers on board," he added, noting that after a full year of trial runs, authorities would make a decision on whether to use the bus on a wider scale. Authorities hope to install 180 kilometres of such bus lines eventually, including a route to the capital's international airport. If successful, the scheme could provide a blueprint for traffic-easing solutions around the world, including the Middle East � which, in common with China, has a relatively immature highway network. According to Shawn Turner, a senior researcher with the Texas Transportation Institute, while the major traffic arteries in fast-growing economies tend to be pretty well developed, the lack of well maintained smaller, alternative routes causes a problem when traffic congestion kicks in. Taking the back roads just isn't an option in many cases. "There isn't the redundancy we take for granted here [in the US]," he told the Wall Street Journal. 18 UPFRONT Project focus: Libya eing described by experts as an "untapped goldmine", Libya has the potential to be the new frontier for infrastructure developers in the region. Rich in fossil fuel wealth and largely un-hit by the global recession, though under developed in terms of its office, retail and tourism property infrastructure, Libya poses a prime opportunity for developers looking to tap North Africa's markets. The International Monetary Fund predict an economic growth of up to 5.4 percent and the government recently outlined plans to invest US$100 billion into infrastructure and housing in the coming four years. Operations in the Libya are not for the timid developer. The country's unstable business climate has long prevented foreign investors from taking too much interest in the market, and today most European, American and Middle Eastern investors that are moving into Libya are doing so in partnership with local businesses. Still, the fossil fuel resources that Libya is sitting are proving too attractive for many to resist. The country possesses some 54.38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and holds an impressive 75 percent of the entire North Africa region's oil supplies with 43.7 billion barrels, encouraging interest from firms across the world. The UAE's Tameer Holding recently announced plans for a US$20 billion project in Libya, representing the single largest investment into the North African region from a Gulf company. President of Tameer Holding Omar Ayesh said of the project that it would be "representative of the booming property, tourism and trade sector in Libya." MENA Infrastructure takes a look at some of the major projects currently underway. B Medina Tower Palm City Project: A luxury residential development, Palm City consists of some 413 upscale residential units and a commercial piazza, about 15 minutes from the capital of Tripoli. While construction was completed in November 2009, the last few months have been spent putting the final details to the developments. Still, the site has proved popular, with more than 95 percent of the units projected to have been leased by the end of 2010. Cost: EU150million Status: Construction completed Q4 2009 Medina Tower Project: A mixed-use, 40-storey tower combining 242 apartments, 23,000 square metres of office space, 20,000 square metres of retail space, a conference and exhibition centre and four floors of underground parking for the centre of Tripoli. Planning for the project was given permission in May and construction is on track to commence soon, with completion aimed for four years time. Status: Construction to commence imminently Completion: Expected 2014 High-speed railway Project: Russian State owned firm Russian Railways invested a sum of US$2.8 million into a high-speed rail line to run between Sirte in central Libya to Benghazi back in March 2008. The line will run along the Mediterranean coast with trains travelling at around 250 kilometres an hour, and is due for completion by Q4 2012. Status: Under construction Completion: Expected Q4 2012 UPFRONT 19 Supplying safety P Tripoli Tripoli International Airport Terminal Buildings Project: A joint venture between several European investors, this project consists of two terminal buildings of 175,000 square metres in area each, with 48 lifts, 26 elevators, 160 check-in counters, 12 baggage handling carrousels and 32 fixed and 64 mobile passenger boarding bridges. These new twin terminals have been designed to accommodate 20 million passengers every year. Status: Under construction Completion: Expected Q1 2011 roper safety supplies can improve safety performance and help ensure that employees return home in an equal or better condition than when they started their workday. AMECO, a global leader in mobile equipment and tool solutions for construction site services and fleet services, has now expanded its offering to include `authorised distribution' of 3M brand health and safety supplies. AMECO worked closely with 3M's Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division (OHESD) for more than a year to define the relationship. AMECO will focus initially on 3M's personal protection equipment (PPE), but will have access to all 3M safety products. AMECO can now better serve its clients and protect workers by utilising the expertise, training and distribution of 3M products. "Safety is a top priority at AMECO; we are always looking for ways to improve safety performance and continue our outstanding safety record," said Cyndi Johns, AMECO's Global Asset Management Director. "Becoming a distributor of 3M safety products further exemplifies our commitment to employee safety and well-being." 3M, headquartered in St Paul, Minnesota in the US, began transforming technology more than 100 years ago. The firm is fundamentally a sciencebased company, producing thousands of imaginative products from healthcare and highway safety to office products and abrasives and adhesives. 3M's industry leading PPE has long offered safety solutions designed to meet the highest standards of excellence. For more information, please visit www.ameco.com A lost-time injury can cost a developer between US$13,600-27,200 A fatality can cost up to Tajura utilities systems Project: Being sure to prop up the mammoth construction development with necessary utilities infrastructure to support it, Libya is developing comprehensive amenity systems. Austrian building firm Strabag recently received the contract for a US$557 million project to modernise the water and sewage systems and telephone and electricity lines in Tajura, near Tripoli. Italian firm Impregilo has been contracted to carry out similar works in Tripoli and Misurata. Status: Various Completion: Various US$136,000 20 UPFRONT Why Bahrain is the place to set your sights in the Gulf today By Mr Kamal Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is the natural first point of contact for businesses considering investing in Bahrain, the gateway to the trillion dollar Gulf market and wider Middle East. It is an agent for change, which has the overall responsibility for formulating and overseeing the economic strategy of the Kingdom and for creating the right climate to attract direct investment into the Kingdom. Bahrain has so far been less affected by the global economic downturn than some others in the region thanks to the prudent domestic measures taken to preserve and grow the prosperity that the Kingdom has been nurturing for many years. These include a prudent fiscal and monetary approach, long-term strategy of economic diversification and a tried and tested regulatory framework with a commitment to the highest international standards. Bahrain is the ideal location to do business both in and from the Gulf. With a trading history dating back more than 4000 years, the Kingdom is a vibrant international business hub with a progressive regulatory environment. So as the gateway to the trillion dollar Gulf market, Bahrain offers senior executives and decision makers the ideal location from which to access the whole region. Those that do can benefit from the prudent steps we have taken to strengthen the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the Kingdom. Our plan has always been about building sustainable growth through a sound and flexible economic and fiscal policy, a highly skilled and educated local workforce, diversified economy, rule of law and well-run, transparent regulation which has been proven over time. In today's reset world, these same measures provide the optimum business environment for international companies. Our strong track record and long-term strategy of economic diversification is backed by the highest and most transparent regulatory and supervisory standards. In Bahrain, we believe education is the single most important factor in helping to improve sustainability, productivity and prosperity in any society. Fairness and opportunity for all our people is our primary goal. Schooling is free and compulsory for all Bahrainis, irrespective of gender, faith or family income. The Kingdom's education policy has been developed with a clear sense of which sectors it wants to grow and what employment opportunities will be created. This is key to the ambitions of Bahrain's Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy, to raise national living standards by providing greater opportunities in rewarding careers in the private sector. UPFRONT 21 Big changes needed to face big challenges T Delhi's race to the finish line ith the Commonwealth Games looming, all eyes are on Indian capital Delhi to see if it can produce the mammoth infrastructure needed to accommodate a world class sporting event of this calibre. Reports from across have the world in recent months have claimed that, as the opening of the event on October gets closer, the host city look increasingly like it will not have its stadia ready in time. Construction of the facilities have been shrouded in criticism already, as piles of rubble and building materials have been piled high on pavements, often invading the already tiny residences of some of the city's poorest residents. Then earlier this year investigations from India's anti-corruption body, the Central Vigilance Commission, indicated some serious flaws in the contract and tendering processes involved in the development, in addition to signs that the quality of the buildings that were finished may not have been up to scratch. Just to make matters worse, this season's "The spending on the monsoons have brought with them a sports infrastructure comfortable breeding ground for dengueis now estimated to be fever carrying mosquitoes, resulting in an outbreak of the illness in the city. around US$730 million, But amid all the speculation that Delhi will almost twice the value be incapable of showcasing the super-event of Delhi's winning bid of promised, a number of experts are conceding US$422 million for the that Delhi will not disappoint. "I think the contract back in 2003" news is darker than the reality will be," Jacque Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, told Reuters. "They are doing a huge effort. I think the finishing touches in terms of greenery, wallpaper and mural paintings will not probably be as good as they wished themselves, but I think that's peripheral." Similarly, Commonwealth Games Federation President, Mike Fennell said: "There is still some work, outside appearance, landscaping and cleaning to be done with great urgency but this will be completed very shortly." As well as building 17 venues for the Games themselves and 26 new training centres for the athletes, the city has also developed its transport systems, including a Metro system and renovation of the airport. The spending on the sports infrastructure is now estimated to be around US$730 million, almost twice the value of Delhi's winning bid of US$422 million for the contract back in 2003, and that the total cost to the city is predicted to be in the region of US$2.7 billion. Today, with cost so far removed from their initial estimates and interest in ticket sales dwindling, it is unclear just how much, if any, profit the event will generate for the surrounding community. W he past year has seen a number of challenges in the Middle East's construction market. To meet these challenges, companies in the region have had to re-think and reorganise their businesses to meet the changing needs of the market as a whole. Focus is shifting geographically as companies look beyond their traditional markets into other MENA regions that have weathered the economic downturn and are poised to become home to the next construction boom. Aluma Systems Middle East, a supplier of concrete formwork and shoring solutions that have been a staple in the Dubai construction market, is an example of a company that has restructured to adapt and meet the new market dynamics. Since early this year, Aluma has made a string of announcements and changes to its operations, beginning with the appointment of Luis Alvarez as the new General Manager. Alvarez, the former General Manager of Aluma Systems South America, brings a wealth of experience directing sales efforts and operations across geographically large and culturally diverse markets. In addition to the appointment of Alvarez, and as part of Aluma Systems geographic re-focusing, the company has formed a major partnership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Saudi-based Global OTAD to become the newest supplier of formwork and shoring solutions in the Saudi market. To oversee this partnership and sales effort in the Kingdom, Aluma has appointed Fred Sargon as Sales Manager, whose efforts will be focused on strengthening relationships and promoting Aluma's unique line of formwork products in the Kingdom. With these changes in management and focus, Aluma Systems Middle East is an example of what many companies in the region are doing � and what many companies must do � to adapt to the new dynamic of the Middle East construction market. Energy consumption in the Middle East region is predicted to climb 45% by 2020 from levels in 2007 22 UPFRONT Project focus: roads eal estate developers may have endured a tough few years, but oil-rich governments in the GCC are continuing to invest in infrastructure. And thanks to rapidly expanding urban centres and rampant growth in the number of cars, road building is one area where governments are really focusing their attention right now. While it may not be glamorous, road building is big business: for example, Dubai's Road & Transport Authority has earmarked US$2 billion for project development in 2010, while Saudi Arabia allocated US$3.17 billion in its 2010 budget for construction of 6400 kilometres of roads. Last year, the country set aside US$3.06 billion for road construction. R Mafraq-Ghweifat Highway (UAE Western Region) CLIENT: Abu Dhabi Department of Transport ESTIMATED VALUE: US$2.7 billion DESCRIPTION: The Department of Transport is offering a 25-year concession to upgrade, operate and maintain the 327