Page 1

December 2015


Managing partner of LACASA Architects and Engineering Consultants Emad Jaber talks about the infamous relationship between contractors and consultants As Saudi Arabia implements its new PMO law, experts analyse how the new legislation will help one of the world’s largest construction markets overcome its delivery challenges

Small homes BIG losses?

A roundup of the latest technologies, products and machineries revealed by regional and international suppliers at The Big 5 2015

A huge demand for affordable housing in the GCC needs to be met by a construction industry ready to deploy standardisation and economies of scale to get building


700+ Projects Delivered

LEED Platinum, LEED Gold and LEED Silver Capability

s n o i t u l o S d e t a r teg End to End In

project experience

130+ years of

ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certiďŹ ed

Pioneering Engineering Construction since 1881

For over 130 years, Drake & Scull International PJSC has been shaping skylines and transforming the lifestyle of communities around the world.

Drake & Scull is an industry leader, with a proven history of delivering more than 700 projects through its General Contracting, Engineering, Rail, Oil & Gas, Water and Wastewater Treatment and Infrastructure development business streamlines across the region. 2 construction business news me December 2015

contents 6 EDITOR’S NOTE 8 NEWS



16 The Big 5

22 Leaders in Design MENA


Managing partner of Lacasa Architects and Engineering Consultants Emad Jaber talks about the infamous relationship between contractors and consultants


38 Craig Gibson shares

the secret formula to calculate contractors’ overhead charges

40 Winston and Strawn’s team including partner examine Dubai’s new PPP law set to boost private sector investments


Shivram Mukherjee analyses this year’s COP21 and looks into how the UAE has prepared itself and its construction industry to adapt with the upcoming changes


44 Construction Business

News looks into the largest building retrofit project in the Middle East


cover story

32 A huge demand for affordable housing in the GCC needs to be met by a construction industry ready to deploy standardisation and economies of scale to get building

construction business news me December 2015 3


Managing Director Walid Zok Director Rabih Najm Director Wissam Younane Group Publishing Director Diarmuid O'Malley Business Development Director Rabih Naderi +966 50 328 9818

42 46 Nurol Construction takes us around its current project, Bab Al Qasr, in UAE’s capital


As Saudi Arabia implements its new PMO law, experts analyse how the new legislation will help one of the world’s largest construction markets overcome its delivery challenges


52 Mustafa Pooya writes about how the Dubai real estate sector is presently witnessing a price-stabilising period

56 Malcolm Dias discusses The recent deluge in Qatar and its water-logged capital Doha


58 Phil Bernstein writes about revolutionary changes coming up in the future where building won’t be built—it will be manufactured

60 The Flux Innovation Lounge speaks with Construction Business

News ME about how creative industries could play a major role in selling real estate


62 Ashraf Al-Garf, CEO of Projacs, throws light on construction management in the region and the benefits of collaboration

64 RSG International handed over Qasr Sabah project 90 days ahead of schedule. Chair of RSG Raj Sahni talks about what it takes to deliver on schedule

66 EDITOR’S pick

Group Editor Melanie Mingas Editor Lorraine Bangera Art Director Aaron Sutton Sales Manager Mostafa Abdo +966 56 6695 333

Group Sales Manager Joe Taphouse Sales Manager Vishvanath Shetty +971 52 6745378

Marketing Executive Mark Anthony Monzon

c o n t ribu t o rs Stuart Matthews

Marlow McGuinness Ltd ------Joanne Bladd

SUBSCRIBE PO Box 502511 Dubai, United Arab Emirates P +971 4 4200 506 | F +971 4 4200 196 For all commercial enquiries related to Construction Business News ME contact T +971 55 339 5097 All rights reserved © 2015. Opinions expressed are solely those of the contributors. Construction Business News ME and all subsidiary publications in the MENA region are officially licensed exclusively to BNC Publishing in the MENA region by Construction Business News ME. No part of this magazine may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Images used in Construction Business News ME are credited when necessary. Attributed use of copyrighted images with permission. All images not credited courtesy Shutterstock. Printed by International Printing Press

4 construction business news me December 2015

editor’s note

Affordable living A continued influx of expatriate workers and their families, in addition to the burgeoning youth population across the GCC, has driven the demand for affordable housing across the Middle East to 3.5million units, according to JLL. There are 820,000 middle income households in the UAE alone. Add the numbers to the recent musings of Arab News, which stated “a good housing policy helps maintain political stability and social order while preventing problems related to homelessness, poverty and exclusion”, and there is a clear and pressing need for governments to put some real force behind the affordable housing agendas. There are a number of factors feeding into the trend; the foreign nationals moving here for work are no longer just expatriates, but often emigrants also, looking for a permanent home and economic stability. Our cities are growing at a phenomenal rate: according to a UN report by as much as 2.1% a year every year, as people move away from rural areas and towards the urban economic hubs the 20th century created. Compounding these issues, the GCC in particular has an almost unparalleled issue in that far more than 50% of its population is under the age of 30; looking for somewhere to live, raise a family and launch a career, on sometimes stagnant salaries. The need for affordable housing came into the limelight in early 2003 when governments observed a significant disparity between supply and demand for affordable housing. Gaining momentum after the financial crisis in 2008, today the GCC has systems in place, with the overall agenda of achieving a well-balanced society. Affordable housing without a doubt should be part of that story. Not only does affordable living solve a demand exceeding supply situation, but person-

6 construction business news me December 2015

ally I think this goes along with the region’s agenda to make itself a sustainable space. By incorporating affordable housing not only will overall infrastructure improve but also the wellbeing of residents. All that being said there are several measure that have not been in place. Even though flexible payment plans are being offered to middle-income potential homebuyers, challenges still exist for the developers and contractors. A few of those challenges include the high cost of land in the region along with the high cost of construction, which hinders private developers from taking a more active role in building affordable units. Well-known developers including Emaar, Nakheel, NShama and Dubai Properties within the UAE have taken steps towards reversing this trend. Other challenges such as access to financial support or supportive regulations are necessary to streamline things into an orderly fashion so that potential homebuyers can feel incubated by the system. Affordable housing has been on the agenda for some time, with most governments taking the time create a framework that suits everyone; even most tradeshows, including the region-wide Cityscape exhibitions and The Big 5, have addressed the issue of affordable housing in 2015. I also think affordable housing is a social issue as much as an economic need. While we must praise how the region has recognised the importance of affordable housing, Iook forward to seeing how it will affect our construction, real estate and also cultural and social landscape. What remains to be addressed is the affordability of the business model. Without government support in the form of incentives, the future could become a very challenging time.

Lorraine Bangera Editor

construction business news me December 2015 7


Alstom begins train production for the Riyadh Metro

French company, Alstom, has started the production of trainsets for the upcoming Riyadh Metro in its Katowice plant in Poland. The contract was awarded to FAST consortium, which Alstom is a part of, two years ago by Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA). The contract included the design and construction of lines four,

five and six of the network. The Katowice plant will be manufacturing all 69 of the Metropolis trainsets, with over 1,000 employees it is one of Alstom’s largest train manufacturing sites in the world. In the short-term, a full-size mock-up of the Riyadh Metropolis trainset will be unveiled in Riyadh.

The driverless train will be 100% motorized and composed of two cars per set and is 36 metres long. Alstom will provide Urbalis, its CBTC signalling solution, as well as the power supply and Alstom’s energy recovery system HESOP. All sub systems have been optimised together so as to reduce energy consumption.

Crystal Lagoons to build largest manmade lagoon in India Global developer, Crystal Lagoons, is set to launch its first project in India with a 6.5 hectare lagoon in Pune situated in the West coast of India. The project will be located at the heart of Dream City project, which is currently under phase one of development. The one million square metre project will be home to 8,000 luxury residential units and 50,000 people when completed. A total of 100,000 cubic metres (310,600 gallons) of water will be required to fill the six hectare lagoon, which is estimated to be a $200m investment and one of the biggest lagoons in Asia once completed. Under a phased development over a decade-long period, the lagoon is scheduled to be operational upon completion of phase one of the project, which has a scheduled launch date of Q2 2016. Lagoons use up to 100 times fewer chemicals than traditional pool systems, and only 2% of the energy required by conventional filtering technologies. 8 construction business news me December 2015

Upcoming Crystal Lagoons project

Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai

GCC Hosts Record High $3tr in Construction Projects

Paul Wallett

Majority of UAE residents prefer renting property Real estate prices could be preventing 76% of UAE residents form purchasing property in the UAE, according to a survey conducted by compareit4me group. This is despite apartment sale prices in Dubai going down by 3.6% and villa prices dropping by 3.7% from April 2014 to April 2015. The survey also noted that 54% of the residents opted for rentals because they were unsure of how long they would live in the region. That being said, a survey by US executive recruitment company, Stanton Chase, found that expatriates are now staying in the UAE twice as long as they used to five years ago. The average stay of senior professionals has increased to four and a half years. Jon Richards, CEO of, said: “The number of people staying beyond two years is increasing, so it’s worth residents doing the sums to calculate if home ownership would be more beneficial for them.” According to Dubai Land Department, the number of those residents buying property with mortgage has increased by 44%. Recent home financing solutions and competitive mortgage rates given by UAE banks have actively encouraged more residents to buy property. Richards said: “The long term outlook for the real estate market in Dubai looks favourable for investors, particularly in the run up to the Dubai Expo. However, there’s every chance we could see prices going up and down before that, so it’s important longer-term investments are considered.”

Industry experts talked about the adoption of the latest construction software to ensure efficient and swift delivery of projects worth almost $3tr at The Big 5 2015. According to recently launched report by Deloitte, GCC Powers of Construction 2015, the region’s construction pipeline totals $2.8tr. These projects include mixed-use mega developments, airports, seaports and other transport infrastructure projects. As the industry matures, architects, engineers, contractors and real estate companies have been increasing their demand for building information modelling (BIM) software to create 3D constructible models. These models not only enhance collaboration, but also increase visibility and efficiency across the design, build, and operate stages of projects. Paul Wallett, area business director at Tekla Middle East, said that the Middle East is seeing a nationwide transformation in construction innovation, with projects for mega-events such as World Expo 2020 in Dubai and 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar stretching design boundaries. “Advancing government BIM mandates further demonstrates the Middle East’s desire to be on a par with global innovators in the construction field.” construction business news me December 2015 9


Capital Projects Plan to be developed for Al Ain and Al Gharbia

Abdulla Al Sahi

The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) briefed 43 government entities and developers on advancing a data collection project for development in Al Ain and Al Gharbia. The initiative aims to create a Capital Project Plans (CPP) for the Al Gharbia and Al Ain regions, and builds on the capital’s desire to fully integrate data. The briefing was in the same format as the CPP for the Abu Dhabi Metropolitan Area where UPC collected and spatially mapped all of the projects that require government funding for Abu Dhabi. Representatives from Al Ain and Al Gharbia’s government entities were invited to attend the meeting to explain all of the requirements for the project and anticipated timings. The project is due to be completed in Q1 2016. Abdulla Al Sahi, acting executive director of the planning and infrastructure sector at UPC, said: “The formal integration of data regarding current and future projects will allow for enhanced decision making and the ability to better identify and prioritise key projects. This will ensure that the Abu Dhabi Emirate continues to move forward in meeting the needs of its communities with regards to community facility projects, while also remaining on track in terms of its commercial, industrial and infrastructure-based projects.” 10 construction business news me December 2015

Nakheel's Deira Islands

Nakheel highlights projects worth AED14.5bn at MAPIC 2015 UAE-based developer Nakheel highlighted AED14.5bn worth of projects (in construction costs) at MAPIC, the annual international retail real estate show in Cannes, France. This year, the 21st annual gathering brought together more than 8,400 international participants, including over 2,400 retailers and 2,300 property

developers for three days from 18 to 20 November. Nakheel has more than 15 million sq.ft of shop space across its 14 existing and upcoming projects. Currently there is over 11 million sq.ft of retail space in the pipeline, with 10 projects anticipated for delivery over the next three to four years.

Projects at various stages of design and construction: • Nakheel Mall and The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah • Deira Mall and Deira Islands Night Souk at the new Deira Islands coastal city • Al Khail Avenue and The Circle Mall at Jumeirah Village • Warsan Souk at Warsan Village • two major extensions to the existing Ibn Battuta Mall • a large expansion at Dragon Mart


Hotels under construction in Middle East increases by 29.1% STR Global Construction Pipeline Report launched in October 2015 reveals an increase in hotels under construction in the Middle East and Africa region. The report stated that there are 781 hotels currently under contract in the region. This represents a 29.1% increase in rooms compared with October 2014 and a 43.1% year-over-year increase in rooms under construction. The under contract data includes projects under construction, in final planning and planning stages. However, the data does not include the projects under the unconfirmed stage. In October 2015, the region reported 105,177 rooms in 407 hotels under construction for the month. Sister publication, Hotel News ME, will publish a full analysis and roundup of the regional pipeline in its January issue, detailing all the major openings planned for 2016.

Ongoing construction in Downtown Dubai

Dr Ali Hamed Al-Mulla talks about GCC and Korean partnership The Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) and Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) organised a workshop on industrial diversification and job creation between the GCC and the Republic of Korea last month. In his session, Al Mulla emphasised how the GCC has provided Korea with opportunities in the construction sector including the building of expressways, seaports, and industrial plants. He said that about 39.8% of the foreign construction projects Korean companies have won have been in the GCC. He added that the effectiveness of this economic partnership between the GCC and Korea relied heavily on volatile oil prices and the the GCC’s construction market, rather than on more stable bases for bilateral cooperation. “GCC-Korea economic relations need to be diversified to include other industrial sectors, and the collaboration between GCC and Korea should also include greater involvement of private sector MSEs and entrepreneurs.” The GCC supplied 71.2 % of Korea’s crude oil imports and 52.4 % of its natural gas imports in 2013. Following the suspension of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations in 2009, the two are now considering re-establishing the deal. 12 construction business news me December 2015

Chinese delegation studies UPC’s Estidama system Chinese delegation attended a two-day fact-finding mission to study Estidama, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s (UPC) sustainability programme. The delegation, represented the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation, recognises innovation in improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in cities and regions. The delegation was given a detailed insight into the workings of the UPC’s Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS), Abu Dhabi’s mandatory sustainability rating system, which guides development projects through design, construction and operation, along with a tour of Masdar City. “The fact that Estidama was shortlisted for such a prestigious award and is now the basis of a visit by the Guangzhou delegation is further demonstration that it is being recognised beyond this region as a sustainability programme that features a unique combination of global and local best practice,” said Mohamed Al Khadar, executive director of urban development and Estidama sector at UPC.


REC to install solar panels in Redtag’s Dubaibased centre REC will power a new solar installation for Redtag Group as one of the first projects to be completed as part of a new UAE initiative, Shams Dubai, to promote renewable energy. The European solar panel manufacturer is not only providing the photovoltaic (PV) panels but the full EPC expertise. The rooftop installation extends over 7,000m2 and will be located in fashion retailer, Redtag’s, logistics and warehouse centre. It will be one of the first installations under

Luc Graré, SVP EMEA at REC

Dubai’s new renewable metering scheme for renewable energies. Luc Graré, SVP EMEA at REC, said: “It is a very straight forward scheme and we are confident that the new programme will give solar another push in the region. We expect new installations in particular from the commercial rooftop segment.” The solar panels (2,161 in total) are expected to generate 904,000kWh of electricity, reducing the CO2 footprint by 550 metric tonnes per year.

Perkins+Will recognised at Arabian Property Awards

Save the date China Trade Week

7 - 9 December 2015 ADNEC Under China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a framework for organising multinational economic development and trade, China Trade Week (CTW) provides Chinese companies opportunity to meet, discuss and develop trading and business relationships with the regional business community, in a number of key commercial sectors. It will feature Chinese businesses from sectors such as construction materials, PMV, automotive parts and accessories.

HVACR Expo Saudi

Diplomatic quarter at the hotel in Riyadh

Architectural and design practice Perkins+Will Middle East, won two awards at the 2015 Arabian Property Awards. The firm was recognised for the ‘Best Residential High-Rise’ for Ellington Group’s DT1 in Dubai, and ‘Best Hotel Architecture’ for the Marriott-branded Diplomatic Quarter Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia The 20-storey DT1 tower, is an innovative residential project which is situated in Downtown Dubai, covers approximately 20,000sqm and rises to 72 metres. While the Best Hotel Architecture’ for the low-rise design was awarded to the 5-star Marriott-branded Diplomatic Quarter Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Owned by Saudi-based Dur Hospitality, the meandering three-storey structure, covers over 40,000 square metres and was inspired by the beauty of the country’s wadis and oases. The event took place at the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai, on 12 November 2015. 14 construction business news me December 2015

11 - 13 January Jeddah Centre for Forums and Events The HVACR Expo Saudi will address products, training, and education solutions for the entire heating, ventilating and air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. With multi-billion dollar developments and mega projects underway in the Kingdom there is proven demand for HVACR products, services, and technologies. The event is will be organised by the same team behind The Big 5 Saudi, dmg events, and the owners of the largest HVACR buyer database in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which will ensure a meeting platform with thousands of buyers searching for the latest products and services in HVACR.

Driving force

Volvo Construction Equipment showcases new ranges of innovative construction machinery at machinery show in Ras Al Khaimah Volvo Construction Equipment EMEA and FAMCO organised a customer event at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah on 26 November 2015, to conduct a regional launch of Volvo L120Gz wheel loaders and EC750D excavators. The event, similar but a smaller version of the machinery show held in Sweden (Volvo Days), showcased newly launched machinery along with its existing Volvo articulated hauler and road machinery. The Volvo L120Gz wheel loader includes a fully automated power shift that ensures optimal operation by adjusting the machine gear, load-sensing hydraulics which supply power to the hydraulic functions only when needed, and an eco pedal that ensures reduced fuel consumption by applying mechanical push-back force. The Volvo EC750D excavator includes an ECO mode which saves fuel, an electro hydraulic system that uses intelligent technology to control ondemand flow and reduce losses in the hydraulic circuit. The D16 Engine in this machinery delivers 11% increased horsepower for high productivity and increased fuel efficiency. During the event, selected members from the Volvo team along with a number of interested buyers from around the region were given a chance see a machinery show. This was an opportunity for them to witness the machinery in action. After a short presentation and the machinery show, the potential buyers had the opportunity to try out the machinery themselves. Bahrain-based Steven Edward Hanahoe, workshop manager of NASS Asphalt, was impressed by the show and the machinery showcased. He said: “Some of the machinery displayed at the show were very impressive.” Fadi S. Nimri, service and operations

Testing of Volvo CE Machinery

Demonstration of new ranges

Presentation of new ranges

manager of UAE-based Transmak, said that he enjoyed the show and really got a feel of all the machinery, which is a very important criteria for purchasing. He was particularly fascinated with the Volvo articulated haulers which he

deemed to be quite remarkable. Frank O’Conner, managing director of FAMCO operations in the UAE, said “the event had a great turnout, and showcased how important customer satisfaction is to Volvo CE.” construction business news me December 2015 15

Event Roundup - Big 5

Jafza to double construction sector growth in four years The building and construction sector in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), expects to double its growth over the coming four years, following results which demonstrate a 74% growth since 2010. Revealing the sector’s value has increased from AED10.7 billion in 2009 to AED18.6 billion over the same period, future growth will largely be driven by the continued focus of GCC countries on building economic infrastructure and stimulus generated by Dubai 2020-related infrastructure projects.

HE Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairperson of DP World and Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said: “Jafza’s evolution as a global business hub hinges around its commitment to excellence in terms of products, services and overall business ecosystem, which is fully in sync with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to position the Emirate as the world’s top business centre and the most

favoured investment destination.” Jafza is currently home to over 800 world’s steel, building material and other construction sector-related companies such as ArcelorMittal, Tianjin Pipes, Tata Steel, Conares, China National Building Group, Danube, SaintGobain Gyproc, Petrogas Piping, Van Oord, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company among others. Most of these companies have set-up their regional headquarters in Jafza to serve the entire region most efficiently.

Saudi Arabia’s market demands interior finishing Fino will expand operations to Saudi Arabia in Q1, 2016, on the back of growing demand in the infrastructure and hospitality sectors, managing partner Talal Saeed told Construction Business News ME, during the exhibition. He explained: “Due to the religious pilgrimage, Hajj, Saudi Arabia has great potential in the hospital16 construction business news me December 2015

ity sector as millions of pilgrims pour in every year. Due to which there are a large number of hotels in the pipeline, as well as projects like Riyadh Metro and new real estate developments.” Fino is headquartered in the UAE with a second office in Qatar. Saeed observes the GCC as a whole is a lucrative market but comes with its fair

share of challenges. In Saudi Arabia, he said that one of the major challenges is acquiring visas (especially for labour), while Qatar has the limitation of bringing skilled workforce from only certain nationalities. He observes that UAE has comparatively fewer limitations, however, dealing with the tough competition in the market can pose challenges.

BIG 5 NEWS MAN announces new Iran contract and debuts new vehicle and concept MAN managing director Franz Freiherr von Redwitz

Bharat Bhatia, Conares CEO

MEA managing director Franz Freiherr von Redwitz, revealed MAN Trucks has just signed its first contract with a partner in Iran since economic sanctions were eased, following years of restricted trading. Commenting on the deal, which will see a fleet of vehicles delivered in Q1, 2016, Redwitz said: “We are in the process of rebuilding [business] in Iran, as European brands have not done business there for some time. “We have a lot of new contracts and I have just this morning finalised a contract which has now been signed off between the German High Court and Iranian Embassy, and is on its way to Iran for official registration.” Breaking the news at The Big 5, Redwitz also detailed MAN’s new Ecoline concept, which was unveiled at the show. Ecoline is designed to tackle the use of counterfeit parts in the brand’s vehicles, and also place focus on aftersales, during current market difficulties. “Counterfeit parts are a threat to the quality of our products and we have two ways to work against that. Firstly, to keep the loyalty of the customer so

they only come to our workshop and by selling vehicles with repair maintenance contracts, under a fixed cost per annum. “But now, also we have the Ecoline range of parts, which are a wide range of refurbished products which we can sell up to 30% cheaper than new parts,” he added. After spending two years overcoming import restrictions on used parts in numerous markets, Ecoline is now available in all 14 of MAN’s MEA markets and received a positive response, according to Redwitz, during The Big 5 debut. “One thing we are pushing big time is the after sales business and keeping the vehicles on the road. Where liquidity is tough or prices are bad, we can compensate with initiatives to keep the vehicles on the road,” he added. Celebrating 100 years of the brand, MAN also previewed its EURO 5 TGX 6x4 tractor head; with a gross vehicle weight of 33 tons and gross combination weight of 180 tons, it boasts up to 540 horse power, and is adapted for the local market. Delivery of this head will commence in late 2016.

Conares CEO predicts the steel industry to grow by 2020 Over the last few years, steel in the UAE market has witnessed a stable annual growth of 5 to 15%. At The Big 5 show, CEO of Conares Bharat Bhatia says that as the number of projects increase, traders in the UAE are keen to buy from local manufacturers in order to save inventory cost and avoid risk of price fluctuations. “There are positive expectations on steel demand, which will grow substantially from 2016 onwards. This will have an additional growth of 10% on a yearly basis from 2017. From the steel industry standpoint, local manufacturers will be in a strong position to cater to each of the upcoming projects,” he said. Keeping this in mind, steel manufacturer Conares is planning to expand within the domestic market as well as explore export opportunities. construction business news me December 2015 17

BIG 5 N Event Roundup - Big 5

Juno showcases 8m long flexible lighting tower

Atlantic launches solar water heater French manufacturer Atlantic, commercially launched its new solar water heater, a high-end forced circulation solar solution with indoor tank and outdoor solar panel. Utilising strengthened polyurethane insulation and low consumption pump integrated, Solerio Optimum allows users to save 70% energy and is A class with the new European Energy Efficiency Regulation (ErP). With tank capacities from 150 to 400L and equipped with steatite backup heating element and new el-

liptic solar exchanger, the product is described as a “user friendly water heater which is the optimal renewable energy solution for water heaters in the Middle East.” Atlantic dedicates an average of 4% of its turnover to R&D, focusing on the production of more efficient renewable energies solutions. As a result, 2015 was also marked with Atlantic’s upgrade of its heat pump water heater and the worldwide launch of its new ONDEO range of small capacity compact square water heater from 10 to 30L.

DC Pro CEO urges HVAC market to shift to sustainable

Juno’s Arbor Lighting Tower

Juno Enterprises, a multi-product distribution company, showcased the latest addition to its product line, Arbor Lighting Towers. The compact design, includes a vertical mast tower that offers complete flexibility with fixture ground access and 360 degree mast or light rotation. “The product is distinct in the market because of various features such as the telescopic mast can extend up to 8 metres while it has a certified wind stability of up to 110km/h,” said Rohan Kapur, business development manager at Juno Enterprises. The product underwent almost two years for R&D and finding a manufacturer. The product has currently been in the market for 18 months, while the company is relatively new in the market, with under two years’ experience. Kapur is currently looking for dealers in the market in the UAE, followed with sub-dealers in Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. 18 construction business news me December 2015

George Berbari

Speaking at the Sustainability Workshop, CEO of DC Pro Engineering George Berbari encouraged the GCC’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry to adopt new energyefficient technologies. He said: “The air-cooled systems continue to dominate 70% of the HVAC market without offering any significant power saving features.” He raised concerns about power saving and refrigerant safety issues in VRF as well as in the design of fresh air systems. He recommended the upgrading of existing district cooling systems from partial to 100% usage of the thermal storage and treated sewage effluent (TSE). Berbari also stressed that district cooling has to embrace renewable energy such as solar PV (onsite or remote) and deep geothermal energy, and move into full tri-generation using bio fuels synchronised with renewables. This, according to Berbari, would save 75% primary energy as compared with the current electric district cooling.

Did you know? Nathan Waugh, event director for Middle East Concrete and PMV Live, revealed that the dollar value of the free CPD-certified education programmes at Big 5, 2015 amounts to $250,000 for the GCC construction industry. Visitors to both shows had access to 75 free CPD-certified workshops led by industry experts from their respective fields.

NEWS Ford Trucks unveils 2016 range

Ford Trucks showcases 2016 range at Big 5

Emrah Duman, Ford Trucks’ international markets director said: “The Middle East is a priority region in Ford Trucks’ growth plans. Following the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where we launched our new facilities last year, we plan to expand our sales and service network into Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Iraq markets. We believe our product line-up is well ahead of the competition, offering solutions to different market needs, such as hot climate package specially developed for GCC region and complete truck solutions for all Middle East markets. Additionally, our expanded network will provide customers with a strong service support and spare parts availability in the near future. We are confident that our world-class products and growing network will lead to stronger presence of Ford Trucks in the region.”

Fila launches adapt rust stain remover Fila Surface Care Solutions promoted its new rust stain remover and silicon residue remover during Big 5. “There is a high demand for our products in the region as the quality of finishes has become essential to developers. We have been listening to their feedback -since our first participation in the Big 5 in 2006, and in answer to their demand we have developed two new products that are fast, effective and very easy to apply,” said Francesco Pettenon, Fila ME. “FILANO RUST is a ready to use rust stain remover applicable even on delicate surfaces. FILAZERO SIL is extremely effective at removing residue of silicone, glue, adhesive tape, wax and old labels from any surface,” he added.

The GAIA Awards

Receiving 40% more nominations than in 2014, The GAIA Awards, took place during day three of The Big 5, with Basalt Rock Composite FZE taking the top prize to walk away with a $50,000 marketing package. In the judging process, two selections rounds were held for submissions based on the potential to impact people, planet, and profit. Following which winners from six categories were chosen, including coatings adhesives and sealants; general construction; HVAC; marble stone and ceramics; windows, doors and cladding; and innovations. Speaking after the ceremony Nathan Waugh, event director for Middle East Concrete said: “To have an exhibitor from Middle East Concrete win the 2015 GAIA Awards is a tremendous endorsement of the show and the caliber of the companies and products at the event, and I would like to congratulate Basalt Rock Composite on their success.”

The 2015 winners are:

• Coatings adhesives and sealants: Derbipure, by Derbipure • General construction: Green Perspectives for Ecotile • HVAC: Knauf Insulation for Fibre Glass Insulation • Marble stone and ceramics: Making Ground for EVAGLOW • Windows, doors and cladding: Glazetech for AL. Roll Pergola Francesco Pettenon

• Innovations: Basalt Rock Composite, for its Basalt composite rebar construction business news me December 2015 19

Event review

Leading Design The fifth edition of Leaders in Design MENA took place last month and was attended by 200 industry leaders including architects, interior designers, developers and Construction Business News ME Roger Marien speaks at Leaders in Design MENA 2015


rganized by International Business Council, Leaders in Design MENA saw members of the design community gather to discuss the latest design trends across commercial, residential, retail and hospitality locations. Delegates included architects, interior designers and developers, as well as organisations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA Middle East), Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID), The Middle East Council of Shopping Centres (MECSC), RIBA Gulf, and Emirates Green Building Council. “Leaders in Design MENA is turning out to be a brand that the Middle East and North African architecture and design community wants to be associ-

22 construction business news me December 2015

Fit out Panel at Leaders in Design MENA 2015

ated with and take active part in. It is one platform where future projects are discussed and business strategies for the biggest firms are decided,” stated Elena Jassim, CEO of International Business Council. “We are thankful for all the support we received and look forward to bringing more in depth and insightful business opportunities to the region, for instance our upcoming Leaders in Architecture MENA and global architecture awards that will take place in April 2016 in Dubai, gathering the global architecture and design community and highlighting the crucial role the region plays in setting worldwide trends as well as promoting global cooperation,” she added.

Leaders in Design MENA 2015 covered: • Storytelling in Retail Interior Design • Office Space Evolution • Hot or Not: Latest Trends in Residential Design • Cultural Diversity in Design • Trends in Healthcare Design • The Hotel of the Future

Speaker highlights • Rashid Doleh, co-founder and managing partner of mSquared • Andrew Linwood, head of design of Areen Hospitality • Francis Gallagher, principal and MD of HKS • Elvira Muñoz, director of AECOM • Saeed Alabbar, chairperson, Emirates Green Building Council.

Under the Patronage of Mr. Adnan Mandourah, Secretary General, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI)











Confirmed Exhibitors

Official European Partner Association

Knowledge Partner

construction business news me December 2015 23


Hunter Douglas works on bettering rail projects Dubai Metro station


he GCC plans to build $115bn worth of rail projects and should pronounce its focus on functional stations to enhance take up of passenger services. Frans van de Laak, general manager at Hunter Douglas Middle East, said that while the GCC countries are constructing a large number of rail projects, in order for them to succeed in growing strong user numbers they need to create uncluttered, well-lit stations where travellers feel comfortable. He said: “Ceilings play an important part in enhancing the traveller experience, as they can absorb sound, lead travellers toward trains, and make travellers feel safe by providing human-sized proportions and ample lighting.” In both the Dubai Metro’s Union Station, one of the busiest stations in the system,

and the Delft Railway Station, Hunter Douglas installed ceilings with tapered baffles of extruded aluminium. These ceilings have the strength to half reverberation time of traditional train stations, while absorbing the noise of trains and travellers. An important factor in making sure travellers in an underground station feel safe is light, which is why in between the baffles, artificial lighting has been installed. At 110 gloss units, the baffles have an exceptional gloss level for reflecting light. Special weather-resistant coatings can also reflect daylight. Regional metro projects include the Dubai Metro expansion, construction in Doha, Qatar, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and plans for metros in Jeddah, Medina, and Dammam in the Kingdom.

Pelican Products announce expansion in the Middle East Pelican Products opens its first distribution centre in the Middle East on 11 November 2015. The new logistics centre based in Dubai also includes an office for the local team. Piero Marigo, EMEA MD of Pelican Products, said that with the new distribution centre, the company can now store inventory in the region to optimise customer service, improve delivery times and make smaller shipments economically viable. “With our newly expanded sales and customer service team in place, our company is well positioned to help accelerate our customers’ business.” In addition, Pelican has chosen Danzas (DHL) as their third party logistics partner. “Danzas AEI Emirates LCC is known in this region of the world for its expertise in transportation, customs and entry/export documentation which of course will be of great service to our existing and new customers,” said Alex Spaans, director of supply chain and operations EMEA at Pelican Products.

NAPCO’s revenue reveals tremendous growth N

ational Aluminium Products Company SAOG (NAPCO) has revealed tremendous growth in domestic and international markets. Its revenue for the first nine months of 2015 is $48.05m ,

which is a 37% increase from the revenue generated same time last year. The company’s net profit, $1.5m, has also increased by 20% during the same period of the previous year.

24 construction business news me December 2015

Robert Holtkamp, CEO of NAPCO, said: “The GCC is bullish in its economic growth because of continued infrastructure development that has created opportunities for key play-

ers such as NAPCO. We remain optimistic about our growth in the near future because of our high-quality products, better customer service, and quicker delivery periods.”


New construction school for decorative concrete


aj Concrete has opened a training facility in Dubai on 10 November 2015, with classrooms and workshops to train hundreds of students how to use decorative concrete in construction. Acoording to Matthew Burns, general manager of Taj Concrete, there is a huge scope for a decorative concrete market, as a significant increase in demand has left the industry short of supply. He explained: “In less than six months I’ve had over 12,000 visits to my website. I’m also getting calls from contractors because there are not enough people in the industry who

understand how to use it. “Our training facility combines lectures with hands-on training using a four week intensive programme.” He said that many of the current crop of young people that he trains are being sent by companies in Africa, but that the potential is also there for people in the Middle East to tap into this thriving industry at a time when regional demand is higher than it’s ever been. Building on this momento, Burns was among a team of experts leading a free workshop at this year’s Middle East Concrete exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre from 23-26 November 2015.

Dorma launches Mundus products in GCC


orma Gulf launched its new product Mundus, on 9 November 2015, for easy installation with multidimensional adjustment. The new design works with any of the standard toughened-glass assemblies, and room structures enabling easy installation and adjustment irrespective of the application and situation. Earlier this year, Mundus was awarded the German Design Council’s Interior Innovation Award –2015.

Noushath Ahamed, product marketing manager at DORMA Gulf, said: “The key feature of Mundus that tops the list is the fittings which come with an integrated multi-dimensional adjustability, allowing for a choice of pivot points between 52 and 73mm and a perfect alignment of the glass panels. The possible glass thicknesses ranges from 8 to 22mm; the glass type used can be single pane toughened glass or laminated safety glass.”

For more news about suppliers and the industry, visit

Bentley opens applications for water systems Bentley Systems announced the general access of its new SewerGEMS, SewerCAD, StormCAD, and CivilStorm V8i products for the analysis and design of wastewater and storm-water systems. The softwares will be available as stand-alone applications to run on CAD and GIS platforms. In addition, the V8i (SELECTseries 5) sewer and stormwater products can now be used from within the V8i (SELECTseries 4) versions of OpenRoads-based products – combining 3D 26 construction business news me December 2015

design and hydraulic analysis capabilities in the same platform. Chris Haines, senior civil engineer of drainage and utilities at Parsons, said: “The integration of Bentley’s OpenRoads civil design functionality with the advanced capabilities of Bentley’s storm and sewer analysis products will be a huge benefit to productivity and quality for our highway drainage design workflows.” Gregg Herrin, Bentley Systems director of product management,

hydraulics and hydrology, said, “With these new releases, the automated hydraulic design functionality of our sewer and storm products can be effortlessly combined with the 3D physical design and terrain modeling capabilities of Bentley’s other civil products. From an information mobility standpoint, this has a direct and substantial positive impact on roadway, site, and municipal work where hydraulic engineering is just one part of a much larger project.”


Construction frenemies

Contractor-turned-consultant, managing partner of Lacasa Architects and Engineering Consultants Emad Jaber talks about the infamous relationship between contractor and consultant and how his experience in contracting has helped bridge the gap. Lorraine Bangera writes

28 construction business news me December 2015

Mall of the World Sales Center, UAE


mad Jaber, managing partner of Lacasa, has been in the Gulf for more than 31 years. After working for almost two decades in the industry, Jaber realised that he wanted to implement his own vision rather than that of others, and decided to start his own consultancy. In 2006, Jaber and co-founder Nabil Al Khaja started their own firm, Lacasa, with the connections, experience and the technical know-how required to bring what they saw lacking in the market. Before launching his own business, Jaber used to be the director of management in one of the biggest consultancies in Dubai, he was in that position for nine years from 1997 to 2006. The experience he had gathered in the field for those nine years was like a stepping stone. He was able to meet the right clients, establish relationships and get to know how the business works from the inside. He observes that the key while starting your own business is recognising what is missing in the market. “You learn from every experience and need to take the right calculated risks.” During the opening of his business on 1 June 2006, Jaber was not alone. He started with 22 employees, which turned into 250 employees by mid-Au-

gust 2008. He admits the expansion was rapid. “We had a chance to capitalise on the boom in the market in Dubai at the time and the good reputation we had personally made.” He explains that though the company did not have a portfolio, it managed to get contracts based on personal commitments made from relationships in the industry. “In 2008, we were handling projects that were worth AED45bn which really gives an idea of the confidence and trust the clients had in us.”

A turn of events During the financial crisis in 2008, Lacasa had only one office located in Dubai and it was unfortunately one of the businesses that was drastically affected. Most of the company had to be restructured, and employees had to be laid-off. From a total of 250 employees, the headcount dropped to 70. “The fact that we had only one office in the region,” Jaber observes, “was a crucial reason we had to layoff employees.” Jaber and his team started to consider expanding the brand across the region, so that in case of another slowdown they could move employees to other offices. After 2009, the company opened offices in the wider Middle East including countries such as Syria, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, along with another office within the

The truth behind project delays Several factors that cause project delays according to Emad Jaber: • Sometimes contractors get greedy about securing contracts because they are unsure of the future. By doing this they take on jobs that are beyond their capabilities in terms of manpower, equipment and resources. • Some clients push for a short construction period. The consultant and contractor both know that this would be impossible. But because the contractor is desperate to get the job, they agree. • The lack of proper planning is another key reason there are project delays in the market. By not having a technical team contractors are losing out. A good technical team is not a waste of money, but an investment.

construction business news me December 2015 29


UAE in Abu Dhabi. “It was tough to survive during the slowdown especially in the UAE, there wasn’t much work from 2009 to 2012. During that time we survived with the work we did in all our other locations.” Jaber says: “Since then, we are doing very well. We have also expanded by number of employees. We are currently 275 people altogether. Our biggest office is definitely Dubai and Qatar is not too far behind with around 60 employees.” Currently Dubai is back on track, with 70% of Lacasa’s work from Dubai, 25% from Qatar, and 5% from both Saudi Arabia and Sudan. With 60,000 sq.ft of office area, the company is considering expansion in terms of space and personnel. Jaber predicts that considering the project commitments Lacasa has in hand at the moment, it should have around 300 employees by mid next year. He reflects back to how the company used to be before the crisis, and considers that in a way the company has restarted after 2009.

riod. Finally since he did make the shift, Jaber has not looked back once and considers it to be one of the best decisions he has made. He does admit, however, that having previous experience in construction has had a specifically positive influence on him. In fact he even encourages young engineers to take up contracting early in their career to help them be better consultants later on. He says: “Yes it might be tough, but it gives you an insight into the sequence of work which you might never understand if you settle right into consultancy. It is important to understand the materials, the labour, and all that goes into being a contractor.” He believes that once the contractor experience box has been ticked, it is fairly easy to be a consultant, especially because you understand what the contractor can and cannot do. “It gives you

Dubai Wharf Culture Village Mall, UAE

Abu Hamour Shopping Village, Qatar

Contractor versus consultant Jaber entered the construction industry as a contractor and worked in the discipline for five years before he made the shift to consultancy in 1989. “This was a very crucial decision,” says Jaber. “I didn’t see myself becoming as a successful contractor, and if I did not shift roles back then I don’t think I would have achieved as much success as I have now.” Contracting, Jaber explains, is the implementation of a design done by the consultant on the side, with focus on logistics, procurement and chasing people and material. Also when Jaber worked in contracting, he considered the market was not as professional as it is now. “The contracting industry was premature, and no one was really impressed with technical know-how. You had to be an engineer, a foreman, a purchaser, all combined in one.” He was intrigued with consultancy as instead of working on one project for a year and a half, you could supervise three or four projects in the same pe30 construction business news me December 2015

Empire State building in New York was constructed in one year and 45 days

The Palace Residence, Jordan

technical knowledge in guiding contractors better.” He jokes about taking the contractor’s side on occasion when clients may be unreasonable. He says that he understands the kind of pressure they are under. “Most of the time the contractor thinks I am his friend as I back him up in times of need. This has helped me and our business a lot.”

He presses that the consultant and contractor must have an excellent relationship. “A lot of people assume that the contractors and consultants are enemies, where the consultant pushes the contractor to do more for less money while the contractor cheats to save more money.” He admits there are many cases

where that is true. But Jaber believes in not working like that, he preaches the concept of “one team” and believes every player is a representative of the client and they must work together as one unit. “There is no line that defines the work of the contractor and the work of the consultant. If I have a detail that is wrong on the drawing, a good contractor will spot that out and rectify it. The same goes for us, if there is a specific detail that is hard for the contractor to execute, then as the consultant should simplify it.” According to Jaber, consultants taking the client’s side is not justified. “Just because we are hired by the client, doesn’t mean we have to only back up the client. As a consultant, we must be impartial while working on a project. The project comes first, not the client. So if the contractor is right, we should support them. Likewise, if the client is right, we must support them.” He explains that consultants are present to give each party its right and ensure efficient delivery of the project. “The contractor has the right to be paid on time and consultants must facilitate his work by getting all the approvals. While the client has the right to get the building as he wants in terms of design and quality, and in the right time.” By having a good relationship with the contractor, not only is the consultant making his own work easier but is also helping the client. Jaber notes that in the industry it is quite common to hear complaints from contractors talking about how consultants are not co-operating. “We don’t have that kind of reputation, in fact most of the time clients get in touch with us to convince contractors to take on a project,” he says. This is only because Jaber and his team has consciously maintained good relationships with contractors in the industry. Not only has this helped Lacasa as a firm, but it has also helped several of his clients to manage the smooth flowing of a business. In a business like construction, it is important to work together rather than arguing and working against each other. Jaber tries his best to set an example of just that and hopes that the industry will follow. construction business news me December 2015 31


The House Factory A huge demand for affordable housing in the GCC needs to be met by a construction industry ready to deploy standardisation and economies of scale to get building. Stuart Matthews

32 construction business news me December 2015


here’s one clear consensus about affordable housing: something must be done. After that, opinions diverge on how best to meet the very clear need for affordable homes that exists in the GCC and the wider Middle East. The scale of the challenge is significant. While definitions of just what an affordable home is and who it is for vary from one calculation to the next, market sizing estimates show there is major demand waiting to be met by supply. Numbers run by property consultant JLL suggest the size of the market in the UAE is some 820,000 households, in Saudi Arabia with its much larger population this estimate rises to 3.3 million households. Head outside of the GCC to Egypt and the figure rises again to a staggering 12 million households. By no means are all these households currently homeless, but they do fall into a middle-income bracket for each country and in each of those brackets there are severe and rising shortages of homes available to rent or buy.

“We need to be thinking more about prefabrication to help lower costs through standardisation, which will also assist the attractiveness of this kind of development.” - Christopher Seymour, head of markets and development Middle East, at Arcadis.

The issue is not new. Since the regionally contagious development boom of the mid-2000s the issue of affordable housing for middle-income households has been widely discussed and debated, but rarely dealt with. Depending on where you are, it affects both expatriate families that have made their home in the Gulf and nationals of those same states, to differing degrees. In the UAE it is expats who feel the crunch, there is a balance of demand in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt the vast majority of the market is native to the country. While it appears that to all intents and purposes the scale of the problem has outpaced proposed solutions over the last decade, regional authorities have made some moves to address concerns about where these millions of people will be able to live. But progress has been slow. “We feel there is a genuine need for more activity in this space and perhaps if enough people say that then we might get something done,” says Craig Plumb, head of research – MENA for JLL. Plumb says that there is no simple

Residential Area in Cairo

construction business news me December 2015 33


single answer as to why affordable housing continues to be slow to develop. Instead several factors influence the situation with the cost of land and developer strategy being foremost among them. “Once a developer gets a piece of land they can largely do what they like with it,” says Plumb. “If they can make more money out of building luxury, rather than affordable, then clearly that is what they’re going to do. There’s no incentive for the developers to do social housing. “The other key piece is the cost of land, which in a free market is driven by activity and obviously there has been a lot of speculation. Therefore people will pay more for land than perhaps it’s worth; certainly more than you could make stack up for an affordable housing project. Experiences overseas have shown that is the case everywhere there is a free market, so in order to create enough of the product the government must take a role, in some way, to subsidise the cost of land.” The bigger picture Around the wider region authorities have handled the same issue in different ways. Morocco and Turkey have both put land into developer’s hands free of any upfront charges, instead taking payment as a portion of completed units, which are then made available for social housing. In Saudi Arabia authorities have introduced a tax to tackle the issue of empty land being left undeveloped, while traded by speculators, a practice which Plumb says distorts the market. Part of the problem is with profitability: affordable housing projects rarely offer developers the same generous margins as luxury property. Plumb continues: “The margins are fine, but the development industry has been used to very high margins on residential products in the Middle East. Times are changing [the market] is over built in many places and the demand is simply not there, so they will have to change their model and accept a lower 34 construction business news me December 2015

“If they can make more money out of building luxury, rather than affordable, then clearly that is what they’re going to do.” –Craig Plumb

“The UPC is working closely with the developers to introduce a new affordable housing approach in 2016, which will stipulate that 20% of any residential development project above 75,000m2 be allocated for ‘middle income’ housing.” –Mohamed Al Khadar

return and perhaps make more of a mass-produced product.” A mass-produced product could suit the growing mass demand. In Abu Dhabi JLL’s research has pointed to an average of 1.9 households occupying every housing unit, whether apartment or villa. This sharing is driven by affordability, with many households having insufficient income to feasibly afford a place of their own. It’s something the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) is seeking to address through policy and regulation, having recognised that the working professionals who need the affordable housing are the engine room of the emirate’s economy. “Generally, the types of individuals who require affordable units are teachers, nurses, pharmacists, general office workers and other professions that every city requires,” says Mohamed Al Khadar, executive director of Urban Development and Estidama Sector at the UPC. A key challenge in addressing the issue is the expectation of developers and the stigma sometimes associated with affordable housing. “In order for Abu Dhabi to remain competitive and attract and retain the best workers in the world, they need to ensure that they can afford to live here,” says Al Khadar. “The development of affordable housing can offer just that.” Al Khadar points to international examples, such as Singapore, where much housing is affordable and public, developed in conjunction with the government, to keep homes available at rents people can afford. He says that research indicates most governments define that the maximum individuals and families should spend on housing is around 30% of their income, a figure raised to 35% for Abu Dhabi. “When we put together the Middle Income Rental Housing (MIRH) Policy in 2010 for Abu Dhabi Emirate, most of the developers acknowledged that there was a need for affordable housing and advised us on

the development of a sound policy,” he says. “Obviously, there is a time lag between the policy coming into force and the completion of buildings on the ground, but we have already started to see a number of affordable housing projects that have gone through the UPC’s Urban Development Review process and are under development. As the majority of developers see this as a lucrative market, they are now looking to add further affordable housing units into the product mix of their future development pipelines.” Al Khader believes that doing so can make for profitable business, as part of an overall portfolio, if developers are prepared to be more creative and open minded about how they structure projects. “Just because a developer doesn’t make a 20% immediate return, it

doesn’t mean it can’t be profitable in the long run,” he says. “The UPC is working closely with the developers to introduce a new affordable housing approach in 2016, which will stipulate that 20% of any residential development project above 75,000m2 be allocated for ‘middle income’ housing.” The joint approach One path the region may follow to develop the housing it needs could be that of public private partnerships (PPP). PPPs usually consist of some sort of government funding for projects created and managed by the private sector. The prospect of PPPs may be an enticing one, especially for the UAE, where Abu Dhabi has a growing track record of PPP projects and Dubai has just introduced a new law creating the framework for a

wide variety of PPP deals to be structured. These could readily include affordable housing developments. Earlier this year, Dubai Municipality revealed plans to introduce mandatory affordable housing quotas for all new residential developments. Other government-backed incentives that would likely be met with industry approval could include easing and shortening government approval processes, relaxing planning regulations - particularly those around parking requirements - low-cost financing, and concessionary packages that reduce production-related costs. Regardless of what might make progress quicker or help create ideal environments, project activity around the region indicates that some affordable housing is on the way. “GCC governments are being pressured to take action to address the hous-

Affordable Housing Projects – GCC Est. Value in US$ Mn


Project Name

Project Status




500,000 Housing Units in Different Areas of Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia

Ministry of Housing, Saudi Arabia



Ain Al Fayda in Al Ain - 2000 Villas


United Arab Emirates

Al Qudra Real Estate



Emirati City in Ras Al Khaimah


United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Zayed Housing Programme, Fujairah



Housing Development in Liwa



Ministry of Housing, Oman



Mohammed Bin Zayed City in Fujairah Tender for Construction

United Arab Emirates

Ministry of Public Works and Housing, Fujairah



Naseej Affordable Housing



Ministry of Housing, Bahrain,Naseej BSC



East Hidd Housing Project



Ministry of Housing, Bahrain 500


Development of East Sitra



Ministry of Housing, Bahrain 500


588 Villas in Marabe Al Dhafra at Zayed City

Tender for Construction

United Arab Emirates

Abu Dhabi General Services PJSC (Musanada)



Housing Complex In Oman



Supreme Council for Planning (SCP)


construction business news me December 2015 35


A residential compound of villas in Dubai

ing shortages,” says Mibu John, syndicated research director for Ventures Onsite, a project tracking firm. “Bahrain has introduced public private partnership housing developments, while Saudi Arabia has launched an initiative to create more affordable homes for nationals. The Omani government is embarking on a large-scale construction plan to provide affordable, modern residential areas for nationals in the country.” In Bahrain, affordable housing has become a priority for the government, reflected in the number of new residential projects signed so far in 2015 that are focused towards the supply of social and affordable housing. According to figures from Ventures Onsite about 2,548 affordable housing units are scheduled for completion in 2015, while a further 1,443 units are planned for completion by 2016, with a further 5,241 due in 2017. 36 construction business news me December 2015

“The government inked a $1bn project with property developer Diyar, to purchase social housing units, affordable housing units, and the supporting infrastructure,” says John. “The project is intended to address the acute shortage of low-cost homes in Bahrain, which currently stands at 50,000 units.” Elsewhere in the GCC the Public Authority of Housing Welfare (PAHW) in Kuwait has committed to the implementation of a roadmap, which stipulates distribution of 12,000 housing units per year over 10 years, starting from March 2015. A decade of implementation may prove a long wait, but offers a steady trickle of work for the contracting community. In Oman a five year development plan that concludes this year sought to implement housing projects with a budget of $1.16bn, some 8% of total planned spending. The

country’s ruler Sultan Qaboos ordered a grant of $520m for a housing assistance programme that includes housing loan projects, addressing one of the key challenges facing many middle income households: access to finance. But for contractors with the right skill set the scale of the projects on offer in Saudi Arabia dwarfs all others. The country’s housing ministry is building some half a million housing units in locations across the country with an earmarked budget of some $66bn being injected into affordable homes. “[Affordable housing] can be a hugely profitable pursuit as the demand is quite high across the GCC, due to a rapid increase in population,” says John. “The creation of an affordable housing sector in the GCC represents the maturing of the region’s construction market and is creating business opportunities for construction companies.”

Laying foundations Being ready to take advantage of these opportunities will be the main challenge facing contractors and consultants alike. While the market is potentially huge, addressing it effectively and profitably will mean tackling the industry’s continued addiction to low-cost and labour intensive onsite fabrication. That said, from a contractor’s perspective, affordable housing projects offer solid contracts that are little different to other work they might bid for. “It’s marginally different,” says Chris Seymour, regional director of markets and development in the Middle East for Arcadis. “The fact is there is usually higher volume there, so from a contracting or consultancy point of view it’s not significantly more or less attractive. While you may lose value in the materials or so forth, you gain in the scale of the development. Contractors would be very willing to build it and consultants would be very willing to design and manage it. “However, in order to make sure there is some profit margin in the development of affordable homes, is the need to simplify and standardise construction. We need to be thinking more about prefabrication to help lower costs through standardisation, which will also assist the attractiveness of this kind of development.” The regional industry has traditionally been slow to embrace the benefits of prefabrication, or the factoryscale production of everything from walls and windows, to bathrooms and kitchens. While facilities exist and some companies have made the investment in the infrastructure required to make at least part of a house factory, the market has not always proven big enough to warrant the level of investment required for some prefabrication operations. Industry observers say large international firms have toyed with entry to the market, but have found it hard to drum up the level of interest they required. Seymour believes that the industry needs to develop a more

“The creation of an affordable housing sector in the GCC represents the maturing of the region’s construction market and is creating business opportunities for construction companies.” –Mibu John

cohesive approach to prefabrication and system building. “It’s not terribly sophisticated here,” he says. “There are definitely options for it, but it needs to be expanded a great deal. There also needs to be a will to regulate and help the industry find better ways to achieve what’s required. I would say there is now an emerging recognition in this region that it is necessary.” Seymour believes the key to developing the prefabricated capacity of the industry lies around demand, suggesting there are lessons to be learned from the US and Europe, where system building and prefabrication is well developed. “What has to happen is there has to be a commitment and consistent demand to make the investment in the plants worthwhile,” he says. “For instance, it’s quite easy to obtain prefabricated bathroom pods, as many hotels use them. That’s because bathrooms are generally the same, so

its not difficult to set up a plant to build pods, but taking it a step further is harder because there hasn't been the volume of middle income housing developed. There has been no consistency in demand for certain configurations of housing. Create that demand and the industry will follow and fill the gap in the market.” There are some examples starting to lead the way. Contractors Beaver Gulf Group and UNEC have both won contracts this year to work on parts of Dubai-based Nshama’s Town Square project. Aimed squarely at the affordable market, Town Square is set to include 3,000 townhouses and 18,000 apartments, once the 10-year project is complete. The developer has clearly incorporated cost reduction techniques, standardising unit sizes and deploying careful design to optimise internal usage. In addition, Nshama is acting to curtail speculative trading by limiting sales to just one unit per end user. In doing so it is setting out its brand as a clearly end-user focussed option, targeting the large middle income bracket. While Town Square is just getting started it does demonstrate that developers and contractors can find a business model that allows them to tap into the huge and growing market for affordable homes. The professional skills exist to make it happen too. “There certainly is a knowledge base built up in the international consultants on how to create highvolume housing at economical rates,” says Seymour. “It is not an unattractive sector at all. I think the consultants and probably a lot of the contracting industry have got quite a bit to offer in this sector.” All that remains is for the immense pressure being created by demand to build momentum in the construction supply chain. Once a tipping point is reached, the contractors who can standardise and move quickly to take advantages of the economies of scale offered by dense developments will be the ones best placed to benefit from a transition into a house factory. construction business news me December 2015 37


The magic numbers

Craig Gibson shares the secret formula to calculate contractors’ overhead charges


t starts off with such good intentions: a new partnership, the honeymoon period, various bonds and guarantees as to performance. However, the older we get the more we see linger on longer than the parties wanted. We are gathered here today, to consider an omnipresent issue across the various interlocutory marriages present on a construction project. The complexities of construction projects are widely accepted. However, there is a propensity for the industry to accept a building contractor on a delayed project is probably entitled to some damages, without understanding the mechanisms under which that entitlement should be assessed. This article will focus on loss suffered and expense incurred by a building contractor’s head office resources, due to a project being delayed. When a contractor tenders for a new project, it will submit a tender sum based on that project taking ‘n’ days to complete, this price will include for both site and head office overheads and profit. Should the project take longer to complete, the contractor is entitled to seek damages from the client. Note three salient considerations of this article: (i) project overheads are different from head office overheads; we are focussing on the head office overheads of the contractor;

38 construction business news me December 2015

incurred by the contractor; this cost should not include mark-up for profit.

Craig Gibson Craig Gibson, MRICS MCIArb MScL LLM Pg. Dip. Law BSc (Hons) – Omnium International. He is dual-qualified in law and quantity surveying. A Chartered Surveyor with experience of ICC and DIFC arbitrations and a passion for simplifying conflict.

(ii) we are not discussing liquidated damages of the client; in the UAE this is usually a prescribed daily figure (AED ‘x’) in the contract, so the calculation is simply the number of days delay multiplied by AED ‘x’ (subject to Article 390 (2) of the UAE Civil Code); (iii) aside from (ii) above, this article considers damages, that being the cost

The Three Gates The first gate for a contractor to pass is establishing the period of delay for which it is entitled to redress. A delay analyst can opine on compensable delay, allowing for concurrent delay and so on. The second gate involves demonstrating that it is reasonable to believe the contractor would have secured work elsewhere if the delay on the project had not occurred (for example, if the contractor was going bankrupt, it may be unlikely that it would have secured further work). The third gate to pass regards demonstrating that the overhead and profit allowance in the contract was reasonable (whilst simultaneously deducting the profit in order to only claim damages). Notably, many large building contractors would be content with 3% company-wide profit from the array of highvalue work they carry out. However, most building contracts in the UAE will include a diluted head office and project office overhead and profit mark-up of 10-15%. Owing to resource availability, potential lack of understanding, or strategy, most contractors will understandably claim for the full percentage markup, at least in the first instance. In turn, an astute client would contest the probable disparity between what the contract says and what the auditable head office accounts prove as a way to ‘block’ this

third gate and quash this head of claim. If the parties accept the principal that the contractor is entitled to damages, the discussion moves on to calculating the entitlement. Loss of Opportunity or Actual Cost The contractor can calculate this entitlement based on loss of opportunity, or by demonstrating actual cost incurred. Loss of opportunity claims rely on the success of the contractor demonstrating it would have profited by moving its resources [from the delayed project] onto another project, but for the delay for which it was not responsible. So, the contractor was held back from making ‘AED y’ elsewhere, thus it is reasonably entitled to that ‘AED y’ from the client. The actual cost approach requires the contractor to demonstrate the actual loss suffered by its head office as a result of the delay. That is not easy. Resultantly, contractors tend to prefer the lost opportunity approach as it is simply calculated using a formula. Such a calculation is less time consuming and usually produces a higher figure than actual cost. There are three formulas commonly used to calculate the head office overhead: (i) Hudson formula (ii) Emden formula (iii) Eichleay formula Hudson formula The Hudson formula relies on the percentage agreed in the project contract as the factor for considering entitlement. However, in reality this percentage may bear no resemblance to the contractor’s actual head office overhead cost. This is a primary criticism of the Hudson formula, but also a major reason why this formula is often a contractor’s first choice. To be more accurate, this formula should be factored to account for the likelihood of the contractor securing work elsewhere in a timeous manner, inefficiencies and the like. Insofar as this factor is not based on auditable calculations, it is still subjective. Therefore to do so would defeat the purpose of using a simple formula.

In the UAE, this formula is generally used as a ready reckoner or starting point when looking to settle a claim. Emden formula In light of the Hudson formula attracting criticism for being too simplistic, Emden’s Building Contracts and Practice published an alternative; the Emden formula. This formula divides the total overhead cost of the contractor’s organisation by the total turnover. This results in a percentage based on the contractor’s actual head office overhead, instead of one contained in an isolated contract. This is advantageous. The Emden formula received judicial support in England and Wales. It was widely used until a loss of opportunity approach fell out of judicial fashion, in favour of trying ones best to demonstrate actual loss. This downfall was largely attributable to the [non-construction] case of Tate & Lyle vs Greater London Council (1983). Following this lull, loss of opportunity claims have resurged as a result of the difficulty in demonstrating actual loss; judges are growing more understanding of this difficulty. I state the stance in the England and Wales jurisdiction as background, but one must remember concepts formed in such Common Law jurisdictions should be treated with caution in the UAE. In the UAE, Emden’s formula is not as commonly used except in arbitral proceedings, mainly because contractors are reluctant to disclose auditable head office overheads. Ironically, this is the greatest advantage of Emden’s formula.

Eichleay formula Depending on the strength of the circumstances, a contractor may recognise it cannot prove loss of opportunity and therefore an actual cost approach is required. The Eichleay formula may be useful in this case. The Eichleay formula compares the value of work carried out in the contract period with the value of work carried out by the contractor as a whole for the contract period. The contractor can then be apportioned a share of head office overheads using the same ratio to provide a lump sum. The allocable amount of head office overheads to the given project is divided by the contract period, which can then be multiplied by the number of days delay to provide a total sum claimed. Is the End Formulaic? Industry professionals will advise on a case by case basis, but using formulas to calculate damages due to a contractor is a widely accepted industry norm. The circumstances of the project and the dispute resolution forum will inform whether using a simple formula like Hudson’s is appropriate to demonstrate loss of opportunity, or whether Eichleay’s formula is more prudent to demonstrate actual loss. A contractor will need adequate records to pass the three gates considered earlier, so remember the mantra: “records, records, records!” Keep detailed records in order, and these interlocutory marriages of construction projects will be simpler to conclude in the event they do last longer than planned. construction business news me December 2015 39


Time to partner up Winston and Strawn’s Dubai-based team including partner Stephen Jurgenson, associate Kilian de Cintré and counsel Katharine Sonneborn examine Dubai’s new public-private partnerships (PPP) law set to boost private sector investments


ubai published a new public-private partnerships law in September 2015, to draw more private investment into infrastructure projects. The PPP law came into force on 19 November 2015 is expected to generate significant project activity and to attract substantial interest from foreign investors. The law is deliberately designed with broad application, stating that it will apply to PPP projects, “regardless of their type, form or nature of activity”, originated by Dubai government agencies subject to the general budget of the government. It may also apply to off-budget bodies with the approval of the Supreme Fiscal Committee. Power and water projects are, however, excluded from the scope of the PPP Law and will remain governed by existing legislation. The publication of the PPP law underpins strong political support for public-private partnerships in Dubai, which is key to any successful PPP policy. The law simply aims to encourage the participation of the private sector in the development of projects. Sitting behind this stated aim is a desire to enable the Dubai government

40 construction business news me December 2015

Stephen Jurgenson to take advantage of private sector expertise, to ease the financial burden and financial risks of capital intensive projects on the government’s budget and to offer (and evidence) the best value for money to the community. This new policy is a very welcome initiative – a strong relationship between the Dubai government and the private sector will be key to address the infrastructure needs of the Emirate over the medium and-long term.

Impact on bidding processes The PPP Law has a transparent bidding process led by the relevant government agency. Submitted offers will be evaluated by the Partnership Committee, an internal committee formed by the government agency for each project, with the project being awarded to “the most feasible offer technically and financially among the submitted offers”. It also allows bidding developers to form a consortium, and provides that if this is done the offer should be made in the name of the consortium - unless specified otherwise in the invitation to bid. The PPP Law also sets out clear consequences for not following the rules of the process – any offer received from sponsors not meeting the conditions contained in the invitation to bid will be rejected and if only one offer is submitted, or only one offer remains after other offers have been disqualified, the bidding process may be cancelled by the Partnership Committee. It should be noted, however, that government agencies do not need to follow a competitive tender process and unsolicited PPP proposals are possible.

Structural considerations The Law allows for a wide range of potential PPP structures. It provides that BOOT, DBO, lease and concession agreements may be used together with any other structures approved by the Supreme Fiscal Committee. The relationship between the project company and the government agency responsible for the PPP project will be governed by a partnership contract. Key features of the partnership contracts are described in the PPP Law including the scope of works, ownership of assets and intellectual property rights, responsibilities for obtaining necessary approvals, offtake or service prices, rules on supervision of the project company by the government agency, environmental requirements, termination rights of the government agency and penalties imposed on the project company, transfer and decommissioning of the project. Private sector investors will also note that, while the Law does not yet impose restrictions on finance sources, it does expressly state that the obligations under the financing arrangements will be borne by the project company alone. The absence of restrictions on finance sources is a positive feature and should allow international sponsors to combine multiple sources of finance such as commercial lenders and export credit agencies. Finally, the PPP Law provides that partnership contracts with government agencies can be entered into with a term of up to 30 years (and, in some exceptional cases, longer) from the date of signing the partnership contract. This is in line with practice for PPP projects elsewhere and should certainly allow for the private sector to raise long term finance and realize a return on its investment. In conclusion, the PPP Law is a positive development that will certainly attract the attention of international investors with the many opportunities that Expo 2020 will bring to the Emirate. It is a detailed and clear legislation that offers the legal framework necessary for a successful PPP policy and is a step forward towards addressing the infrastructure needs of Dubai in the future.

Requirements for government approvals and licensing?

Kilian de Cintré

Katharine Sonneborn Project impact • Union Oasis Project The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) was at the forefront of the PPP Law. The RTA’s Union Oasis Project, a five towers project above Union Square Metro Station, will be one of the first projects to use the new law, with a tender deadline of April 2016 announced. • Al Maktoum International Airport The Law may also be used for the expansion of the Al Maktoum International Airport, which with a $32 bn development budget, is anticipated, at the time of completion, to become the largest airport in the world. • Metro Route 2020 Dubai’s Expo 2020 will also offer numerous opportunities for the private sector, such as the 14.5km Metro Route 2020 from the existing Nakheel Harbour and Tower station to the Expo 2020 site.

• Projects with a total cost of up to $54m to be incurred by the government agency through the partnership contract must be approved by that agency’s director general. • Projects with a total cost of between $54m and $136m to be incurred by the government agency through the partnership contract must be approved by the Department of Finance. • Projects with a total cost in excess of $136m to be incurred by the government agency through the partnership contract must be approved by the Supreme Fiscal Committee. • The project company must be licensed to operate in Dubai and contemplates that in most cases the project company must be a special purpose vehicle. • The new Law does not specify whether the project company must be incorporated as a local entity under the requirements of the UAE commercial companies law or whether it can be established as a free zone entity. Should it be permissible to establish the project company as a free zone entity, foreign investors should note that a key limitation of a free zone entity is that it is generally permitted to conduct business solely within its relevant free zone, therefore limiting this structure to PPP projects strictly contained in that free zone. • The PPP Law does not relax requirements requiring local ownership of businesses established as limited liability companies (LLC), therefore it should be assumed that project companies incorporated as an LLC will have to comply with the so called 51/49 rule which prevents foreign investors from owning more than 49% of UAE companies - although it is possible for the constitutional documents of the LLC to contain certain provisions in order to protect the interests of a foreign minority shareholder. • The PPP Law also provides that the government agency may hold an interest in the project company, which would impact the status of the project company under Dubai law, but does not specify the proportion nor the conditions of such participation.

construction business news me December 2015 41


UAE, construction and the COP21

In 1992, politics and sustainability joined hands for the first time at the Rio Earth Summit in Brazil. This year at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, COP21, leaders from around the world will attempt to create a legally binding agreement on climate protection in order to prevent global temperatures rising more than 2OC. Senior Consultant at First Climate, Shivram Mukherjee, looks into how the UAE has prepared itself and its construction industry to adapt


ollowing the directions of its leaders, the UAE has formally submitted its Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The INDC is an international agreement where countries have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take to combat global warming. UAE’s INDC reflects the nation’s economic diversification strategy and its commitment to sustainable development, harnessing innovation and green growth to ensure prosperity and environmental protection. Global governments have agreed to submit INDC plans, detailing the actions they intend to take to limit greenhouse emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. In UAE’s Vision 2021, one of its major aims includes the target of 24% electricity to be generated from clean energy. According to the Ministry of Energy the last record of the same was 0.2% in 2014. During COP21 held in Paris from 30 November to 8 December, leaders from 193 countries are expected to finalise a new global climate change agreement which will set a framework for international efforts to combat climate change. The new agreement evaluates the ac-

42 construction business news me December 2015

cumulation of negotiations since 2011 and formulates a global agenda that will help reinforce and build on international actions to fight climate change. The UAE’s actions are already underway with a directive plan to address climate change and transform the nation’s energy mix. Though the UAE is a major oil producer, it has readily incorporated clean energy and sustainability on the national agenda. Clean energy in particular has been widely adopted in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with a special focus on solar. Clean energy projects such as the national grid through Shams 1, a first-of-its-kind concentrated solar plant in Abu Dhabi, and the construction of the 1GW Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park in Dubai has been revolutionary in the region. The UAE is also introducing energyefficiency standards, funding the creation of world-class research centres, and is advancing critical innovations such as Carbon Capture Usage and Storage. In early November 2015, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) along with International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) held a joint workshop to discuss the possibility of residential and distributed solar in the region. Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, is contributing to the

UAE's clean energy leadership by establishing an integrated 'new-energy' industry in Abu Dhabi for knowledge export around the world. It is the region's largest supplier of clean energy, and takes an integrated approach to sustainability by combining academia, research and development, investment and technology deployment, to spur innovation and investment in clean energy. IRENA, headquartered within Masdar City, is also a reflection of the UAE's commitment to addressing the world's most pressing energy and climate challenges. What’s in it for the construction sector? The construction industry and built environment is accountable for a major part of emitted carbon, especially in the Middle East. With the UAE already considered as a global construction hub, it has taken giant strides in the implementation of sustainable and energy efficient construction. In the last five years, the UAE has incorporated many new sustainable projects including Sustainable City, DEWA’s headquarters, a number of green globe certified hotels, and the retrofit of a number of government buildings particularly under the Emirates Green Building Council’s initiative. In addition, Dubai Municipality has announced green building codes to guide all new construction projects happening in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. As World Expo 2020, FIFA World Cup 2022, and endless events drive more people into the UAE, sustainable construction becomes more and more necessary. In Abu Dhabi alone there is a rising need for new residences. The emirate’s average annual population growth of 7.7% has created a significant demand for housing that is currently outstripping supply. With mega-projects underway, such as the upcoming Burj2020 District, Abu Dhabi’s Midfield Terminal Building and Meydan One, as well as increased spending on social infrastructure, the UAE saw new and planned projects valued at an esti-

Shivram Mukherjee, senior consultant at First Climate


Irena HQ at Masdar City

mated total of $315bn last year. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are definitely leading the way for sustainable development here in the Middle East, with the municipalities having provided minimum standards that all developers must adhere to. The emirates are reportedly driving higher regional standards in the outdoor construction and design sector. For example, UAE regulations stipulate that 25% of a project’s development area must be set aside for environmentally-responsible landscaping. Expected Outcomes: COP21 With the second commitment period slated to end in 2020, ideally known as KP2), the onus is on the Annex 1 as well as non-Annex 1 countries to come up with dedicated CO2 reduction plans. Governments are in no mood to repeat the failures of Copenhagen. What’s changed is that the big players have a better idea of each other’s position, reducing the extent of last-minute brinkmanship that has characterised previous UN climate summits. The Paris summit is likely to spur an agreement on a more inclusive international climate policy framework that captures current levels of ambition, and encourages further effort in future. Not all aspects of the deal will be legally binding, but it will cover a much greater percentage of global emissions than Kyoto ever did.

Major Challenges for UAE The UAE construction industry, which has witnessed unprecedented growth in the past few years, is facing increasing challenges such as getting foreign workers into the country as well as the rising cost of raw materials, including cement and steel. In the past few years, the UAE's efforts to diversify away from oil have fuelled a massive growth in buildings and investment in the country, with the construction sector emerging as an important economic driver. It is deemed a very likely proposition that there would be nationwide GHG reduction targets and such an action would definitely call for stringent norms from both Annex1 and non-Annex1 countries post COP 21. The UAE being a pioneer in the construction sector, it would effectively need to switch from usage of conventional energy resources to non-conventional energy resources. With the UAE having rapidly emerged in recent years as a leading investor in clean energy technologies, the key challenge here would be to embrace newer trends in sustainable construction which would have a two pronged impact on its growing economy. It would help in promoting a sustainable future by reducing the conventional energy usage and it would also help in complying with the GHG reduction targets. Indeed, the less a country depends on finite resources such as natural gas and oil, the stronger

and more stable the economy will remain in the face of energy cost increases or reduced supplies. From a construction point of view it may be prudent to note that some construction materials have low impact on CO2 emissions that result from raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, maintenance and recycling, but provide a moderate reduction in terms of operational energy, and vice versa. Others positively impact the embodied energy and environmental performance and can optimise cooling and heating energy performance. Replacing or at least reducing the use of some construction material such as concrete, reinforcing steels, formwork, and gypsum board have a direct impact on CO2 emissions. Some materials and construction systems can decrease the amount of CO2 emissions by around 6.9%. Although from the contractor’s perspective, the main challenge would be as obvious as a rise in the cost of raw materials, which would eventually add to a rise in the overall budget. The picture definitely looks greener on the other side, with various energy efficiency improvement initiatives, including the usage of low GHG intensive construction raw materials being used. The stringent Green Building norms would add a cutting edge in the UAE’s staggering growth in its construction industry. construction business news me December 2015 43


Project restructure Construction Business News ME looks into the first building retrofit project in the Middle East

DEWA, Etihad ESCO, Enova, National Bonds Corporation and Jafza at the press conference


he Economic Zones World signed an MoU with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s (DEWA) Etihad ESCO to retrofit existing buildings in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) in a strategic move to it the most energy efficient area. The project will retrofit 157 buildings in phase one, totalling an investment of AED64m and producing energy savings of AED22m per year, which will equate to a 31% reduction on current energy cost of the buildings. The project aims to significantly reduce Jafza’s carbon footprints and make its operations more sustainable and efficient. This will include replacing old air conditioners with split units, old light fixtures with LEDs and old water fixtures with new efficient water units. According to H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairperson of DP World and Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, utility cost is the second largest expense for Jafza. The power and water consumption level has crossed 75 million KWh and 750 million IG per year respectively. He says: “After a rigorous tendering and selection process we selected Etihad ESCO for their viable Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) to achieve an average consumption saving of 28% of power and 36% of water, while reducing the carbon footprint by 75,000 tonnes during the six year project.”

44 construction business news me December 2015

The project is set to be the largest energy retrofit project in the entire Middle East. It will be funded by Etihad ESCO through Shari’a compliant financing from National Bonds Corporation. The repayment (including financing cost) will be met from the guaranteed savings over the six years project period. Stephane Le Gentil, CEO of Etihad Energy Services, adds that the (guaranteed) savings over the next six years will include the savings of 158 GWh (28%) in electricity consumption and 1.2 billion IG (36%) in water consumption, which together amounts to net 30% savings worth AED132m. He says that the project will start immediately and the construction work will last one year. During the construction phase, Enova will be responsible for implementing the Energy Conservation Measures. Then, for six years, Enova will operate and maintain the new equipment, monitor the energy consumption of the buildings, and then guarantee that the energy savings are achieved. Sulayem says that the average savings in power and water consumption is 30%. “It makes the Free Zone the first organisation in the UAE to comply with the provisions of national energy conservation strategy far ahead of time."

Other initiatives done by Jafza • Installation of timer controlled devices and photocells in parking areas, corridors and other parts of the buildings as well as replacement of old lighting fixtures with LED in Jafza buildings • Water saving devices have also been installed in office buildings resulting in 23% water savings • All sewage water and water drained from air conditioning units is recycled and used for irrigation • Refrigerants are also recycled and reused to minimise the free zone's carbon footprint • Jafza also extended its green strategies to its logistics developments and warehouses

The Formwork Experts.

Highrise Innovation Added value that makes all the difference

Highly efficient 'construction kit'

On-site safety and protection

Highrise core concept

With its modular design concept, the crane-independent Automatic climbing formwork SKE50Â plus provides an efficient solution to every type of structure.

from wind and weather is possible with Protection Screen Xclimb 60, a gapless self-climbing enclosure. The system comes in several versions, giving you the ideal solution for every requirement.

The Lubeca Jumpform, now in Doka's portfolio, has room for all site equipment needed. Powerful hydraulic cylinders cranelessly raise the platform to the next casting section.

Bridge | Tunnel | Highrise | Residential | Energy


The red palace door As hotels in the region get on high gear to prepare for millions tourists flooding in for Dubai Expo 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2022, the hospitality sector according to STR Global, shows there are 781 hotels totalling 195,705 rooms, currently under contract in the MEA region. This month, Construction Business News ME visits the upcoming Bab Al Qasr


laced in the last stretch of Abu Dhabi’s Corniche road, Bab Al Qasr which translates to Palace Door, is ideally situated between the capital’s key attractions Etihad Towers and Emirates Palace. The bronze-tinted glass twin-tower project adds value to Abu Dhabi’s skyline with a stunning view of the sea front on one side and the city on the other. When asked what makes this project so unique. Mehmet Kara, business development manager at Nurol Construction replies admitting that every construction project is unique considering the requirements of the stakeholders and time, environment and cost constraints. “However, what makes Bab Al Qasr unique is how the Emirati and Moroccan architecture is blended in every part of its design. “It demonstrates the high quality of Nurol’s works in hotel and serviced apartments in the district of landmark projects including Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace, Presidential Palace, etc.” The project was undertaken by new developer Emirates Moroccan Trading Company (EMROC). The main construction contract was awarded to local company Nurol Construction back in 2010 after which the construction work started by the end of the same year. The MEP subcontracting project was awarded to Turkish engineering firm Arma EleKtropanc. Kara said that there is an average manpower of the project is about 1,000 across all trades. The project is expected to be completed by the end of this month and fully operational by the first quarter of 2016. The hotel will be operated by Millenium and Copthorne Hotels. Considering the construction, design and operational cost, the overall cost of the project exceeds AED1bn.

46 construction business news me December 2015

Bab Al Qasr Hotel

Ceiling at Bab Al Qasr

Nurol construction team

Office space within the hotel

Ballroom in final stage

A completed room of Bab Al Qasr

Kara says that one of the major challenges was the delay in design and approvals especially on finalisation of finishing materials (provisional items) on this project, which is common in many construction projects in the UAE. “Another challenge was the construction difficulties in the very confined and environmentally sensitive location of the

project. However delays were lessened through implementing proper communication, stakeholder management, team building, and crashing the work activities. Work space limitation was mitigated through proper logistical planning of activities and using high technology machineries and equipment in the construction site. “ construction business news me December 2015 47


The PMO Puzzle As Saudi Arabia implements its new PMO law, representatives from the advisory board met in Dubai to explain how the new legislation will help one of the world’s largest construction markets overcome its delivery challenges by Melanie Mingas


s a global best practice framework, the Project Management Office (PMO) is an integral, albeit often overlooked element of project management. While there are tangible benefits, the concept itself can at times be quite abstract. With a near two decade history globally, in its current form, the PMO is a combination of consulting, mentoring and managing deliverables, while establishing a culture of compliance, cooperation, efficiency and sustainable working. Around 18 months ago, following several years of discussion, Saudi Arabia made a commitment to imple-

48 construction business news me December 2015

ment a new PMO law, which could be applied to all its infrastructure projects with a view to maximising efficiency and minimising overruns in project costs and timelines. But the kingdom couldn’t achieve this alone and so turned to key private sector stakeholders who formed a

working group which advised on drafting the law. Three representatives from that group (see box) met in Dubai last month to explain the PMO; its implication on private sector construction companies; and the potential domino effect it could initiate around the region.

Advisory panel members »» David Clifton, regional development director, Faithful + Gould »» Nader Reslan, industry sales director, ME transportation and local infrastructure, Bentley Systems »» Amer Khan, country manager Saudi Arabia, CH2MHill

efficiencies in cost, planning and waste, has in part inspired the PMO law. Continuity of best practice and standards has also played a part, as Nader Reslan, industry sales director for ME transportation and local infrastructure at Bentley Systems, explains. He says: “Most of the projects come with very advanced processes but once the project is delivered they go for the next phase or project and have to start all over again. There is a lack of skills in the local industry as well as a growing need for those skills to be captured and for people to learn from the previous challenges.” Amer Khan It is the intersection where this lack of continuation meets the scale of projThe PMO is designed to be conduects, at which problems begin to occur. cive to Saudi Arabia’s unique challengReferencing Riyadh Metro – a projes – centrally controlled governance, ect he describes as “putting veins in a challenging and complex terrain and a city once it has been built” – David a seriously ambitious project pipeline, Clifton, regional development direcin the face of declining oil revenues, a tor, Faithful + Gould, notes the lack growing population of young nationof continuation also exists between als and ever growing requirements for municipalities, rather than simply besocial and civil infrastructure. tween project stakeholders. “Saudi Arabia is very centrally Development of the PMO planned, however each central departSaudi Arabia is the biggest projects ment has its own agenda and the fact market in the region and has been so is, that sometimes can be viewed as by a long way for a long time. But it has opaque. In countries like the UK and project delivery challenges, especially US, these models are established and relating to mega-projects, many of understood and they actually help dewhich can be addressed though a PMO. liver. It might delay things for a while CH2MHill country manager for Saubut overall it provides transparency.” di Arabia, Amer Khan, explains: “That He adds: “What you will see with was the genesis of this idea and with PMO is set parameters you can move the delivery method that has been eswithin but no flexibility beyond that, tablished over the last 15 to 20 years, so municipalities have to stick to a across the globe. This will be an efbroadly similar set of frameworks, but fective implementation method for we still need to see that brought to the country, particularly due fruition. It’s a very differto its size and complexent world for example ity. It also recognises an between Jeddah Metro, opportunity for cenDamam Metro, and Ritralised monitoring yadh Metro, which is and control, which essentially like buildis conducive to the ing two thirds of the government related entities kingdom’s style London Underground who will have of government.” from scratch in a city to implement the In 2014, a study by that already exists.” PMO PwC concluded 95% of


projects in the Middle East are delivered late and often over budget and this, along with achievable

The potential impact PMO is not a new idea, but it can be revolutionary.

HE Mohammed Al Jassa The private sector working group which assisted in drafting the PMO law was led by His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Al Jassa, who is credited as acting on the concerns and advice raised by the private sector. In a circular issued by the government it is outlined that the PMO aims to “contribute to raising the adequacy and quality of implementation of public sector projects, through the application of international best practices in the areas of PM and programme objectives.” This work will be supervised by the Board of Directors, chaired by the Minister of Economy and Planning. HE Dr Mohammed Al Jassa is now advisor to the Royal Court. In essence it is a mechanism for feasibility and viability; it is a check and balance process to avoid necessary projects becoming runaway ideas, and it is a stringent tool in keeping the functional functioning. Khan says: “PMO can help the decision makers of the country to assess and prioritise projects in an effective way. In terms of the oil price, I think this is where PMO can actually help the country because it will force itself to look at the programmes and find more efficient ways to achieve functional objectives while using technology to make things smarter.” Echoing his point, Clifton explains: “We are living in a new world and while there is money coming in, everything is fine, but at other times you have to think of the functionality of the asset, rather than going purely on aesthetics. It may not be Zaha Hadid territory but the functionality can still be there.” construction business news me December 2015 49


As Khan says: “Being bigger isn’t better, being smarter is better. More emphasis on the economic impact of a project and creating smarter solutions through technology, procurement or collaboration, is better.” In some corners there are concerns PMO could trickle down to the private sector balance sheet as procurement procedures change; if projects are suddenly reigned in, re-structured, or cancelled all together, the effects could be wide-reaching. But the outlook is far more positive. Advising that larger projects are currently under review, Khan predicts things will become clearer at the end of Q4 and beginning of 2016, in light of revised budgets and it’s a point Clifton and Reslan echo. Clifton says: “It takes time to measure the impact and the breakeven oil price conversation we will have is that Saudi is going to look at [new] ways of raising funding for these projects. But when you talk about liquidity you will find liquidity wants transparency and governance and money will flow with these new measures in place. If the same systems are in place here as in the UK, for example, it will generate more business and talent.” Khan echoes: “The terms and conditions are discussed in so many conferences, including how government procurement needs to be updated. The key terms are always transparency, fairness; that is absolutely key to our industry to allow the Saudi government to attract the best talent and providers, in order to achieve what it wants to.” Technically speaking In tightening up processes and procedures, technology will have a key role to play, specifically BIM which is set to enjoy new found applications under new working processes, both during and after construction. As Reslan says, construction is five to ten years maximum, but the asset lifecycle could be up to 70 years; which is part of why BIM must become standard. Its implementation elsewhere has brought about stronger project returns, through ef50 construction business news me December 2015

New construction of a tower building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

David Clifton

ficiency and effective planning. Speaking as a civil engineer, he says: “Working smarter means phasing projects and at the end of each phase assessing the success of the previous phase. To be frank, we haven’t always been as smart for example as the aviation industry. For some reason construction projects happen in a much more flexible way and then to increase the pressure on the project schedules and cost of

these, reduces efficiency further. “These observations are why governments in other countries are so advanced. The standards they work to, to create and handle information over the course of a project, are what we need to adopt. This isn’t a case of imposing, there is an objective here. If it is properly done everybody will see the benefits. Digital infrastructure isn’t just a 3D model, it’s everything behind that.” The issue is, who takes the lead; should this be pioneered by the consultants or sponsored by the government? “We are wondering if having an executive or steering committee can assist in that and while that is happening we are seeing that although construction is about building an asset, while we are doing that there is a lot of information and data created and we need to think of the best way for that to be controlled,” he responds. Legacy While the disparity between project stakeholders and departments to date, not to mention the very nature of



the region’s “bigger to learn from each and better” mindset, other in this region regional has been rooted and being GCC there municipalities in legacy, the take is opportunity for were involved in away from a PMO collaboration anyway, the PMO implementation is about as they do with trade, creating a different type security and other aspects of legacy. of governance. So there is no While PMO has existed in Doha, reason why similar initiatives won’t be Dubai and Kuwait, it is expected the rolled out elsewhere.” entire GCC could benefit from what Reslan adds: “The best thing about Saudi Arabia is about to embark upon. this PMO initiative is that once it is The GCC-wide rail project is certain to properly established we will have all become the first pan-region project for the system to support it in areas like which PMO could be implemented, Kuwait, Dubai and Doha. I don’t see should other states choose to adopt it it being observed at a federal level at the same level. right now but it is being recognised at Khan says: “We know countries tend the highest level and once it is being

implemented it won’t just be related to a specific project or asset, like the metro. My observation is that’s fine but it’s better implemented across the industry, and not just applied to specific projects. “It’s the more intelligent way of handling building information management and when that happens it makes it much easier when we all sit together and we all have very similar and accessible rules,” he adds. As it improves the sustainability of projects, PMO could also boost nationalisation efforts in the kingdom, as Saudi Arabia’s young engineers find opportunity to be involved in new areas of a project lifecycle. And the working group of private sector advisors, on the back of recent success, will use their new relationship with the government to keep other industry issues at the forefront of government thinking, including labour conditions, health and safety, worker welfare and sustainability. Although oil revenues have nosedived and GDP will take another hit at the end of this year, Saudi Arabia isn’t, in context, in financial trouble and the PMO law is not a knee jerk reaction to such. However, it does need to work more efficiently, not just for the sake of its own future finances but in order to attract investment moving forwards. The effects of that on the private sector are yet to be felt. The bank of Saudi Arabia is under new management now, but it is far from closed and as long as the pipeline remains as buoyant as it has been, it is likely to be business as usual. Clifton concludes: “Rationalising projects doesn’t necessarily mean cuts, it just means phasing things differently so we aren’t looking to do everything by tomorrow morning, but we are looking to create efficiencies and adjusting the balance sheets. That rationalisation is about the economy moving forwards. “In general I think this will be an incredibly positive step forward and there are many other steps to take in order to facilitate this but it’s a step in the right direction. Now it is time to do the work and there is a lot to be implemented and many challenges to overcome.” construction business news me December 2015 51


Property shift A growing number of wealthy individuals prefer to buy their second luxury home in Dubai and the reasons are obvious: Dubai is a prestigious business hub for global investors, a safe haven in the region, and above all, is presently witnessing a pricestabilising period that offers an unrivalled opportunity. Mustafa Pooya writes


t is known that the real estate market in Dubai grew at a dynamic pace in 2013. What is being witnessed now is the stabilising period, which is attracting global buyers and investors. The Dubai government has not imposed any tax on property rental income, which means that investors can make free and clear profit on rents. Similarly, with zero percent capital gain taxation and no property tax, the profit margin is much higher, making Dubai real estate a far more rewarding venture compared to other countries. According to a recent Research and Markets study, the UAE is home to the second highest number of millionaires in the Middle East with 72,100, which means every 125th person in the country is one. As per data, Dubai saw the launch of 14 projects in the first five months of 2015 compared to 37 launches announced during the same period last year. A total of 4,800 units were launched from January to May 2015 compared to 11,288 units in the same period last year. Such statistics indicate a favourable background for the luxury real estate sector, including investor interest from the neighbouring countries. The major attractions luring more investors, in my opinion, are high rental

52 construction business news me December 2015

yields and timely project completion. Rental values grew on average by 1% across Dubai during Q1 2015 and 5% over the same period last year as per the Dubai real estate market overview by ADIB. The UK-based consultancy Knight Frank noted in March 2015 that $1m could buy 145 square metres of prime property in Dubai compared to 96 square metres in Mumbai. Such advantages make Dubai the obvious choice. The UAE property portal indicated that the emirate’s residential market offered average annual rental returns of over 7.2% of the property value, which is even higher than London’s. Recession or drop in oil prices does not deter the UAE because of its

innovative and progressive policies. Minister of Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri declared recently that the UAE government plans to increase the contribution of the non-oil sector to 80% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) from the present figure of 70% in the next 10 to 15 years. Interestingly, buyers from countries like China and India increasingly see Dubai as the best choice. Compared with some major Chinese cities like Beijing or Shanghai, the rental returns from Dubai are better. In fact, Chinese investments in Dubai are said to be setting new records. Dubai Land Department statistics reveal that Chinese investments in the emirate's real estate sector reached AED1.28bn last year, which constitutes more than 300% rise compared to 2013. Regarding India, Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, general director of Dubai Land Department has been quoted as saying that in the past four years, Indians have invested more than $14.4bn in Dubai properties. Dubai would be hosting World Expo 2020 and it marks as a security for its economic growth that will bring profitable dividends in both the long and short runs, particularly lucrative rental yield that ranges from four to 7% per annum. The oncoming mega event is changing the face of the region and creating new hotspots. Bayut revealed that Dubai Marina retained its top position for another month in September this year exhibiting an 8% increase in interest compared to August. Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) came second with 5% more search hits in the same month. Dubailand overtook Downtown Dubai for the third spot gaining two positions to become the third-most popular locality for renting apartments in the emirate, according to the report. We foresee a rise for the affordable market segment due to projects being undertaken by the government. Mustafa Pooya is the chief commercial officer at Dubai-based real estate company, Select Group. He has over 14 years of experience in real estate development and investment management with particular emphasis on the United Arab Emirates and North America.

Let fresh remain fresh with CapaCare AirPurify

Indoor Air Quality is a growing concern in today’s world, with Formaldehyde being one of the largest. Introducing CapaCare AirPurify with

CapaCare AirPurify is a revolutionary paint fortified with Formaldehyde Conversion Technology. The unique technology helps convert toxic Formaldehyde emissions into harmless water vapour ensuring that indoor air is fresh and safe to breathe.

Protect your friends and family today, visit:

Factory and Headquarters: Saih Shuaib - 4 | Dubai Industrial City | P.O. Box - 62182 | Dubai | United Arab Emirates | Tel: +971 4 3687600


Rain, rain go away! The recent deluge in Qatar and its water-logged capital Doha, has opened the floodgates to controversy and contentious construction. By Malcolm Dias


etween noon of Tuesday, 24 November and mid-day of Wednesday, 25 November this year, Qatar and its capital Doha, received more than an average year’s worth of rain (80 mm according to the Qatar Meteorological Agency) in a matter of hours causing wide-spread disruption of normal life and transportation. Many of the capital's streets were flooded, and schools and stores had to close. Several top hotels and malls were also affected. The huge downpour caused serious damage to several roads, buildings and infrastructure and revealed extensive flaws and leaks at Doha’s brand new $17 billion Hamad International Airport, (commissioned only in April 2014 and home to Qatar Airways) and prompting the country’s Prime Minister to order a far-reaching inquiry. Stunned by the extent of devastation, Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Thani, who also holds the Interior Ministry portfolio, ordered that all government bodies and private companies involved in the construction of buildings where flaws had been exposed by the rain, would be referred to an investigation and then to the public prosecution for shoddy and sub-standard work, the state-run Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported. The report quoted “parties responsible for dereliction or negligence, whether

56 construction business news me December 2015

governmental or private, will be held accountable”. This fiat reportedly comes from the Prime Minister’s office, from one of the highest echelons of the Qatari Government. It is now reported that Qatar has announced a travel ban and prohibited contractors from leaving the country as it carries out a probe into how heavy rains damaged vital infrastructure. Qatar, which is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, said without elaborating, that five companies were under investigation. It is reported that ‘owners of companies, contractors and consulting engineers’ would be banned from traveling abroad until the end of the probe. These developments in Qatar are eerily reminiscent of what happened

in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s largest commercial city and large parts of Makkah province and the Hejaz region. Coincidently, the flood in Jeddah happened 25 November in 2009, precisely six years prior to the date. They have been described by civil defence officials in the Kingdom as the worst in 27 years. According to Saudi Arabian officials, some 122 people are reported to have been killed, and more than 350 were missing. Business losses were estimated at $270million and over 300 individuals and 30 firms were probed as a consequence. Several officials were given jail terms as a result of the investigations. This move now by the Qatari Government has sent shockwaves through the construction community in this energy-rich country and has set new precedents in project oversight and enforcement. It also puts the spotlight on liability of contractors, vendors and suppliers. It also raises a lot of questions. What is the extent of the probe? How long will the probe last? Will the travel ban run for the duration if the investigations? Was the quality of work sub-standard? Was there compromise on quality? What was the role of the certification and oversight bodies? What is the degree of liability by contractors, construction and associated companies? How about fines and compensation? These are unanswered questions and time only will tell the outcome of the inquiry. Some of the biggest construction companies and their local Qatari partners were involved in this infrastructural work which spanned decades. In the context of the Qatar situation, the construction community locally, regionally and internationally is out on a limb and waiting nervously and with bated breath as investigators continue their work. It also casts a pall over the construction industry as Qatar is set to complete more than $200billion of infrastructure projects, including a $35billion metro system, a $7billion port and new motorways, before the World Cup, which will take place in November and December 2022.


Future of construction

Imagine a 57-story tower built in just 19 days and construction projects which rely on robots more than people. Your next building won’t be built—it will be manufactured. Phil Bernstein writes

Earlier this year Chinese pre-fab construction firm Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) company constructed Mini Sky City at a pace of three stories per day; the tower includes 800 apartments, 19 atriums, and office space for 4,000. The project made headlines around the world but BSB isn’t the only one with this type of ambitious plan for the future of construction. The industry is entering the age of the mass-manufactured building. Prefabrication is growing up, reaching a new level of maturity that is now going to change the industry and 58 construction business news me December 2015

define new categories of building. Check the trailer-park stereotype at the door. While the construction of BSB’s tower is staggering in its speed, the concept isn’t completely new. For the past decade, there has been a lot of talk about the inefficiencies of the building industry and the need to turn to manufacturing techniques. It has happened in pockets, but now that surge is really taking off and going beyond the typical stuff: metal, curtain wall panels, and cabinetry. There’s a huge rush to prefabrication—from whole

bathrooms “plopped” into place to hospitals and entire floors built in days rather than weeks. Given that the technique has been part of building for decades, the obvious question is: Why is prefab gaining such traction? Like most things with architecture and construction, it’s complicated. Why Now? Revolutionary changes don’t come along very often in the building industry, and when they do, usually a confluence of stuff pushes those changes forward. Pre-

fabricated architecture, sometimes also called assembled architecture, looks to be one of those transformations. In the past decade, a few pivotal events shaped the transformation of “manufacturing buildings” from hyperbole (or desperate banality) to reality. First, there’s the increasing use of digital models paired with ever-cooler fabrication methodologies. New “making” techniques such as additive manufacturing and 3D printing, more robotics both on and off the job sites, CNC-controlled technologies, and even laser scanning for field verification are major influencers. Collaborative project-delivery models such as integrated project delivery— which put information sharing at a premium—are moving toward more integration, too. Early signs suggest that robots might be as important to construction, eventually, as people. And then there are economic and cultural factors that are pushing the shift to prefab. During and after the recession, construction capacity was destroyed due to job loss as millions of construction workers were out of work. In 2010, the number of people working in U.S. architectural firms plummeted. In turn, clients used the crunch to drive prices down further, taking advantage of the marketplace in crisis. Construction was buying at rock bottom, and architects were working at below-breakeven cost just to keep the lights on. Many in the construction industry retired or departed. Five years after the recession, as design and construction vitality returns, the capacity to support it no longer exists in its previous form. At the same time, baby boomers are retiring left and right, as evidenced by the dwindling numbers of skilled craftspeople and experienced site superintendents. The family-owned drywall company handed down through the generations now has 21st century kids in medical school instead. Many trade skills are disappearing, and those workers are harder and harder to come by now, meaning builders are looking for alternative methods to handwork and manual methods of assembly. So with the combination of technology breakthroughs, economic shifts,

“with the combination of technology breakthroughs, economic shifts, fewer workers and increased cost to skilled trades, the demand for prefab has never been higher” Phil Bernstein fewer workers and increased cost to skilled trades, the demand for prefab has never been higher—or more critical. Right now, buildings are still mostly built; in short order, they are going to be assembled. What Will It Look Like? To get one stereotype out of the way, prefab does not equal “generic”. Major institutional buildings are not going to be like your local big-box stores. Design will be as important—if not more so—in the age of mass customisation and increasingly sophisticated consumer demand. Take a hospital, for example, one of the more popular uses for prefab. Current designs combine both design and optimum care: wide hallways, rooms designed for natural light and effective use of space for equipment, appropriate finishes—all preassembled off-site and then snapped into place with structure and mechanical systems in one fell swoop. Once the design is finalised and the assembly facility is ready to go, the floors can be replicated as necessary.

Of course, the ER floor plan isn’t identical to the in-patient-care floors. But oftrepeated spaces and areas—and modern hospitals have lots—can be built this way, and many are today. So prefabrication won’t just save time in construction; it will also make the entire process more efficient and less reliant on increasingly scarce resources such as architects, engineers, and skilled craftspeople. And it won’t be just prefab forever. Once prefab is even more mainstream, another disruption will come right on its heels: mass customisation. When a computer is driving the making of a building part, it doesn’t care if you change that part for each customer. That means the same computer-controlled building assembler will make what you want for no additional cost. It’s not perfect, but it’s inevitable. Although prefab is gaining traction, it’s not all rosy. Last year, Brooklyn’s Pacific Park (formerly named Atlantic Yards)—at the time touted to become the world’s tallest modular-constructed building— came to an unfortunate, grinding halt. Challenges in the design and fabrication project have all sides pointing fingers and arming for lawsuits. Prefab is a disruption, so it’s going to have fits and starts. It’s not always pretty—new business relationships will need to develop; contracts will evolve (never to look the same again); the nature of work will shift. How construction workers show up on a job (and where) will change. Increasingly, they might clock in at the factory and not at the building site. Although all of this was a unique idea 10 years ago, almost every major design school is now teaching the fundamentals of prefab. A new generation is coming into the field equipped to do this, and the wheels of manufacturing buildings will soon be turning. Those folks will catch the wave of prefabrication fully, and workers swinging hammers will give way to assemblers in the era of manufactured buildings. Phil Bernstein is a VP for strategic industry relations at Autodesk. Formerly a principal with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, he teaches Professional Practice at Yale where he received both his B.A. and his M.Arch. construction business news me December 2015 59


Creative spaces The Flux Innovation Lounge speaks with Construction Business News ME about how creative industries could play a major role in selling real estate

The Flux Innovation Lounge in DMC


n October 2015, interactive technology group Engage Works and strategic brand design company StartJG joined forces to launch Dubai’s first hitech innovation lounge. The first Flux Innovation Lounge, debuted in March 2014 in London, aimed to be a space for ideas and exploring emerging technologies through hands-on experience. The lounge is a creative space designed to inspire leading creative minds – brands and agencies alike – through an evolved

60 construction business news me December 2015

showcase of the world’s best emerging interactive technology. The Middle Eastern Flux Innovation Lounge is located Arenco Tower in Dubai Media City. The lounge draws multiple technologies from virtual reality to advanced robotics under one roof. Visitors can experience how interactive technology can enhance communication experiences for today’s biggest brands. It is built to drive insights and knowledge, to stimulate invention and to expose how the lat-

est developments in hi-tech can affect all businesses as well as our working lives, today and in the future. Steve Blyth, founder and CEO of Engage Works, says that the Flux Innovation Lounge received a phenomenal response in London and brands are increasingly recognising the power of technology as an enabler to better connect and engage with their employees and customers. “From robots to augmented reality, Flux Innovation Lounge showcases the most innovative solutions the industry can offer.”

CEO of StartJG Mike Curtis says that the technologies provided could be used by real estate developers during sales. “Through virtual reality, a potential customer can get a feel of the space in ways that go beyond static images.” He explains: “As virtual reality becomes more widely available around the world, your target customer moves from national to regional or even international. All that needs to be done is put on the headset, and they can very accurately view what the future development or apartment looks like. “There is still a big commitment towards model-making and visualisation which are basically static images. While we all know that video content is more compelling than static images.” Curtis explains that this helps customers to customise what people want in their apartment, make decisions about environment designs and furniture. According to Curtis these advancements are just the tip of the iceberg

in terms of opportunities for the better communication and marketing of real estate and development. From a commercial point of view technology is an enabler of different ways to market projects. The lounge itself is set up to bring the latest technologies that are set up across the world into one market place so that people can come in and look at technologies that are available. Curtis says that this makes sure customers can use these technologies for their own purposes. After London, the team picked Dubai because is it a very active marketplace that attracts some of the world’s best architects. He observes: “There is a lot of investment into real estate development. However, that being said there is quite a traditional way of selling going on here. “The growing appetite for engaging brand experiences makes Dubai a natural home for Flux Innovation Lounge. Being heralded as the second most important global international shopping destination for the fourth consecutive year, makes

Dubai a priority market in the field of innovative consumer interaction. Flux Innovation Lounge will help to showcase the potential for technology and demonstrate how brands can produce disruptive experiences, further cementing Dubai’s reputation for attracting shoppers and businesses from around the globe.” Apart from virtual reality, the lounge also promotes hi-tech softwares that can contain and present a magnanimous amount of data. Client director at Engage Works Richard Ward says that provided the content exist with the developer it could take only two to three weeks to integrate in the software. In London the market has responded particularly well especially in the real estate sector. Ward says: “British Land has been particularly impressed by this technology which is why we receive a lot of projects from them.” The Flux Innovation Lounge plans to update its software every quarter and expand to various other metropolitan cities, with Hong Kong its next target. construction business news me December 2015 61


Merge Talk

Ashraf Al-Garf was named CEO of Projacs in August this year, before which the project management company was 51% acquired by international engineering firm, Egis. After a merger and a new leadership role, Al-Garf throws light on construction management in the region and the benefits of collaborating In recent times, there have been a lot of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the construction industry. How do such deals affect management and how has this worked out for Projacs? M&A is all about increasing value of the new created entity when compared to the value of each company separately. That being said, practicing it is a whole other ball game. Does this bring better management? Well first, we have to make sure the M&A process was done properly, which means ensuring an appropriate due diligence exercise was executed, an engagement of the buyer and seller management and employees was accounted for during the process. In Projacs’ particular case, we experienced many synergies, compatibilities and complementarities in our merger process. A project manager (from Projacs) joining forces with an international engineering firm (Egis) added value to both operations. In addition, Egis is internationally known as the leading engineers in infrastructures, roads and rail sectors that we – Projacs - were not covering. Thus the new merger opened new spectrums for us. What is knowledge management and how does it work in the GCC? In a business context, knowledge is what employees know about their customers, each other, products, processes, mistakes, and successes, whether that knowledge is tacit or explicit. Knowledge management is a systematic effort that enables information and knowledge to grow, flow, and create value. Organisations implement

62 construction business news me December 2015

presentations, the 2015 APQC MENA Knowledge Management Conference provided attendees an understanding of what knowledge management is, why KM is good business, how to build a business case for KM and how KM supports an organisation’s core processes. This conference invited some of the foremost experts in KM that represent leading global organisations, such as Microsoft and NASA, to participate as keynote speakers and panelists.

Ashraf Al-Garf

KM programmes to institutionalise and promote knowledge-sharing practices. There is a growing realisation by leading organisations in the region of the real value knowledge management provides. Could you tell us about Projacs Academy and the KM Conference organised in November 2015? In 1984 Projacs introduced the Projacs Academy to further cultivate the construction industry’s awareness of Project Management. This year Projacs Academy partnered up with APQC, a knowledge management (KM) company, to bring the foremost KM Conference in the US to Dubai. This is the first time the conference is held outside of the US. The conference took place on 18-19 November 2015 at the Ritz-Carlton DIFC. Through workshops and keynote

What are some of the serious problems in the regional construction market that need to be addressed? With expected projects over $100bn in 2016, the construction industry in the GCC is a major contributor the economy of those countries. The construction sector envisaged a huge development over the past few years, however we are still working on reducing the gap between our best practices here and what we see in the West. The empowerment of new techniques in the industry is something that we lack here (such as BIM) and we are, with other colleagues and governmental agencies, working on this. Human resources is also a very important element in the West which ensures the continuous success of an organisation, theGCC lacks focus in this area. Training and career development are very important in the region to prepare the experienced and capable personnel to face the mega projects we build in here. In addition, other minor variances such as approvals and lifecycle of projects could positively affect the construction industry in our region.


Time to build

Earlier this year, RSG International announced the handover of AED450m Qasr Sabah, 90 days ahead of schedule. The project, located in International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), comprises of three buildings with 402 apartments and four retail shops in total. Chair of RSG Raj Sahni, Abu Sabah, speaks with Construction Business News ME about what it takes to deliver on schedule Qasr Sabah was delivered 90 days ahead of schedule, this is quite uncommon in the region. What have you done differently? This project was almost completely sold out when it was first launched in February 2014. During launch, the payment plan comprised of 20% reservation deposit and 80% at handover. In the Holy Month of Ramadan 2014, it was the only project in the UAE that pioneered a post-handover payment plan for its investors encompassing 60% imbursement in three years after handover. We also decided to fund the whole project internally, which we intend to follow in future projects as well. When we were planning Qasr Sabah I knew I wanted to finish it in 18 months. With a dedicated team and a drive to succeed, we ended being the only developers in Dubai who have completed a project before time.

construction is going on alright. We also always paid the contractor ahead of time to make sure we don’t have any problems. I am glad to say that all of it paid off.

What motivated you, as a developer? During the groundbreaking of the Qasr Sabah, I announced that we will be delivering the entire project in 18 months. A lot of media questioned me about how would this be possible. It was 550,000 sqft of built up area, which apparently needed at least two and a half to three years to finish. People often promise in Dubai and don’t deliver, which is why I took this as a challenge. My team and I worked day in and out. I would be at the site at 2am in the morning to make sure

The last few years have witnessed a tough real estate market, what has the slowdown taught you as a developer? Actually we decided to buy plots during the crash and slowdown. We purchased some good plots at good rates. One of the biggest complaints in the market that everyone talked about was that projects were never delivered on time. Another thing that bothered me was that most developers took 8090% investments from people, but did not even begin construction. I decided

64 construction business news me December 2015

Raj Sahni

Qasr Sabah

to draft a different plan, something that would deliver a project on time and something that would give homebuyers a secure investment. One of the best decisions to be made is working with the best contractors in the market. What does it take for developer to be successful? People should not talk, they should build. I think being a developer is one of the toughest businesses. To be able to deliver efficiently, I think, it has to be a one man show. You cannot have a development with over 20 partners. Secondly, I think it is very important not to be greedy. Even though we have taken up many projects, we need to make sure to finish one before starting another.

construction business news me December 2015 65


Solar update

Saeed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA, speaks with Construction Business News ME during a joint workshop organised by DEWA and International Renewable Energy Authority on unlocking the potential of residential and distributed solar in the UAE and GCC


ubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) along with the International Renewable Energy Authority (IRENA) hosted a joint workshop on accelerating residential solar in the UAE at Raffles Dubai on 8 November. “In line with this initiative, DEWA has trained more than 120 individuals both consultants and contractors. There are over 26 companies that have registered, which is a good start,” says Saeed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA. During the workshop, the organisation aimed to include more professionals and talk about technical know-how on how to move forward. The workshop covered topics including upcoming opportunities in the market, potential for cost reduction, best practices in the industry, different global policy approaches in residential solar, and how to implement it on the ongoing and new initiatives in the GCC. Mohamed El-Farnawany, director of strategic management and execution direction at IRENA, says that the cost of renewables in the global market is the same, if not lower, than fossil fuels. “Renewables are becoming one of the most cost-effective source of electricity around the world. It is also economically attractive in this country, and according to IRENA’s latest joint work in the UAE, the deployment of 10% share of renewable energy in the total energy mix could generate annual savings of $1.9bn by 2030. “What we are witnessing in the region today is historical and revolutionary.” Al Tayer says that through this initiative DEWA also aims to educate its customers about Shams Dubai launched earlier this year.

66 construction business news me December 2015

Solar panel in Dubai

Saeed Al Tayer speaking at the workshop

The CEO also exemplifies the US, where there are approximately 700,000 households with solar systems and, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) out of that total, 66,440 new solar systems

were installed in the first three months of this year as a result of improved technologies and falling costs. He emphasises that the goal of most entities is the find the “right balance” between innovation, policy, and project implementation. One of the key challenges he recognises is to create a market for renewables and for that the market needs to be able to afford it. “True efficiency is not only improvement, but also reducing cost.” He says that when renewables were introduced a few years ago, it was quite expensive, whereas now the industry has recognised that in order to move forward they need to be more affordable. The workshop discussed the potential of residential and distributed solar in the UAE. It included a cost session presented by PV installer, a presentation on policies and subsidies and its capability to accelerate the solar movement, and discussion about possible actions and recommendations.

Construction Business News ME - December 2015  

A huge demand for affordable housing in the GCC needs to be met by a construction industry ready to deploy standardisation and economies of...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you