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PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES Al Habtoor Leighton CEO Laurie Voyer on expanding beyond the UAE

BAY OF PLENTY Inside Bahrain Bay with Chief Executive Bob Vincent • Q3 2010

A FAREWELL TO ARMS As Iraq swaps combat for construction, what challenges does the country face in its rebuilding process?

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ALUMA AD by ed note.indd 1

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As Iraq swaps Humvees for JCBs, can the country’s rebuilding process provide a much-needed boost to the regional construction industry?


raq is increasingly waking up to new sounds in the morning: amid the continuing crackle of gunfi re and exploding IEDs, the nation’s long-suffering inhabitants are now just as likely to be woken by the drone of jackhammers and earthmoving equipment as the country’s rebuilding process begins in earnest following the withdrawal of US combat troops at the end of August. Across the country, scaffolding is springing up over the bullet-marked walls and workers are swarming over construction sites as Iraq embarks on its return to some semblance of normality. And as the massive recovery effort picks up momentum, foreign firms stand ready to take up the challenge. Oil money from rising production is powering growth, and now that the government has awarded oil-field contracts worth billions of dollars to BP, ExxonMobil, China National Petroleum and others, foreign clients are looking for help in financing everything from pipelines to power grids to workers’ camps. And in addition, pent-up demand for housing and better infrastructure is also proving a big draw for international fi rms. Indeed, for all its security issues and political infighting, Iraq remains an economic powerhouse waiting to be tapped – and the government’s decision to kick-start a US$186 billion development plan, announced back in July, is welcome news for a region that is looking for new ways to massage an economy that has collectively struggled in the wake of the global fi nancial crisis. The Iraqi government’s aim from the plan is to achieve an average annual economic growth of 9.38 percent, develop its sagging infrastructure, reduce regional differences, provide 3.5 million jobs and diversify the economy away from a dependence on oil and gas. Everything from ports to bridges to roads to affordable housing solutions is set for an overhaul as the country looks to stimulate growth. It’s especially good news for regional construction and real estate companies who can bring in their much needed expertise to Iraq, and Gulf fi nanciers who are sitting on cash,

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“US$100 billion of the proposed project costs will be financed by the state budget while the remainder will be funded through local and foreign investments”

unwilling to invest in their own stock markets and property sectors. According to Abdul-Zahra Al Hindawi, spokesman for the Ministry of Planning and Development – the agency in charge of supervising the implementation of the plan – about US$100 billion of the proposed project costs will be fi nanced by the state budget while the remainder will be funded through local and foreign investments. Th is suggests that despite its problems, Iraq may just be the place to invest in right now. It’s certainly on the radar for the big fi rms: Laurie Voyer, CEO of major UAE contractor Al Habtoor Leighton Group, tells us in an exclusive interview that the country will play an important role in its continued expansion across the region; meanwhile, regional real estate players such as Al Maabar, Bloom, National Holdings, Bonyan and Al Hanthal are all in advanced talks with the Iraqi National Investment Commission on starting projects in Iraq. As ever with these types of developments, cooperation and collaboration will be key to their success. “The experience and technology knowhow of the international companies, plus the contacts and cultural knowledge of local partners, will provide a great formula for success,” says Namir El Akabi, CEO of domestic construction firm Almco, in our cover story. If the Iraqi people and international fi rms can embrace this new spirit of partnership and work together, then the rewards could be rich indeed.

Ben Thompson Managing Editor

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WAGNER AD contents.indd 1

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Building a powerful presence MENA Infrastructure catches up with Al Habtoor Leighton Group CEO Laurie Voyer to discuss expansion, experience and the value of doing the basics well

42 Bay of plenty Bahrain Bay CEO Bob Vincent reveals how the mega project is set to boost the economy of the GCC’s smallest nation, and how it rode out the crash of the property market

Qatar hero

74 The Gulf’s budget boom Lucy Douglas takes a look at the Middle East’s affordable housing sector and asks how this can help the recovering property industry


When Qatar discovered oil and gas back in the 1930s, its capital Doha rapidly morphed from a small settlement into a sprawling city. Dohaland CEO Issa Al Mohannadi believes that now is the time for the city to go back to its architectural roots

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Just like starting over With Western troops beginning their exit of Iraq, Ben Thompson takes a look at what the future holds for this resource-rich but brutally war-torn nation

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Ask the Expert 36 Catherine Houska Nickel Institute 40 John McNamee Ischebeck Titan 66 Barry Bell Wagner Fire Management Consultants 72 Rob Schomaker Biddle 84 Brian Fitzpatrick and Tim Risbridger EC Harris 116 Patrick Laemmle PANOLIN AG

Executive Interviews 52 Lars-Göran Andersson Volvo 68 Mark Fenton Honeywell Life Safety 88 Poul Svensgaard DELTA Light & Optics 122 Filippo Fantechi Contax Partners

98 68

38 Lasting impressions John Best looks at the value of reputation in the construction industry

62 Protect and serve Dean McGrail discusses the latest trends and technologies in fire protection and exactly why the MENA region needs to comply

80 MENA’s deadliest threat? The construction boom of the GCC has attracted scores of people to the region for business. But this population growth has brought a potentially fatal danger into the picture

90 Simply safer sign posts Craig Pyser explains how specially engineered road signs can help save lives

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98 Back on track? Why Doha is embracing the need for improvement to its mass transport network

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Details 147 In the rough? Can the UAE’s golf industry stay on the fairway, post-recession? 152 King of the green With golfmarnoch’s Steve Marnoch 154 Harbouring ambitions A look at the region’s luxury marina developments 156 Travel 36 hours in… Mumbai 158 Agenda Your guide to the region’s events in the coming quarter

100 Rail 110 Paints and coatings 132 Wastewater

Industry Insight 48 Alineza Biparva Kryton 50 Chen Liang Gannet Flemming 70 David Stevenson Belimo 86 Sebastian Althen Siemens 126 Richard Menezes Utico 140 Tony Wynes Aquarius

106 Asset preservation With corrosion prevention a major construction challenge, are we doing everything that is needed to ensure the viability of our critical infrastructure?

118 Building a greener future With Hélène Pelosse, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency

124 Taking health, safety and the environment seriously


Floris Schulze outlines how to create a safer energy infrastructure

135 High and dry MENA Infrastructure takes a look at the challenges raised by water treatment and reuse technologies in the region

138 Sane in the membrane With OrangeBoat’s Jantje Johnson

142 Designing sustainable sports fields With Humberto Urriola of Atlantis

144 Long lasting connections By Lenzen Hebe-Und Fördertechnik’s Armin Lehmann

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06/09/2010 09:00

NG Oil & Gas MENA Summit 12th - 14th April 2011 The Jumeirah Meydan Hotel, Dubai The NG Oil&Gas Summit is a three-day critical information gathering of the most influential and important executives from the Oil & Gas industry. The NG Oil&Gas Summit is an opportunity to debate, benchmark and learn from other industry leaders.

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Legal Information The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reect the opinions and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. We are not to be held accountable for unsolicited manuscripts, transparencies or photographs. All material within this magazine is Š2010 MENA INFRA.

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16/09/2010 10:07


31/08/2010 16:56



Interest returns to the UAE


here have been rumblings about the turn around of the UAE’s construction industry for almost a year now; some reports rather optimistically suggesting that the sector was on track to enjoy a return to the lucrative state it was in pre-recession before the end of the year, others more reasonably predicting that wheels of change will not be set in motion until at least Q1 2011. However, the last quarter has thrown-up evidence to suggest that the eagerly awaited recovery of the country’s iconic development industry could be well and truly under way. Slow but steady, the recovering real estate market is beginning to pick itself up, a fact evident in the steadily improving times taken to settle outstanding contracts and a general increase in consumer and investor confidence. According to Shaikhani Contracting, a branch of international business conglomerate Shaikhani Group, the improving contractor-payment scenario is best reflected in Dubai, where several major developers have begun to repay costs that have been outstanding since the economic downturn brought the country’s construction boom to a halt two years ago.

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“Some US$714.8 billion worth of construction projects are now at in the early stages of development in the UAE”

With close to US$500 billion in projects shelved or cancelled as a result of the downturn, the UAE took the hardest hit in the region. However a recent report from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry indicated some US$714.8 billion worth of construction projects are now in the early stages of development in the UAE, either in design or already under construction. Recent market projections show that 26,650 apartments and villas will be handed over in Dubai alone this year as the region enters a recovery phase. In addition, the transport sector looks set to keep large-scale construction projects in the country ticking over, with the US$7 billion international airport and a new port facility at Khalifa Port underway in Abu Dhabi, as well as extensive plans for the Dubai Metro under development. Indeed, Shaikhani Contracting has attributed the resurgence of the construction sector in the UAE to the ongoing support and investment from the government. The report from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry further revealed that over the course of 2010, a large amount of construction and infrastructure projects are due to be awarded. In addition, an analysis of the biggest projects in the region by value indicated that five of the top 10 schemes are to be found in Abu

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Dhabi. With the increasing attention of construction firms towards breaching new markets, focusing on the public instead of private sector, and forging new partnerships to increase competitiveness, the UAE is regaining its momentum as one of the world’s leading construction destinations. “This welcome development regarding the faster interval of payment for dues owed to contractors bodes well for our plans to grow our operations in the UAE, and we are very excited to witness the resumption of construction activities and become one of the most active contractors working on projects across the country,” explains Rizwan Shaikhani, Managing Director at Shaikhani Contracting, highlighting the renewed confidence in the market and activity that is being generated as a result. Back in June the firm had announced aims to secure AED60 million worth of domestic contracts this year, including contracts for the construction of private villas in the Al Khawaneej area of Dubai. Another company set to capitalise on the renewed confidence in the region is Danube Building Materials, who has announced plans to leverage nine retail facilities in the country. “Our confidence in the UAE construction market has never wavered, as indicated by our continuous expansion activities across the country and our investments in growing the presence of ‘Danube BUILDMART’ in major shopping malls,” said Rizwan Sajan, Chairman of Danube Building Materials. “We are pleased that our strong belief in the potential of the UAE market will be rewarded by the positive developments and increasing prospects in the construction industry.” Similarly, William Dewsnap, Head of Valuation for Abu Dhabi at Cluttons property consultancy firm, is positive that going in to Q3, post Ramadan, activity within the industry is going to flourish. “I think the general sentiment in the market is that people are quite hopeful that things will pick up and the number of transactions will start to increase.” The July market update report from Cluttons reiterates the renewed interest that the UAE is beginning to draw. Large stocks of property in Dubai caused significant price reductions in 2009, which in turn are proving very attractive to buyers today. The Abu Dhabi update read, “Despite risk of oversupply, sales from the majority of freehold developments within Abu Dhabi appear to have continued at a slow but steady rate throughout much of 2010.“ “I think there’s still plenty of activity to be seen,” says Dewsnap, “particularly in the Abu Dhabi market as these new units are completed and as people start to see properties as a tangible asset that they can actually live in or rent out, rather than just being a pipedream. [Buyers] may have paid for it, or started to pay in phases, two or three years ago, but when the product is actually handed over and delivered, that’s when people’s confidence then starts to increase.” ■

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News in pictures Dubai Metro celebrates its fi rst birthday. Coinciding with the event, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority announced that the service had carried 30 million passengers in its first year. By August 2010, the number of people using the Metro had grown 183 percent since October 2009.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel chat as they re-launch direct negotiations for peace between Israel and Palestine at the State Department in Washington, DC.

IKEA are among the group of internationally renowned European retailers, which also includes Marks and Spencer and Toys ’R’ Us, that will set up in a new US$1.6 billion multi-purpose complex in Doha, planned to be the largest in Qatar. The complex will contain a full retail centre, entertainment park and two hotels.

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Dubai debuts IWPP project


n a further sign of the growing interest in independent water and power projects in the region, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) recently announced its intention to build the first IWPP in the emirate and awarded the consultancy contract to three international firms. A consortium of HSBC, as the financial consultant, alongside Clifford Chance as legal consultant, and Mott MacDonald as technical consultant, will advise DEWA on the key aspects of implementing this debut IWPP with the private sector. The project – a 1500MW power and 120MIGD water plant to be located in Hassyan – aims to meet the growing demand for power and water in Dubai and marks the first time DEWA has considered employing an IWPP structure, where the plant will be built, owned and operated in partnership with the private sector. Future projects are expected to follow and will utilise the same structure.

“The IWPP partnership structure has been very successfully employed across the GCC, and represents a sound and timely solution to meet the growing demand for key infrastructure in Dubai"

Cairo to get Dubai-style ski mall Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Group (MAF) will invite bids for its US$772 million Mall of Egypt project, one of the biggest shopping centres in North Africa, in November, according to an MAF official. The project is now in the detail design phase that will be completed in October before the contract for the main building goes to tender in November, according to Richard Reid, Development Director of Mall of Egypt and Senior Vice President of Development in MAF Properties. The mall promises to be a major development project. An indoor skiing facility similar to the one in Mall of the Emirates is planned in the 160,000-squaremetre mall in Cairo, and with 350 stores, a 17-screen cinema complex, a Magic Planet, and an outdoor plaza and dining facility, the mall will target tourists and customers in the residential areas of Cairo's growing suburbs. Reid added that Cairo's large urban population of 20 million, the rising standard of living and disposable income, and the small number of malls attracted MAF to start another project in Egypt. He expects the construction to have a “big multiplier effect” for the Egyptian economy, with the project set to hire 7000 Egyptian labourers through a local contractor and the mall retailers to employ thousands of people. Egypt has emerged as a booming retail destination, attracting millions of dollars in investment from GCC countries. UAE developers Emaar Properties, Al Futtaim Group and Damac Properties are also investing in major projects in North Africa's booming economy. London-based design firm RTKL, the architects behind Bahrain's City Centre and Mirdif City Centre, has already been commissioned to design Mall of Egypt.

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DEWA, one of the pre-eminent integrated utilities in the GCC region, has a long-standing history as a safe, reliable and cost-effective utility provider in Dubai. The IWPP programme is expected to enhance DEWA's ability to continue providing best-in-class services whilst meeting the growing demand from a large customer base in Dubai. In the past, DEWA has built, owned and operated power and water projects itself. An IWPP will introduce the private sector into the provision of long-term essential public infrastructure, leveraging capital, technical solutions for the new plant, international operating experience and other industry best practices. “The IWPP partnership structure has been very successfully employed across the GCC, and represents a sound and timely solution to meet the growing demand for key infrastructure in Dubai,” says Jonathan Robinson, Head of Project Finance for the MENA region at HSBC. “HSBC has acted as financial adviser to many of the GCC countries on similar projects with great success, and we look forward to working with DEWA on this and future projects.” Encouraging private participation in Dubai’s energy sector and adopting the best practices available internationally in the energy business are key principles in DEWA’s remit, and the announcement represents a key step on the road to meeting these objectives.

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Great crawl of China


f you thought your daily drive to the office in Cairo, Dubai, Riyadh or any of the Gulf’s other congestion hotspots was a chore, spare a thought for unlucky commuters in China, where some Beijing-bound travellers were held up in a traffic jam that lasted for over 10 days during August. Thousands of motorists were caught up in a 60mile tailback that took several weeks to clear. While many motorists took detours, some ended up trapped for up to five days, sleeping in their cars and taking shifts behind the wheel. The gridlock resulted from a combination of peak seasonal travel, increased freight traffic and road construction. But it was made worse by a lack of

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Beijing is projected to have

5 MILLION cars on its roads by the end of the year

information about traffic conditions available to some motorists, according to analysis from US-based research group the Texas Transportation Institute. As the traffic jam grew, many continued to drive into it – probably not knowing what they were in line for, because while traffic reports in China’s major cities are thorough, they aren’t as good or as easy to get in outlying areas. In recent years, China has embarked on a huge expansion of its national road system but traffic periodically overwhelms the grid. According to government data, Beijing is on track to have five million cars on its roads by year’s end, with the four million mark passed last December. And the bad news for frazzled Chinese commuters is that the situation could get worse before it gets better: estimates suggest that with around 1900 vehicles added to Beijing’s street each day, it could take years to get traffic under control. “If there’s no traffic jam in the city, that would be news,” said Niu Fengrui, Director of the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, while the head of the Beijing Transportation Research Centre, Guo Jifu, warned that traffic in the capital could slow to under 15 kilometres an hour on average if further measures were not taken to limit the number of cars. Private cars are currently kept off Beijing's roads for one day per week depending on licence plate numbers, but an alternative solution could be the launch of a socalled ‘super bus’ aimed at improving public transport while minimising the impact on road traffic. Due to be tested in the coming months in the western part of Beijing, the bus will travel on rails and straddle two lanes of traffic, allowing cars to drive under its passenger compartment, which holds up to 1400 people. “We’re going to start laying down test tracks along a sixkilometre stretch towards the end of the year,” Song Youzhou, Chief Executive of design firm Shenzhen Hashi Future Parking Equipment, told AFP in August. "From the second half of 2011, we're planning to test the bus with passengers on board," he added, noting that after a full year of trial runs, authorities would make a decision on whether to use the bus on a wider scale. Authorities hope to install 180 kilometres of such bus lines eventually, including a route to the capital's international airport. If successful, the scheme could provide a blueprint for traffic-easing solutions around the world, including the Middle East – which, in common with China, has a relatively immature highway network. According to Shawn Turner, a senior researcher with the Texas Transportation Institute, while the major traffic arteries in fast-growing economies tend to be pretty well developed, the lack of well maintained smaller, alternative routes causes a problem when traffic congestion kicks in. Taking the back roads just isn’t an option in many cases. “There isn’t the redundancy we take for granted here [in the US],” he told the Wall Street Journal.

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Project focus: Libya


eing described by experts as an “untapped goldmine”, Libya has the potential to be the new frontier for infrastructure developers in the region. Rich in fossil fuel wealth and largely un-hit by the global recession, though under developed in terms of its office, retail and tourism property infrastructure, Libya poses a prime opportunity for developers looking to tap North Africa’s markets. The International Monetary Fund predict an economic growth of up to 5.4 percent and the government recently outlined plans to invest US$100 billion into infrastructure and housing in the coming four years. Operations in the Libya are not for the timid developer. The country’s unstable business climate has long prevented foreign investors from taking too much interest in the market, and today most European, American and Middle Eastern investors that are moving into Libya are doing so in partnership with local businesses. Still, the fossil fuel resources that Libya is sitting are proving too attractive for many to resist. The country possesses some 54.38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and holds an impressive 75 percent of the entire North Africa region’s oil supplies with 43.7 billion barrels, encouraging interest from firms across the world.

Medina Tower

Palm City The UAE’s Tameer Holding recently announced plans for a US$20 billion project in Libya, representing the single largest investment into the North African region from a Gulf company. President of Tameer Holding Omar Ayesh said of the project that it would be “representative of the booming property, tourism and trade sector in Libya.” MENA Infrastructure takes a look at some of the major projects currently underway.

Medina Tower Project: A mixed-use, 40-storey tower combining 242 apartments, 23,000 square metres of office space, 20,000 square metres of retail space, a conference and exhibition centre and four floors of underground parking for the centre of Tripoli. Planning for the project was given permission in May and construction is on track to commence soon, with completion aimed for four years time. Status: Construction to commence imminently Completion: Expected 2014

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Project: A luxury residential development, Palm City consists of some 413 upscale residential units and a commercial piazza, about 15 minutes from the capital of Tripoli. While construction was completed in November 2009, the last few months have been spent putting the final details to the developments. Still, the site has proved popular, with more than 95 percent of the units projected to have been leased by the end of 2010. Cost: EU€150million Status: Construction completed Q4 2009

High-speed railway Project: Russian State owned firm Russian Railways invested a sum of US$2.8 million into a high-speed rail line to run between Sirte in central Libya to Benghazi back in March 2008. The line will run along the Mediterranean coast with trains travelling at around 250 kilometres an hour, and is due for completion by Q4 2012. Status: Under construction Completion: Expected Q4 2012

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Supplying safety



Tripoli International Airport Terminal Buildings Project: A joint venture between several European investors, this project consists of two terminal buildings of 175,000 square metres in area each, with 48 lifts, 26 elevators, 160 check-in counters, 12 baggage handling carrousels and 32 fixed and 64 mobile passenger boarding bridges. These new twin terminals have been designed to accommodate 20 million passengers every year. Status: Under construction Completion: Expected Q1 2011

Tajura utilities systems Project: Being sure to prop up the mammoth construction development with necessary utilities infrastructure to support it, Libya is developing comprehensive amenity systems. Austrian building firm Strabag recently received the contract for a US$557 million project to modernise the water and sewage systems and telephone and electricity lines in Tajura, near Tripoli. Italian firm Impregilo has been contracted to carry out similar works in Tripoli and Misurata. Status: Various Completion: Various

UPFRONT.indd 19

roper safety supplies can improve safety performance and help ensure that employees return home in an equal or better condition than when they started their workday. AMECO, a global leader in mobile equipment and tool solutions for construction site services and fleet services, has now expanded its offering to include ‘authorised distribution’ of 3M brand health and safety supplies. AMECO worked closely with 3M’s Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division (OHESD) for more than a year to define the relationship. AMECO will focus initially on 3M’s personal protection equipment (PPE), but will have access to all 3M safety products. AMECO can now better serve its clients and protect workers by utilising the expertise, training and distribution of 3M products. “Safety is a top priority at AMECO; we are always looking for ways to improve safety performance and continue our outstanding safety record,” said Cyndi Johns, AMECO’s Global Asset Management Director. “Becoming a distributor of 3M safety products further exemplifies our commitment to employee safety and well-being.” 3M, headquartered in St Paul, Minnesota in the US, began transforming technology more than 100 years ago. The firm is fundamentally a sciencebased company, producing thousands of imaginative products from healthcare and highway safety to office products and abrasives and adhesives. 3M's industry leading PPE has long offered safety solutions designed to meet the highest standards of excellence.

For more information, please visit

A lost-time injury can cost a developer between

US$13,600-27,200 A fatality can cost up to


16/09/2010 10:20



Why Bahrain is the place to set your sights in the Gulf today By Mr Kamal Ahmed, Chief Operating Officer of the Bahrain Economic Development Board. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is the natural first point of contact for businesses considering investing in Bahrain, the gateway to the trillion dollar Gulf market and wider Middle East. It is an agent for change, which has the overall responsibility for formulating and overseeing the economic strategy of the Kingdom and for creating the right climate to attract direct investment into the Kingdom. Bahrain has so far been less affected by the global economic downturn than some others in the region thanks to the prudent domestic measures taken to preserve and grow the prosperity that the Kingdom has been nurturing for many years. These include a prudent fiscal and monetary approach, long-term strategy of economic diversification and a tried and tested regulatory framework with a commitment to the highest international standards. Bahrain is the ideal location to do business both in and from the Gulf. With a trading history dating back more than 4000 years, the Kingdom is a vibrant international business hub with a progressive regulatory environment. So as the gateway to the trillion dollar Gulf market, Bahrain offers senior executives and decision makers the ideal location from which to access the whole region. Those that do can benefit from the prudent steps we have taken to strengthen the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the Kingdom. Our plan has always been about building sustainable growth through a sound and flexible economic and fiscal policy, a highly skilled and educated local workforce, diversified economy, rule of law and well-run, transparent regulation which has been proven over time. In today’s reset world, these same measures provide the optimum business environment for international companies. Our strong track record and long-term strategy of economic diversification is backed by the highest and most transparent regulatory and supervisory standards. In Bahrain, we believe education is the single most important factor in helping to improve sustainability, productivity and prosperity in any society. Fairness and opportunity for all our people is our primary goal. Schooling is free and compulsory for all Bahrainis, irrespective of gender, faith or family income. The Kingdom’s education policy has been developed with a clear sense of which sectors it wants to grow and what employment opportunities will be created. This is key to the ambitions of Bahrain’s Vision 2030 and National Economic Strategy, to raise national living standards by providing greater opportunities in rewarding careers in the private sector.

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16/09/2010 10:20


Big changes needed to face big challenges

T Delhi’s race to the finish line


ith the Commonwealth Games looming, all eyes are on Indian capital Delhi to see if it can produce the mammoth infrastructure needed to accommodate a world class sporting event of this calibre. Reports from across have the world in recent months have claimed that, as the opening of the event on October gets closer, the host city look increasingly like it will not have its stadia ready in time. Construction of the facilities have been shrouded in criticism already, as piles of rubble and building materials have been piled high on pavements, often invading the already tiny residences of some of the city’s poorest residents. Then earlier this year investigations from India’s anti-corruption body, the Central Vigilance Commission, indicated some serious flaws in the contract and tendering processes involved in the development, in addition to signs that the quality of the buildings that were finished may not have been up to scratch. Just to make matters worse, this season’s “The spending on the monsoons have brought with them a sports infrastructure comfortable breeding ground for dengueis now estimated to be fever carrying mosquitoes, resulting in an outbreak of the illness in the city. around US$730 million, But amid all the speculation that Delhi will almost twice the value be incapable of showcasing the super-event of Delhi’s winning bid of promised, a number of experts are conceding US$422 million for the that Delhi will not disappoint. “I think the contract back in 2003” news is darker than the reality will be,” Jacque Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee, told Reuters. “They are doing a huge effort. I think the finishing touches in terms of greenery, wallpaper and mural paintings will not probably be as good as they wished themselves, but I think that’s peripheral.” Similarly, Commonwealth Games Federation President, Mike Fennell said: “There is still some work, outside appearance, landscaping and cleaning to be done with great urgency but this will be completed very shortly.” As well as building 17 venues for the Games themselves and 26 new training centres for the athletes, the city has also developed its transport systems, including a Metro system and renovation of the airport. The spending on the sports infrastructure is now estimated to be around US$730 million, almost twice the value of Delhi’s winning bid of US$422 million for the contract back in 2003, and that the total cost to the city is predicted to be in the region of US$2.7 billion. Today, with cost so far removed from their initial estimates and interest in ticket sales dwindling, it is unclear just how much, if any, profit the event will generate for the surrounding community.

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he past year has seen a number of challenges in the Middle East’s construction market. To meet these challenges, companies in the region have had to re-think and reorganise their businesses to meet the changing needs of the market as a whole. Focus is shifting geographically as companies look beyond their traditional markets into other MENA regions that have weathered the economic downturn and are poised to become home to the next construction boom. Aluma Systems Middle East, a supplier of concrete formwork and shoring solutions that have been a staple in the Dubai construction market, is an example of a company that has restructured to adapt and meet the new market dynamics. Since early this year, Aluma has made a string of announcements and changes to its operations, beginning with the appointment of Luis Alvarez as the new General Manager. Alvarez, the former General Manager of Aluma Systems South America, brings a wealth of experience directing sales efforts and operations across geographically large and culturally diverse markets. In addition to the appointment of Alvarez, and as part of Aluma Systems geographic re-focusing, the company has formed a major partnership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Saudi-based Global OTAD to become the newest supplier of formwork and shoring solutions in the Saudi market. To oversee this partnership and sales effort in the Kingdom, Aluma has appointed Fred Sargon as Sales Manager, whose efforts will be focused on strengthening relationships and promoting Aluma’s unique line of formwork products in the Kingdom. With these changes in management and focus, Aluma Systems Middle East is an example of what many companies in the region are doing – and what many companies must do – to adapt to the new dynamic of the Middle East construction market.

Energy consumption in the Middle East region is predicted to climb

45% by 2020 from levels in 2007

16/09/2010 10:20



Project focus: roads


eal estate developers may have endured a tough few years, but oil-rich governments in the GCC are continuing to invest in infrastructure. And thanks to rapidly expanding urban centres and rampant growth in the number of cars, road building is one area where governments are really focusing their attention right now. While it may not be glamorous, road building is big business: for example, Dubai’s Road & Transport Authority has earmarked US$2 billion for project development in 2010, while Saudi Arabia allocated US$3.17 billion in its 2010 budget for construction of 6400 kilometres of roads. Last year, the country set aside US$3.06 billion for road construction.

✷ Mafraq-Ghweifat Highway (UAE Western Region) CLIENT: Abu Dhabi Department of Transport ESTIMATED VALUE: US$2.7 billion DESCRIPTION: The Department of Transport is offering a 25-year concession to upgrade, operate and maintain the 327km Mafraq-Ghweifat Highway. Evaluation of bids is under way, with the winning bidder to be announced in the third quarter of 2010. The project is the first transport-related public private partnership project to be undertaken in the GCC, and will involve the highway being widened to four lanes in each direction and upgraded to meet the highest standards in highway design, safety, communications and services to users. SCHEDULE: Widening and surface improvement work is due to begin this year and end in 2014.

✷ Salam Street & Mina Road Development Phase 1 (Abu Dhabi) CLIENT: Abu Dhabi Municipality & Town Planning Department ESTIMATED VALUE: US$1.4 billion DESCRIPTION: A key route into and out of Abu Dhabi, the road’s capacity will be increased to more than 6000 cars per hour in each direction. Work includes construction of a 3.1km, eight-lane tunnel, and the construction of 1.2km of roads leading into and out of the tunnel. This will serve projects on Reem, Suwa and Saadiyat islands, as well as the Mina area to the east of Abu Dhabi Island. A joint venture of Saif Bin Darwish Engineering Co. and Samsung Engineering & Construction was awarded the main construction contract early in 2008. SCHEDULE: Construction started in May 2008 and completion is pencilled in for the end of 2010.

✷ Batinah Coastal Road Phase 1 (Oman) CLIENT: Supreme Committee for Town Planning ESTIMATED VALUE: US$712 million DESCRIPTION: The 241km project involves construction of a four-lane carriageway running from Naseem Garden to Khatmat Malaha in Wilayat Shinas. Phase 1 of the project has been split into two packages. Package 1, worth US$325 million, was awarded to Turkey’s Makyol and involves construction of a 60km road from Naseem roundabout to Sayyid Said bin Sultan Naval Base at Wudam Al Sahel. Package 2, worth US$387 million, was awarded to India’s Nagarjuna Construction Co. and involves a 65.7km road from Majees roundabout in Sohar to Khatmat Malaha.

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SCHEDULE: Work on Phase 1 is underway and scheduled to finish in 2012.

✷ Al Khor to Al Ruwais Road Phase 3 (Qatar) CLIENT: Authority of Public Works ESTIMATED VALUE: US$600 million DESCRIPTION: The project involves further development of the Al Khor to Al Ruwais Road, as part of the ambitious, four-phase, multibillion-dollar North Road project. Phase 3 of the project is 61 kilometres long and will include four lanes in each direction. Works will also feature service roads with 11 cloverleaf junctions, five camel crossing tunnels, an animal protection fence, two truck weighbridges, infrastructure works and landscaping. Dar Al Handasah is the project consultant, while Tekfen Construction was awarded the main construction contract in 2008. SCHEDULE: Construction work started in late 2008 and is due for completion in 2010.

✷ Al Khail Road Upgrades Phases 1-4 (Dubai) CLIENT: Roads and Transport Authority ESTIMATED VALUE: US$591.5 million DESCRIPTION: The project involves widening and improving a 15km stretch of Al Khail Road between the junctions at Muscat Road and Emirates Road. The existing road will be widened from four lanes to six throughout and the roundabouts along this stretch will be turned into flyovers to allow the uninterrupted flow of traffic. New slip roads and interchanges will be added to enable access to the new residential developments along this stretch. Al Khail Road will also be extended by nine kilometres to connect it to Dubai Bypass Road. SCHEDULE: Work on all four phases is underway and is due for completion in stages in 2010 and 2011.

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AMECO AD.indd 1

31/08/2010 16:50



Top 10





With a combined value of US$1.3 trillion, The MEED Projects Top 100 are worth more than the GDP of the entire GCC region that plays host to them. The announcement names some of the most innovative, cutting-edge and flamboyant megaprojects in the world. MENA Infrastructure takes a look at the top 10.

1 King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia Described as a “dynamic new age city for tomorrow’s generation of Saudi citizens”, the King Abdullah Economic City is not short on superlatives. Comprising six components, this mixed-use mega-development will upon completion play host to two million residents and cover an area of 168 million square metres. Cost: US$50 billion

2 Madinat al-Hareer (City of Silk), Kuwait Kuwait’s answer to the Burj Khalifa, the Madinat alHareer is currently in the design stages. The mixed-use development will span an area of 250 square kilometres circling a tower to rival the world’s tallest building in the UAE. The site aims to bring in close to half a million new jobs to Kuwait City. Cost: US$95 billion

3 Capital District, Abu Dhabi Masterminded by Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council, this huge development is intended as a key component in to Plan Abu Dhabi 2030. Keeping sustainability at its core, Capital District will primarily serve as an administrative centre for government, education and information-based institutions for the UAE. Cost: US$40 billion

4 Al-Reem Island, Abu Dhabi A mixed-use development off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Al-Reem Island will comprise residential space, commercial space, a central business district and an efficient transport system for residents and workers. Cost: US$30 billion

5 Yas Island Development, UAE Located between the coasts of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Yas Island is projected to become one of the UAE’s finest attractions. With world-class hotels, theme parks – including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – and mega shopping malls and golf courses, Yas Island is certainly a head-turner, even by UAE standards. Cost: US$40 billion

6 Business Bay, Dubai Sited at Dubai Creek, Dubai’s business hub, the Business

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08 Bay will provide office buildings as well as some freehold residential accommodation. Cost: Unknown

7 Jazan Economic City, Saudi Arabia A mixed-use mega-development comprising residential, commercial and industrial areas, Jazan Economic City will cover an area of 117 square kilometres. Cost: US$3 billion

8 Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi Half a kilometre off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is an attractive development projected to serve as a popular destination. When completed, the island will include features such as relaxed water front properties and golf courses. Cost: US$27 billion

9 GCC Railway Network, GCC Arguably long overdue, the multi-billion dollar rail network will provide efficient and much needed business links, not to mention commercial transport, around the countries of the GCC region. Cost: Unknown

10 Kingdom City, Saudi Arabia 10

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Another rival to UAE’s Burj Kahlifa, the Kingdom Tower is the centre piece to this mega-development, Kingdom City, near Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Cost: US$26.7 billion

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Updating fire protection standards A thorough revision of tank fire fighting technology standards is unavoidable – this is what Istvan Szocs, CEO and owner of TFEX Ltd, concluded when he analysed the current standards.


he design standards used to implement the requirements of the building and fire codes – NFPA, UL, FM, EN and others – are all highly respected among industry professionals; compliance with these industrial design standards is often spelled out in the national codes, and therefore obligatory. But what is one to do when the prescribed design standards fail to achieve the life safety and capital asset preservation intended by the national building and fire codes? What to do when the successful extinguishment rate of the tank fire protection systems designed under these standards is consistently very low? The TFEX research team has developed and proven a new tank fire extinguishing technology that is based on new scientific discoveries, called FoamFatale. TFEX research discovered that the critical application rate increases in accordance with the increase in tank diameter. In larger tank diameters, the critical foam application rate belonging to that particular diameter likely exceeds the application rate recommended by the traditional design standards. The foam will never reach the middle of the liquid surface, therefore the extinguishing time is infinite – in other words, the fire cannot be extinguished. This information is confirmed by industry test data reaching back to the 1970s, when large storage tanks were first built. In contrast, the TFEX application rate requirement progressively changes with the tank diameter, and is always higher than the critical application rate for the tank. The prescription of an extremely high application rate results in a maximum of two minutes extinguishing time at any size of storage tank. The enormous losses in assets and human lives, as well as the great environment pollution associated with storage tank fires, are unacceptable in today’s society. The current situation can be improved by a quick reformation of the applicable design standards and by revision of the governing fire codes to impose a new standard of safety on existing tank installations. EN approval of FoamFatale shows that professionals listen to the wind of change.

For more information, please visit:

UPFRONT.indd 26

MENA’s booming retail sector?


ith the West still reeling from the effects of the recession, it seems that that MENA region now has some of the most exciting retail growth prospects in the world. According to the ninth annual Global Retail Development Index study by management consultancy firm A.T. Kearney, countries such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE all look set to become prime destinations for retail development. The region’s oil wealth has been cited as a strong stimulus for the rapid fiscal recovery in the region. “The attractiveness of the MENA retail markets provides ample opportunities for regional as well as global retailers,” explains Martin Fabel, a Partner at A.T. Kearney. “Our research stresses that establishing operations in a portfolio of countries both small and large offers the best path to global success for retailers.” While this news undoubtedly represents exciting prospects for the region’s retail market, it also highlights a knock-on effect on the construction sector. The July reports from property consulting firm Cluttons highlighted that while the downturn had hit the retail sector and caused rental rates to plummet, the recovery was bringing renewed interest in the region. The firm’s Saudi Arabia report indicated that a great number of Riyadh shopping malls, particularly in the more affluent areas of the city, were operating at 100 percent capacity, suggesting that with more retailers looking to move into the region, demand for retail property will be renewed. On the other hand Bahrain, the smallest of the GCC nations, is currently going through a period of population stabilisation, which is resulting in a slowing down of the retail market, according to reports. This combined with an ongoing boom in retail property development is likely to result in an oversupply in this sector. The Cluttons’ Bahrain report in July stated that, “With approximately 450,000 square metres of additional retail space planned to come online by 2015, the Bahrain retail market looks set to suffer from a continued supply-demand imbalance.”

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Multi-level blast security Unival Group is a German-based security solutions provider with a strong focus on blast protection technologies that is currently launching a new multi-level security product line with a special focus on IED protection.


EDs have become the signature weapon of international terrorism, as they are relatively cheap and easy to manufacture and the effects created with such unsophisticated methods truly threaten public security and economic stability. Protection has proven extremely difficult, and concepts in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and others have often failed for the reason that standalone security concepts have been installed. The way to improve security is by installing multi-level security concepts with interacting complementary products. Unival is launching a new modular concrete container and housing series that offers full protection against military rifles and blast attacks up to the highest STANAG levels, but also adds fire protection as well as burglary protection. The highly flexible concept allows full customisation in terms of size and design as well

For more information, please visit

as scope of usage, whether as a guardhouse, basic or luxury residential applications in any environment, IT or infrastructure protection or storage facility – both over and underground. Installation of all technical equipment can be done during production, allowing turnkey delivery and short installation times. All installed doors and windows are fitted with a patented blast protection system that makes the Unival security containers a unique protection concept with wide application potential. The system offers long-term value and multi-mission operation ability. All protection container series can be fitted with the Unival digital jammer line SWJ1 for stationary applications, which adds protection against RCIEDs and unwanted communication, while implementation of the Unival handheld explosive detection system HEDD1 adds covert and remote detection of most explosive substances as well as weapons and ammunition.

Company Index Q3 2010 Companies in this issue are indexed to the first page of the article in which each is mentioned. A. T. Kearney Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC) Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council Ajmera Mayfair Group Al Baraka Banking Group Al Habtoor Leighton Group Al Rajhi Group Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company ALDAR Almco Aluma Systems Ameco Aquarius Arcapita Bank Arjaan Rotana Ashurst Atlantis Corporation AWE Paints Bahrain Bay BELIMO Biddle BV BK GIULINI Bomag BP CB Richard Ellis Cluttons Colliers ComAp Connor Walsh Golf Contax Partners Cooperation Investment House DAMAC DELTA Light & Optics Deutsche Bahn International Deutsche Bank

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74 28 28 50 42 42 28 28 28 74 54 4, 21 19, 23 140, 141 42 42 100, 101 142, 143 109 42 70, 71 72, 73 110, 111 61 54 74 74 74 8, 121 151 122, 123 42 42 2, 88, 89 98 13, 100, 103

DMG World Media Dohaland Drake & Scull International EC Harris Emirates Golf Club ExxonMobil Forst & Sullivan Four Seasons Hotel Frangible Safety Posts Gannet Fleming GeoDecisions Global Traffic technology Golf in Dubai golfmarnoch Gulftainer Hoffman Honeywell Life Safety Hyatt Group International Energy Agency International Renewable Energy Agency International Road Dynamics International Water Association Ischebeck Titan iStrategy JOTUN PAINTS Jumeirah Golf Estates Kanoo Tower KEMA KhaleejCapita Koheeji KPMG Kryton International Inc. Latchways Fall Protection Lenzen Hebe-Und Foerdertechnik Lusail Real Estate Development Company Masdar

OBC 92 92 35, 84 148 54 85 42 90, 91 50, 51 50 81 148 152, 153 54 107 68, 69, 125 28 118 118 83 135 40, 41 125 110, 113 148 42 124 42 42 148 48, 49, IBC 47 144, 1145 154

McLanahan Mourjan Marinas IGY Mowasalat NACE International NUKOTE ARABIA Omega OrangeBoat PANOLIN AG Petronas Pure Water Corporation Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development Qatar Public Works Authority Qatar Urban Planning and Development Authority Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Raffles City Bahrain Rayadah Investment Company Roadex/Railex Salhia Real Estate Company Schlumberger Scicorp International Corp Siemens T-Fex The Nickel Institute Troon Golf Middle East T-Track Saudi Central Mining Unival Utico Volvo Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants Wasl Water Environment Federation Weatherford WSP Fire

38, 39 154 98 106 110 148 138, 139 116, 117 54 132 92

98 98 98 42 28 97 42 54 11, 132, 133 IFC, 86, 87 26, 65 36, 37 148 100, 105 27, 63 126, 127 52, 53 6, 66, 67 148 135 54 62


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Al Habtoor Lead.indd 28

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Following the slowdown in Dubai, Al Habtoor Leighton Group – already one of the largest construction firms in the UAE – has set its sights on becoming the Middle East’s engineering powerhouse. MENA Infrastructure caught up with CEO Laurie Voyer to discuss expansion, experience and the value of doing the basics well. By Ben Thompson


alk about being thrown in at the deep end. While most executives spent October 2009 struggling to get to grips with the worst recession in living memory, Laurie Voyer faced an additional challenge: fi nding his feet as head of one of the Middle East’s biggest construction and engineering firms. In many ways, his appointment as CEO and Managing Director of Al Habtoor Leighton Group couldn’t have come at a worse time for the 35-year industry veteran: the fi rm’s home market of the UAE had been hit hard by the fi nancial crisis, with real estate prices in Dubai plunging some 60 percent from their peak in 2008 and billions of dollars worth of projects being put on hold. Credit markets had tightened significantly, making project fi nancing much harder to come by. And the company itself had suffered losses on its order book as a result of the downturn, mainly because it focused overwhelmingly on the commercial property sector. Notable setbacks were the suspension of the US$1.6 billion Tameer Towers project in Abu Dhabi, and the suspension of the Trump Tower Project in Dubai. But negativity is not in the genial Aussie’s nature. Indeed, while the one-year anniversary of the global fi nancial crisis provided the backdrop to his accession to one of the region’s most prominent business positions, Voyer was much more concerned with the next phase of the company’s future development – regional expansion and the greater diversification of its service offerings – than he was with dwelling on the downturn. With much of its business located within the UAE (Al Habtoor currently generates around 80 percent of its revenues from within the country) it was time for a new strategy. As such, Voyer focused on building key partnerships across the Gulf in a bid to tap into the markets that proved most resilient to the global recession. It’s an approach that is starting to pay dividends. Key growth areas for Al Habtoor Leighton are Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, all of which weathered the fi nancial maelstrom better than most, and with the possibility of further ventures into locations such as Libya and Iraq on the horizon, the future looks relatively bright for the company, despite the region’s recent economic problems. Al Habtoor’s total order book is expected to rise to around Dh30 billion over the next 12 months from around Dh22 billion, and Voyer believes the company will generate about 50 percent of its revenues over the next two to three years from outside the UAE. “I think the business over the next couple of years will change for us,” he explains. “I expect in the next two or three years the surrounding Gulf countries will contribute about the same as what the UAE has done for us in the last couple of years.” Here, Voyer talks to MENA Infrastructure’s Senior Editor Ben Thompson to discuss Al Habtoor Leighton Group’s current areas of focus and what the next few years will hold for the construction giant.

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You assumed your current role as CEO at a difficult time, one year into the global recession. How do you think your first 12 months charge has gone? It’s certainly been an interesting year, as you can well imagine, but I’ve also enjoyed what I’ve been doing here immensely. Of course, it’s disappointing to read about all the things that are occurring in terms of project cancellations and postponements – and the negativity about the industry that goes along with that – but perhaps these events were just the natural result of a market that was overinflated anyway.

★ Saadiyat Link Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE Contract value: US$681 million Client: Tourism Development and Investment Corporation Commencement: 2007 Completion: 2010 Leighton Contracting was responsible for the construction of 20.3km of road network including 6.5km of 10-lane expressway linking Abu Dhabi City with Yas Island. In addition to the construction of the expressway and local road network, the project scope included six major bridges with a total deck length of 1.6km, four bridges over the golf course cart access track, 870 metres cut and cover tunnel, a high and low voltage power distribution network including 17 streetlight substations, a fibre optic telecommunications cable network and various other mechanical, electrical and civil works. In addition, work included a 30km potable water network, including three groundwater storage tanks with a combined capacity of 25.4 million imperial gallons, plus a pumping station, substation, generator building with associated fuel storage facilities, MCC building, chemical dosing building and a guard house; a 10.7km stormwater drainage network, including three pumping stations complete with MCC and generator buildings and associated fuel storage facilities; and a 22.3km sewerage system including a sewage pumping station and sewage treatment plant.

Al Habtoor Lead.indd 30

The current downturn is just a matter of correction – that is what we anticipate it to be, anyway – and from our point of view we still have a fairly positive outlook for our business here in the UAE and the other gulf countries as well. Where do you see the particular hotspots for growth in terms of Al Habtoor Leighton Group? We think that the future is probably outside the UAE initially. But having said that, we are very confident we’ll continue to have a strong, robust business in the UAE in the future, much the same as it is today. I don’t think we’ll see any deterioration or reduction in the business from a UAE perspective. But we’re not here just to be UAE contractors – we are establishing ourselves in the other countries of the gulf, too. I expect in the next two or three years the surrounding Gulf countries will contribute about the same as what the UAE has done for us in the last couple of years. So we’re in the process of registering our company in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and we’re going to continue with that thrust. And I think by the end of the year, we’ll have had all that groundwork pretty much established from a business development point of view. So that’s the current challenge, I guess: to geographically diversify the business outside the UAE.

“Many of the strategies that are helping us navigate through the current downturn are ones that will benefit us in the long-term"

Expansion Ex is key for any business. But it’s not just dive versifying the business geographically; it’s also about diversifying div your scope in terms of the skill sets and the services se that you can offer, isn’t it? That’s absolutely correct. We are well known here in the UAE UA as principally a building contractor – and a very good building bu contractor for that matter, particularly in terms of ou work on high-rise developments. But we’re now looking our to clip on additional offerings, especially regarding the civil engineering en aspect. The market here has much to offer in th regard, and we see significant growth coming from that this add-on ad feature. As a result, we’re shift ing from a focus on

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planned to be where we are right now. It sounds a bit corny, perhaps, but we took stock of ourselves and had a very outward-looking view of what would happen based on our experience of the industry and our knowledge of our own strengths and competencies. In terms of the economic situation, we are where we are. It’s probably disappointing if you were to wind the clock back two or three years and look at the projects that were being planned and the profits that were being made back then, but these types of corrections do happen in our industry – and that’s where the challenges lie.

★ Al Shaqab Equestrian Academy Location: Qatar Contract value: US$473 million Client: Qatar Foundation Commencement: 2006 Completion: 2011 Leighton is responsible for the construction of the Al Shaqab Equestrian Academy in Qatar, a project for the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development. The world-class equine management facility includes standard competition facilities, facilities for HH The Emir and Royals, an equine breeding facility, an equine hospital, an Olympic-standard indoor arena with an adjoining outdoor arena and a members’ clubhouse and stables for the members’ horses. The state-of-the-art stables include separate facilities for different categories of Arabian horses such as breeding and show horses, endurance horses, dressage horses and show jumping horses. Additional construction works include the refurbishment of historic structures around the worksite, staff accommodation, entertainment facilities, a museum and associated infrastructure works.

high-rise residential and hotel projects to hospitals, educational facilities and road and civil infrastructure, and will continue to move towards a 50/50 split between the two.

HLC’s order book is forecast to hit


in the next year

Al Habtoor Lead.indd 31

What do you think have been the major highlights for you in your first year in charge and where did you face the biggest challenges? We’re still here; that’s the big highlight. There are plenty of firms that have struggled through the recession – it’s been a tough 18 months – but I think we’ve navigated through it pretty well. When the global financial crisis hit everyone automatically feared the worst, but I think we pretty much

You’ve weathered the storm better than most. What have been the key decisions that you’ve taken during that tough period to help set yourself up for the future? Because it’s not just about weathering the downturn; it’s also about positioning for growth when the upturn comes. About four months ago, we undertook a very detailed review of our business. We looked at various scenarios and possible outcomes, both optimistic and more pessimistic, and decided where we should be at various stages over the next few years. And we feel we’re pretty much on track. We tuned our business according to those expectations as well as the type of projects we want to be doing, the sort of conditions and the risks we’d like to undertake, and also the prices we’re prepared to accept. At the end of the day, managing your business in tough times makes you think about the fundamentals more, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It makes you consider key decisions more carefully. And hopefully, because of the in-depth analysis work we did to establish exactly what position the business was in, we’ll prove to have taken the right decisions, both in the short term and over the longer term, too. Of course, balancing those short-term needs against the long-term vision for the company goes to the heart of what it takes to be a successful manager. So how do you strike that balance, and what are your longer-term goals for Al Habtoor Leighton Group? Well, many of the strategies that are helping us navigate through the current downturn are ones that will benefit us in the long-term, too. So we’ve been looking at a lot of performance-based issues such as cost control, programming and planning, productivity improvement, and getting closer to our workforce. We’ve been looking at all of those challenges as we go through this difficult period to better align the high-performance part of our business and retain all our high-performance individuals and subcontractors and workforce so that we are a much stronger business as we come out the other side. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about the flagship projects you’re currently working on in the Middle East. What are the big developments for you right now? We’re in the throes of handing over the fi nal phase of the Sorbonne University in Abu Dhabi. We’re also part of the Zayed University development project, also in Abu Dhabi. The Capital Gate Project is also on track, and is a flagship

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project for us. The Hyatt Group just announced they are going take the fit-out on that building and are hoping to have a hotel opening there early next year, which is good news. We handed over on the Saadiyat Island link project last year, but we still continue to work on that program as they still have parts that need be completed this year. We’re looking at bidding on the Louvre project and also the Guggenheim Museum, and have prequalified for both of those projects. Meanwhile over in Qatar, we handed over about 30 percent of the Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre in the last month of July. So we’ve been extremely busy. I know that Saudi Arabia is currently a big market for the construction and infrastructure industries. How do you see your company expanding into the Saudi market? We’re in a consortium over there with the Al Rajhi Group, and are working alongside them on the ITCC project just outside Riyadh. That’s going pretty well now. We’re still formalising our operations in Saudi Arabia at the moment, but I feel fairly confident that by the end of this year we should have established a couple of contracts on our own terms. We’re just taking it cautiously; there is a lot of excitement about the potential in the Saudi Arabian market and lots of opportunities on offer, but we want to establish ourselves properly before we start beating the drums too hard over there. Elsewhere in this issue, we’re also looking at the process of rebuilding Iraq. Obviously, Iraq offers huge challenges as well opportunities. Is this something you feel that HLG might get involved with in the future? Yes, absolutely we will, and we’re considering our operations there at the moment. Having said that, we want to settle down on our Saudi and Kuwait operations fi rst – which will probably take us another couple of months – and then we’ll see where we are. But we’ve already started to look into Iraq. I can’t make any more comments on that at this stage, but it’s defi nitely on the radar, and probably in the medium term we would be keen to go to Iraq. Your firm has worked on many of the Gulf’s most pioneering projects. What do you feel you’re able to bring to these developments that makes you the contractor of choice for the region’s landmark building projects? I think fi rst and foremost, Al Habtoor Leighton Group has a very strong understanding of both regional business ethics and international best practices, and that comes from the blend of skills and knowledge offered by the coming together of two companies. We’re very well connected to the supply chain, and the international experience and project management skills of the Leighton Group, plus the local experience of the Al Habtoor Group in this area, offers a pretty unique combination. I feel pretty excited about the ability of those two groups to continue moving as one into these new areas. We have the best of both worlds, really, with the local expertise and the local knowledge on the one hand, along with the international expertise garnered

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★ Doha City Centre Expansion Location: Qatar Contract value: US$325 million Client: Al Rayyan Tourism Investment Company Commencement: 2005 Completion: 2010

“The fact that the Middle East has to import a fair amount of its product suggests that the concepts of sustainability and energy usage have got a big future in the region. Sustainability is just good business”

The Doha City Centre Expansion project involves the construction of five towers with a direct link to the existing Doha City Centre, one of the largest malls in the Gulf. The project is divided into three phases and has a total built-up area of around 330,000 square metres. The podium is 27,000 square metres and the towers are 10,000 square metres, narrowing to 700 square metres at the top. The scope of work on the project includes an RCC structure, external cladding with a glazed curtain walling system, MEP services, a conveying system, and soft and hard landscaping. Phase one includes the construction of the 258-room, 50-storey Marriot Renaissance, the 204-room and 124 executive apartment 50-storey Marriot Courtyard, and a podium. Phase two includes the construction of the 200-room, 50-storey ShangriLa Tower, the 50-storey Rotana Tower and a podium. Phase three involves the construction of the 48-storey Merweb Tower and a podium.

through years of working on some of these huge landmark projects on the other. A growing focus on safety has been one thing that’s been common across the Gulf for contractors and developers alike. So what are you doing to improve safety operations at HLG? Th is was a major part of our performance management campaign earlier this year, where we challenged ourselves to improve operations by making workers and line management more aware of the risks involved in the construction process. We had a safety summit this June where I got all the senior managers together, as well as our key suppliers and subcontractors and other joint venture part-

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ners, in order to take time to remind ourselves about the importance of safety. In my mind, safety is a key part of the performance of the business going forward, and it is critical that we put the right attention into safety because a safe site is generally a very productive site; likewise, a clean and wellmanaged site is likely to be a more productive site as well. Safety is very much about good planning, and if I see good safety statistics at a particular site, generally speaking it’s a reflection of the good management and planning that’s gone into running the job. So safety is a very high focus area for our business – both from an operational standpoint, but also from a management perspective as well. I guess it’s as much a cultural thing as anything else: instilling that safety culture within the group as a whole, so that it becomes second nature. People talk about culture, and I think you’re right: there has been a shift in the way people approach their work here with regards to safety. But from my point of view, safety is just one of a number of accepted best practices that you need to embrace in order to be a sound manager. In our business, a professional manager manages costs and manages time and manages people to the best of their ability. And all of those things are extremely important. So it’s not just about safety, not just about cost, not just about time. It should be about all three being combined to make sure we get the best out of our company and out of our projects and out of the people who work for us. And that’s what tough times do: they force you to refocus more on the fundamentals of the business, and how you can achieve the best results by getting the basics right.

Al Habtoors Capital Gate project consists of over

20,000m2 of office space

Al Habtoor Lead.indd 33

Something else that’s been a huge area of focus in recent years in the construction industry is the idea of sustainable development. How is Al Habtoor Leighton building a greener focus into its design and development processes? From our point of view, sustainability is a key requirement for any responsible company. Corporate governance and corporate responsibility are paramount, certainly from my experience in Australia with the Leighton Group; we embraced that very strongly in all of our construction and mining activities in Australia, not because we were forced to do it from a legislative point of view but because we identified it some years ago as a point of differentiation. It’s certainly growing in interest here. We are both responsive and responsible in terms of what we do. But I guess at the end of the day, we need to make sure our clients and customers and the rest of the supply chain are keeping up with us in some of these new initiatives. In terms of the design and construction responsibility, we’re very much part of that. Design is not such a big part of our business here at the moment, because a lot of our clients still wish to retain control over design. But as we use our track record and reputation to convince more of our customers that we can be good, responsible designers, this will give us a chance to leverage some of the skills and knowledge that we have within our associated businesses to bring about a greener focus on the building process. For in-

stance, our Thiess Services business recently opened a new specialised processing plant designed to manage construction and demolition debris. The plant allows construction waste to be processed and recycled for other uses such as road-base, general fi ll and aggregate for construction and infrastructure projects. Under a contract with the Abu Dhabi municipality, we’re now recycling those building products and reusing them back into the Abu Dhabi market. It’s a cleaner, greener way to manage construction waste.

★ Information Technology and Communication Complex Location: Saudi Arabia Contract value: US$685 million Client: Rayadah Investment Company Commencement: 2009 Completion: 2012


The scope of work on the ITCC project includes excavation and enabling works, construction of the structural frame, masonry works, complete architectural works including metal works, wood works, thermal and moisture protection, doors and windows, aluminium and curtain wall finishes, elevators, specialties, special construction electro-mechanical and external works. Within the scope of this first phase of development is a central office complex comprised of four towers, each with five basement levels, a ground floor entry level and 19 upper floors. The ancillary buildings include a central services building, an e-library, health club, mosque, an R&D building, an incubator building and a central main plaza spine and facade. It covers a development area of about 800,000 square metres. The site is located in the Al Nakheel district, approximately 15 kilometres west of Riyadh city centre, at the junction of two major roads – King Abdullah Road and Prince Turki Ibn Abdul Aziz Street.

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In that respect, it’s not just about construction companies showing a greener, more sustainable focus; it has to come from the client as well. Do you think there needs to be greater education as to the benefits and the advantages of sustainable construction? I think there have been some great initiatives, but we’re certainly not at the level we need to be just yet. When I was with the Leighton Group back in Australia, we were at the forefront of responding to clients’ demands regarding sustainability in some of the building contracts we won, for which we were awarded six-star ratings for both design and construction, which was unheard of before then. So we set the benchmark pretty high and we attained it, which does show that it can be done. And I think the client enjoyed the process as well because they got all sorts of benefits from it, from energy savings to operational cost savings to great PR. However, that was a few years back and we’re still talking about pushing the benefits of sustainability. Nonetheless, I do think the tidal wave is about to happen, because in many cases, these kind of benefits can bring real tangible money-saving and cost-saving advantages as well. We have certainly found that. Our own focus on sustainability forced people to be far more diligent in looking around for products and materials and companies to work with. And as a result of that, I think it put some uniqueness in our product; sustainability became a point of differentiation. So in my mind there’s no doubt that we should all be more responsible in terms of our consumption of energy and the way we approach sustainability. And we will be making sure we step up to the plate on that. So what impact do you think sustainability will have on the Middle East’s construction and development sector over the next few years? Do you think the Middle East has the potential to become a pioneer in terms of sustainability? We’ve certainly seen political statements to support that, and the fact that the Middle East has to import a fair amount of its product suggests that the concepts of sustainability and being more conscious about recycling and power consumption and energy usage have got a big future in the region. Sustainability is just good business. I can’t understand why it should still be seen as a costly business proposition; that’s just short-term thinking in my opinion. Over the longer term, it’s got to be beneficial. And so what’s your outlook for the region’s construction industry – and HLG within that sector – over the next 12-18 months? The budget and the forecasting we’ve done suggests that 2010 has been a marginally better year than 2009, and that 2011 will probably show a similar increase on this year in terms of figures. So we’re being cautiously optimistic in terms of what our expectations are for next year. To be honest, we’re just looking at it as business-as-usual, with natural growth being bolstered by our overseas expansion. Hopefully, our investments in moving into other countries will pay off and give us that little bit of an uplift that we’re

Al Habtoor Lead.indd 34

Record breaker Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi has been certified as the ‘World’s Furthest Leaning Manmade Tower’ by Guinness World Records. Currently under construction by HLG, Capital Gate, owned and developed by the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), has been built to lean 18 degrees westwards - more than four times that of the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Capital Gate earned the Guinness recognition after rigorous evaluation by the Awards Committee, following exterior completion of the 160-metre, 35-storey tower earlier this year. Capital Gate’s floor plates are stacked vertically to the 12th storey, after which they are staggered over each other by between 300 millimetres to 1400 millimetres, giving rise to the tower’s dramatic lean. The tower features other innovative construction techniques including the world’s first known use of a ‘pre-cambered’ core, which contains more than 15,000 cubic metres of concrete reinforced with 10,000 tons of steel. The core, deliberately built slightly off centre, has straightened as the building has risen, compressing the concrete and giving it strength, and moving into (vertical) position as the weight of the floors has been added. “The Capital Gate structure has been a most challenging and enjoyable engineering project,” said Senior Construction Manager for Al Habtoor Leighton Group, Leslie Fairchild. “Every day has brought new challenges for the team, requiring us to come up with some exceptional solutions. We have a very strong site team and excellent sub-contractors who worked closely together to ensure the project’s success.” looking for in terms of our results. It’s consistent with what I said before – we want the UAE to hold itself up as it has done and continues to do; and then the uplift in our business will come from the investments we’ve made in other parts of the region, outside the UAE. Do you see any external trends or developments influencing the construction sector in the Middle East over the next couple of years? It would be great to see some of our international competitors retreat back to their countries of origin, so we could be left alone here to run the Middle East as we would like to. An HLG empire? It’s got a nice ring to it. Put that in the article. That would be great. ■

16/09/2010 10:00



15/09/2010 09:30



Nickel use in Middle Eastern infrastructure How does the use of nickel-containing stainless steels in architecture and construction contribute to sustainability in the Middle East? By the Nickel Institute’s Catherine Houska.


ustainable development is high on the agenda as construction in the Middle East emerges from the global recession and the region focuses on continued expansion after the boom years of the early 2000s. The need for longevity with service life requirements of up to 150 years, together with the area’s harsh climate, make nickel-containing stainless steels the materials of choice for both new buildings, such as Abu Dhabi’s Central Market project, and infrastructure. Achieving long service life without replacement or significant maintenance reduces the direct costs of replacement and indirect impact associated with service disruption. It also minimises the environmental impact of raw material replacement and maintenance tasks. Stainless steel is used in applications ranging from reinforcing bar for sea walls and bridge decks, to stunning building exteriors, owing to its corrosion resistance, which has a direct effect on long-term sustainability. Most stainless steels utilised in the Gulf are higher alloy nickel-containing austenitic and duplex stainless steels because of the aggressive environment. The nickel addition makes forming and welding the steels much easier and they also provide a broader range of texture, colour and other fi nish options that are uniform in character and striking in appearance. Due to these factors, they are increasingly being used in cutting-edge regional designs. In some coastal regions of the Gulf, such as in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the potential for exposure to sandblasting from windblown sand is unremitting, making it unwise to rely on corrosion-resistant coatings. Cars can have paint stripped off them in fully-fledged sandstorms. In many areas, there is constant particulate dust in the air that can increase corrosion rates, but buildings faced with stainless steels will always look good in the long term. In order to obtain sustainability in design, construction and operation and to minimise negative effects on the environment, the World Green Building Council stipulates elevated rates of recycling and end-of-life recapture, durability and a positive impact on energy and water consumption. Nickel-containing stainless steels fulfi l all these criteria. Stainless steels are 100 percent recyclable and can potentially be refurbished and reused indefi nitely. While the average recycled content is 60 percent, some producers report up to 90 percent, while 92 percent of stainless steel used in architecture and construction is recycled into new metal, rather than being sent to landfi ll.

NickelInstitute 36

Stainless steel roofi ng, sunscreens and wall panels score highly on the solar reflective index as they absorb less heat than many other construction materials, so reduce demand for energy from air-conditioning. It is also healthy, in that stainless steel does not create toxic run-off that can damage the surrounding environment or produce harmful chemical emissions when deployed inside buildings – unlike carpet and drywall – allowing a wide range of attractive interior fi nishes to be used. Stainless steel buildings require only the application of ordinary, non-environmentally damaging, household detergent or window cleaner to keep their exteriors clean. A great deal of infrastructure continues to be erected in the Middle East, from sea walls and building foundations to bridges. Because the soil, air, water, sand and concrete in coastal areas has a very high sea salt (chloride) content, the employment of stainless steel for both reinforcing bar and other structural components can provide infrastructure capable of 100 or more years of life, as well as seismic and fire protection and security against blast impact. Stainless steels are also important in minimising the use of precious potable water and are used extensively in desalination plants and in building systems for capturing and reusing grey (waste) water such as tanks, piping and fi ltration systems, so that wastewater can be utilised for other purposes, for example for flushing toilets and irrigating landscapes. All in all, nickel-containing stainless steels could not be a better choice for ensuring sustainability in construction in the Middle East. „ Catherine Houska, one of the world’s leading authorities on nickel-containing stainless steels in architecture, is architectural consultant to the Nickel Institute.

Further information can be obtained from the Nickel Institute, a not-forprofit organisation that represents the interests of the companies that together produce more than 90 percent of global annual nickel output on

16/09/2010 10:32


31/08/2010 17:00



Lasting impressions John Best looks at the value of reputation in the construction industry – and how to effectively manage it.


was recently at a name-brand hotel in Florida, where the lady behind the desk wore a badge labelled ‘Director of First Impressions’; after the stay, having experienced some issues, I felt it should have read ‘Director of Lasting Impressions’, because that is what you take with you as a customer. Considering McLanahan Corporation has been around for 175 years, obviously someone has a positive ‘lasting impression’ of the company. Still family-owned, with a sixth-generation McLanahan serving as the CFO, the company is going strong despite the global economic problems. The fi rst impression you get of the company’s Aggregates Division is the range of products. From specialty crushers for the front end of a plant, through washing and classification equipment, to fi lter presses for water recovery and compacted solid waste, the company provides the largest range of process equipment available from one source – resulting in us offering the right equipment, rather than just what we make. A relatively few years ago, the US sand industry was faced with a technology that was not providing consistent high quality products in a market that faced increased pressure on deposit yields in lower quality deposits. Technology of the day produced ‘adequate’ products but not superior products. The challenge for McLanahan was how to introduce new technology to an industry where buying existing technology “didn’t get anyone fi red” and where plant operators were resistant to change. Using three brief project scenarios, it can be demonstrated that lasting impressions can be created in an industry not known for embracing new technology. In Calgary, Alberta Canada, a major producer needed to produce more product in a deposit known for variation in feed and where water usage was an issue. Existing equipment was made up of a classifying tank and screw, and large settling ponds. On analysing the feed gradations, a sand plant was configured with sumps, pumps, cyclones and dewatering screens to provide the necessary classification and improved dewatering; the addition of a thickener in the flow-sheet could resolve water usage problems. The area manager was concerned that he “would lose his job if this new technology did not work.” At Long Island, New York, a family-owned business was making the largest investment in company history, needing a sand plant to provide concrete and mason sand for the New York market. Conventional wisdom said they needed conventional equipment, but McLanahan designed

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a sand plant using sumps, pumps, cyclones and dewatering screens instead. The owner said at the time: “So if this plant doesn’t work – you take it back… right?” Meanwhile, a specialty sand producer in the Midwest USA processing dredged waste stream from a glass sand production facility needed to produce two products – one a return product for the glass sand plant, the other a drywall sand. He was advised to use a plant configured with a sump, pump, cyclone and dewatering screen. He proceeded with a conventional classifying tank and a screw. Subsequently he admitted “I made a mistake” and went on to install – yes, you guessed it – a sump, pump, cyclone and dewatering screen that produced a much superior product. In each case, the challenge was overcoming the customer’s perception that new technology was scary in a conservative-minded industry. The customer wanted to work with McLanahan, but had difficulty in overcoming years of conditioning. Paradoxically, this ‘new technology’ was based on equipment that was older than the conventional wisdom for the sand industry – it was used widely in the minerals industry. The only difference was that the ‘new’ technology had not been configured together in this way before. However, drier and better-graded products, less sellable waste and lower maintenance are all hallmarks of this newer configuration. Each of these companies have since installed more new technology, and in fact the industry now embraces this newer technology; it is has now become ‘conventional wisdom’, and overall left a very positive lasting impression for these individuals who received accolades from their companies, and who are now considered industry pioneers. ■

John Best is the General Manager of the Aggregates Division of McLanahan Corp. Since 1974, he has been actively involved in the design, application, selection and operation of hydro-classification and dewatering equipment in the mineral and construction aggregate industries in Australia and North America.

16/09/2010 10:10


06/09/2010 08:57



Investment in formwork products The construction industry in the MENA region is still suffering from the after effects of the global recession and so with cash still tight, John McNamee, Ischebeck Titan (Middle East) Operations Director, provides an insight into what he believes are the main considerations for a contractor, prior to investing in scaffolding and formwork products.


he fi rst question any contractor must ask themselves is “to buy or not to buy” and this question is posed mainly as a result of the programme period for construction, where the option is, in the fi rst instance, to buy or rent the material? Th is is of course a very simplistic view on the subject matter; however, since many contractors in the region tend to choose a product based upon fi rstly the need to do one job at a time and secondly price, then the only other consideration is the period of use. The recommendation coming under this consideration then, is simply that if the total value of the rental equates to around 65 to 70 percent of the full cost of the purchase, then it’s in the contractor’s interest to buy. The next question of course is what to buy and who from? Unfortunately many of the larger contractors particularly seem to stick with who and what they know, and whilst this is obviously utopia for many of the wellestablished suppliers in the region, it doesn’t do justice to the many other systems and suppliers out there in the marketplace. Of course it is true that all suppliers in every industry strive to maintain customer relationships to the point that they are in pole position to attain repeat business. Indeed this is the position Ischebeck Titan (Middle East) have worked hard to achieve in the Emirate of Ajman, where they take great pride in the knowledge that they have been involved in supplying scaffolding and formwork solutions to around 76 towers, which have been shared amongst only seven different contractors.

“Truly any investment in the correct product should result in a system that will cater for all the contractors’ needs on site, irrespective of propping height, slab thickness and application” So what is the secret, and what distinguishes one supplier from the others? There are many different answers to this question; for instance, technical support, availability of material, type of material (ie. wood, steel or aluminium), quality of sales people, commercial systems adopted, product origin and country of manufacture, quality control procedures, attitude to health and safety, and of course, price, to name but a few. These are all very important considerations when making the choice of sup-

Titan ATE.indd 40

plier; unfortunately very few of them are recognised by the people making the decision. However, one very important answer is missing from the list – the product itself. If a contractor is engaged in constructing a tower either for commercial or residential use, one of the most obvious observations of the author during his time in the region is the recognised practice of decision-makers considering only the requirements of the typical floor. If you consider for example the support system employed to carry the formwork decking system, it is common to see many projects utilising one system for the basement slab construction, another system for the ‘podium or mechanical’ slab construction (where the propping height is invariably a lot higher) and then utilising their investment for the typical floor slabs. The cost of this additional propping element for the lower level slabs is borne by the contractor normally in the form of rental invoices; had this been considered and accounted for at the outset, it may have resulted in a more cost-effective solution to the investment. Truly any investment in the correct product should result in a system that will cater for all the contractors’ needs on site, irrespective of propping height, slab thickness and application (for example, tableform or fi x and strike conventionally). The seven different contractors in Ajman continue to utilise their investment made in the Ischebeck Titan support and decking system from project to project, extremely satisfied that it was money well spent, albeit not the cheapest solution. ■

Having worked for 36 years in the scaffolding and formwork industry, through various disciplines including design, sales management, logistics and now as Operations Director of Ischebeck Titan (ME) LLC, John McNamee, a founder member of the UK Parent Company 20 years ago, has spent the last four and half years establishing the company in the UAE.

16/09/2010 10:19

TITAN TABLEFORM SYSTEM: The Ischebeck Titan Aluminium Scaffolding & Formwork System is a product of German Engineering and British Marketing expertise and is without question one of the most cost effective investments being made by Contractors in the Middle East today. The system comprises just 4 main components; an aluminium leg (or prop) which is connected horizontally with aluminium ledger frames which in turn supports a 225mm deep primary beam and 150mm deep secondary beam to which plywood is fixed. The design of the system is such that ANY application on site can be accommodated by the same components either in a traditional “fix & strike� method OR tableform solution, irrespective of slab thickness AND/OR propping heights making it a truly universal product, not withstanding that the aluminium legs can be used on their own for back propping of poured concrete slabs

PO Box 22385 Ajman U.A.E. Phone: +971 6 748 3101 Fax: +971 6 748 3102 Email:


15/09/2010 09:44



Bay of plenty A landmark mega-project on the north coast, Bahrain Bay is setting the standard for development in the Gulf’s smallest nation. MENA Infrastructure speaks to CEO Bob Vincent to find out how the project is set to boost Bahrain’s economy, and how it managed to survive the crash in the Middle East’s property market.


t’s fair to say that Bahrain is having a moment. While perhaps not enjoying the same booming success as neighbouring Qatar, the GCC’s smallest nation is flourishing in the recovery, playing on its reputation as the ‘gateway to the Gulf’ in order to develop its tiny oil and fi nance dependent economy into a diverse and sustainable country with booming sectors in business, tourism and infrastructure. Large-scale megaprojects are shooting up across the country, providing attractive business and residential stations for international investors looking to tap the region’s emerging economies. Among them, reaching out into the crystalline seas of the Persian Gulf north of Manama, lies the reclaimed peninsular of Bahrain Bay, a US$2.5 billion master-planned,

BahrainBay.indd 42

mixed-use, super development projected to serve as one of Bahrain’s forefront residential and commercial communities. Cited as a paramount factor in the country’s Economic Vision 2030 development plan, Bahrain Bay is estimated to play host to around 30,000 residents and workers upon completion. In addition to providing the premium accommodation popular in the country, Bahrain Bay will include prime corporate buildings, commercial and retail space, as well as a comprehensive infrastructure to support all the construction and communities within the project. As a development, its sheer size and budget echo the extravagant mega-projects that pushed neighbouring UAE onto the world stage over the last decade, but more importantly, in its tiny 1.5 million populous country, Bahrain

16/09/2010 10:04


Bay is set to stimulate significant yet sustainable economic growth. Already the project has welcomed anchor developments from Arcapita investment bank, which has chosen the site for its new corporate headquarters; global hotel brand Four Seasons; and luxury residential accommodation Raffles City Bahrain, as well as investment from high profi le companies across the world. “The project is still on programme and on budget,” explains Bob Vincent, CEO of Bahrain Bay, speaking back in June. Following the initial conception and masterplanning of the idea in 2005, the project began to take form in 2006, beginning with the 430,000 square metre land reclamation process. To stay on track with a development such as this is in itself no mean feat considering the scale

BahrainBay.indd 43

“It’s much more important for us in terms of the long-term to demonstrate that we do have the holding power and the flexibility to give surety to these investors that they will be successful in the long term”

of the project, the number of third parties involved and of course the economic maelstrom that brought a significant proportion of the GCC’s booming construction sector to a grinding halt. Bahrain Bay is made up of more than 40 buildings, with each individual project taking up to two years to plan and design, and costing anywhere from US$100 million to US$700 million. With this in mind, the chance of a default somewhere along the line is not unlikely. And indeed, a number of Bahrain Bay’s project did slow down considerably when the market crashed in 2008. Still, the development remains on track and has managed to keep all of its third party investors on board, facts that are down to a flexible business strategy and a little bit of luck, as Vincent explains. “We are very fortunate in terms of the timing for the civil contract for the main infrastructure of the site,” he says, “because it was locked in prior to the financial downturn and provided a forward projection of works for a two and a half year period, which we are still completing.” The nature of that contract allowed works to continue on the project, and all of the utilities and services found within it that are necessary for a development of that size. Similarly, Vincent reveals, the contracts with the third party investors and developers required a certain level of upfront payment for the land in Bahrain Bay, and a subsequent programme for ongoing payments. “That’s been very fortunate for us because we’ve locked in a commitment of a significant portion of the project in terms of the fi nancial returns,” he explains. “It’s also been significant because it’s allowed us to negotiate fairly and openly with our third party developers to keep their programmes on track. By that I mean we have been willing over the last 12 to 24 months, during the financially difficult period, to show flexibility with the third party developers in terms of their payment because we’ve had significant funds already collected. “By providing that flexibility we’ve enabled them to revise their plans in terms of the programme and the design intent and the product within the project, and we’ve allowed them some opportunities to revisit the programme in terms of construction start dates for their developments.” Th is approach is now paying dividends as the development begins to mature and the market moves into recovery. Stabilising revenue collections, as well as development of the civil works and infrastructure, have left Bahrain Bay in a comfortable position to offer its third party developers the opportunity to commence their programmes in a time frame that best suits their business plans – and has therefore been able to keep every one of its developers on board with the project. “We have progressed significantly with the majority of our 13 co-investors or third party developers for the project,” says Vincent, “and all of them are progressing with their development programme design submissions. We have approvals for seven of the 13 developers for their schematic designs and we have building permits for four of the third party developers, two of which have already started construction onsite.”

16/09/2010 10:04



New beginnings Last October, the Bahrain Bay project reached five million accident free man hours

While Bahrain Bay is very much a cutting edge and stylish mega-project for the country, it is still intended to maintain Manama’s character, as well as provide a boost to the country’s economic growth. Closely linked with old downtown Manama, both geographically and in design terms, Vincent describes the Bay as revitalising the country’s capital, situated “in a prime corridor of development”. “The corridor of new development is seen as the future expansion of economic development within the kingdom,” explains Vincent. “As an important part of that corridor, Bahrain Bay’s objective was to ensure that we were sustainable and that we brought investors into the project that had the ability to perform.” Indeed, Bahrain has long been seen as a gateway to the Gulf region; its relatively liberal culture has tradition-

At a glance: Bahrain Bay Start date: Masterplan 2005, construction 2006 Target completion date: 5-7 years (Phased completion) Total floor area: 1.450 million square metre Total land area: 450,000 square metre Total number of buildings: 40

BahrainBay.indd 44

Anchor developments: Arcapita Bank Headquarters Raffles City Bahrain Four Seasons Hotel International investors: Al Baraka Banking Group Ajmera Mayfair Group Arjaan Rotana Coopertation Investment House DAMAC Kanoo Tower KhaleejCapita Koheeji Salhia Real Estate Company

ally made it an attractive destination for western businesses looking to establish operations in the region. Over the last decade or two however, the advancing economy and flourishing property sector in the UAE, and in Dubai in particular, have made it an attractive prospect in the region, usurping Bahrain’s popularity. Still, today the stability of Bahrain’s economy is beginning to regenerate interest in the country, and the Economic Vision 2030 aims to turn that spark of interest into a fully-fledged firework, capturing foreign investment back into Bahrain – a goal that the Bahrain Bay is paving the way to achieve. Vincent reveals that a significant proportion of investment for the development has come from overseas. “We wanted to ensure that the third party developers who came into the project had the financial experience and the development experience to deliver on their projects,” he highlights, “and to add value to Bahrain Bay and to Bahrain’s economy in general. We specifically went out and tried to attract international investors in Asia, in Europe, in India and in the broader region of the Gulf in particular.” Th is was a successful venture; the targeted approach from Vincent and his team resulted in attracting significant investment from India, Europe and within the GCC, as well as Bahrain’s own major developers. And this was all part of the long term strategy to establish Bahrain as a major player on the world stage. “We feel that by bringing that diversity of investors into the project we’ve been able to fi rst of all demonstrate that there is an interest in investing into Bahrain,” offers Vincent. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that these investors are knowledgeable and capable and are prepared to commit to a market that is in some respects new, but also where they see tremendous expansion opportunities within the Gulf region. They’ve done that in the context of knowing that Bahrain Bay is not a short-term development.” Vincent is firm in reiterating the merits of Bahrain as a business destination in the Gulf region. “While [it] may be a smaller economy than some of its surrounding neighbours,” he says, “it’s able to focus on making the initial investments from these overseas entities successful and in doing so providing further opportunity for the incoming investor – not only in Bahrain, but more importantly in the Gulf region. “Irrespective of the difficulties of the financial market, Bahrain has continued to take that role and has continued to push forward to make sure that it’s seen as a valid way of going about introducing investment into the Gulf.”

Bumpy road Of course developing a project such as this is not going to be plain sailing, a fact that Vincent is well aware of. “There are a series of significant risks in any major development,” he points out. “The initial risks are in undertaking the market assessment of whether or not a development of this scale is viable and sustainable and will be commercially successful; that risk was assessed in 2005.” Indeed, that risk was assessed when the MENA property market was booming and the future for such devel-

16/09/2010 10:04


opments across the region looked bright; but in 2008, thee economic downturn hit, bringing the sector to its knees. “I think initially the Middle East in general and Bah-rain in particular was not as immediately effected as Europee and North America,” offers Vincent, “but it very quickly gott caught up in the outcomes of overleveraging, cheap debtt and rapid overinvestment in real estate and infrastructure.” Still, Bahrain’s relatively diminutive size meant the recession had a less crippling impact upon the economy, and with his contracts already tied up, Vincent has been able to remain pragmatic about the situation. “We’re having to face – as all real estate projects have had to face over the last two years – a reality check in terms of what the investment criteria might be, what the lending criteria might be and what the market absorption has projected to be in the start-up phases of the project. That’s a major commercial issue we’ve had to manage, but as I said, we’ve been able to manage it because we have a very stable, well funded project with no debt and with significant revenue already collected to support the project going forward.” Indeed, Vincent is positive about operating in Bahrain, adding that the size of the economic market in Bahrain has allowed the value of property under construction to remain stable, as the country has not seen the level of overbuilding that has occurred in a number of other countries in the region. Following the market assessment, the next major challenge posed by a project of this size is the planning approval, which Vincent explains is becoming increasingly difficult over time as expectations from government and planning authorities become more demanding. Ensuring that the best practices are being introduced, that environmental and sustainability issues are being addressed, and social equity contributions are being addressed are all factors that, Vincent says, became critical to the success of the master plan and also to securing sales for the project. However, he continues, “it’s also been fair to say that the government has enthusiastically examined what large master plan developments are and how they can benefit the economy. “We’ve been a fore runner of major master planning in Bahrain and we’ve demonstrated good practice, and the government is being supportive of that.” Looking to the future, Vincent upholds the same down-to-earth attitude. Well versed in the real estate sector, he knows that what goes up must come down, and then inevitably will go back up again. “There’s no doubt that lenders, developers, purchasers are more cautious, but that’s a normal part of a real estate cycle,” he explains. “Real estate works on cycles of five to seven years. Bahrain is no different to anywhere else in the world in this respect.” He is positive that, as the market moves into recovery, sales of units on the development will continue to flow, although emerging from the downturn it may well be slow and steady that wins the race. His ambitious claim that US$70 million worth of sales would be tied up by March did not materialise, and he is prudent in his belief that the next year is likely to throw up as many challenges as it does opportunities. Still, with contracted sales completed on 65 percent of the land so far and

BahrainBay.indd 45

Bahrain’s development landscape andscape Durrat Al Bahrain At the opposite end of the country to the Bay, the Durrat Al Bahrain is a multipurpose island development not dissimilar to it’s northern counterpart. The project will consist of luxury beach-front residential accommodation, office and retail space, premium hotels and a marina. Status: Under construction Completion: 2015 Cost: US$6 billion

Water Garden City A commercial district within convenient proximity of Manama and the country’s transport hubs, including Bahrain International Airport. The project consists of high quality office space, residential tower blocks and hotels, and the marina area aims to provide a platform for Bahrain’s cultural water-related festivities and events. Status: Under construction Completion: 2020 Cost: US$7 billion

Marsa Al Seef Development A waterfront project that is set to cover an area of approximately 2.6 million square metres, the Marsa Al Seef will be another luxurious megadevelopment to add to Bahrain’s portfolio. Status: Design Completion: 2020 Cost: US$2.5 billion

Bahrain Monorail – Green Line The initial part of the massive US$7.9 billion public transport network that will grow across Bahrain over the next 20 years, the Green Line of the Monorail is a 23 kilometre long section linking Juffair with the Seef district through Manama. Designed to ease traffic and ultimately boost the economy by attracting more foreign investment into the country, the network will, when completed, include monorail, a light rail link and bus rapid transport system, covering a total of 184.2 kilometres. Status: Tender for consultancy contract Completion: 2016 (Full network completed 2030) Cost: US$1 billion (Total network cost US$7.9 billion)

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no debts to speak of, he can afford some confidence in the way Bahrain Bay has operated, and its position as it moves towards completion. “There’s no point in forcing developers into situations where they fail. It’s much more important for us in terms of the long-term outcomes for the project, and for Bahrain in general, to demonstrate that we do have the holding power and the flexibility in our management and development of the overall project to give surety to these investors that they will be successful in the long term. “We as a development company were at no time in any danger of not proceeding or having any hold up on the project. We have returned significant revenues on the project … and we’re in a position where we can work with our third party developers to ensure that when they do start they will be successful as well.” „

Green Bahrain Bahrain currently has an energy consumption rate 10 times higher than that of Japan, a fact that the government is looking to turn around as part of the Economic Vision 2030. “Sustainability issues are at the forefront of good urban design and development,” says Bob Vincent. “We have addressed those sorts of issues preliminarily by having our environmental criteria properly assessed by the government, in relation to the possible impacts of reclamation, circulation and water quality assurance.” In addition to this, the master-plan guidelines for the development indicate that all buildings should be at LEED gold certification standard. In addition the utilities and services within the site have been designed such that all grey and waste water within the project is recycled and reused for district cooling or for landscaping in the development. “We are participating with the Bahrain government in instituting new building guidelines for energy efficient buildings,” adds Vincent. “That legislation is currently being drafted; the guidelines are being examined in consultation with overseas experts and we will participate wherever possible to ensure those guidelines are adopted by our third party developers. “It is a very important emerging field and I think it’s fair to say that the developers within the real estate community in Bahrain are starting to understand the significance and cost savings associated with green energy and will fully embrace these as they move forward in consultation with government.”

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Protecting concrete joints Kryton International Inc.’s Alireza Biparva explains how to find the best waterproofing solution for the most vulnerable part of your concrete structure. Krystol Waterstop System Slab


Krystol waterstop Grout & Treatment

Krystol waterstop Grout


oints play a vital role in fortifying concrete structures. But when it comes to waterproofi ng, joints represent the most vulnerable part of the structure. Without an effective joint waterproofi ng system, it’s not a matter of if joints will leak, but when. A construction joint, also referred to as a cold or nonworking joint, marks the spot where two sections of concrete meet. It is a pre-planned separation in the concrete that allows for limited movement caused by natural factors such as seismic activity or freeze-thaw cycles. The waterproofi ng challenge posed by these joints for contractors and engineers lies in their design itself – the physical separation between concrete slabs creates vulnerability where water ingress is likely to happen. Leaking joints can not only result in costly repairs but, incoming water can bring contaminants into the concrete, corrode steel reinforcements, jeopardise structural safety and shorten the overall lifetime of the concrete structure. So, protection is a must. In the past, waterstop systems have been used to act as a physical barrier to block water penetration at joints. The most common, PVC, is a plastic strip that is put in place before the concrete is poured. Half of the PVC sheet is submerged into the joint area while the other half is secured into the formwork. The strip must be spliced correctly and rebar installed without puncturing or cutting the PVC. In addition, extreme care needs to be taken during the concrete pouring and compacting to ensure that the PVC is

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Alireza Biparva is Technical Services Rep/Concrete Specialist, Research & Development at Kryton International Inc. Ali received his M.A.Sc. in civil engineering from University of British Columbia, specialising in cement-based materials, and Bachelor Degree in Engineering from Shiraz University of Iran.

not displaced or folded. Installation is difficult and often done incorrectly, leaving joints at risk of leaking. To make matters worse, once the damage has been done, it’s virtually impossible to recognise a problem until the joint starts to leak. Over the last 25 years, more advanced and economical waterproofi ng systems and materials for joints have been developed. These new systems are easier and more efficient to use and most importantly, give your structure longer lasting protection. One of these systems is Kryton International Inc.’s Krystol Waterstop System. Th is revolutionary system provides both a physical and chemical barrier to water ingress. It relies on two products for guaranteed protection: Krystol Waterstop Grout, the physical barrier, and Krystol Waterstop Treatment, the chemical barrier. When mixed with water, Krystol Waterstop Grout forms a stiff putty like consistency that is molded into a triangular strip along the centre of the joint. Krystol Waterstop Treatment is then brushed on top of the grout and around the joint area. The Treatment comes in a powdered form that is mixed with water to form a slurry consistency. Once applied, active crystalline chemicals in the slurry cause microscopic crystals to grow, permanently blocking the movement of water (Fig 1). When the Treatment has hardened, you are ready to pour the remaining concrete and can do so with confidence that your joint is waterproof. Kryton’s innovative system has been growing in popularity because it offers several fundamental advantages to traditional joint waterproofi ng methods. The Krystol Waterstop System is quick and easy to install. It does not require skilled labour and adheres extremely well to concrete surfaces. Unlike PVC waterstop treatments, Kryton’s system is not at risk of being displaced or folding during concrete pouring. Additionally, because the system uses Kryton’s proprietary integral crystalline waterproofing formula, it has the ability to self-seal small cracks that may develop over time. It is durable, long-lasting and will give you the peace of mind you need when tackling a concrete joint waterproofi ng project. Every concrete jointing system will have its advantages and limitations. What is critical is that you take the time to consider what is appropriate for your construction project. Look at your project timeline and budget. Th ink about how much risk of failure you are willing to take and the level of protection you need. Then make the best decision that will guarantee watertight joints for the lifetime of your concrete structure. „

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Using GIS to manage record growth Leaders in Persian Gulf countries are eager to modernise cities and improve residents quality of life. Massive construction programmes to implement ambitious urban development plans for the next 20 years are planned in these countries – and GIS can help, argues Chen Liang.


ll activities on Earth have one common component – geographic location. These geographic locations establish reliable data links to help organise and manage business data. Geographic information systems (GIS) bring together business data from different sources through a spatial component, revealing relationships and patterns. For example, with geographic locations embedded inside sewage and water pipelines, GIS users can easily locate the types and sizes of pipelines and also determine how those pipelines relate to each other geographically. A new series of key performance indicators (KPIs) can be introduced from a spatial dimension. Space-aware KPIs complement traditional KPIs and provide more meaningful measurements for urban planning and improved quality of life. For example, gas pipelines must be a certain distance away from utility lines for safety reasons. The safety distance can be captured by a buffer radius that can be analysed with other attributes or spatial data. GIS soft ware and web-based portals can display a large amount of heterogeneous data from multiple sources on one map. These portals can present a comprehensive view of a current situation or a future vision at a specific geographic location and allow users to perform sophisticated data searches, measurements, spatial analysis and map reporting. In addition, GIS web portals enable users to access spatial data through web browsers without any specialised GIS soft ware, therefore dramatically improving the accessibility and availability of data. With GIS server technologies and Web 2.0, GIS web portal users can view an area at a variety of scales and perform analysis that was previously available only on desktop GIS. GIS web portals can integrate with enterprise security policies and protect sensitive data. With single sign-on and multi-level security control, a single GIS web portal can be customised to serve multiple user groups, release specific information to the public, present a sophisticated map view to internal users, or provide a reporting tool to executives. A service-oriented architecture (SOA) GIS web portal provides maximum functional extensibility and reusability and allows the web services to be directly utilised by other parties. Because spatial components are such an important part of business data for a number of organisations, GIS teams become practical custodians of enterprise business data. For example, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) in the UAE, the agency responsible for the future

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Geospatial Web Portal

Chen Liang serves as a technical architect with GeoDecisions, a division of Gannett Fleming. Since February 2009, he has been working on-site as a Senior GIS consultant at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council in Abu Dhabi, applying state-of-the-art GIS technologies to support and improve the planning practice for massive development projects in Abu Dhabi and facilitating collaboration across multiple agencies.

of Abu Dhabi’s urban environment, has implemented this model to provide enterprise level GIS support and outline a strategy to integrate geospatial technologies into the UPC’s urban planning initiatives. The UPC has employed the services of GeoDecisions, Gannett Fleming’s geospatial and information technology division. GeoDecisions is on-site at the UPC to provide enterprise-level GIS support and outline a strategy to integrate geospatial technologies into the UPC’s urban planning initiatives. Since 2009, the UPC’s GIS team has ensured data accuracy and prompt maintenance for tracking rapid change and growth by dividing data maintenance responsibilities – the spatial component for the GIS team and the attribute component for the business team. Each team is responsible for keeping data up-to-date in the geographic database. Both parties share the data maintenance load and exert their expertise on maintaining the right data components. UPC’s GIS team successfully supports the daily business operations of more than 150 planners on more than 300 development projects and nine master plans. The team also maintains the planning database, two web portals, and a 3D visualisation system for urban planning. For its efforts, the UPC was awarded the 2010 Excellence in GIS Award at GISWORX 2010 and, along with the Abu Dhabi Systems and Information Centre, was awarded the Making a Difference Award at the 2010 ESRI International User Conference. „ GeoDecisions and Esri are registered trademarks.

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In the pipeline Volvo’s Lars-Göran Andersson speaks to MENA Infrastructure about the challenges of breaking into the competitive pipeline market, and explains why Volvo is now a serious contender.

of oil and gas experts who are 100 percent dedicated to promoting Volvo in this segment – and a multi-million rental fleet of pipe layers that we will supply to customers through our regional and dealer network. It is our job to understand the pipeline business, chase the contracts and build global relationships. It is the dealer’s job to handle supply and support – dealers are crucial in delivering our promises.

You are responsible for promoting Volvo Construction Equipment’s entry into the oil and gas pipeline segment. With the crisis surrounding BP’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill continuing in the Gulf of Mexico, isn’t this a depressed market? Lars-Göran Andersson. Far from it – there are currently 275,000 km of oil, gas and water pipelines planned or under construction globally. The market has more than doubled in recent years and there has never been a better time for Volvo CE to enter this lucrative, yet demanding, market. So are you just going to be promoting your new pipe layer range? LGA. As important as Volvo’s pipe layers are to winning confidence in this market, it is not pipe layer sales alone that make this segment so attractive. Pipeline projects need machines of all types, and lots of them: a typical contract can involve 200 units or more. While there are, of course, specialised machines such as pipe layers, welding tractors, line up clamps etc, the majority of units are general purpose equipment that are needed just for the duration of the project. How will the pipeline business be managed? LGA. Central to the Volvo proposition is offering a complete product offering and the flexibility to offer rental, retail, fi nancing, buy backs and customer support agreements to anywhere in the world. We have gathered a team

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There are established players in this segment. Why should customers opt for Volvo? LGA. Apart from machine performance, there are two additional factors that help Volvo’s ambition of breaking into this sector: safety and environmental. A lot of the equipment now on-site is old and inefficient. There is a tremendous need for reinvestment in newer, more environmentally friendly and safer equipment. The major oil and gas clients take corporate social responsibility seriously and are starting to demand that their pipe laying contractors improve their fleets. Volvo’s fuel-efficient new pipe layer range meets the highest emission standards, and will soon be supplied with Stage 3i/Tier IV engines for North America and Europe. Safety is also important, and there have been a number of cases of traditional dozer-based side boom-type pipe layers in roll-over accidents due to instability or excess loading. With their own protected encased cab, Volvo’s advanced pipe layers are not only more stable than side boom pipe layers, they also have sophisticated load management systems to safely govern loadings regardless of angle or slew position. Convenience is also a factor, as the Volvo pipe layers can disassemble themselves and be quickly converted back into the EC290C and EC460C excavators they are based on. Th is not only means spare parts are easily available but also gives the machines greater work site flexibility – as well as allowing owners the option of selling the machines into the used market as either pipe layers or excavators at the end of the project. What is Volvo’s biggest challenge breaking into the pipeline sector? LGA. We need to understand the language of pipe laying contractors. They don’t suffer fools gladly, and so we need to reassure them that we know their needs and can be a reliable partner wherever they are working in the world. We have the strategic focus, the expertise, products and services in place – now we just need to convince the marketplace that Volvo is serious about pipelines. ■

Lars-Göran Andersson was born in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Having completed his degree in finance and his national service in the Swedish military, Andersson joined Volvo on its graduate management programme in July 1974. He has spent the majority of his career working in international markets in a range of positions, including CFO of North American sales. He began his current position as Vice President of global key accounts in 2006.

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CHANGING THE GUARD With the withdrawal of the last American combat troops, Iraq has a difďŹ cult period of rebuilding ahead as it faces up to life after occupation. Some see it as a chance for a fresh start; others, the opportunity to cause further chaos. Either way, the country is about to enter a new chapter in its long, often troubled history. By Ben Thompson

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s the holy month of Ramadan drew to a close, Iraqis had more than just fasting and prayer on their minds. In the early hours of Thursday, August 19, nearly two weeks before President Obama’s August 31 deadline for the withdrawal of all American combat troops, the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait and thus ended official US combat operations in the country. The withdrawal provoked mixed reactions across the war-ravaged state. Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki called the move “a basic step in restoring complete sovereignty”, and reiterated that his forces were up to the job of protecting the country in the absence of the Americans, while President Obama stressed that “the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country”. But on the streets of Baghdad, Basra and Iraq’s other population centres, the news was largely met with a mixture of anger and apprehension. For while many openly opposed the huge US presence in their country and rejoiced at their exit, most also recognised that their fledgling democracy currently stands at an extremely fragile stage in its development, and that the Americans’ withdrawal leaves the country’s immediate future delicately balanced – between independent progress on the one hand, and outright anarchy on the other. “They must secure the borders before completing their withdrawal… otherwise they will leave the country in chaos,” one concerned Baghdad resident told Reuters, and it was a view echoed across the nation. Hasnaa Ali, a Baghdad schoolteacher, agreed. “What have the Americans accomplished for this country that they can now decide to just leave?” she asked of a Time reporter. “We don’t have clean water or electricity. Prices for everything are very high. There is no security, no jobs, no housing.” Baghdad trash collector Ali Nasar typified the prevailing feeling within urban Iraq. “When the occupation forces came to Iraq, it was good they got rid of Saddam, but in fact everything got worse: security, electricity, water and garbage,” he lamented. “When they leave, nothing will be improved or returned to the way it was. No matter if the Americans are here or not, Iraq is a ruined country.” It’s a pessimistic outlook. But like it or not, US combat troops have now left the country, leaving behind an unfinished US$53 billion rebuilding plan and some 50,000 personnel to advise and assist the local populace in its reconstruction efforts. It is time for the next phase of Iraq’s rebuilding process to begin, one led by local initiative and willpower rather than foreign military might. And slowly but surely, the green shoots of recovery have begun to take root across the country.

Opportunity knocks Namir El Akabi is just one of many Iraqi nationals returning from exile to help play a leading role in the future development of the country’s recovery. Having left Iraq at the age of 10, the London-educated 46-year-old businessman and entrepreneur returned seven years ago with a clear vision: that of helping his homeland back to prosperity. “It was always my dream to return to Iraq,” he says. “I know the potential the country has in every sector, and to be honest I saw an opportunity for huge business in Iraq.” El Akabi formed a small construction company called Almco with just five employees, primarily to work on US-funded strategic projects geared around stabilising the country and providing essential services to both the local population and occupying troops. The business proved to be a success, and today Almco has more than 6000 Iraqis on the payroll, fulfi lling roles in infrastructure development, construction and design, supply and logistics and environmental protection. To date the company has been working extensively with the US government on contracts worth US$200 million to provide a variety of construction, renovation and demolition, design/build, and life support projects throughout Iraq as part of the overall reconstruction effort. Primarily this has involved the construction of camps to be used by the US and Iraqi forces for their operations, but it has also included work on significant infrastructure projects, too. The Sadr City water treatment plant is just one such example. Home to two million Iraqis, the city – located just outside Baghdad – was built by Saddam Hussein as a massive urban community to house the thousands of rural Iraqis migrating to the Baghdad in search of jobs. But after decades of neglect under Saddam’s regime, even the most basic areas – including adequate potable water – were severely under-resourced. Almco was commissioned to construct a water treatment plant to help meet the needs of the

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local population. Completed just over two years ago, the US$65 million water treatment plant is designed to treat and purify water from the nearby Tigris River and provide Sadr City residents with potable water. The goal of the project was to provide hook-ups to residences in 68 of the 79 city sectors, and according to the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, the water treatment plant is currently producing between 3200 and 4000 cubic meters of potable water per hour, which equates to 25 million gallons of water a-day. At full capacity, the plant can produce over 6000 cubic meters of water per-hour. “Th is is one of the major projects we are very proud of. It was a very technically challenging project,” says El Akabi. “Water is the essence of life, and its impact on Sadr City’s standard of living will be dramatic.” Indeed, he believes that working on more than 50 US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) projects has helped him and his employees develop their talents. “We learned many things ethically and technically,” he explains. “Firstly, that the truth is always the way out. Be truthful with your clients and they will understand. Then there is the technical part: how to do construction the correct way with regards to safety and the quality of materials used on-site. We learned a lot of things working with USACE.”

Hydrocarbon footprint It’s been a successful relationship. But with this area of the business on the decline due to the pullout by the collation forces, Almco is now transferring its attention to a number of other potentially lucrative markets. For instance, the firm is working with international oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil, BP, Schlumberger, Weatherford and Petronas on the initial stages of the IOC mobilisation into Iraqi oil fields – a business that El Akabi expects to hit the US$1 billion mark for his company in the next few years. Almco is currently constructing IOC camps and offering life support and catering services for international fi rms, while at a later stage work will include more involvement in the various engineering, procurement and construction operations as well as significant operation in building out and maintaining the extensive pipeline network that will be required. With proven oil reserves totalling 115 billion barrels and proven gas reserves of 112 trillion cubic feet, Iraq is up alongside major producing nations like Saudi Arabia and Russia when it comes to its hydrocarbon resources. The economy is estimated to have expanded 4.2 percent last year, powered largely by oil exports; companies including London-headquartered BP Plc, Royal Dutch Shell, which is based in The Hague, and Paris-based Total SA, have signed contracts with Iraq to boost oil production after two bidding rounds for development rights last year, even in the absence of a hydrocarbons law. A third bidding round for natural-gas deposits is set for later this year. However, unlike its rivals, Iraq’s turbulent recent history means the country is severely lacking both the money and technical resources to further develop its fields and increase its output. Furthermore, for the com-

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“The security situation has improved tremendously since 2005 and 2006, but is still considered far from normal. It is a risk that investors must balance against the lucrative returns that are possible from their planned investments in Iraq”

panies already operating in Iraq or hoping to enter the country in the future, one of the most pressing concerns is the uncertain security environment. In a recent study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, 64 percent of executives – drawn from companies currently investing in Iraq and those considering it – thought it was still too dangerous to do business in Iraq, but 55 percent said they believed the security situation for foreign executives and employees would improve over the next two years. Violence was the biggest business risk for 67 percent of respondents, followed by corruption (44 percent) and the lack of infrastructure (35 percent). “Security is still an issue in Iraq, but not a major one for local companies,” says El Akabi, although he does concede that during the height of the insurgency his fi rm was experiencing a terrorist incident every week – either an attack on one of its convoys or at a project site, or the kidnapping of an employee. “The security situation has improved tremendously since 2005 and 2006, but is still considered far from normal. It is a risk that investors must balance against the lucrative returns that are possible from their planned investments in Iraq. The market is still virgin territory, with huge untapped resources.” Sharjah-based container terminal operator Gulft ainer recently announced plans to pump around US$60 million into its Iraqi expansion. Given that Iraq will be dependent on foreign imports to rebuild the country, it’s a potentially rewarding opportunity, and CEO Peter Richards believes the likely benefits of his fi rm’s contract to build out the container terminal gateway at Umm Qasr, just south of Basra, far outweigh the risks. He agrees that security is an issue – but suggests that the lack of basic infrastructure is just as much of a problem. “It is a challenging place to operate; many years of war has left the country and in particular the infrastructure broken, and security is still a concern to many,” he says. “However, that just makes it even more important that we focus on getting the basic infrastructure right, as that is the very basis of a working economy and thus a country returned to prosperity.” Obviously, security and political stability are the major obstacles at this point in time, he says, because without these it is very hard for any country to make progress. “The authorities are doing what they can to build a stable base – through, amongst other things, the contract awards and invitations to foreign companies to come and assist in the rebuilding process – while the strict focus on security, now more or less in the hands of the Iraqis themselves, has also helped,” he continues. “The situation is certainly much improved compared to just a few years ago. However, a more basic obstacle is the level from which the country has now been forced to grow. With most infrastructures basically demolished and an enormous need to rebuild, growth just cannot happen fast enough; our responsibility is to make sure that while it happens as quickly as possible, it also happens in a responsible manner.” In fact, he believes that some of the reports coming out of Iraq are exaggerated – and that if you know how to

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IRAQ’S BUILDING BOOM HOUSING Iraq is already faced with a housing supply shortage, and coupled with a rapidly growing population that is expected to reach 40 million by 2025, Iraq will need a considerable number of new housing units in a relatively short period of time. The Iraq Ministry of Housing and Construction estimates two million new homes are needed by 2015 with 85 percent of demand to be fulfilled by the private sector. According the Iraqi National Investment Commission, private foreign investment in Iraqi housing is expected to grow with estimated upper-range investment of US$40 billion in 2010. Partnering with local developers would enable foreigners to bypass a rather steep learning curve that is always present when entering new markets. Moreover, the slowdown in competing markets, especially in the Gulf region, presents an excellent opportunity for foreign investors.

MATERIALS Great opportunities exist in the building materials sector as Iraq currently imports most materials used in the construction process. Today, for instance, local cement production only meets 25 percent of domestic demand. The country is in desperate need of new production plants for everything from cement to steel to aluminium, and with a major expansion of the container terminal gateway at Umm Qasr in the works – which will be able to handle larger ships and even more foreign imports – the potential for regional and international suppliers is considerable.

POWER Since 2003, Iraq’s electricity consumption has grown steadily by at least 15 percent a year – but currently, Iraq’s power system barely meets half of peak demand. To meet the growing demand and supply shortfalls, the Ministry of Electricity is undertaking one of the world’s most ambitious electricity system expansion programmes, requiring at least US$7 billion. Iraq’s Council of Representatives is currently considering a draft law to grant authority for the Ministry of Electricity to engage domestic and foreign private companies in the production of electricity.

TRANSPORT Every part of Iraq’s transport system requires investment, as accelerating demand for air, seaport, road and rail freight services puts mounting strain on existing capacity. Iraq has a network of 44,000 kilometres of roads and highways, of which 85 percent was built in the 1970s and 1980s with little to no maintenance since. Rehabilitation of the roads alone is estimated at US$1 million per kilometre, and total rehabilitation could exceed US$40 billion.

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operate, you can do so safely and to the mutual benefit of both Iraqis and the companies assisting in the rebuilding. “At all our facilities, security is paramount,” he says. “We employ security personnel and our compounds are closely guarded. But besides this, it is also a matter of staying in positive contact with the local population and not portraying yourself as the big outsider. We simply want our employees to feel safe enough to focus their attention on the real work of making the many projects come to life.”

1 million new housing units are planned for the next 3 years

Building boom There is certainly enough work to go around for those

FINDING WORK Billions of dollars have been allocated to reconstructing areas of Iraq – and the much-needed work is giving construction companies plenty of opportunities to help rebuild the country and make money while doing so. But how can foreign firms get a foot in the door? Be honest about your own skills and expertise. “Iraq is a very interesting market, but it is also a very challenging one,” says Gulftainer’s Peter Richards. “Potential profits are lucrative – but the risks are equally high if you are not 100 percent on top of what you are doing.” In the words of the boy scouts, be prepared – and know your limits. Look for a strong and reputable partner. In such a volatile market, local knowledge will be essential in circumventing unnecessary bureaucracy and avoiding troublespots. “The experience and technology knowhow of the international companies, plus the local partner’s contacts and cultural knowledge, will provide a great formula for success,” says Almco’s Namir El Akabi. Involve the local population. Using local hires builds confidence in your firm and expands the domestic talent pool, says Richards – both critical to achieving long-term success. “Get them involved,” he says. “For their motivation, for your own security, because they still know the ins and outs of their country despite you sitting on specific knowledge or patents – and because it’s the right thing to do.”

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willing to brave the volatile operating conditions. According to the EIU report, Iraq’s oil and gas reserves were the most attractive aspect of the country for investors, but after this 43 percent said construction and real estate was the most promising non-hydrocarbon sector. Indeed, the Iraqi authorities want to build on a massive scale. Around one million new housing units are planned for the next three years – one project in Baghdad’s Sadr City slum calls for 75,000 units alone – while the National Investment Commission has put together a wish list of 750 projects that require US$600 billion worth of investment. As such, private sector investment dollars as well as expertise are greatly needed in all sectors. “With some $25 billion in housing projects, US$8 billion in transportation and US$5.5 billion in water and sewage, the government is focusing primarily on reconstruction and rehabilitation,” confi rms Fady Darwish, General Manager of IFP Iraq. “Several new cement plants are either being revamped or erected to satisfy a growing need and many major international players are now present. Iraq consumes around 15 million tons of cement yearly, with the Iraqi ministry being the largest consumer.” It’s good news for foreign firms. Iraq’s reconstruction has created a huge demand for both construction expertise and capital, and the Iraqi government has publicly stated its need for the participation of foreign investors to achieve its objectives. In light of this, the Iraqi Investment Law was amended in 2009 to attract both local and foreign investment into Iraq, with generous benefits including 10 years’ exemption from taxes and three years’ exemption from import fees for required equipment, the ability to repatriate profits from investment and employ foreign workers when needed, and guarantees that the government will not nationalise or confiscate investments. “The domestic construction industry is non-existent due to the lack of transparent investment criteria and the lack of essential infrastructure such as electricity,” says El Akabi. He feels that the way to address this is through encouraging more foreign and local investments in the short-term, while in the long-term the Iraqi Treasury should set aside a large surplus from the expected growth in oil revenues over the next five years to invest in the infrastructure sector. “The most important thing is for the Iraqi government to establish industrial free-zones with complete infrastructure, along with incentives such as 10-year tax and customs exemptions for the materials that will be used in the construction industry. Also, it is vital to privatise and liberalise the industry sector in Iraq; the private sector must take the lead in order for the industry to grow rapidly.” Almco is a good example of the new entrepreneurial spirit that is taking root: alongside its work with the US forces and the oil majors, the company has also diversified into the real estate, hospitality, retail, health and agricultural sectors to take advantage of the many opportunities on offer, through the formation of its Amwaj International investment arm. “Our scope of work is to evaluate, study and submit for potential investment opportunities in the

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CLIMATE CHANGE? Seven years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, Iraq is still waiting to revamp business laws that would help make the country more attractive to investors, according to a report from Bloomberg. “Investors still note security concerns, but now are more likely to cite regulatory hindrances and other practical barriers to doing business,” the US State Department said in its 2010 Investment Climate Statement on Iraq. Foreign direct investment totalled US$1.1 billion in 2009, most of it in the oil industry, according to the United Nations July World Investment Report. Neighbouring Iran, however – under a fourth set of UN sanctions – took in three times as much. Thair Feely, Director of the government’s Baghdad Investment Commission, claims that lawmakers in the outgoing parliament weren’t able to approve 72 draft laws meant to help accelerate economic growth. Legislation awaiting approval includes a measure that would make it easier to register a company. “It can take four or five months and costs a fortune, about US$15,000 to US$20,000, compared to only US$300 in the UK,” said Feely. The World Bank estimates it takes an average of 77 days to open a business in Iraq, almost four times the average in the region. Issues such as a cash-based banking system, corruption and limitations on land ownership have also damped investment. Iraq’s National Investment Law of 2006 bars foreigners from owning land, though it was amended in November to allow non-Iraqis to buy property for housing projects. Meanwhile, Berlinbased Transparency International placed Iraq in fourth to last place in its 2009 corruption index of 180 countries. Nevertheless, the government has pushed through some measures to attract investors. The National Investment Law exempts foreign companies from paying taxes for 10 years and from paying import fees for three years. But even so, Iraq needs US$400-500 billion to get things back on track, according to the Baghdad Investment Commission’s Feely. “Unfortunately, we only receive hopes and promises,” he said. “We can’t do it without foreign investment. We can’t do it on our own.” Iraqi market through the Iraqi government,” El Akabi explains. “So far we’ve been awarded one megaproject at Baghdad Gate and one medium-sized project, a shopping mall in Palestine Street in Baghdad. Almco’s superior past performance and experience – with hundreds of recommendation and appreciation letters – played a major role in winning these tenders.” The Baghdad Gate project is indicative of the forwardlooking nature of many of these schemes. The fi rst comprehensive real estate investment project of its kind in Baghdad, it will cover 258,000 square metres in a strategic location in the heart of the city, opposite Zawra Park, and will include commercial, residential and business units and an advanced infrastructure consisting of an electricity distribution network, a sewage network, roads and sidewalks as well as gardens and stunning natural views. “We believe the time has come to reflect the desire of the Iraqi people to overcome all obstacles and challenges, which is why we have commenced with this innovative project,” says El Akabi. “We will continue to work towards our vision of implementing investment projects that provide employment opportunities to Iraqis and respond to their various needs as a means of combating unemployment and elevat-

Iraq Cover Story 59

ing the level of basic services – which will, in turn, elevate the standards of living in iraq.”

Iraq is sitting on a proven 115 billion barrels of oil & 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas

Local talent El Akabi’s vision highlights another key issue: that of rebuilding the Iraqi talent pool. Indeed, both Richards and El Akabi are adamant that international fi rms have a valuable role to play in assisting Iraqis to rebuild their broken economy. “We want the Iraqis to form the basis of these projects and we obviously employ a majority of locals at our facilities – but we also believe that at this point in time, the expertise and managerial skills to operate from day one simply do not exist to a large enough extent in Iraq,” says Richards. “Hopefully, in time we can help to build these skills in the locals. Domestic companies, owned by and employing Iraqis, will gradually grow out of this rebuilding process, as long as the government makes sure that the international companies are incentivised to employ locals and that the locals are encouraged to work hard and learn. But none of this will happen overnight.” El Akabi agrees, and sees education as a key enabler. “We need to look hard at education as a fundamental and imperative factor that would play a major role in rebuild-

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ing the nation,” he says. “Iraq has been a prison for the Iraqi people for the past 30 years; the simplest technologies – such as the internet and satellite TV – have not been available, while education has deteriorated to a very low level.” He also believes the knowledge and experience gained by expatriate Iraqis could be put to good use in the rebuilding process. “In my opinion, it is vital for Iraq’s long-term growth that Iraqis living abroad as doctors, engineers, experts and other professionals in different fields return to the country. These individuals will bring new technologies, skills and knowhow, and most importantly can share their experiences in the West with the present Iraqi workforce.” Gavin Jones is a founding partner at Upper Quartile, a business specialising in post confl ict economic reconstruction, and he believes there is currently a severe shortage of skilled and experienced personnel and project managers capable of leading the planned expansion. He also feels that the skills shortage is currently being largely ignored and that opportunities need to be made available to Iraqis in order to get them involved. “There needs to be some form of skills development put in place, probably with Basra University or certainly one of the state-owned universities, and that should include things like English language training and technical skills,” says Jones. “But the university hasn’t really been engaged and there are no training schools. It’s quite clear that you’re going to need a very large amount of people who can work in the very short-term, and nobody has got that sorted out yet.”

“It is vital for Iraq’s long-term growth that Iraqis living abroad as doctors, engineers, experts and other professionals in different fields return to the country” Overcoming such a shortage – particularly in the oil and gas industry, which will likely provide the bulk of future funding for the reconstruction process – is key to the country’s future development; following the drawdown of American troops, the country’s rebuilding process – like its security – will be left largely under the governance of its own population. But in people like El Akabi and the countless other expatriate Iraqis returning to help Iraq back to prosperity, the future looks brighter than it has in a long time. The number of foreign firms – including many Gulf-based companies – looking to enter the market and lend their expertise is also encouraging. In addition, of course, a considerable number of US military personnel will remain in Iraq, and their skills and knowledge will also prove invaluable to the rebuilding process. Their presence may continue even past the December 31, 2011, deadline agreed to by the two countries for a complete withdrawal; after all, troop presence – or the lack thereof – is not necessarily an indicator of success. But it does represent another milestone in Iraq’s long march back to normalcy. „

Iraq Cover Story 60

“UAE companies are the top companies investing in Iraq real estate” UAE FIRMS LEAD THE WAY Negotiations between the Iraqi National Investment Commission and several UAE real estate developers to build big projects in different parts in Iraq have reached “advanced stages”, a top Iraqi official announced earlier this year. Sami Al Araji, Chairman of the Iraqi National Investment Commission, said the projects under negotiations are worth nearly US$70 billion and that the talks will be finalised in the near future. “The two sides are serious in their desire for the talks to succeed, and things are going well,” Al Araji told Gulf News. While some UAE companies already have a presence in Iraq’s northern region of Kurdistan, the negotiations underway are on “big projects all over Iraq, in Baghdad, in Central Iraq, and in the south,” the official explained. Projects under discussion are Al Rasheed Compound, The Banks of Karbala and The Future City, while UAE companies involved in the discussions include Al Maabar, Bloom Properties, National Holdings, Bonyan and Al Hanthal. Abu Dhabi’s international investment company, Al Maabar, had unveiled details for a Baghdad development project located at the Al Rasheed Military Compound in October 2008. The company is backed by all four major Abu Dhabi developers – Aldar, Sorouh, Reem and Al Qudra. According to Iraqi reports, the US$20-billion development will stretch across 1250 hectares and comprise several key clusters, including residential units, a commercial district, a technology centre, a hotel and hospitality district, healthcare and educational districts, and public facilities such as mosques and gas stations. A great section of the site will also be devoted to some of the largest entertainment centres in Baghdad.

16/09/2010 10:28

BOMAG AD.indd 1

31/08/2010 16:53



As construction slows in the MENA region, the world of fire protection continues its relentless battle to prevent the loss of life and safeguard its clients. Dean McGrail opens up on the steps being taken to do precisely that.


alk into any office, in any building, almost anywhere in the world and within seconds you’re sure to pass one of the members of the ‘dangerred’ club sitting dormant on the wall. With their cautionary instructions and shiny exteriors, these last-resort devices have become standard in all commercial buildings over the years – and with very good reason. From fi re extinguishers to alarms, blankets to sprinklers, these modest beacons of fi re suppression have saved innumerable lives through partnering with quick-thinkers and industry experts alike. But none of this would be possible without the correct understanding of and commitment to fi re protection that has created and permeated an entire industry. Of course, fi re is fi re no matter what context you put it in; whether it’s snowing or sweltering outside, the right conditions indoors can create a potential disaster site. Combine that with arid conditions and world-beating skyscrapers and you’ve got the current state-of-play for the MENA region. Fortunately for all those sat blissfully unaware in their offices, the region is also host to some of the best in the industry when it comes to ‘pre-planned fi re-fighting’. “The single biggest concern in the MENA region,” begins Dean McGrail, Operations Director of Specialist Services at WSP Fire and a big thinker in the Middle Eastern fire protection scene, “is probably the high external air pressures. That’s quite a significant impact on smoke control systems, so it removes areas where we can use natural smoke

Dean McGrail fire section 62

vents in atriums and shopping mall designs – predominantly due to the fact that the temperature of the smoke is not hot enough to get out of the vents because of the high external air temperatures, and of course stratification.” Indeed, combined with the extreme external air temperatures is another well-known characteristic of the MENA region: skyscrapers. With the external air temperatures resulting in a subsequent movement of air down the colossal buildings, the much appreciated internal air conditioning results in a differentiation in internal and external temperatures – known as a “reverse stack effect” – both issues that are predominantly related to environments such as the UAE, for example. To put the icing on the cake, McGrail also cites the fi nal usual suspect aggravating conditions as the unavoidable levels of prevalent dust, which often clog up vents and door closers. With such a multitude of factors affecting the arena of potential fi re, it is important to note that the inherent differences between fi re suppression and fire prevention can often be combined in what McGrail refers to as a ‘fi re safety management and maintenance plan’. “That covers everything from fire prevention, to having wardens going around and making sure there are no papers stacked against heaters or that exit doors are open. “Likewise, if a fi re does occur, human detection is obviously the most rapid form of fi re detection you can possibly have, followed by suppression using fi re extinguishers. The human interface into all fi re safety management and prevention, detection and suppression is a key issue. If we’re looking at systems, there’s obviously smoke and heat detection.

“The human interface into all fire safety management and prevention, detection and suppression is a key issue”

16/09/2010 10:25

UNIVAL AD.indd 1

31/08/2010 17:02



There are also a few more advanced systems, including aspirating smoke detectors, which use an air sampling style of smoke detection that draws smoke into a sampler and then measures quantities of smoke particulates. “Then you have truly cutting-edge technologies such as CCTV based systems and video imaging or video smoke detection. Of course, fi re suppression sprinklers are still there; it’s an old technology, but still one of the best understood by the majority of designers. They’re very simplistic to install and maintain – and typically 98 percent effective. However, probably the most important from my perspective is the fire safety management plans that make all of these other systems work effectively.” With constant updates in technology and the envelope of innovation forever being pushed, both McGrail and the industry have witnessed new and intriguing technologies that protect more than just the client crop up in recent months. “Probably the biggest one that we’re seeing now,” reveals McGrail, “is a move to new gaseous suppression systems. There was obviously a lot of worry about 10 or 15 years ago to do with depletion of the ozone layer. What we’re fi nding now is that a lot of these new gaseous systems are looking at lower atmospheric lifetimes, so the time that they survive within the atmosphere is as low as reasonably possible. It’s no longer 1000 years, but as low as two years before they disappear now. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of that in the future.” There’s no escaping that with a difference in technology comes a change in standards. McGrail states that on his arrival to MENA six years ago, there was undoubtedly a “mismatch of codes” that was ultimately down to the designer to decide upon. Fast-forward to the present and there’s been a big push towards American standards – particularly those of the National Fire Protection Association codes (NFPA). Returning to the bread and butter of MENA architecture, skyscraper codes have also had to evolve to keep pace with fi re protection plans. “The codes used to classify a high-rise building as anything above 23 meters, so they would treat that building the same as they would a building of 1000 meters. From a design point of view, we need to know how the building will react, so you start to look at performance based designs and that takes a view of the whole building package:

Typically fire supression sprinklers are

98% effective

how the building occupants react and how smoke is going to react in the building. Again, returning to the idea of reverse stack attack, what happens if you lose a staircase? Well, we’re starting to see a movement towards the use of elevator evacuation in very high-rise buildings, so there are strategies being developed to make use of elevators to speed up evacuation times.” Of course, when a fire does break out, the prevention aspect pales into insignificance, making way for the ‘passive protection’ cavalry. The aim of the game? To reduce fire damage to a building once prevention has failed. However, with the construction industry going through a rough phase at the moment, the fi re protection industry has received somewhat of a knock-on effect, reducing the opportunities to implement new passive rationales and technologies. “The type of work that we’re usually involved in has changed somewhat,” admits McGrail. “There’s a lot of people now looking to continue in their current buildings, so not as many are looking to move into new buildings”. Th is has resulted in a shift ing from new technologies in sparkly new buildings, to McGrail and his team undertaking fi re safety audits and due diligence studies within existing buildings to bring them up to current standards. “There’s still a lot of work for us out here, but the type of work that we’re doing has changed. There’s not as many of the crazy projects; the 1600 metre towers and the twisting towers and what have you. It’s a lot more standard building stock, which is obviously far more cost effective.” Is this a taste of the future? Who knows. But according to McGrail one thing is certain, sustainability needs to be high on the agenda of fire protection and suppression. “There are contradictions between what we’re looking at for life safety against those of sustainable design. I can see that being a big area for development in the future and it’s something that we’re looking at in within WSP as well, working with our environmental colleagues on developing environmental codes and the impact that they could have on fire protection codes. As clients become more educated – and with civil defense authorities as well – there’s a much bigger push for the fi re consultant to actually follow the design through to practical completion. That’ll become more of a regulatory requirement in the future.” „

October 2009 saw several fires in Dubai, Abu Dhabi & Sharjah

Dean McGrail fire section 64

16/09/2010 10:25

TFEX AD.indd 1

06/09/2010 09:02



Fire prevention and occupational safety How can of hypoxia affect humans in active fire prevention and what are the implications for occupational safety? Following on from last issue’s article, Barry Bell outlines the facts about under exposure to oxygen.


n the previous edition of MENA Infrastructure, we talked about the concept of fi re prevention that involves a permanent reduction of oxygen within a specific enclosure. Having described the concept of fi re prevention and made comparison to the more conventional, fi re extinguishing methodology that employs gaseous suppression systems, we began to look more closely at the effects of lowering oxygen levels on the human body, better known as hypoxia. In this edition, we continue the topic from where we left off in April. Hypoxia means a shortage of oxygen — as opposed to anoxia, which means a total lack of it. In common with other mammals, humans have evolved with a system of breathing and blood circulation, which allows intake of oxygen from the air and its transport throughout the body. Our body tissues need to extract oxygen constantly from the blood, at a basic rate for their metabolism, as well as the additional oxygen needed for work and exercise. Our bodies are accustomed to a certain level of oxygen being available in the immediate environment. The body can however compensate to some extent for a decreased level of oxygen supply, but life remains dependant on maintaining an adequate supply of oxygen. Different organs and tissues can survive lack of oxygen for varying lengths of time: of all our organs, the brain is the most rapidly and irrevocably damaged by severe oxygen starvation. Because the brain regulates both our breathing and blood circulation – the means by which oxygen is supplied to the whole body – deprivation of oxygen to the brain will prevent restoration of the oxygen supply as a whole; a potentially lethal vicious circle. Hypoxia can occur for a variety of reasons, such as when there is less than the normal amount of oxygen in the air inhaled; when breathing is obstructed, is inadequate, or stops; when oxygen is not transferred normally from the lungs to the blood; when the blood cannot carry its normal quota of oxygen; or when the flow of blood is inadequate, or stops. The air inhaled may provide insufficient oxygen either because the atmospheric pressure is low (at high altitude) or when the supply of fresh air is restricted. At high altitude the air is ‘thinner’ in that every molecule of the gas occupies a larger volume. The blood leaves the lungs carrying

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less oxygen than normal, therefore the tissues are exposed to a lower oxygen level. If this is not too profound, the tissues can still obtain oxygen at the required rate, at least for resting metabolism, because the rate of flow of blood can increase. The tissues are living at a lower oxygen level but are still getting a sufficient oxygen supply. When the supply of fresh air is restricted, for example by placing a bag over the head, or through confi nement in a small enclosed space, or even in a larger enclosed space crowded with people, oxygen is progressively depleted and exhaled carbon dioxide accumulates. In some circumstances there may be displacement of air by other gases, and the effect of irritant or toxic gases, such as smoke, chlorine, or sulphur dioxide can complicate the effects of displacement of oxygen. Th is can occur for example, when a person remains in an enclosed space that is subjected to the oxygen depletion effects of a gaseous fi re suppression system, while at the same time being exposed to the smoke and toxic gases produced by the fi re prior to suppression taking place. ■

Barry Bell is the Managing Director of Wagner Fire Safety Management Consultants, Middle East, and a licensed Fire Engineering Consultant in the United Arab Emirates.

If you are interested to read more, log on to the on-line version of this editorial at

Hypoxia is often experienced by those at high altitude and in firefighting situations

16/09/2010 10:22

WAGNER AD by ed.indd 1

03/09/2010 16:06



Building a safer and more secure region Honeywell Life Safety’s Mark Fenton talks to MENA Infrastructure about the importance of rigid fire safety precautions in infrastructure.

Can you highlight the main challenges in the fire safety business in the region and explain how you are tackling these challenges at Honeywell Life Safety? Mark Fenton. There is mixed awareness and usage of fi re and safety codes and standards in this region, especially the confl ict between the US and European standards for design and product approvals. Generally there is no set regulatory preference, leaving the choice up to individual regulators and system designers, leading to inconsistent design quality. Some markets have yet to fully mandate the use of fi re detection in buildings, especially medium-rise apartment blocks, leaving many residents exposed to potential fi re hazards. Where the mandate is there, technology is rarely paid for, as the attitude is comply with ‘bare essentials’, instead of ‘safety fi rst’. Th is in part is driven by commercial pressures to keep costs to minimum. Another challenge is the awareness and need for maintenance to keep systems fully tested and operational, especially smoke detectors, which can easily get dirty and need regular cleaning to be fully functional. Change in some markets, like the UAE where they have been proactive in pushing compliance, is good to see. In this difficult economic climate how can customers ensure they get true value for money and peace of mind? MF. Hazards are indiscriminate to life and property and we work within tightly scripted ‘codes and standards’ that are backed by years of testing and experience. So the answer is by ensuring that your safety system provider is a reputable manufacturer, that they have globally recognised approved products, local support capabilities, full backup capabilities and a fully endorsed local service provider. It’s easy to ignore the value of good quality safety systems until something goes wrong!

years of experience and industry-leading technology that enhances safety, responsiveness and system longevity. Safety is what we live and breathe, we are not a multidiscipline generalist, we are a specialist. Th is is what we do – globally! To implement that, we have a great team of experts in sales and training. We are the only company outside the US and UK endorsed to deliver the NFPA 72 code of practice and the FIA design course for BS5839. We invest in our people with constant training so we can be the leading experts providing the best advice to our clients. What can we expect to see from Honeywell Life Safety MEA in the coming 12 to 24 months? MF. We will strive to achieve the same level of growth across the region, with the same strategy of evolution, not revolution. We work in a highly regulated market so change is slow for good reason. We intend to continue to raise awareness with a focus on training, including codes and standards, design applications, etc. We are also moving to new offices in Dubai in order to increase our supply chain focus as well as open a new training facility; our overall objective being to localise more so we can get closer to our customers and our market. You can also always count on us to deliver new cutting-edge products; it’s the lifeblood of our company. ■

Mark Fenton is Business Leader of Honeywell Life Safety, MEA, responsible for fire safety for MEA and safety products for MEAI. He has 25 years of experience in the industry, 14 of which have been with Honeywell, and has been in Dubai for the past five years.

What differentiates Honeywell Life Safety from others in the market? MF. To start with, we have a strong regional presence, with offices in UAE, KSA and Egypt and with local warehousing in JAFZA being implemented to support the growth in the region. We focus on the market, we listen and we remain proactive in all areas. A key differentiator is our multi-brand business. Th is means we don’t shoehorn products to fit solutions; we have the right products to fit each unique problem. It’s backed by

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16/09/2010 10:09


31/08/2010 16:58



Safety relieves tension Belimo’s David Stevenson explains how a simple and practical fire protection system can provide safety to your building and peace of mind for you.


ature is just as fascinating as it is destructive. On the one hand, it gives life and heat, but on the other hand the forces it is capable of unleashing can pose both a threat to humans and cause considerable damage. Using our know-how as a leading manufacturer of electrical direct-coupled actuators and motorised valves, we have committed ourselves to providing effective personal and unit protection for more than 30 years. Our sophisticated fail-safe solutions provide you with safety that is adapted exactly to your needs, whether for air-conditioned buildings, trains, ships or tunnels. Belimo provides responsible protection for people and tangible assets. In an emergency, effective protection against fi re and smoke saves lives and helps to minimise damage to buildings and tangible assets. As a responsible investor, planning engineer or facility manager, you should ensure that your fi re protection and smoke control dampers are motorised with the specially developed Belimo actuators that have been proven the world over. A graded product range of complete solutions is available to control and monitor the actuators. Safety takes pressure off and Belimo provides reliable fi re and smoke protection. To prevent the spread of fi re and smoke through the ventilation ducts, motorised fi re dampers are installed in the fi re compartments. In an emergency, they close automatically and seal off the area. Controlled by a smoke detector, they trigger early enough to prevent the transfer of cold smoke. The dampers’ remote-controlled performance check cuts the operating costs. You can shut off unused compartments at night or if the ventilation system is switched off, which enables significant energy savings. We introduced the fi rst fi re damper actuator in 1977 and have been continually perfecting it ever since. Belimo’s years of practical experience have enabled it to develop into a world-renowned fi re protection specialist. Experience with fi re catastrophes has shown that smoke and toxic fumes pose the greatest threat to human safety. Motorised smoke control dampers from Belimo used in conjunction with mechanical smoke extraction systems significantly reduce these risks. Escape and emergency routes remain smoke free, the extremely dangerous phenomenon of flash-over is prevented or delayed, and fi re fighting and rescue work is made much easier. Mechanical smoke extraction systems with motorised smoke control dampers save lives in the event of fi re.

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David Stevenson is Managing Director of Belimo Automation FZE, Middle East. A British national working in the HVAC business for many years, he joined BELIMO Automation UK in 1998. In 2006 he relocated to Dubai as Sales Manager, Middle East for Belimo Automation FZE. In 2008 he was promoted to Managing Director.

Tested and approved actuators and flexible complete solutions from Belimo also play a key role in protecting people in buildings. Enormously resistant, Belimo actuators for fi re and smoke protection dampers were developed specifically for these applications and satisfy the most stringent quality requirements. Their outstanding robustness and complete reliability ensure that the fi re dampers they are fitted in satisfy all standards and guidelines in this area with ease. Fire protection actuators have to securely close the damper in an emergency and keep it closed while the fi re is burning, so there is no compromise on reliability. Th is places particular requirements on their design. Highquality steel parts, robust spring return packages, form-fit connections and special thermal tripping devices ensure zero-compromise on safety in a fi re. Belimo’s systems are safe, thanks to simple monitoring. Graded complete solutions to control and monitor fi re dampers help to increase planning reliability during project planning while optimising investment costs. They are simple to operate, provide maximum operation and maintenance protection, are extremely flexible and offer impressive cost-effectiveness. Belimo also offers practical, graded complete solutions to control and monitor smoke control dampers. Because they make planning, installation and operation much easier, they contribute significantly to the acceptance of mechanical smoke extraction systems and therefore significantly improved personal protection. „

16/09/2010 10:14

BELIMO AD.indd 1

31/08/2010 16:51



Effective climate separation improves the energy efficiency of your building Biddle BV’s Rob Schomaker describes how highly efficient air curtains provided by a specialist can contribute to making your building go green.


he worldwide awareness towards energy efficiency and the need to reduce our carbon footprint play an important role in today’s building design. But why spend millions in isolating buildings and installing high energy efficient cooling equipment while at the same time a lot of energy is lost through the open doorway? By using the Biddle technology you do not only add comfort to your building climate, but also save substantially on your energy bill and reduce the excessive investment in cooling equipment. Biddle highly values the interest of the customer and environment by adapting its products and customer-specific advice to local conditions. First, consider energy losses caused by convection forces. When two areas are connected by means of a door opening there usually is a temperature difference between these areas. The consequence of this ΔT is that inside and outside air start to mix; cold air moves to the warmer area via the bottom part of the opening and warm air penetrates into the building through the upper part. The energy losses caused by this effect of natural convection are often underestimated. A three by three metre door opening between a conditioned area of 20°C and an outside area of 40°C already causes a constant flow of energy of approximately 60kW. Together with this penetrating hot outside air, dust, insects, exhaust fumes and moisture from outside are also drawn into the building. The energy lost because of convection is even higher when the difference in relative humidity is taken into account. The entering latent heat including moisture requires easily five times more cooling capacity to be pumped away, meaning that the actual energy losses in this example are approximately 300kW. High-efficient ambient air curtains considerably reduce the effect of moving air. Biddle understands that effective climate separation is more than just blowing air down a doorway. It starts with understanding the effect of convection and moving air. Fast blowing, cheap, simple and turbulent air curtains, which are widely applied now in the MENA region, often bring rather more negative than positive results. The speed is very critical for the performance of an air curtain and should be fast enough to bring the flow of air down to the ground but gentle enough not to collide with the floor. Another critical aspect is the level of turbulence of the air-flow. Due to Biddle’s patented rectifier technology, a non-turbulent air-flow at low velocity can be realised, which penetrates to the floor without mixing inside and outside air. The use of the rectifier technology results in real climate separation with over 90

Biddle BV 72

percent efficiency and a comfortably cool indoor climate. Without an air curtain, the incoming warm and humid air needs to be cooled down by the air conditioning units. A high-efficient air curtain reduces the outflow of cold inside air to a minimum, which allows the air conditioner to operate at lower capacity. When climate separation is included in the energy calculations in an early design phase, a lower number of air conditioning units or units with lower cooling capacity need to be installed. Furthermore, an air conditioner blows out cool air only at a few spots in the room. An air curtain sucks this cool air and increases the recirculation effect, which means that large temperature differences are prevented and the comfort in the building is maintained at the desired level. The prestigious Masdar City will be a 100 percent sustainable city in the UAE, making use of renewable energy sources and energy saving solutions. The designers of Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have understood well that an investment in real climate separation contributes substantially to their challenge to become the world’s most ambitious eco-city. Biddle air curtains have recently been delivered to be installed above the entrances of this building in order to meet their challenging demands. We would be most pleased to advise you on how Biddle air curtains can reduce your energy bill and improve the comfort in your building. „

Rob Schomaker

Rob Schomaker is Director of Biddle Export Worldwide, a leader in innovative solutions in the field of climate separation in retail, public sector, cold and chill rooms. His background is electrical/mechanical engineering and through 20 years of experience in export his main skills are building long-term relationships with his key customers.

16/09/2010 10:15

BIDDLE AD.indd 1

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Affordable Housing.indd 74

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Once a hub of luxurious and extravagant developments, the MENA region’s recovering property industry has had to turn its attention to the modest middle market. But can this under-supplied demographic bring the sector back up to the dizzy heights of the boom years? How have attitudes changed since the days of speculative mega-project development? And is affordable housing really a commercially viable alternative? By Lucy Douglas


uxury is big business in the Middle East. A region renowned as a hotbed for the most extreme developments in the world, bigger, bolder, brighter and above all more expensive has become the norm here. Cash-rich young professionals operating in the lucrative industries of fossil fuels or fi nance that are prosperous in the region are a prime market for high-end retailers, hoteliers and property developers. And between the seven star hotels, labyrinth shopping malls and reclaimed, purpose-built peninsulas of ornate residences, there has been no shortage of supply for this affluent consumer demographic. For over a decade, the Middle East’s property markets have leaned towards the more sensational. From the world’s tallest building complete with designer-brand hotel, to the world’s fi rst carbon-neutral city, to even the world’s fi rst underwater resort (although this project, the Hyrdopolis, was shelved back in 2008), the developments popular around the region were less a well-conceived residential opportunity for rapidly growing populations than an extravagant statement to the world proclaiming the region’s potential as a global economic powerhouse. Even emerging from a tough economic downturn, a plethora of mega-projects are still under development, adding to the top-end tourist, commercial and residential space that is already abundant across the region. MEED’s Top 100 list of projects, which includes developments such as Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Economic City and Kuwait’s City of Silk, have a combined value of US$1.3 trillion, more than the entire combined GDP of the six GCC nations. But with so many mixed-use, master-planned, multi-billion dollar mega-projects still springing up across the MENA region, it’s easy to forget that this standard of residential space does not necessarily reflect the means of the average resident. Well, until now. Following the glory days of the Middle East’s construction boom, the effects of the economic downturn are still being felt throughout the region with many projects cancelled or still on hold, and those that have gone ahead uncertain as to the stability of the market onto which the properties will emerge. With many of the large-scale speculative developments that took place across the region during the last decade drawing nearer completion, only to be met with a smaller and smaller pool of potential buyers available to pick up the overwhelming supply, attention is beginning to turn away from the top-end market of luxury villas and penthouse apartments, and looking towards the more modest income markets. “Historically,” explains William Dewsnap, the Head of Valuation in the Abu Dhabi office of property consultancy fi rm Cluttons, “developers have always thought, ‘I’m going to build the biggest and the best and only the top end stuff because that’s the most valuable and that’s what will get me the best return.’ The mid-market has largely been ignored.” Indeed, a much-needed shift is taking place in the property markets of the Middle East. Between the ostentatious, high-profi le multi-billion dollar super-developments for the region’s most affluent residents at one end of the spectrum, and the government-funded grants and social housing schemes for the lowest-earning nationals at the other, those in the middle-income brackets across the Middle East have hitherto been left with a deficit in appropriately priced housing. And they represent a significant sector of the market. The young and well educated demographics in the GCC nations (the mean age of residents varies be-

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tween only 24 and 30 years old across the GCC) represent a large contingent of consumers with an income high enough to take them out of the social housing bracket, but not high enough to live in the luxury residencies that have become so commonplace in the region. In Bahrain, explains Dewsnap’s colleague Ben Cullum, the government offers a loan of up to BD40,000 to married couples or families earning up to BD1200 a month. “We tend to classify affordable housing as being about BD40,000 to BD80,000, which covers a large sector of the population,” he says. “In broad terms there’s very little that is on the market within that band. So there’s a disconnect between what can be afforded by local Bahraini families and what’s actually being developed, either as master planned schemes or just individual properties.” Over in Abu Dhabi, Dewsnap agrees, highlighting that while the government has some very generous rules in place to provide a significant proportion of nationals with housing, there is massive population of residents – most notably expatriate workers across all income brackets – that cannot afford the accommodation readily available in the country.

Market opportunities And so thanks to a generation of optimistically speculated over-development, these middle-income residents are providing the next big real-estate consumer market for developers. According to management consultancy fi rm AT Kearney, the affordable housing market in the Middle East is estimated to be worth around US$125 million every year; the fi rm puts the shortage in Saudi Arabia at around 150,000 housing units annually, and in Egypt an estimated 280,000. Real estate firm Colliers stated in a recent report that the undersupply of housing in Abu Dhabi would reach 42,000 homes by 2013. Moreover, the Urban Planning Council of Abu Dhabi is bringing rules into place to regulate the provision of affordable housing to meet the demands of this sector. “Largescale multi-residential projects of over 75,000 square metres of gross floor area (GFA) are now required to allocate at

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Multi-resident projects over

75,000m2 of GFA must allocate 20% to lower income groups

least 20 percent of the GFA to housing for lower income groups,” explains Matthew Green, the Head of Research and Consultancy for the UAE at CB Richard Ellis. “Strict guidelines will also ensure that the ‘affordable’ units have a minimum floor space, specific for each bedroom type, and strict rent ceilings in place to make certain that rates are adhered to and tenants are not exploited. Rents will then be reviewed and updated regularly to make sure that leasing rates are maintained at suitable market levels.” But why has this market gone for so long without being tapped by developers? What has sparked the sudden interest? “During the boom times,” explains Dewsnap, “people found properties in Dubai unaffordable. They tended to migrate north; so they went from Dubai into Sharjah, and then went further north into Ajman. Now as the market has turned, you’re seeing that happening in reverse. People are moving back down south.” Th is seems to have been a common trend; if centrally located property is too expensive, move further away. In fact, it is this issue of location that is behind the interest in reasonably priced housing in Oman. “The government has always issued one plot of land per person and so each Omani will have a plot, normally 600 square metres, to build their own house on,” explains Philip Paul, Head of Country in Oman for Cluttons. “Most of the employment is in Muscat or another major city like Sohar, whereas a lot of these plots are given out in people’s home villages and home towns. So therefore, although they might be working in Muscat, because their plot is located some distance away it doesn’t fulfi l their housing need.” Now, however, the middle-income earners are coming back. With the recovering market shifting to establish a new equilibrium, this demographic are in a prime position to reap the benefits. The global economic downturn left large proportions of the region’s construction industry in tatters as investors pulled out and funding dried up. But the midmarket segment offers huge opportunities for developers. And despite the timing of this focus on affordable housing in the Middle East – not to mention the current tendency to attribute any market shift to the financial crisis – experts are at pains to stress that it is not simply an after-effect of the recession. “Irrespective of what the economy’s doing, there will always be people of middle income who will need somewhere to live,” Dewsnap points out. “Obviously the numbers who fall into that mid-income bracket may fluctuate a little, but there will always be quite a substantial number of people in that sector who need property.” In Bahrain, Cullum is more pragmatic about the situation. “Certainly people are tightening belts and probably looking to more affordable accommodation than they necessarily were thinking of two or three years ago, as job security becomes more of a concern and so on, but really the affordable housing drive – certainly in Bahrain and to some extent in Saudi Arabia – is coming from pure demographic analysis.” Cullum reiterates the pressing reason underlying this shift in the market: that for a long time luxury developments have been in massive over supply, and fi nally the

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Dubai Marina at night, United Arab Emirates

pendulum is beginning to swing the other way. Thanks to a young population coming through, and old residential accommodation becoming obsolete, the affordable housing demographic is growing, and developers have no choice but to follow where the business goes. “Most developers wanted to produce high-end, luxury accommodation, whether that’s commercial or office or hotels,” he says. “So they’d buy a plot of land in an appropriate area and start the developments. Now, there’s a big supply of that style of property in most countries. “At the same time, the demand is reduced for that type of property, and you end up with a situation where supply has outweighed demand in a very big way. So developers are now turning their attention to where the demand/supply imbalance is right for development. So in that sense, the developers are coming at affordable housing as a knock-on result of the recession, but in terms of the demand, it has been there for a while and is increasing as time goes on because of the demographics of the countries.” Paul agrees, pointing out that in Oman, though the activity in the affordable housing sector is more measured, it is largely a reaction to the market situation. “I think there’s a category of middle level developers who are looking for a niche in the real estate market to make money. The government, as such, doesn’t provide housing other than very small schemes generally in the interior for rural families.

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So the talk about [affordable housing] is partly a recognition that other parts of the real estate market are saturated. There’s oversupply issues in other sectors and given the underlying economics, you’re not going to make money from them; I think people have turned to affordable housing and are just at the stage of researching.”

Bright prospects?

“Irrespective of what the economy’s doing, there will always be people of middle income who will need somewhere to live” William Dewsnap

Though this more modest market might present an attractive opportunity for developers to stay active in the region, it is not as straightforward a transition as they might like, and certainly does not take the industry back to its hedonistic heights of 2007. The fragile nature of the market during the recovery has thrown up a minefield of challenges that developers must navigate a way through in order to have a commercially viable product. “It certainly is noticeable that the big, mainstream developers are getting involved with these more affordable projects,” says Dewsnap. “To give an example in Abu Dhabi, the main developer in town is ALDAR, and one of their flagship schemes is Al Raha Beach, which is an enormous waterfront scheme on the road in from Dubai, approximately 12 kilometres long with 10 or 12 different phases. [They] originally planned to build it as quickly as possible, obviously to get the properties ready and on the market. That has been scaled back significantly, and you’ve now only got the first two or three phases that are well advanced.”

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Dewsnap’s is not the only such example; numerous developers across the region have tried to hedge their bets with a project currently mid-construction, diverting from original plans and making it more affordable so as to increase the chances of selling units once it is completed. In many cases this has required a massive re-design and scaling back process, so as to fit with tighter budgets. However, in many cases no amount of re-designing can create an affordable project that covers the cost of the land it has been built on. “Land prices grew very rapidly during the boom years,” Cullum highlights, “largely on the back of speculation rather than underlying economic value. We had this situation where land was being bought and sold as a commodity in itself and values were rising because of that.” Matthew Green agrees. “The main obstacle to this type of development is really the cost of land, especially if it was purchased in 2007 or 2008 when values were hugely inflated. Many affordable housing projects have already failed to get off the ground, as the developer just can’t make the numbers work for that type of product.” Projects that have been conceived more recently with the intention of supplying the affordable housing market are able to address these issues directly so as to maximise profits. Still, there is speculation as to how well these projects will be met once they come on the market. Dewsnap points out that these mid-market properties, in order to be affordable, will be less centrally located, often smaller, and with fi xtures and fittings of a lower specification. “That is going some way to meeting the demands of the midmarket,” he explains. “The first phases are only now just starting to be handed over, so there is admittedly a long way to go.” Paul agrees. “A lot of land within the capital city [of Oman] is still too expensive for affordable housing, so it has to go out onto the fringes and further, and developers are still concerned that might not be acceptable to the local market.” Cullum explains how in Bahrain that fear is a reality, and represents one of the biggest challenges that developers of affordable housing face in that country. “We see a tendency for customers in the affordable housing sector to be demanding quite large properties – a villa that’s 250 or 300 square metres in size is very large, but for the local population here, it’s what’s generally expected by the upand-coming young Bahraini professional who would fit into that affordable housing bracket.” He concedes that the ball is beginning to roll in terms of a change in cultural attitudes, and the young and growing population are likely to be under pressure to move towards a more European style of apartment living. “But from a developer’s perspective,” he adds, “they don’t want to be the ones to blaze the trail just in case the pressure hasn’t melted enough, and they end up with an empty building.” Th is cautious attitude is evident around the region when it comes to this sector. Paul explains that in Oman, developers are dipping their toes in the water of the affordable housing market, building 50 houses here or there, as opposed to diving right in. “A lot of mid-level developers are looking to initially introduce small schemes. There

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The mean age of residents varies between

24 and 30 year old across the GCC

“It certainly is noticeable that the big, mainstream developers are getting involved with these more affordable projects” William Dewsnap

have been one or two that have tried to introduce investors to really large-scale developments – master planned affordable housing with parks and mosques and some mixed-use buildings – but developers are still feeling their way.” The uncertainty surrounding the market has fed into the funding aspect of development. Even as costs can be cut on certain aspects such as the location, size or interior decoration, developers are still fi nding funding hard to come by in the current climate. “Investors have defi nitely taken a step back and are far more cautious in terms of the investments they are willing to make,” explains Dewsnap. “It is certainly being viewed with some interest by investors,” adds Green, “but there remain significant barriers to actually developing and delivering projects that are profitable in the current market.” Th is puts the whole market in a bit of catch-22. Finance is not only difficult for developers to come by, but also for potential buyers, a situation that in turn further dictates the need for affordable housing. Still, the cautious attitude of investors comes with good reason. With this new sector yet to reach maturity, developers are awaiting the reaction from the market; and

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A model of ‘Reem Island’ on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi Cityscape international real estate exhibition

making the figures work on a project such as this is harder than it has ever been. Newly built affordable communities will require infrastructure development to support it, an addition that may have a crippling effect on the budget of a project. Cullum explains how many developers fi nd a project would be most profitable if it was built on a large scale, producing in the region of 500 units. If a local municipality does not take on that infrastructure, he says, then charges for its initial development and ongoing up-keep will be levied onto the residents, driving up the costs of the properties and making them no longer affordable. Moreover, purpose-built affordable housing projects are not without competition. The massive over supply in other areas of the real estate market has led to slashed rent rates on high-end properties, meaning those in the middleincome bracket are now able to afford properties that two years ago would have been well beyond their means. “For example,” points out Dewsnap, “a one-bedroom flat in Dubai Marina – which is a top-end, waterfront development that’s very popular – that would have cost Dh150,000 a year to rent in 2008 is probably now half of that, Dh70,000 or Dh80,000. That represents really good value. So some-

Affordable Housing.indd 79

“It’s almost a case that affordable property doesn’t really exist at the moment, So the development is moving into a part of the property market that is wide open and waiting” Ben Cullum

one who has a mid-market property, which is of a lower specification, less central, with less facilities, is going to struggle to shift that property.” While the way is fraught with challenges, and developers are cautious about the opportunities this market brings, there is no doubt that this is a demographic that needs supplying. “Affordable housing is currently a burning issue throughout the region,” reiterates Green, “especially in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which both have very large, young populations that are growing very rapidly.” “It’s almost a case that affordable property doesn’t really exist at the moment,” adds Cullum. “So the development is moving into a part of the property market that is wide open and waiting.” With the population in the region set to double over the next 40 years, this is not a temporary market, and Dewsnap suggests that as long as developers are shrewd about the timing of delivery of their projects onto the market, they will generate significant interest. With all this in mind, only time will tell just how far this can go to boosting the convalescent construction industry. „

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MENA’S DEADLIEST THREAT? Statistically, the MENA region has the most dangerous roads in the world. Just why are the safety standards so poor in the well-developed nations of the Gulf, and how can the situation be improved? MENA Infrastructure finds out.


ccording to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO), published at the end of 2009, the Eastern Mediterranean (including the Middle East) and Africa regions have the highest rates of road traffic injury and fatality in the world, at 32.2 deaths per 100,000 people. While this statistic may not be surprising in conjunction with the under developed nations of sub-Saharan Africa, it seems more shocking to think of the emerging economies of the Gulf in this respect. But consider this. At the height of its boom, the Gulf’s construction industry operated largely with a “build it and they will come” approach. And certainly, as residential, office and commercial developments shot up across the region, the expatriate business community flocked in and the population bulged. Likewise, in neighbouring Arabic states, factors such as oil wealth or tourism helped to draw in visitors. And on top of that, national populations have been, and will continue to be, growing.

Road Safety Feature 80

“There’s a high rate of development going on and a high rate of motorisation occurring, which is resulting in many more deaths and injuries”

And with a bigger population comes the need for more advanced infrastructure, better utilities, better amenities, better transport systems. Today, though the buildings are plentiful, many other aspects of the infrastructure are playing catch up. Avi Silverman of the FIA Foundation helps shed some light on the issue. “Really it’s not a phenomenon that’s just limited to the Middle East,” he explains. “It is something that lots of countries of low and middle income status experience: there’s a high rate of development going on and a high rate of motorisation occurring, which is resulting in many more deaths and injuries.” Indeed, this increase in development and motorisation is perhaps more of an aggravating factor than previously accounted for. While stereotypically poor standards in road safety are found in, low and middle income countries, as Silverman says, the wealth of the GCC nations makes these statistics a little more shocking. While the GCC alone is not responsible for that record regional average (and in fact their figures fall below the 32.2 value), the individual

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rates recorded from each state are still alarmingly high for countries of such wealth and resources. According to WHO statistics, in 2007 Saudi Arabia reported 25.7 road traffic fatalities per 100,000 of the population; the UAE recorded 24.1 per 100,000; Qatar, 23.6 per 100,000 and Oman a shocking 30.6 per 100,000. Bahrain has the lowest rate of all GCC sates with 12.1 per 100,000. To put those figures into perspective, in the same year Canada reported 8.7 fatalities per 100,000; the UK 5.4 per 100,000 and the Netherlands just 4.8 per 100,000. Romania, a developing ‘middle income’ country with a per capita income of US$6150, about a sixth of the per capita income of the UAE and less than a tenth of that of Qatar, reported 12.6 road fatalities per 100,000 population, around half of those two affluent MENA nations. So just why are serious road traffic injuries so rife in this region? Undoubtedly the boom in construction has had an affect, and recent years have seen a noticeable increase in the movement of traffic in and around the GCC, but should that really account for such a high rate in countries that boast wealthy governments, educated populations and quality healthcare systems? “It isn’t just the increase in the rate of motorisation,” explains Silverman. “It’s that alongside that you’re not having proper, coherent and integrated planning in terms of road safety, to mitigate the numbers of deaths and injuries as the rates of motorisation increase. So the safety measures that are almost taken for granted in countries in Western Europe in particular, are just not there at the levels that they’re needed [in the Middle East], and the investment in road safety just isn’t there at the level that’s needed either.” He suggests that in order to improve the situation in the region, road safety must also become a consideration at all levels, right from the initial processes of the road infrastructure development, through to actual road travel. “Improving the safety provisions that are made in the building of new roads; improving the usage of seat belts; improving the safety of vehicles with measures such as airbags, ABS, new anti-collision technologies being put into vehicles; campaigns that are put in place to increase the level of helmet wearing for most of bikes and cyclists. All these measures – including education and public campaigns and legislation for road safety – are taken together as the approach [to improve road safety]. These are the measures that are needed and that are being implemented with great effect, particularly in Western Europe, but aren’t being implemented at nearly the level that’s needed in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.” A key element in the campaign for road safety, explains Silverman, and one that is frequently overlooked, is the condition of the roads themselves. “We’ve actually focused quite a lot on road infrastructure because it has been something of a neglected area, and the contribution that it makes to road safety needs to be emphasised a lot more than it has been. What we at the FIA Foundation are saying is that again, it’s very simple countermeasures that need to be implemented during road infrastructure building projects. When a road is initially built there needs to be

Road Safety Feature 82

“The World Bank and other multinational development banks that play a huge role in funding road infrastructure projects have started to put together a central facility to look at road safety”

The UAE reported a 21% drop in road traffic fatalities for the first half of 2010

Saudi Arabia reported 25.7% traffic fatalities per 100,000 people in 2007

proper provision for pavements for pedestrians and crossing points for pedestrians, provisions to separate vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, pedestrians, children or people who are using two and three wheel vehicles, from the much bigger, faster moving vehicles on the road. “There needs to be proper crossing points near schools. There needs to be use of roundabouts in ways to slow the traffic down at critical points, proper runoffs as well. Clear marking for traffic and clear use of safety barriers at critical points is important as well. All these measures are well known in road engineering but often they don’t get implemented where they’re needed, particularly in developing countries.” Certainly measures are beginning to be taken across the region to combat this issue. In Bahrain plans have recently been confi rmed to install a network of traffic surveillance cameras across the island; Qatar is establishing a new research centre in conjunction with the Texas Transportation Institute in an effort to improve road safety; and the UAE reported a 21 percent drop in road traffic fatalities for the first half of 2010 compared with the same period the previous year. However there is still some way to go. “Lack of funding is a huge problem,” explains Silverman, revealing that the reports from the Commission for Global Road Safety are recommending that a portion of road infrastructure project funding be set aside for safety measures. “We have been campaigning for 10 percent. You very rarely get that level of funding put aside for safety measures. Normally it’s somewhere in the region of one percent or lower, and often it’s not actually to implement safety measures on the road itself; just a kind of token project but nothing that is actually in a systematic way going to ensure that there are correct safety measures on the roads.” Silverman suggests that this problem can be turned around with a little help from investors. “This issue is starting to be addressed,” he reveals, “and the World Bank and the other multinational development banks that play a huge role in funding road infrastructure projects have started to put together a central facility to look at road safety and have started to devote some funding to road safety. That’s to be welcomed and it needs now to be built upon and increased.” Still, there does seem to be some positive outlook for the future. Silverman explains that beginning next year a “Decade of Action” campaign to make the roads of the world safer will take place, during which international organisations such as FIA Foundation will be looking to establish a detailed global programme to improve the quality of road safety with an aim to reduce the number of lives that are lost on the roads every year. “Obviously, the Middle East is a region that really does have a very worrying projection in terms of the numbers of deaths and injuries that are likely to take place over the next decade, and therefore obviously has a huge part to play and we want to see Middle East North Africa region play a leading role in the Decade of Action and for road safety programmes to emerge across all countries in the region so that they, too can have proper targeted programmes to save lives and prevent injuries on their roads.” „

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IRD ADV.indd 1

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How can transport create a lasting legacy in the Middle East? EC Harris’ Brian Fitzpatrick and Tim Risbridger discuss how engineering the creation of new transport systems, technically and commercially, will help achieve a lasting legacy.


he development of a modern and affordable transport system becomes increasingly important to the Middle East as they look to reduce their reliance on oil. As Eddington pointed out in a 2006 report, good transport systems attract globally mobile activity, reduce the costs of trading, increase competition, boost employment, and improve the efficiency of labour markets and of business. Good transport systems are enablers of economic prosperity. The economic hotspots of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh are currently isolated, in the sense that air and sea are the main means of transporting goods and people between them and the wider global marketplace. The most important legacy of a transport system in a physical sense is connectivity. The societal legacy is arguably greater social cohesion and stability, and a greater sense of identity achieved through that connectivity. Transport systems in the West developed essentially to meet industrial or business needs at a point in time and, because they were created in isolation, they now require effort to run or to ensure connectivity to a wider network is affordable. If the essential legacy is connectivity, then optimum connectivity at the start is required, or at least a plan to achieve it. Institutional governance and responsibility for transport and plans normally falls under a national agency with wide ranging authority. Abu Dhabi is one example of an Emirate undergoing an impressive and rapid economic and societal transformation, based upon Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, providing policy directions in a number of areas includ-

ECHarris_ATE.indd 84

ing the natural environment, urban design, housing and the economy. It’s an example of a unified and sustainable vision for the future but is essentially predicated on joined up and sustainable land use and transport. Accurately understanding population, economic factors and growth enables travel patterns to be modelled and understood. National guidance and governance to drive planning are pre requisites to ensuring a sustainable legacy can be created in the first place. There is the capability to meet the engineering challenges of creating 21st century cities, but commercially engineering outcomes, to create the optimum system, is not such a mature science yet. EC Harris has identified six factors that will help ensure that transport systems can deliver value, connectivity and the social benefits they are designed to from day one. First, truly understand the cost critical components of the system and/or schemes; accepting estimates and programmes without a clear understanding is surprisingly common in an experienced industry. Second, benchmark estimates and programmes against worldwide reference cases. Reference case comparison is increasingly common and can often lend weight to estimates or highlight potential areas of inefficiency. Th ird, have a accurate understanding of the impact that inflation will have over the lifetime of projects or programmes; point estimation doesn’t deal with risk allocation or inflation very well. Fourth, understand the real costs of risk transfer. Developing the right procurement and engagement strategies with the supply chain is vital; getting this wrong can be an extremely expensive mistake. Fift h, keep the supply chain informed and together for the duration of the programme. If a client is able to bring together an informed and capable supply chain this inspires confidence, longer term pricing and availability of resources in a competitive climate. And fi nally, develop a safe but pragmatic and informed approach to engineering orthodoxy. Challenging the way things have always been done, and ‘old world’ standards can be a liberating process; hard shoulder running in the UK is one example where a widening orthodoxy was changed safely and efficiently. Engineering the creation of the new transport systems, technically and commercially, will help ensure that a lasting legacy can be achieved. „

Brian Fitzpatrick is Head of Highways at EC Harris, focusing on the successful planning, creation and operation of highways assets. He has worked as both client and consultant to major projects and programmes of technical activity, delivering certainty of outcome and demonstrable value for money from highways investment.

Tim Risbridger leads EC Harris’ Transportation sector in the Middle East. He is based in Abu Dhabi and has over 20 years of experience working on major infrastructure projects delivering on commercial, project controls and procurement aspects in the delivery of major investment programmes across the highway, rail, aviation and marine sectors.

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Gain the flexibility to focus on real tasks Sebastian Althen explains why municipalities and traffic agencies should consider an application service provider approach to urban traffic control system management.


ne of the most common impacts of the global economic crisis is the rise in reduced shortterm budgets in connection with decreased mid- to long-term resources for public administration – generally as an integral part of larger cost saving plans. And with different departments increasingly fi nding themselves saddled with greater responsibilities, this means achieving the same, or increased, goals with fewer resources. So how to manage this transition and deliver high performance while dealing with all of the varying challenges? The answer is the same as that used to address similar challenges in most industries throughout the last century: focus on your core competencies. For example, ask yourself, as a Department of Transport professional or equivalent in a city municipality, whether IT operations and the running of server farms represents your core competence? Should you worry more about data traffic or rather it’s road and rail equivalent? The vast majority of companies in the private sector have been outsourcing auxiliary operations to specialised companies for a very long time now; just think of mail services, payroll accounting, catering, facility management, etc., all of which allow organisations (and smaller organisations in particular) to concentrate on their real, individual tasks, and still enjoy the advantages of professional and experienced services at a fair cost. Yet despite the obvious advantages offered by outsourcing these types of functions, most traffic administration organisations are still spending a significant amount of time and budget on running their own IT staff; on one or more experts for the urban traffic control (UTC) application; on soft ware maintenance; training; appropriate server facilities with air condition and uninterruptable power supply; redundant data storage; a local communication network and many more things required for professional UTC operation. And on top of that, they are still carrying the risk of operation for these installations and the availability of the traffic control system. Of course, there are economies of scale in this field, and cities of over one million inhabitants might be able to justify such capital and operation expenditures; but what about small to medium sized municipalities? Renowned players in the global traffic management business – such as Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems – offer to connect field devices to their own professionally maintained UTC system, fully operated by themselves. The

Siemens Ed.indd 86

Since 2004, Sebastian Althen has been Innovation and Product Manager for Intelligent Traffic Systems for Siemens Traffic Solutions in Munich. In this role he is responsible for environmentally conscious traffic management and the Traffic Information innovation project.

users have full access for status monitoring and traffic control from their normal office computers, so that they can use the application just as if it was located right beneath their desks – an approach that is already widely known in other industries under the term application service provision (ASP). A closer look at the ASP offering quickly reveals a number of typical benefits. First, mature, proven UTC application, performing in numerous ‘classic’ installations all around the globe. Second, professional operations; after all, it is the vendor itself that takes care of the system. Th ird, fair price; there should be manageable and transparent cost. These factors allows even small municipalities, with for instance 20-70 intersections, to utilise an urban traffic control system that might usually be far beyond their budgets. Further, they do not have to think about server locations, updates and fi xes, etc., but can instead focus on the traffic control itself. Of course, what you will need to successfully focus on your traffic control without sacrificing any resources to UTC centre operation is an application provider with experience in the reality of traffic control. Add commitment to long-term collaboration and an outstanding and fieldproven UTC system, and you are on the way to getting support in focusing on what you do best: managing traffic. ■

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Retro-reflection and safe driving Poul Svensgaard, EVP at DELTA Light & Optics, discusses matters related to retro-reflection, road guidance measures and safe driving. Retro-reflection is the result of the car’s headlights being returned from road markings or traffic signs. High quality road markings contain glass beads generating retro-reflection. Road signs are based on either glass beads or micro-prismatic sheeting to ensure an efficient retro-reflection level. The ultimate use of both types of traffic guidance is to ensure safe driving. How can DELTA help improve safe driving? PS. International standards give direction as to the performance of road markings and road signs and to the instruments being used to control retro-reflection levels. To guarantee that markings and signs meet the required performance level, it is necessary to check performance on a regular basis. Checking is carried out using retro-reflectometers made specifically for this purpose. Since the 1980s, DELTA has developed and manufactured high quality retro-reflectometers and was the first in the world to sell this type of instrument. DELTA’s instruments are available worldwide and recognised as the leading brand; they are easy for the operator to handle and calibrate and offer accurate and reliable measurements, while recorded data are automatically stored and easily transferred to a PC using proprietary software. In other words, DELTA offers the appropriate instruments for checking the quality of retro-reflection from road markings and road signs, helping road owners securing safe driving conditions. How can DELTA make the work of securing safe driving conditions DELTA is involved in improving safe driving. What are you really lookeasier in the future? ing at when talking about safe driving? PS. The short answer is by going mobile. Having focused so far on handheld Poul Svensgaard. Many parameters influence safe driving on roads. No instruments, DELTA is currently finalising the development of its first mobile doubt the ‘human factor’ is a major contributor to traffic accidents, but retro-reflectometer for road markings. Mounted on the side of a car, retroconditions on and around the road may also influence the reflection can be measured at normal driving speed and in safety level of the road. Here, traffic guidance in the form the full length and width of road markings. A new technology of road markings and road signs are very important to keep used for this instrument automatically compensates for vehicle vehicles on the road and in the correct lane in order to avoid movements, making DELTA’s LTL-M much more accurate accidents. compared to other instruments on the market. LTL-M will be An increasing number of countries collect road statisalmost as easy to operate and as accurate as DELTA’s current tics to record the number and severity of accidents. Such handheld instruments, a clear improvement compared to exdata can be used to spot sections of roads where accidents isting mobile systems. LTL-M is in its final development and tend to happen more frequently, as well as decide on meawill be launched at the beginning of 2011. surements to improve traffic guidance. The better the guidance tools perform, the less the risk of accidents happening. Poul Svensgaard is Executive How does DELTA see the future development for meaVice President of DELTA’s Light & surement of retro-reflection and other road parameters? Optics Division, and is heading What are the most critical conditions related to safe the current MENA focus at PS. DELTA believes that the future belongs to mobile soluDELTA for its line of road safety driving? tions. Our customers are looking for a complete overview instruments. of their assets, and they want to plan maintenance based on PS. Statistics show that driving at night and in bad weather facts and not guesswork. DELTA wants to support this develconditions significantly increases the risk of road accidents, opment initially with LTL-M, and we are also looking to develop an accurate and one important parameter to improve safe driving is to ensure proper and easy to operate mobile solution for measuring retro-reflection from road retro-reflection from road markings and road signs. It is important that signs. We still need some time to work on this project, but as the leading markings and signs can been seen clearly in the distance, even under adcompany in this field we are committed to coming up with a solution. „ verse weather conditions.

Delta 88

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Simply safer sign posts Craig Pyser of Frangible Safety Posts tells MENA Infrastructure how specially engineered road sign posts can help save lives.


f your car loses control and you are heading for a large sign at speed, would you rather the sign post to be made of rigid steel or a specially designed, composite material, engineered to collapse in a safe and controlled manner on impact? The first picture shows the devastating damage caused to a car hitting a steel post at 62 mph (100 kph). Not only is the car destroyed but the rapid deceleration causes internal trauma to the occupants, most likely leading to fatality. In recent years while significant progress has been made in deploying passively safe sign posts in the UK, the vast majority of posts are made of steel. Many countries do not have a standardised policy to tackle the issue of the safety of roadside furniture, and like the UK, use incumbent, unforgiving materials such as steel or wood for sign posts. Frangible Safety Posts Ltd (FSP) is a UK based company, operating in specially engineered patented composite posts, which balance the strength to hold up large signs in strong winds while collapsing if impacted by an errant vehicle in a predictable and safe manner. The key to reducing risk is to avoid the rapid deceleration of the car and avoid injuring the occupants. The intellectual property for this product was bought from 3M earlier this year and since the purchase, FSP has expanded the range of sizes available. The second picture shows the significant reduction in damage to a car striking the Frangible Safety Post under the same conditions. The post shears and fractures with the sign plate falling close by. The Frangible Safety Post has been independently tested and meets the European standard EN 12767 and guidelines for passive street furniture with the 140mm post achieving the highest safety rating awarded to any product to date (100 NE:3). The standards and guidelines are aimed at making our road sides more forgiving and reduce the risk of injury for those unfortunate enough to leave the highway. A recent report by EuroRAP highlights the next major opportunity for improving road safety lies with the road network under local government control and that they estimate the cost of car accidents to the British economy is UK£18 billion per year and the UK is seen as one of the

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safest countries for road safety in the world. Putting that in perspective, The World Health Organisation estimate that there are about 1.2 million people killed in traffic accidents every year, 10 million are people injured, costing an estimated US$520 billion. In the same WHO report, the incidences of traffic accidents and fatalities were found to be significantly higher in the Middle East than in Europe. Our solution is to work with countries to help develop a passive safety policy and implement products such as our’s on the roadside to dramatically reduce injuries to drivers and passengers. We can supply directly to governments, provinces, councils, contractors and installers and we are happy to work on projects of all sizes from initial planning to redesigning individuals roads or junctions to be passively safe. The Frangible Safety Post has been designed to blend in with existing street furniture maintaining the look and feel of the roadside. The post is available in a wide range of sizes (140mm, 168mm and 219mm diameter – and we can develop sizes to conform with individual countries standards), colours and fi nishes which can be matched in to the local environment, for example abrasion resistent coatings for desert environments. Another important feature is the lightweight nature of our materials making manual handling and installation of the posts easier whilst also utilising standard fittings and techniques. Th is also reduces the energy required in manufacturing the posts, which lowers the carbon footprint. The composite materials are durable, resistant to corrosion and can last up to three times longer than steel extending the active life span of the posts. FSP is committed to providing safer street furniture products and making our roadsides more forgiving. Should you wish to know more please contact me and I would be delighted to meet to discuss anything in relation to this article and passive safety in general. „ To view videos of the crash testing performed on our products visit: Craig Pyser is the Commercial and International Director of FSP, after co-founding the business in September 2009. Pyser has worked as a Strategic Consultant at Fraserburgh Consulting focusing on Intellectual Property and was part of the team that negotiated the purchase of FSP’s IP from 3M. Previously, he was an Investment Banker at Merrill Lynch working in Singapore, Indonesia and the UK.

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FFrom smallll fishing hi village illl to t sprawling lii city it in i a matter tt off d decades; d superfi ficially i ll at least, Doha’s development has mirrored that of its near-neighbour Dubai. But scratch below the surface and the two cities are very different. Dohaland CEO Issa Al Mohannadi explains how he is nurturing the Qatari capital’s cultural heritage.

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By Ben Thompson


stroll along the Corniche in Doha today is a very different sensory experience to that of just a few decades ago. My uncle, a quantity surveyor, was a frequent visitor to Qatar back in the 1970s and 80s when it was still very much a traditional Arabic destination, and would regularly regale us on his return with tales of the beautiful architecture to be seen there; minarets, domes, columns and arches – all decorated in the elegant arabesque style – dominated the city’s streets and spoke of a rich cultural history stretching back centuries. Doha, he proclaimed, was one of the most picturesque locations in the Gulf. Yet while Arabic design still features prominently in the city’s buildings and landmarks, today such traditional motifs are just as likely to be overshadowed by the ultramodern glass and steel skyscrapers that tower above the city and dwarf the skyline. The pace, and the scope, of the construction that has taken place in recent years is truly staggering: just a decade ago, the pyramid-shaped Sheraton hotel was the tallest building in Doha; now it’s not even in the top 100. Qatar has rapidly established itself as one of the fastest-growing knowledge economies in the world, and is ploughing billions into infrastructure projects, healthcare, education and real estate in order to transform its capital into one of the 21st century’s great success stories. For many, those high-rise structures are the physical manifestation of that effort. But while many of the new edifices are beautiful pieces of architecture in their own right, not everyone feels that following a Western model of development is in the Qatari capital’s best interests. Dohaland CEO Issa Al Mohannadi, who was named 2010’s Property Development CEO of the Year by the Middle East Excellence Awards Institute, believes that the city’s glass-encased buildings aren’t necessarily representative of the capital’s rich cultural history. He wants to see developers take the city back to its architectural roots and create thriving communities – and is starting in his own backyard. “We’re designing buildings to reflect and enrich the cultural heritage of our country,” he explains. “I believe what we are doing now is going to contribute hugely to how real estate developers think in the future. Skyscrapers and isolated living compounds are not the communities we aspire to in Doha. We have decided to revive our past, rediscover our traditions, and regenerate the communities we have lost, and will do this by combining the spirit and aesthetic of yesterday with the environmentally friendly and sustainable know-how of tomorrow.” It’s a bold vision, but with the formation of the Dohaland company, Al Mohanaddi believes the city has made a positive start. A subsidiary of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, Dohaland was established in 2007 to create urban living concepts that build on traditional Arabian architecture and design. As such, the company’s philosophy strongly reflects the aspirations of the Qatar Foundation and the

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ambitions of the Qatar National Vision 2030 strategic plan – namely, making Qatar’s dream of a knowledge-based society a reality. “The 2030 Vision is built around four pillars: social sustainability, economic sustainability, human resource sustainability and environmental sustainability,” Al Mohannadi says. “And if a real estate project is well defi ned and designed well, it can help achieve these four pillars.” Earlier this year, the foundation stone for Dohaland’s first development, the flagship Musheireb project, was laid at a ceremony attended by His Highness the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and other Qatari dignitaries. Musheireb, which in Arabic means a place where one can draw water from, is a 35-hectare site that will transform the architectural centre of the Qatari capital and set new standards for inner city development in the Gulf. “The Musheireb project is a mixed-use development and one of very few developments in the region that focus on this style,” explains Al Mohannadi. “The mixed-use concept – where you have residential, commercial buildings, retail, hotels, schools and medical facilities – is all developed in the same area, which reduces the amount that people need to travel because all their needs have already been designed and catered for. If you live in Musheireb, and you happen to have your business there, you have all the amenities you need to live in a community, and that by itself contributes to the concept of social sustainability. We want to bring back life to the heart of the city, which we believe we can achieve through the masterplan.” It is hoped that once complete, the development will transform the heart of the city from a slightly down-at-heel neighbourhood into a vibrant and modern community. Musheireb is located in one of the oldest parts of the city – an area that, during the last few decades has suffered from a number of social issues related to urban decay. “The buildings themselves have lost their quality and have not been maintained very well, so the whole area has become a bit run-down – which does not reflect the strength of the country and the position and image of Qatar,” says Al Mohannadi. In response, the Dohaland team were charged with redeveloping the area in such a way as to promote the Qatari vision of heritage, innovation, enrichment and environmentally sound development through sustainable practices. And as such, he explains that the project has quickly become the flagship for Doha’s inner-city regeneration. “It started with us evaluating how we can improve the area, because some of the buildings are in really bad condition; some were not suitable for people to live in. We decided to regenerate this part of the city, bring it to life, and hopefully that will start a trend that will continue with the whole of the downtown area being redeveloped – which would contribute to transforming Doha into a modern capital that also embraces traditional architecture.” As such, Al Mohannadi has become something of a champion for implementing and preserving traditional Qatari architectural styles, albeit with a modern twist to reflect the country’s emerging status as a regional – and

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potentially, global – powerhouse. Qatar’s economy is growing at a phenomenal rate and more than 800 buildings are expected to be built in Doha’s city centre alone in the next few years, in addition to the massive housing developments currently underway across the country. In the midst of such rapid urban construction and development, retaining a sense of place is critical – something he feels was ignored in recent decades. “We lost our identity in terms of our architectural language and we became lazy as a society,” he laments. “From the 1960s onwards, there were hardly any developments using this architectural language. So the Musheireb project came with a number of missions, one of which was to bridge this gap and develop a new architectural language rooted in the past and embracing the traditions inherent in our culture. We encouraged the architects and everybody involved in the project to think outside the box and apply their knowledge around how we can come up with this architectural language.” The first phase of the project is due for completion in 2012, while the entire development is slated for completion in 2016. And so far, the project is progressing well. “It’s a case of ‘so far so good’,” smiles Al Mohannadi. “Phase 1 is still on target and we are also on target for completion of the whole development by 2016.” It’s refreshing to hear, particularly given the complicated nature of working within a built-up area. “Regeneration projects have a different nature to greenfield projects,” he continues. “When you build a project outside a city in remote areas you can

"The Musheireb project came with a number of missions, one of which was to bridge this gap and develop a new architectural language rooted in the past and embracing the traditions inherent in our culture”

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Phase 1 of the

US$5.9 billion development is due for completion in 2012

go there, start planning and begin construction virtually straight away. However, Musheireb is a place where people are still living, so we have to go through the government process of land acquisition, giving people the right notice period to fi nd another place in order to be relocated. All of this, of course, takes time.” As part of the acquisition, every landlord and tenant has been paid a generous compensation package. Indeed in most cases, the building owners let the tenants – whether commercial or residential – to continue living or trading

COOL DEAL Dohaland awarded an AED182 million design-and-build contract for district cooling in its flagship Musheireb project in July. Contractor Drake and Scull Water and Power (DSWP) – a subsidiary of Drake and Scull International – was awarded the contract to design, build and service two plants in the project. The contract scope of work includes detailed design and construction of district cooling plants comprising chiller plants and cooling towers, and includes all equipment and services. The total capacity of the two proposed district cooling plants is 29,250TR (tonnage of refrigeration). The contract also covers the design and construction of a chilled water reticulation network (including valves and valve chamber details), the design and construction of complete mechanical electrical and plumbing building services for the plants, the testing and commissioning of the plants, as well as the operation and maintenance of the district cooling plants for a minimum period of five years. “Given Dohaland’s focus on sustainability and environment, the district cooling system will provide an energy efficient approach to the Musheireb project. The qualitative advantages of the system are perceived in terms of better comfort, better reliability, and maximised convenience. It will provide better quality of cooling, maximum cost effectiveness, capital cost elimination, space saving, decrease in sound pollution, and importantly, is environmentally friendly,” said Mohammad Al Marri, Director of Projects at Dohaland.

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for free until the final eviction notices came, according to a recent report in the Gulf Times. In some instances, tenants have not paid rent for over two years while continuing to do business from the premises. Such a public-spirited approach to a potentially sensitive subject is typical of the consultative methods being used by the company. Dohaland spent more than two years on research and innovation before commencing work on construction at Musheireb, and recently opened the doors to its Knowledge Enrichment Centre (KEC), a floating structure located off the Doha Corniche planned as a forum to exchange ideas and thoughts with the public on concepts to do with Musheireb and other projects the company is working on. The centre provides an opportunity for the people of Doha to meet, educate, learn and enjoy the cultural link between the county’s rich heritage and the modern nation, in line with the National Vision for Qatar. “By exchanging these ideas we teach others how to do things differently,” says Al Mohannadi. “We encourage people to look at the development of real estate differently to the way they look at it right now. We want people to realise that whatever is going to be built is going to communicate a certain language to the public and is going to have a reflected identity on the country itself. “We want to stop importing readymade architectural solutions and we want to stop constructing ‘glassy’ buildings that do not fit in this kind of environment,” he continues. “In Qatar we may have modern structures with good-looking facades but many of them are not designed for our environment and do not belong to our history or our architectural language. We want to stop people from being lazy and importing whatever is available for the design of a building. We want them to think again and fi nd a new theme for their development or a new architectural language and work with us in thinking along these lines.” It’s certainly a new approach for Qatar, and Al Mohannadi believes it could provide something of a blueprint for others in the region to follow. “I’m not aware of many real estate developers who think this way, so we feel Dohaland is unique in how we approach the development of real estate,” he says. “We don’t build something for the sake of just building. We want to make sure that the building is built right, built for a purpose and reflects our cultural identity. The reason why Dohaland waited for two years to launch was because we were researching, learning and developing this architectural language that’s rooted in the tradition and the country. We learned more about how our ancestors used to build their buildings and how they used to make a masterplan for a city without any soft ware or architects. For example, an old part of Doha built 30 years ago is very close to being a green building because it is made of natural and local material that is reusable. Every single stone used at that time was reused again. We have to look at the concept of making sure the buildings are not facing the sun and are opened up for the wind direction and that we are creating courtyard spaces within the homes themselves. These are all concepts that our ancestors applied to good effect. So tradition is always the focus

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and a priority when we consider anything in the development of our projects.” In addition to exploring and adding to the country’s cultural heritage, Dohaland also plans to nurture a greater appreciation of the value of sustainability in the construction and development process, in line with the goals of the 2030 Vision. On a global scale, more than 32 percent of the world’s resources are used in the building process, including 40 percent of the world’s energy and 12 percent of its fresh water. In addition, construction produces 40 percent of the world’s landfi ll and air emissions respectively. Dohaland believes such figures are unsustainable, and has placed the use of environmentally sound design and construction practices at the heart of its philosophy. “The building process is resource hungry and, as a growing community and economy, we have a responsibility to ensure that our developments are environmentally and socially sustainable,” says Al Mohannadi. “We are designing buildings to enrich the environmental sustainability of our country. Phase 1 of the Musheireb project has been developed to make sure we are following the guidelines and requirements of LEED certification, and all the buildings we are designing for that project are going to be green buildings. Meanwhile, the masterplan itself has been designed to cater to specific environmental aspects related to this part of the world.”


"An old part of Doha built 30 years ago is very close to being a green building because it is made of natural and local material that is reusable. Every single stone used at that time was reused again” Ultimately, Al Mohannadi hopes the Musheireb project will be a shining example of Qatar’s determination to innovate not just for innovation’s sake, but with the end-goal of improving quality of life and ensuring that Qatar’s heritage and culture evolves as the country grows. “Qatar and Dohaland are working toward our shared aim of transforming the nation by 2030 into a nation capable of sustaining its own development and creating a strong sense of heritage and future living for generations to come,” Al Mohannadi concludes. “I’m lucky and honoured to lead such a team and such a company. We have come a long way from when the concept of the project was just an idea on paper. We recently awarded the Phase I construction contract, and that wouldn’t have happened without a great team here enabling that idea to move from the mind to reality. The greatest achievement will be when Musheireb is delivered to the people, because we are building something that will be part of the whole nation’s history, and every Dohaland employee will be proud to have contributed to that. I am very proud that the employees of Dohaland are working as one team to achieve this objective.” ■

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32% of resoures are used in building processes worldwide

In August, Dohaland announced that it had achieved ‘one million’ man-hours worked on the flagship Musheireb project without Lost Time Incident/Injury (LTI). The measure indicates the man-hours worked on the project without any time lost as a result of an injury or accident on-site. This accomplishment is a result of the company’s adherence to local and international Health and Safety Regulations and adoption of strict inspection, reporting and third-party auditing backed up by rigorous training programmes. Mohammad Al Marri, Project Director of Dohaland said: “This milestone is a reflection of the strict local and international standards that we have applied throughout the project, and underscores our commitment to the highest standards of safety management and the welfare of all our workers, contractors and associates on the project. This achievement is also a reinforcement of the care and attention taken by Dohaland on all works and planning, with a health and safety policy that is amongst the most strict in the world.” The HSE commitment at Dohaland extends not only to those employed directly by Dohaland, but those employed by contractors, too. “We are keen on ensuring that all new hires go through an induction training prior to their involvement in the project,” added Al Marri. “The procedures in place include daily toolbox talks by the supervisors and weekly ones by the HSE staff; risk assessments done by every contractor; daily inspections of the work area carried out by the HSE staff to identify unsafe conditions and acts; and the undertaking of an external audit on a quarterly basis.”

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08/09/2010 14:15



BACK ON TRACK? It may be some way behind Dubai in the rollout stakes, but Doha is rapidly embracing the need for improvements to its mass transportation network – with an urban metro system at the centre of its plans.


n 9 September 2009, Dubai Metro opened to great fanfare and much acclaim. Amid a throng of people, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, bought the fi rst ticket and boarded the train at the Mall of the Emirates station for the metro’s inaugural ride. Over 100 VIPs and members of the press crowded around him, sharing their applause and exclamations of pride at the launch of the region’s fi rst urban rail network. The praise did not go unnoticed further down the Gulf coast in Abu Dhabi and Doha. In the months following the event, as dignitaries, experts and the public alike showered compliments on the pioneering transit system, both cities stepped up their own efforts to rollout plans for metros, trams and light-rail networks in an effort to catch up with their upstart neighbour. And it is Doha, with ambitions to host future global sporting events, that has the most pressing need. The planned Doha Metro in Qatar's capital city will be one of the most advanced rail transit systems in the world when it becomes operational in 2016. The country originally unveiled plans for the metro in 2007 in a bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but lost out to Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro as host city for the games. Nonetheless, the government has decided to press ahead with the project in hopes of hosting future sporting events – not least the 2020

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Olympics and 2022 FIFA World Cup, both of which Qatar is hopeful of bringing to the Middle East for the fi rst time ever and are currently in the bid-preparation stage. The project is certainly seen as an important plank in the Qatari government’s strategic vision for the development of the country. Qatar has a well-developed road network (including a highway system and expressways) and road travel is the extensive mode of transport, but public transit for those without cars still needs improvement. That which does exist is mainly provided by Mowasalat, a state-owned integrated ground transportation company that provides buses servicing around 35 routes covering most locations around Doha, and more than 3000 new and well-maintained taxi sedans. Nonetheless, the metro plans are believed to represent just the type of modern, community-focused, state-of-the-art project that a country with aspirations to being a regional and global power should be developing – particularly given the rapid urban population growth Qatar is currently experiencing. To this end, the Urban Planning and Development Authority, in coordination with the Public Works Authority and other public service institutions in Qatar, commissioned the development of a comprehensive Transport Master Plan for Qatar, the aim of which is to develop attractive, efficient and reliable public transport in the country. The requirements led for the proposal of a comprehensive railway network for future development in

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the Greater Doha Area and across the state – but the scope of the project will be very much defi ned by the success (or otherwise) of the 2022 World Cup bid. Indeed, the possibility of hosting the World Cup has come at a critical moment in the development of Qatar’s infrastructure. Almost 400,000 football fans visited South Africa this year, and to ensure Qatar is ready for an influx on this scale means investment will have to start almost immediately. In addition, Qatar’s own needs are changing at a rapid rate and the Transport Master Plan, completed in 2008, is being updated to take into account the sharp increase in population in the past two years: when work on the plan began in 2006, Qatar’s population was reported to be just 800,000, yet the latest estimates are that there could now be in excess of 1.69 million people, including foreigners, living in the country. Thus while plans for the metro are still in the early phases, it is reported that many contracts will be awarded by the end of the year as Qatar looks to get an early start on development. At the moment it is expected that the metro will include an east coast link, a high-speed link and a link to suburban regions of Doha.

The project

KEY DATA Name: Doha Metro Location: Doha, Qatar Population: 1.69 million (est.) Length: 300km No. of lines: Four No. of stations: 98 Cost: US$7bn (approx.)

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In August 2008, Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment, the national development agency, appointed the German national railway company Deutsche Bahn to produce plans for a rail network in the country. DB International (DBI), the international wing of Deutsche Bahn, along with Qatari Diar prepared conceptual designs for the development of a consolidated railway network in Qatar and later signed an agreement in November 2009 to form a joint venture, Qatar Railways Development Company (QRDC), for implementing, developing and managing the concept design of the railway plan on the Persian Gulf. Qatari Diar holds 51 percent and DBI owns 49 percent shares in the joint venture company. The master plan involves development of metro railway system in Qatar and long-distance and freight lines connecting the emirate with the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The GCC network, which is in the planning

stage, will connect the six member states, Oman, UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, with an estimated 1940km rail network. QRDC, which is currently in the process of being formed, will implement the visionary railway transport and metro networks concept for the entire country. The total project is estimated to cost US$25 billion and the state has allocated a budget of US$900 million for the QRDC. DBI will contribute its expertise in setting up the railway infrastructure as well as providing consultancy services. The QRDC hopes to build an east coast rail link between Ras Laffan and Mesaieed; a 180km high-speed link from Doha to Bahrain across the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway on which trains will have a speed of 350km/h; a 325km freight line (of which 270km will be used for passenger services) connected to the planned GCC rail network; a light rail network serving residential developments; a long-distance rail transport line of about 100km to Saudi Arabia with trains having speeds of up to 200km/h; and the Doha metro network. The Doha metro network is also based on the master plan and is expected to cost approximately US$2.5 billion. The metro will be one of the most modern railway networks in the world. Planned to be built in phases, the metro network will have four lines with an overall length of 300km and have 98 stations. The four lines of Doha metro will link all the major locations of the city such as the Education City and West Bay, Lusail urban development area, Doha airport and the business and conference centre. The railway lines and infrastructure will be through tunnels, overhead railways and at the ground level. Engineering contractors expect Doha to issue construction tenders for the Red line of the Qatari capital’s metro network by the middle of 2011. The Red line is rumoured to be Phase I of the network and the fi rst part of the rail development programme. Meanwhile, construction has started on the first underground metro station, which will be the terminus for the future Doha Metro line. The New Doha International Airport Terminal Metro Station is being designed by Mott MacDonald, a global management, engineering and development consultancy. Senior officials are hailing this the start of a bright new era for transport in Qatar, calling the metro “an effective solution to the city’s growing traffic problems”. Even so, planners in Doha would do well to note additional lessons from the experience of Dubai: the cost of the region’s flagship metro project almost doubled over the course of construction, escalating from an initial estimate of US$4.2 billion to US$7.6 billion. Nevertheless, speaking at a recent conference in Doha, Ala Ghanem, Regional Director of Invensys Rail, said the successful introduction of a metro service in Dubai and plans to develop similar facilities in other GCC states had proved the need for an efficient and effective public transport network in the entire region, including in Qatar. “Even though the Doha Metro project’s costs will be enormous, its benefits will be numerous,” he said, estimating the project’s cost at about US$7 billion at the current level. ■

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Moving in the right direction

Rail infrastructure is enjoying a boom in the Middle East at the moment. MENA Infrastructure talks to a panel of experts to get the outlook for the future of the rail industry in the region. A number of countries in the Middle East are planning to invest heavily in rail infrastructure over the coming years. Most of these developments will be greenfield projects and the first rail infrastructure in those countries. How do you expect these new rail infrastructures to be built and operated? Will governments want full control over process and assets or will we see a strong involvement of private investors and operators as we have seen in other industry sectors in the region? Joss Dare. Much of the region’s new rail infrastructure will be traditionally procured. Governments are attracted to the (perceived) benefits this brings: relative simplicity, control and speed of delivery. However, not all Middle East economies have the wealth to fund this sort of infrastructure, upfront through the public purse. Even those that do, such as Abu Dhabi and KSA, are increasingly concerned with managing their wealth recourses as efficiently as possible and keeping budgets under greater control than was previously seen as necessary. It is likely therefore that, in an age of relative fiscal responsibility, the region’s governments will sooner or later begin to turn to private fi nance for these projects. Inevitably, the region will not be homogenous in this respect, however; some regional governments are more PPP friendly than others. Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, for example, have made it plain that they see public private partnerships (PPP) as central to their procurement plans across a number of sectors, including rail. In contrast, a

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number of KSA projects – such as Saudi Landbridge and Haramain High Speed Link – have been restructured so as not to involve private fi nance at all. Frank Beckers. I expect a combination of different solutions, depending on the nature, size and location of each rail system. The Middle East uses private sector solutions, PPPs and project fi nance structures more than other regions, in order to benefit from the long-term experience and specialised know-how of private companies in areas where the government has not been active. PPP structures also bring a certain discipline to fi nancing, construction and operation since private contractors, operators, lenders and investors share the corresponding risks. However, some rail developments will not be suitable for PPP/project finance. Either because the enormous funding requirements can only be raised at government level or because PPP financing may not provide the operational flexibility to successfully operate the rail system. Thus the operational, commercial and financial solutions available for each rail system need to be carefully analysed. In some cases it may make sense to use different solutions for different parts of a development; for example, while some parts may be eligible for private financing other parts will have to be financed by the government or through government-supported PPPs.

Joss Dare is Managing Partner, Ashurst Dubai and Head of Ashurst MENA Infrastructure and Transport team. With wide ranging experience of infrastructure transactions including landmark PFI/PPP projects. Dare has advised public sector clients, sponsors, lenders and sub-contractors across the region and globally.

Dr. Said J. Al Qahtani. Railway infrastructure is a legacy that will survive for many years. Hence it must be built

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on a lowest Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) basis and harmonised with its operating environment. TCO considerations must override short-term CAPEX constraints as the railway track can survive up to 100 years, rolling stock up to 30 years, and signalling up to 30 years. Furthermore the design should harness the natural strengths of the rail mode. Typically the rail infrastructure of the future should be standard gauge wide, capable of handling freight trains in excess of 200 wagons running up 140km/h, and interleaveable with passenger trains in excess of 250km/h. In the MENA context the design should favour low maintenance ballast-less tracks in sandy conditions; be diesel powered as this energy source is regionally, if not domestically, sourced; most of the electronics should be onboard to minimise maintenance over long distances and to ensure dynamic densification of traffic using moving block signalling principles and greatly enhancing safety; the rail bogies axles should be self-steering to double, if not quadruple, the rail wheel life; and exploit all electronic means ranging from insulated gate bipolar transistor switchgear to traction control systems so as to maximise traction effort of locomotives. Safe, scheduled railways with capacity reservation have the best chance of commercial success. Freight services are best operated in block loads with consolidation and road/ rail bimodality for heavy palletised consumer packaged goods at selected hubs. Intercity passenger services should be run at sufficient high-speed to conclude the trip in two hours to avoid erosion by air travel alternatives. Eventually all railway companies run out of capital as they aspire to satisfy country-scale transportation challenges with company sized balance sheets. Even vertically integrated state-owned enterprises (China, India) solicit PPP investment, normally starting with perimeter terminals and rolling stock. To ensure alignment of interests and equal exploitation of assets, these PPP’s must encompass all the assets, not only new ones. What are the biggest challenges you expect to face when implementing rail systems in the MENA region, and how can these be overcome? FB. Most MENA countries have little or no rail infrastructure in place. Therefore, greenfield projects will have to be undertaken in markets with no experience in building and operating rail systems, no historic traffic numbers, and an inadequate regulatory environment. The ability to design an entire rail system from scratch to suit current as well as future needs is a unique opportunity. But it also presents challenges as numerous developments (freight, passenger, light rail, metro, etc.) must be undertaken in parallel, which requires significant coordination regarding the interfaces between those systems and the country’s other transport infrastructure. To the extent governments want to maximise private fi nancing, all risks will have to be analysed carefully and allocated between the various stakeholders. Private investors and lenders will probably be unwilling to bear the risk

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of future traffic volumes as those are difficult to forecast in the absence of historic traffic data. At the same time, the private sector is best qualified to manage the operations of a rail company and take the corresponding commercial and technical performance risk. Solutions such as performance-based availability payments are designed to reflect such a risk allocation. SQ. Advisors brought up with an experiential engineering paradigm. They will at best result in uninteresting returns or a perpetuation of historical engineering challenges. Very few highly successful projects contained zero innovation risk at the time. Most of the success stories include engineering innovations that naysayers decried at the time. Smart capital chases smart ideas. The promoters of new rail infrastructure must include some level of technical innovation risk to take unfair advantage of the near future of rail technologies. This well considered strategy creates a new genetic base for profitability not previously experienced and of significant value to catapult the rail business forward without re-investment for a long time. Cultural and language diversity from traditional rail seniors and major suppliers can also present a challenge. In order to overcome this, developers can create a regional R&D and Organisational Change Management capability to manage diversity, and architect the rail outcome dispassionately, thus removing the post-colonial and neocolonial political alliances from the vendor base. In addition, the environment and logistics of the MENA region poses some of the most formidable challenges for overland rail projects. It is necessary to adapt the rail solution to cost effectively cope with sand, heat, and wind and set up many and smaller depots along the rail route to concurrently roll out new lines during construction and install low maintenance rail solutions.

Frank Beckers, Managing Director and Global Co-Head of Deutsche Bank’s Project & Capital Advisory (PCA) franchise, is based in Dubai and responsible for the PCA business in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Before joining Deutsche Bank in 1998 he worked for five years at DEG (German Investment & Development Company). He holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Cologne, Germany, and a Masters in International Management from the Community of European Management Schools (CEMS).

JD. Alongside market capacity constraints, there are two key legal/commercial issues facing the development of the MENA rail market. The fi rst is transparency or deliverability; all bidders – in all sectors, not just rail – want to see a clear, efficient and transparent tender process under a legal system that clearly enables the project at hand. In this respect, the springing up of central PPP authorities and PPP laws across the region (Jordan, Kuwait, Egypt etc) is a welcome development for the PPP market, but this remains critical for all infrastructure procurement in the region. It is essential that the market can have confidence that the public sector authorities in question will deliver the projects they say they are going to deliver. The second is the risk profi le for the region’s fi rst PPP projects must be made attractive to the private sector. If governments seek to transfer unacceptable risks, bids will be few and far between and those that do come will be unnecessarily expensive. There is often no meaningful historical data of demand for public transport services in the region and this makes volume risk even more unpalatable for the private sector than in other sectors (for example,

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airports and ports). A failure to understand this and to structure around this risk will fatally wound many projects (witness Saudi Landbridge). Given the current financial climate, do you predict there will be problems finding investors for rail infrastructure projects? Where do you think funding is likely to come from and why? SQ. Rail infrastructure projects are large-scale investments and very attractive for developmental states, especially in tough economic times. Private capital is less patient and will seek out near term annuity returns. The latter is evidenced by industry driven investments in newly discovered mineral deposits. The funding paradigm of railways is largely aligned with the governance model of their host countries. Therefore private capital will seek out rail projects in market driven economies where the end-user of the rail service will accept the risk in take and pay type arrangements. Once the governance model indicates developmental objectives, private capital steps down and governments are forced to underwrite or make the investment. In heavy haul mine railings the mineral producers are always interested to invest in the railways as part of their production process and risk management strategy. JD. Undoubtedly, MENA PF lending was seriously hit by the fi nancial crisis, but the willingness to lend is slowly returning. However, lenders are much more conservative than previously, desiring greater levels of equity commitment and better terms generally in order to commit. The dearth of syndication opportunities gives rise to bigger clubs of banks, which can in turn be harder to manage logistically. We expect that funding for future MENA rail projects will tap into multiple forms of fi nance: conventional debt increasingly sitting alongside Islamic and ECA tranches. JBIC has long been a force in the region, but with the recent rise of Chinese and Korean construction fi rms, the influence of institutions like Korea Exim and China Exim is likely to grow. Project bonds (presumably unwrapped) may also play more of a part in the larger projects going forward. FB. Given the large number of rail and other infrastructure projects planned in the region and the correspondingly vast amounts of fi nancing required, we will undoubtedly face challenges in obtaining funding. Even if governments decide to fi nance these developments themselves, a carefully defi ned strategy will be required to protect sovereign ratings and the cost of fi nancing. It is likely that governments in the Middle East will continue to involve the private sector and aim to maximise private fi nancing. However, the required debt amounts will probably exceed the capacity of the bank loan market, which is the most widely used fi nancing source in the region. Export Credit Agencies will be unable to fi ll the gap since rail projects are less equipment-based than, for

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example, refi nery or power projects. If governments want to avoid shouldering this burden, upcoming infrastructure projects must be able to access the international bond market, which offers a far greater liquidity pool than the bank loan market. However a bond fi nancing requires careful structuring in order to obtain the requisite credit ratings from international rating agencies. If this is considered from the beginning and the relevant expertise is brought to the table (such as involving fi nancial advisors at an early stage), raising bond fi nancing should neither delay a project nor increase its cost. Similarly, will local and international contractors, rolling stock suppliers and operators have the capacity to design, build and operate all rail systems planned? Which challenges will contractors and procurement agencies be facing? FB. I expect some constraints on this side. Not only may excess demand result in price increases and/or delays in construction, these constraints may already become apparent during the procurement process. Any competitive tender process, the aim of which is to obtain the best price and quality (whether for traditional procurement or PPP), requires a certain number of bidders to be meaningful, as well as substantial manpower from governments and bidders. The number of tender processes key players will be able to undertake will also depend on the likelihood of these processes being completed, as well as their duration. JD. If half of what is currently planned comes to the market at anything like the same time, the market will reach capacity very quickly. Governments should bear in mind that the market craves a steady and predictable deal pipeline. The jurisdiction that best provides this – with bankable risk profi les and transparent tender processes – will attract the most market share in the global and regional competition for capital. Also, the market’s capacity is not static. As more MENA projects are brought to market, regional expertise in the rail sector will grow quickly. Th is could be exacerbated if predicted contractions in the European market come to pass, prompting the players in that market to increase their overseas focus still farther. SQ. Generally speaking the rail industry in developing economies has suffered from under investment for many years. The rail awakening in China, India, South America, the MENA and sub-Saharan Africa is rapidly overloading the supplier market, which is scaled only to meet the business demands of North America, Europe and Australia. In order to gain the full potential of rail transport investment, new age railroads should fully utilise technology. Th is could lead to supplier constraints as, conventional engineering struggles to mobilise these innovations. Attempts to mitigate these constraints in the MENA region could include careful supplier management and competitive supplier development programs with strong local/regional development and content. ■

Dr. Said J. Al Qahtani is Managing Director of Central Mining Company Investment Limited (CMCI), a holding company in Saudi Arabia. By his earnest endeavour, CMCI has successfully formed JV companies in the field of mineral processing, mining operation and process additives with Outotec Germany, Kier UK, Comedat Jordan, Arrmaz USA and Citadel Resources Australia. Dr. Said had recognised the suitability of economical ballast-less rail track system to the desert environment and established T-Track Saudi, a joint venture with Tubular Track of South Africa, to provide solution to the track challenges in desert sand areas.

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Asset preservation With corrosion prevention a major construction challenge, are we are doing everything that is needed to ensure the viability of our critical infrastructures?


pedestrian walkway over a busy highway collapses. A water pipeline fails and floods a major road, damaging a number of homes and businesses. An aboveground storage tank collapses and releases hundreds of gallons of hazardous liquid into the environment. An F18 aircraft is landing when the front landing gear fails and the plane is lost. What is the common factor in each of these catastrophic failures? Each is due to corrosion. It was recently determined by the World Corrosion Organisation that the annual cost of corrosion is US$2.2 trillion (between three and four percent of the gross domestic product of industrialised nations), while in the US alone the annual direct cost of corrosion in the infrastructure category is estimated at US$22.6 billion. The science of corrosion prevention and mitigation has existed for decades, and through the efforts of NACE International – a 65-year-old organisation of 23,000 members in 110 countries based in Houston, Texas – more and more is known each year. Industry standards, training and inspection protocol offer effective solutions to owners who are demanding a longer life from their structures; indeed, according to NACE’s Chris Fowler, there is a defi ned science of corrosion that can yield predictable results to extend

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“For those in the infrastructure industry, now is the time to consider corrosion prevention, taking advantage of the available knowledge and training, we can help ensure that the assets we count on today are useful when we need them tomorrow.”

– some say indefi nitely – the life of a structure. “We must address this issue today if we want to ensure that these vital assets are available for use in the future,” he insists. “Th is is possible through the use of an effective plan and continuing commitment by all levels of management for corrosion prevention and mitigation practices.” Fowler uses the example of oil and gas pipelines to illustrate his point. In a NACE Technology Gap Analysis released in 2008, it was estimated that the cost of replacing and maintaining pipelines is US$1.1 million per mile. But with nearly 500,000 miles of pipelines in use in the United States alone, that cost would exceed an insurmountable US$0.5 trillion. “Clearly, the world community must come to terms with corrosion while maintaining pipeline infrastructure,” he says. “Unprotected or poorly protected pipelines, whether buried in the ground, exposed to the atmosphere, or submerged in water, are susceptible to corrosion. Without proper maintenance, every pipeline system will eventually deteriorate.” Fortunately, many of today’s corrosion problems can be addressed with current technology and with proper application of mitigation methods. “First, a new inspection regime as part of an integrity management programme will provide an opportunity to more fully understand the

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integrity of the systems and how to ensure safety,” says Fowler. “Th is often requires looking beyond the traditional mindset of fi nding and fi xing, towards a preventive maintenance approach.” International standards also have a key role to play, for as new standards emerge, so do the tools to understand the integrity of the systems. Among the technology gaps identified in the NACE Gap Analysis were the need to understand how various factors influence corrosion and integrity, how to better detect the onset and extent of corrosion, and how to improve the overall education, training and public awareness of the influence of corrosion. “Once standards are adopted – whether voluntarily or by mandate – the next step in the battle against corrosion is investing in a trained and qualified workforce,” explains Fowler. “The need to educate begins at the top with decision-makers such as chief financial officers, engineering vice presidents and owners, whose important decisions today play a key role in preserving the assets tomorrow. Front-line managers and field personnel, however, all need to be involved in the process if it is to succeed.” NACE and its members have developed training to address the issues facing the infrastructure community for those at all levels, many of which lead to world-recognised certifications. These include cathodic protection, one of the key techniques to address structural corrosion; and coatings, which most engineers believe is the number one tool to address corrosion. Th is also highlights the vital role of research and development departments in the infrastructure industries, which will ultimately provide solutions to the next generation of corrosion-related crises. “Today, many of the corrosion problems facing the industry can be solved with current solutions and techniques, but as industry continues to push critical infrastructure beyond the original design life, more and better solutions will be needed,” says Fowler. Public awareness is also playing an important role as governments adopt policies to preserve their infrastructures. The good news is that attitudes towards corrosion are changing, albeit slowly. For example, through legislation like the Corrosion Prevention Act pending before the US Congress and similar actions by other governments throughout the world, corrosion is beginning to win the attention of those who can affect change. For example, the Corrosion Prevention Act, once passed, will provide the energy industry in the United States with a 50 percent tax credit for corrosion work that goes above and beyond regulatory requirements. Th is is the fi rst step in encouraging industry with fi nancial incentives as they deal with the impact of corrosion. Planning today to mitigate imminent corrosion is vital for the future of critical assets, as well as the long-term health of the global economy. “For those in the infrastructure industry, now is the time to consider corrosion prevention,” concludes Fowler. “Taking advantage of the available knowledge and training, we can help ensure that the assets we count on today are useful when we need them tomorrow.” „

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otun Paints, one of the world’s leading producers and suppliers of paints and coatings, announced this summer that it has secured a massive contract to paint the major part of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), a state-of-the-art and fully self-contained centre for doing business and facilitating investment and enterprise currently under construction in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The high-profile undertaking, which will involve paintwork on 850,000 square metres of the financial centre, is part of the manufacturer’s aggressive growth strategy in the region. Envisioned as part of the Kingdom’s overall economic diversification programme, KAFD is being built by Hill International – with Omrania & Associates and Gensler & Associates acting as the project consultants – and will have a total built-up area of 1.6 million square metres. With the aim to protecting the structure from the elements as well as natural wear and tear, Jotun recommended its Fenomastic range for the structure’s interiors and Jotashield for the exteriors, with solvent-free Jotafloor coatings to be used for the floors. “The King Abdullah Financial District project stands to be one of our biggest achievements in terms of decorative projects we have undertaken in Riyadh to date, and we are very excited to complete this enormous task using our specially formulated paints and coatings,” says Kjell Gundersen, Managing Director of Jotun Saudia. “Given the important role it will play in further strengthening the Kingdom’s position as the Middle East’s financial capital, we are committed to ensuring that the paint solutions we will deliver will provide maximum protection for this important icon of the Kingdom’s economic dominance.” Upon its completion, KAFD will house the Capital Market Authority and the Stock Exchange (Tadawul), as well as financial institutions and other service providers such as accountants, auditors, lawyers, analysts, rating agencies, consultants and IT providers. In addition, the project will also accommodate a financial academy for 5000 students, offices, hotels, shops, recreational facilities, waterways, squares, parks, sports arenas, restaurants and six mosques. A monorail system will serve as the main means of transportation within the development, while skywalk-style bridges will connect all 30 buildings within the financial district.

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What’s on the horizon for the paints and coatings industry? MENA Infrastructure speaks to a panel of experts from the paints and coatings industry for an update of the activities within this growing market. In your experience working for a global organisation, what are the specific influences on operations in the paints and coating industry in the MENA region? Trine Finnovolden. After the fi nancial crisis, we have experienced reduction in the construction business in Dubai, but in areas like Abu Dhabi, Qatar, and Saudi, there are still a lot of megaprojects ongoing. Compared to Europe and USA, the MENA region has recovered quicker from the fi nancial crisis, and there is still a willingness to invest in certain areas in the region. Michael Steve Osborne. Operations in the paint and coating industry in the region are much the same as in other regions. The end users drive the specification and are always looking for solutions to meet their specific needs. Oil and gas end-users are the most influential, as that industry drives the economies of the Middle East; however, with the recent (past decade) growth and population increases in the region, civil and infrastructure projects also play a major role. The most significant issue in the industry region-wide is still the availability of qualified contractors to carry out the application works not the products themselves.

focus on low price products whereas in other markets more sophisticated coatings solutions and systems are preferred. A prerequisite for prompt and comprehensive service is the good contact with our customers. Our staff consisting of technicians, chemists and scientists in research and application laboratories keep a very close contact with our customers. Our laboratories develop optimum solutions to problems, complying with current trends and specific customer requirements. Wherever high performance products are developed, BK Giulini is the partner of choice to provide additives and product design innovations. The science behind industrial paints and coatings is always evolving. What have been the most significant developments within the market in recent months and what effects do you envisage they will have on the industry? MSO. The development of specific products to meet specific requirements continues to be the focus of the industry. In this region hydrocarbon resistant, acid resistant, and resistance to ultraviolet and abrasion remain the key focus points for our clients. Our successes in these endeavours are closely linked to developments in the chemical industry

Michael Osborne is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Nukote Coating Systems International (USA). Mr. Osborne also holds the positions of Managing Director of Nukote Arabia, Managing Director of Nukote Coating Systems Singapore, and is a Director of Nukote Coating Systems China, Nukote Coating Systems Asia Pacific and Nukote Coating Systems in India. He holds Master Degrees in Civil Engineering and Business Administration and resides in Singapore with his wife and two daughters.

Roberto Wurst. BK Giulini’s success is based on understanding our customer’s needs and requirements. We take a close look at regional conditions in order to develop the most suitable solution for each individual market. We are aware that the environmental circumstances differ from region to region. In some countries we observe a strong

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utilising nano and other innovative developments to enhance our products performance characteristics. RW. Environmental aspects have become the most important issue of future product development for BK Giulini’s Business Unit, Bekaphos. Sustainability and ecological compatibility are the key drivers of innovation. Ecologically friendly properties and sustainability are fi rst principles for our development and innovation activities. The development of VOC-reduced and VOC-free additives for the coatings industry is the first priority in our application laboratory. As a successful example for a product based

RW. Long term success is what we strive for and this can only be achieved by responsible care for people, environment and resources. The professional competence of our highly qualified staff combines experience and technology in the full range of products and services we offer and the exceptional quality we guarantee. In addition to growing consumption, requirements concerning quality and environmental protection are permanently increasing. Most of our product range originates from mineral salts without hazardous potential. Experienced safety and active environmental protection are part of our safety philosophy. Safety, health, quality and environmental protection are our company’s core values. Of course, we follow all relevant

“Compared to Europe and USA, the MENA region has recovered quicker from the financial crisis, and there is still willingness to invest in certain areas in the region” Trine Finnovolden on natural and renewable resources, BK Giulini is proud to present the green defoamer LOPON E 81. Instead of mineral or silicone oil we concentrate on vegetable oils as raw material for this all-round talent speciality. Th is highly effectively defoamer offers best compatibility with different types of emulsions and offers a wide range of applications with lowest dosage. Th is extraordinary speciality is almost VOC-free in comparison to other commercial defoamer products. TF. In an international company like Jotun, we have for many years focused on products to be less harmful to the environment, and now we see this development also in UAE and other Middle East markets. We have products with a very low content of VOCs, so they will give LEED points, and we even have a heat reflective paint (Jotashield Thermo) that will lead to reduced electricity consumption by reducing the amount of energy needed to cool down buildings.

“The most significant issue in the industry region-wide is still the availability of qualified contractors to carry out the application works not the products themselves” Michael Steve Osbourne

Health and safety is obviously a paramount concern in the paints and coatings industry. What are the biggest challenges you face when trying to maintain safety standards?

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contractors, enabling them to follow and implement these procedures correctly remains our biggest challenge.

health and safety regulations in production and packaging. Moreover, we implemented a management policy that meets the requirements of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. Furthermore, we establish new work safety goals every year and continuously monitor their implementation. We put people first: experienced safety and active environmental protection are part of our safety philosophy.

“ Environmental aspects have become the most important issue of future product development . Sustainability and ecological compatibility are the key drivers of innovation” Roberto Wurst TF. At Jotun we have had a specific internal health, safety and environment (HSE) policy for many years, and we continuously have our employees in these areas. We are now in the process of getting ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification to further strengthen our commitment to improving our HSE standards. The challenge is for our new employees and contractors working on site, to ensure the implementation of our high HSE standards. MSO. The ability of the contractors who apply the products is the paramount concern. All health, safety and environmental procedures are clearly defi ned in our method statements and specifications. Educating and training of the

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What are the biggest projects you are working on at the moment? MSO. We have a variety of projects underway at the moment in the region. In India, Qatar and Abu Dhabi we are working on large civil and infrastructure projects, primarily sewage treatment expansion projects; in Saudi Arabia environmental related asbestos encapsulation and chemical containment projects; in China, railway infrastructure; in Singapore subway expansion and of course the major civil construction works in and around the new Casino developments there. We have many large projects underway in all regions. TF. We are still working on the Burj Khalifa, to fi nish interior painting in all floors. We have also delivered all the paint for the Metro; the red line is almost done and the work on the green line is now ongoing. On top of that we are supplying to Mina Al Arab villas in Ras Al Khaima, Mazaya Villas in Dubai, and Concourse 3 in Dubai international Airport. RW. Currently we are working on several projects such as new developments in the field of dispersing agents for the paint industry, additives for gypsum plasters and processing aids for cement based levelling systems. We are constantly enlarging our wide range of state-of-theart specialties with respect to functional, economical and environmental performance. Optimum process control and technology, which can be optionally designed for online purposes, complete the range of service offered. You are invited to learn more about our new additions during the coming European Coating Show in Nuremberg. We are looking forward to seeing you at our stand in March 2011. ■

Trine Finnovolden is the General Manager of Jotun UAE LLC since 2008. Trine has been working in Jotun for over 20 years in the Head Quarters in Norway. She has extensive experience from different managerial positions, as well as from improvement projects. In 2006 she was appointed as Operations Manager in Jotun UAE.

Roberto Wurst has been working in the chemical industry for over 25 years. He joined BK Guilini 10 years ago as General Manager of the subsidiary in Argentina, thereafter moving to the German headquarters where he has headed the Business Unit Bekaphos since late 2006.

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Environmentally considerate lubricants (ECLs) for construction equipment Is it possible to save money and increase productivity whilst helping to protect the environment? Patrick Laemmle, Executive Director of PANOLIN AG, reveals the key points to consider.


ong life oils reduce oil consumption and waste and offer higher productivity due to a reduction of downtime. If these oils are also high performance products machine reliability and availability are maintained or enhanced. In addition if these oils are also biodegradable any spills will have a reduced impact on the environment. With regard to ecology, the formulation of existing legislation prescribes principles rather than literally requiring machinery operators to use biodegradable lubricants. Th is requirement can however be derived clearly from specific national legislation if correctly interpreted. Furthermore, several national standards and norms already exist for biodegradable lubricants, and the use of these lubricants is prescribed more frequently by local authorities and operators. At the same time, a good many companies have replaced mineral oils with biodegradable lubricants and voluntarily adopted ISO 14000 on their own initiative.

“Several national standards and norms already exist for biodegradable lubricants, and the use of these lubricants is prescribed more frequently by local authorities and operators” In terms of technology, the main task of a lubricant is to protect the machine from wear and corrosion. In the case of hydraulic fluids, the power-flow is another main task. Top Tier ECLs are synthetic lubricants, which are superior to mineral based lubricants in many aspects. PANOLIN ECL technology is summarised in short as follows: saturated synthetic esters; high long-term resistance to thermal oxidation; no sludge residues, no resinous deposits; low pourpoint (-60 °C); excellent wear protection for hydraulic systems (FZG 12, Vickers V 104, Vickers 35 VQ 25); life time fi ll. A lot of construction machines using these lubricants operate for more than 10,000 hours before an oil change is required. Different machines are running on PANOLIN HLP SYNTH 46 for long working hours with nearly no change in oil characteristics. The analysis parameters show low wear and therefore prove the excellent anti-wear properties. Due to the longevity of PANOLIN HLP SYNTH no fresh oil was required for oil drains. The end of the lifetime of these lubricants is still not in sight.

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Patrick Laemmle is the co-owner and Board Member of PANOLIN AG. He was born and raised in St. Gallen, Switzerland where he undertook a three year commercial apprenticeship. After a year in the French speaking part of Switzerland near Fribourg he joined PANOLIN AG and soon took over the responsibility for the production unit and later on the R&D team. Today he is mainly responsible for technology and exportation within PANOLIN AG.

Appropriate monitoring and upkeep is recommended and many companies pay great attention to preventative maintenance in this connection. With regard to the longer operating life of PANOLIN biodegradable lubricants, this means regular oil analyses in the laboratory and any necessary measures accordingly. Regular laboratory checks will indicate excessive water or dirt content, for example, so that corrective action can be taken in good time. To conclude, the experience so far with PANOLIN HLP SYNTH rapidly biodegradable hydraulic fluid is summarised as follows: same basic formulation for more than 20 years; approved by OEMs for work and service fi llings; oil drain intervals exceeding 10,000 operating hours or 10 years (life time fi ll). From the smallest to largest construction machinery, from injection moulding machines to gigantic lock gate hydraulics, only positive experience has been reported. Over the past 25 years a new lubricant technology has been developed: Environmentally Considerate Lubricants (ECLs) that minimise environmental impact in case of incidental spillages. Today’s top performers in this lubricant class meet or often exceed the performance requirements set by the OEMs. Furthermore, the long drain periods minimise lubricating costs when summed up over the equipment lifespan. ■

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Building a greener future MENA Infrastructure speaks to Hélène Pelosse, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, to find out why renewable energy represents the future for power generation in the region.


hen the International Renewable Energy Agency – or IRENA, for short – chose Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City development as the home for its global headquarters in an announcement made last year, more than a few eyebrows were raised. For starters, it marked the first time an international organisation had chosen a city in the Middle East as its central base. Some critics suggested it was part of a greenwashing campaign on behalf of a small country with a massive carbon footprint. But perhaps more importantly, Masdar itself had not even been built at the time the announcement was made, with construction on the first phase not expected to be complete until 2013 at the earliest. None of which bothers the agency’s Director General, Hélène Pelosse, who sees only positive benefits from the fact that the Middle East is finally showing a commitment to – and gaining recognition for – its role as a global energy leader for the 21st century. “Abu Dhabi was very motivated to get IRENA’s headquarters,” she explains. “With 98 billion barrels, the emirate is the seventh-largest proven oil reserve in the world, and I actually think it is very far sighted for such a major oil producing country to start the renewable energy transition and to so openly demonstrate its commitment.” In many ways, Abu Dhabi’s carbon-neutral city of the future is the ideal home for an organisation geared towards providing a greener, more sustainable future for all. It will run entirely on solar and wind energy, and its 10-feet-wide streets will allow no cars, planners preferring instead to transport people underground and overhead via electric rapid transit systems. A solar-powered desalination tank will provide drinking water. The city’s grey water will be collected and used for irrigation. Waste-to-energy plants are in the works. And if its self-stated target to become the world’s fi rst zero-carbon urban centre is realised, there could be no better location for IRENA as it looks to drive the renewable energy agenda forward. As Director General, the French national is responsible for delivering on the agency’s vision of promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy across the world. She believes the decision to host the organisation in Abu Dhabi is already having a positive impact on regional attitudes to sustainability and the implementation of green solutions, suggesting that it has encouraged more people and organisations

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to embrace the possibilities offered by renewable sources of energy. Indeed, she feels the emirate has already provided strong support for the agency’s goals. “It places the subject of renewable energy at the heart of a major oil-producing region,” she says, “and Abu Dhabi is already showing the way by spending 10 percent of its GDP on Masdar, and by launching the first concentrated solar power plant in the region, a 100MW plant in the desert of Liwa, SHAMS One. Th is project is very symbolic of what the region can do; it is the first to be launched in the region, yet at 100MW it is one of the biggest of its kind.” Surprisingly, however, she dismisses the idea that the Middle East should become a leader in sustainable thinking and renewable technologies as missing the point. “It is not about leadership; it is about harvesting potential,” she insists. “And the renewable energy potential of the region is

“An awareness as to their real renewable energy potential is still missing in many countries”

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The UAE placed a

US$20 billion order for 4 nuclear reactors from Korean Electric Power Corp

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huge. There is sun, and there is space, with the deserts. I was involved in the launch of the Mediterranean Solar Plan and I know that a lot is being done. Policy frameworks are currently being developed. And many countries in the region have set renewable energy targets.” She cites Bahrain and Kuwait, both of which plan to include five percent renewable energy in their energy mix by 2020, and Abu Dhabi, which is aiming at seven percent, as great examples of the good work currently being undertaken, but maintains that this must be seen as just the start of a greater commitment to renewable energy development. “All of the different types of renewable energy are underexploited in the region,” she says. “The most obvious is solar energy, with the highest potential in the world. But in Africa, for example, only seven percent of the hydropower potential is harvested, and only one percent of the geothermal energy. Kenya and Ethiopia, for instance, are developing it but the whole Rift Valley could benefit from such development too. There are also some good spots for wind, like around the Red Sea Coast, for instance. Egypt already has 430MW wind capacity installed in the area and will launch four 250MW projects soon. And as for biomass, algae technologies are good candidates for the Gulf region to exploit; with saltwater and plenty of sun you can grow an awful lot of algae.”

Renewable energy is one of the key solutions to solving the world’s energy challenges. But while many countries already foster the production and use of renewable energy, adoption is still limited in spite of its vast potential. Pelosse believes there are a number of major obstacles to a renewable energy future. “First, an awareness as to their real renewable energy potential is still missing in many countries,” she explains. “To develop an adequate renewable energy network, policies need to be in place, and then fi nance mechanisms have to be installed. Next comes the need for capacity building and training of people, and IRENA can help with that.” Another element slowing down the widespread adoption of renewable energy are the costs still allegedly attached to these technologies. “As oil is still heavily subsidised – more than US$550 billion per year according to the International Energy Agency – a lot of people still think renewable energies are expensive by comparison,” says Pelosse. “The true cost is never taken into account, like the positive impact on environment. Th is vision needs to be corrected, and that’s something IRENA will aim to do.” The agency recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, and Pelosse feels the organisation has already achieved much in the way of building the right foundations for future success. “Th is first year of existence has mostly been

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about building the agency and recruiting our experts,” she says, adding that even so it has still managed to launch a number of renewable energy actions, such as the Tonga Energy Roadmap. “Right after I was elected, the leaders of these Pacific islands came to me for help with their 20102020 Energy Roadmap. Th is archipelago, like many others, is highly dependent on imported oil and needs to improve electricity access to some remote islands. With IRENA’s help, Tonga has developed the 2010-2020 Tonga Energy RoadMap, which aims for a 50 percent reduction of diesel importation accomplished through a range of renewable technologies, including wind and solar, as well as innovative efficiencies. We will then use that work as a blueprint for other small islands.” As for the next 12 months, Pelosse feels that the coming year will see a number of new projects develop, predominantly based around promoting the idea of maximising renewable energy’s potential. “Many people are not aware of the huge potential of renewable energy,” says Pelosse. “Statistics focus on grid-connected electricity generation and miss the off-grid part – all the solar panels and mini wind turbines that power a house, a school or a village. Hundreds of thousands of these systems exist in places like Bangladesh, for example. Also, biomass is usually considered in statistics as renewable energy. But is it really renewable when women spend most of the day walking further and further to collect wood for their home, increasing deforestation in developing countries? Letting different countries know what their renewable energy potential is and telling them how best to tap into it is one of IRENA’s roles.”

“Statistics focus on grid-connected electricity generation and miss the off-grid part – all the solar panels and mini wind turbines that power a house, a school or a village” Looking at different scenarios for renewable energy use will also be a key area of focus. “Too often, it is thought that renewable energies are mostly to be used for peak energy needs,” Pelosse adds. “That’s wrong. By combining sources (like hydro and biomass, as in Brazil, for example), renewables can provide for baseload demand, too.” Ultimately, she believes there are lots of exciting things happening everywhere in the renewable energy field. To quote one example: the International Air Transport Association (representing 93 percent of all air traffic) is working on standards to meet its commitment to use 10 percent of biofuel for planes in 2017. “If everybody wants to achieve a good level of development we need energy – and there won't be energy available only with fossil fuels,” she concludes. “With renewable energy we have a chance to achieve that. It's our only chance.” ■

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SOLAR PROJECTS IN THE MENA REGION • In Egypt last year, the combined Cycle Power Island was contracted, which is currently under construction and expected to start operation in 2010. A 140MW ISCC plant with a 20MW parabolic trough solar field has also been built • The Tunisian government outlined plans to develop solar power capacity to diversify reliance on traditional sources of electricity. Over 40 projects are planned for the period 2010-2016, with 29 schemes financed by the private sector • Morocco is undertaking a US$9 billion solar energy project, with five solar power generation sites throughout Morocco expected to produce approximately 2000MW of electricity by 2020 • Jordan has the JOAN1 project, which is expected to enter operation in 2013 and will be the largest CSP project in the world using direct solar steam generation • Saudi Arabia is planning to make solar power a major contributor to energy supply in the next five to 10 years, and has already begun building a solar-powered water desalination plant, the first step in a three-part programme to introduce solar energy into the Kingdom • In Abu Dhabi, a total of around 1500MW of CSP is slated for development by 2020, with the first 100MW already under construction at Madinat Zayed and due for completion in 2011. Even if the 1500MW is developed, this could be just the start for the emirate • In Algeria, a national goal has been set to meet 10 percent of energy demand with renewable energy by 2025. One solar thermal plant is under construction, and two more ISCC plants, with an output of 400MW and 70MW CSP, will be developed between 2010 and 2015 • Syria’s power demand is predicted to skyrocket and the demand pattern is shifting. Thus, investment in its electricity sector – together with a shift away from heavy fuel oil – is now the priority

World Bank is loaning

US$5.5 billlion to fund solar projects in the MENA region

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31/08/2010 16:54



Bringing your business into the new decade Contax Partners’ Filippo Fantechi tells MENA Infrastructure how the energy sector can capitalise on the opportunities in the region and ensure long-term success with a methodical business plan. Over the past few years the Middle East energy project market has experienced unprecedented levels of award activity. Is this set to continue? Filippo Fantechi. Between 2005 and 2008 the market saw an average annual Capex award value of just under US$70 billion. In 2009, this value increased to an unprecedented level of US$95 billion, largely driven by the region’s strategic energy production targets to ensure a solid position for the future upturns in demand, the relaxation in the contracting market after the crunch period and increased gas demand from the industrial, power and petrochemical sectors. Further to announced government investment plans, it is evident that the Middle East energy market will continue to be the land of opportunity for the coming years, with US$650-700 billion worth of projects having already been announced for award between 2010 and 2014, an 85 percent increase over the previous five year total. Around US$100bn of these new announcements have actually been made within the past few months, thus giving further encouragement that the levels of activity and opportunity will remain high within this market for the near future.

-2 Project feasibility/ conceptual design

Market itelligence data feed

-1 Project intelligence gathering

1. Stock the pipline

Project awareness Opportunities qualified based on pre-defined criteria

Opportunities prioritised based on the right opportunity for the company at that time

2 2. 33. 4. Qualify Q Prioritise P Target the right opportunities o o opportunities opportunities

Pipeline activity Source: Contax Partners

realisation. Customer orientation around these opportunities is also critiGiven this market situation and the number of opportunities that are cal. Identifying and understanding your customer’s real need and then creon the table, how can companies enhance their business development ating an aligned and differentiated value proposition that your organisation efforts to heighten their success? can uniquely deliver will stand your company in good stead. Undertaking FF. The key is to ensure that one’s business development process is robust due diligence prior and post award to ensure that your customers, contracyet flexible and effective at identifying, prioritising, tartors, suppliers and/or partners have the capability to deliver geting and securing the right opportunities. A company’s is essential to developing and maintaining your reputation long-term success strongly resides on this process. As going forward. seasoned business developers, our World Class Business Development Methodology focuses strongly on a four-step How does Contax Partners support companies with the opportunity pipeline management process; stock, qualify, development and realisation of their growth strategies prioritise and target. Proactively identifying all opportuniin the region? ties; passing them through a qualification process to assess FF. For over 25 years, the Contax Partners team has develwhether they are suitable and a good fit for the company oped deep market and sector knowledge and trusted advisor early on; and prioritising the opportunities in line with the networks that enable us to access key decision makers to test key pre-identified criteria will help one to determine the and validate our hypotheses. Coupled with this, we have detarget projects. Once this has been achieved, the develop- Based in Bahrain, Filippo Fantechi veloped our own unique proprietary database regarding the is Contax Partners’ Chief ment of a unique and compelling value proposition that can Executive Officer. He has over 15 Middle East energy projects that provide us with the ability of business development, deliver both value to the customer as well as maximise the years to produce fact based analysis, insights and advise to enable project management, sales management, establishing company’s profitability is critical. our customers to make better and more informed decisions. business operations and market Our robust business development and advisory methodstrategy experience within What would you say are the key success factors that a the Middle East, Europe and ologies, which have integrity and our customers’ needs at Russia. Fantechi has a strong company should consider when trying to identify and background in the energy, utility the core, further enable us to make the defi ned strategy a target the right opportunities? How can they ensure and construction sectors. realisation. This has enabled us to work with and support a that they are best positioned for them? large number of leading project owners, contractors, suppliFF. Continuously ‘grazing’ and collecting trusted market intelligence on ers and service providers operating across the energy value chain to enter, your opportunities, customers and competitors throughout the pre-award establish, grow and be successful in the Middle East. As testament to this, lifecycle is paramount to not only supporting you in your qualification by 2009, we had supported our customers in winning more than US$35bn process but also provides you with further reassurance that the opportuniof work and therefore we are proud to say that we are often regarded by our ties you are targeting are in fact the right ones and have a likelihood of customers as being their ‘trusted advisors’ and ‘consultants of choice’. „

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31/08/2010 16:55



Taking health, safety and the environment seriously The Authority for Electricity Regulation of Oman writes: “We want to prepare new regulations to limit exposure to extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields in accordance with international best practice. Can you assist us during the preparation of new regulations? And how will these relate to health, safety and the environment?

Floris Schulze outlines how to create a safer energy infrastructure, and highlights some important trends in relation to health, safety and the environment.

Floris Schulze is Managing Director of KEMA Middle East, a leading authority in energy consulting, testing and certification. KEMA combines unique expertise and facilities in order to add value to customers in the fields of risk, performance and quality management.

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Floris Schulze replies: The rising profi le of health, safety and environment (HSE) is actually an important development in many countries in the Middle East. Good working conditions have a major role to play in the success of companies and other organisations. The concern about potential health effects from exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are in fact increasing worldwide. One of the main reasons for this concern is the publication of epidemiological studies that show an association between magnetic fields from overhead power lines and childhood leukaemia. International advisory committees have set up guidelines to limit health effects among people who are exposed to relatively strong electric and magnetic fields. However, the above-mentioned association with childhood leukaemia has been found for magnetic fields that are much weaker than these guidelines. Mainly for this reason, national authorities of some countries have implemented precautionary measures in their regulation or advice on exposure of the general population to magnetic fields. In dealing with this issue in your particular situation, four elements are important: a desk study of guidelines to limit exposure to EMFs in other countries; recommendations for EMF regulations in Oman; EMF measurements at selected sites and locations in Oman; and presentation of the fi ndings. Our goals are to perform measurements of ELF-EMF in the vicinity of several types of electric utility infrastructure; review the status of scientific research into health effects of ELF-EMF, review international guidelines, regulations and measures, and make recommendations for new ELF-EMF regulation for your Sultanate; and conduct a seminar to present the results and recommendations. The HSE provisions within the audited organisations are then compared with generally applicable standards and, where necessary, recommendations are made regarding the introduction, amendment or tightening up of procedures and guidelines. Extremely low frequency and electromagnetic field measurements can be undertaken at various locations in

Oman. KEMA is increasingly asked to set up an integrated asset management approach within industrial and utilities organisations. Th is is to minimise/prevent unnecessary outages, accidents and casualties and to extend the life of important assets. Environmental protection will also become increasingly important in the Middle East. Spurred by the climate crisis, some governments are requiring companies to measure and record their emissions. However, a continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) represents a capital outlay of several million euros, before one even considers operating and maintenance costs. From experience, we know that KEMA’s predictive emissions monitoring systems (PEMS) model provides CO2 and NOx emission data that are just as reliable as the data from a CEMS – but modelling is obviously much cheaper than installing and running a great deal of instrumentation. At the same time as working to control emissions, the countries of the Middle East are expected to invest heavily in renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind power in the years ahead. Th is means that subjects like the integration of renewable energy into the grids, balancing demand and supply, smart metering and smart grids will become important as well. The same goes for more environment-friendly ways of using chlorine in cooling water systems at industrial installations. For example, how do you reduce chlorine use in cooling seawater systems by 75 percent without any adverse operational consequences? That was the question facing liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer Qatargas. The state environmental regulator has been incrementally reducing the maximum chlorine concentration permitted in discharged cooling seawater. Meeting these stricter regulations sounds like a tall order, but by switching to KEMA’s Pulse-Chlorination technology, Qatargas is predicting compliance with the new regulations on a mass balance basis. Qatargas will be fi rst company in the Indian Ocean region to use this pace-setting technology, which offers operational, environmental and economic benefits. ■

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31/08/2010 16:58



The water and power pricing dilemma Richard Menezes explains why the concepts of free or subsidised power and water are a political pipe dream – and offers an intriguing alternative.


ven in today’s difficult economic climate, when the world is struggling to balance growth and survival, there are many in the upper echelons of political establishments all over the world that dream of providing people with free power and water (or at least at a charitable price) to serve their own feelings of justice or equilibrium. But how does this serve consumers and the country as a whole? Th is is a question that the Middle East especially should ask itself. For while there are a few that will benefit, it is the others who are not entitled to this charitable service that pay for it in the end – either through direct costs or through indirect taxes, fees and other means of collecting revenues. It means that those people who do pay in turn price their services, goods and activities at a level to absorb these costs (or higher, using the excuse), which then gets passed onto the market. These increases are then paid for by the very people who were given the subsidy in the fi rst place. To an extent, such policies also curtail the growth of enterprise by limiting organisations’ ability to reduce costs through economies of scale. In the end, no objective is attained (except the political satisfaction of doing something that in the true sense serves no purpose) because it is not possible for anyone to enable other people to lead a totally free life – even governments with all their wealth. So what is the solution to this dilemma? It is simple. Water and power are generally interlinked by the energy efficiency component, especially in the Middle East. One needs the other. Potable water needs power for its production, and power needs potable water to become more efficient in production through combined cycle systems. Both need fuel (ideally natural gas but also oil), and therefore fuel becomes the cornerstone of the entire cycle. Fuel acquired at source comes at a much lower cost than the price sold in the market, and the deals made by governments with oil exploration and producing companies come with a heft y profit for both. There is always a component that is export-targeted to generate revenue and growth for the countries concerned, and is therefore investment-oriented. Then there is a significant percentage – around 10-15 percent, depending on the population of each country – that is utilised to make power and water. Why are these oil deals not made such that the percentage of fuel going to facilities that make water and power go as profitless, or at least with nominal minimum margins? If the fuel costs going to these entities could drop by 60-75 percent, it means the cost to produce water and power will likely drop

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“Conservation, capacity building and efficiency should be the focus rather than subsidies or free water and power”

by 50-60 percent. After all, water and oil are God-given and therefore rightfully should go to the people first. So how does this cycle end? Is subsidising water and power below costs of production reasonable? Or is giving fuel to these generating plants at cost price or with minimum margins a better deal? Obviously the latter makes more sense, since the fi rst means producing power and water at a loss, while the latter merely means the state achieving no (or minimum) profit. Such a scheme could also be tied into incentives to make producers more energy efficient, and the focus should lie on that rather than giving water and power to people for free or at a subsidised rate, since that helps no one. Making something at a high cost and selling it at a lower cost is not a policy that helps anyone to sustain and grow, but instead creates a generation that is overly dependent on such policies for their continued survival. Conservation, capacity building and efficiency should be the focus rather than subsidies or free water and power. IT will help us to build a more efficient and sustainable world rather than one that is overly dependent on handouts. IT will also help to build a greener world for future generations. ■

Richard Menezes is CEO of United Arab Emirates-based Utico, a utilities company specialising in water, sewage, steam, power and related services for clientele requiring a reliable, low-cost supply of utilities.

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Why the tale of the 21st century will be defined by the rise of the megacity.


f space travel had been possible 100 years ago, those early astronauts would have seen the light from 16 concentrations of a million or more people. Today, the crew of the space shuttle can see 450 such shining cities on the globe – the economic, governmental, cultural and technological power plants of an increasingly urban age. The pace of such development is staggering. At the turn of the last century, only 13 percent of the world’s population lived in cities; two years ago, for the fi rst time ever, more than half of us were urban metropolitans, and by 2050 that number will rise to 70 percent. We are adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year – putting a huge strain on the planet’s resources and infrastructures in the process. And it’s not just the number of cities that is on the rise; their size is increasing, too. Welcome to the age of the megacity. Megacities are defi ned as urban population centres of more than 10 million inhabitants, and they are on the rise: 60 years ago there were only two, New York/Newark and Tokyo, but today there are 22 such megacities – the majority in the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America – and by 2025 there will most likely be 30 or more. As these megacities evolve, many groan under the weight of a sudden, massive and unprecedented demand for services. The basic necessities of clean water, of sanitation systems to remove megatons of garbage and human waste, of transportation systems to shuttle millions of workers – not to mention the need for electrical networks, healthcare facilities, and policing and security – are creating one of the greatest logistical challenges ever seen in human history. And the challenge is only going to intensify, with experts predicting the expansion and merging of already highly urbanised zones to form a number of ‘megalopolises’ – vast swathes of development such as the one made up of the Greater Boston-New York City-Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington areas (the so-called Northeast megalopolis) with an urban population of 55 million. Indeed, the phenomenon of endless urban sprawl could be one of the most significant developments – and problems – in the way people live and economies grow in the next 50 years, according to UN-Habitat, the agency for human settlements, in its bi-annual State of World Cities report. On the one hand, the development of such mega-regions is generally regarded as positive, asserts the report’s co-author Eduardo Lopez Moreno. “They [mega-regions], rather than countries, are now driving wealth,” he says. “Research shows that the world’s largest 40 mega-regions cover only a tiny fraction of the habitable surface of our planet and are home to fewer than 18 percent of the world’s population, but account for 66 percent of all economic activity and about 85 percent of technological and scientific innovation. The top 25 cities in the world account for more than half of the world’s wealth, and the five largest cities in India and China now account for 50 percent of those countries’ wealth.” Yet the growth of mega-regions and cities is also leading to unprecedented urban sprawl, new slums, unbalanced development and income inequalities as more and more people move to satellite or dormitory cities. “Cities like Los Angeles grew 45 percent in numbers between 1975-1990, but tripled their surface area in the same time,” says Moreno, who believes that urban sprawl is the symptom of a divided, dysfunctional city. “It is not only wasteful, it adds to transport costs, increases energy consumption, requires more resources, and causes the loss of prime farmland,” he explains. “The more unequal that cities become,

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the higher the risk that economic disparities will result in social and political tension. The likelihood of urban unrest in unequal cities is high.” What is most shocking about the report, however, is that the US emerges as one of the most unequal of all the world’s societies, with cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington showing higher levels of inequality between the haves and have-nots than places like Brazzaville in Congo-Brazzaville, Managua in Nicaragua and Davao City in the Philippines. “The marginalisation and segregation of specific groups creates a city within a city,” says Moreno. “The richest one percent of households now earns more than 72 times the average income of the poorest 20 percent of the population. In the ‘other America’, poor black families are clustered in ghettoes lacking access to quality education, secure tenure, lucrative work and political power.”

Infrastructure concerns Infrastructure has a key role to play in reducing these disparities, as a recent Siemens study into the challenges facing megacities as population growth continues to explode shows; 81 percent of stakeholders involved in city management cite the importance of the economy and employment in infrastructure decision-making. In the Siemens study, transportation emerges as the top megacity infrastructure challenge by a large margin – not least because it is seen as the one infrastructure area that stakeholders believe has the biggest impact on city competitiveness. They are also highly aware of its environmental impact (for example, air pollution) and are keen to move to greener mass transit solutions. It is not surprising therefore to fi nd that transport also emerges as the top priority for investment. Stakeholders acknowledge that the four other infrastructure sectors covered by the study – water, electricity, healthcare, and safety and security – are also in need of investment, but interestingly they are less likely to see a strong link between spending in these areas and improved competitiveness, despite the fact that each has an important impact on the overall attractiveness of the city for investment. Water infrastructure is also being pegged as a major concern for city administrations in the coming years. Megacities around the world must fi nd ways to control runoff while providing clean water for millions of inhabitants. With the World Health Organization suggesting 1.1 billion people – or 18 percent of the world’s population – now lack access to safe drinking water, governments increasingly need the money and know-how to build massive public works. In São Paulo, Brazil, for instance, planners are struggling to cope with a drainage system that was built when the city was a fraction of its current size. Poor maintenance has left much of it clogged, while forest and parkland have given way to haphazard housing in many areas of the world’s third-largest city. Now there are fewer green areas to soak up incessant rains. Meanwhile, Mexico City is sucking up water from natural aquifers at twice the rate they are being replenished. The result: Mexico City is

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People magnets Employment and educational opportunities are the main attraction of urban centres. But hopes for a better life are often dashed as overpopulation puts a huge strain on cities’ infrastructures and their ability to provide basic necessities – like clean water and a decent place to live. Consider: • Overall almost 180,000 people move into cities every day • Of the billion people designated very poor, over 750 million live in urban areas • 1 billion people, one-sixth of the world’s population, now live in shanty towns • The number of slum-dwellers is estimated to grow by nearly 500 million by 2020 sinking, in some areas up to 16 inches a year, threatening its entire infrastructure – including the city’s deteriorating drainage system, whose capacity has diminished by 30 percent since 1975 while the area’s population has doubled. In addition, the city, which sits at an altitude of over 7300 feet, must pump water up 3000 feet to reach residents. Last year it had to ration water after one of the worst droughts in six decades. The drainage programme includes plans for treatment plants to turn runoff into clean water for use by farmers.

New solutions for old problems The infrastructure and engineering challenges presented by the emergence of these densely populated

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BUILDING FROM THE GROUND UP With cities consuming 75 percent of our natural resources, is a blank-canvas approach to development the key to our urban future? These new city projects are being built from the ground up, and could provide a blueprint for future urban projects. Masdar City, Abu Dhabi Touted as the world’s first zero-carbon city, Masdar will be car-free, powered by renewable energy with services digitally managed and providing real-time information. With a maximum distance of 200 metres to the nearest transport link and amenities, the compact network of streets will encourage walking and is complemented by a personalized rapid transport system. Shaded walkways and narrow streets will create a pedestrian friendly environment, while surrounding land will contain wind, photovoltaic farms, research fields and plantations, enabling the city to be entirely self-sustaining.

Dongtan, Shanghai Development plans for this ‘city within a city’ – currently being built on an island off the coast of Shanghai – call for it to be modest in size (500,000 residents) and scaled for the people who will live there, rather than for automobiles or architectural monoliths. It is also designed to be completely self-sufficient, providing its own food d and d energy. Chinese h officials hope Dongtan will offer practical lessons about pollution control and sustainability that can then be applied to Shanghai, as well as to other rapidly growing urban areas.

Treasure Island, San Francisco A masterplan developed for the proposed US$1.4-billion island by architectural and engineering services company Skidmore, Owings and Merrill details up to 8000 new homes (30 percent of which would be affordable to those on lower incomes), several solar-powered skyscrapers, an organic farm, three hotels, several shops and restaurants, a wastewater treatment plant, large-scale wind turbines for energy generation and 300 acres of recreational land. The goal is to create a sustainable, compact, mixed-use residential community that is not car-dependent.

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urban centres are significant, not least because such rapid growth is being played out in the largest and most complicated urban habitats human beings have ever lived in. Managing such complex systems in the future is going to take a much smarter approach than the ones we are currently using. Faced by huge pressures on public services, cities tend to emphasise direct and immediate supply-side solutions. However, this does not always mean adding more capacity: in many cases – particularly in the highly developed megacities of the US – increasing the efficiency of existing infrastructure over building new roads, railways and hospitals can be just as effective. By contrast, although it is mentioned by a minority of the survey respondents, demand management never emerges as a priority. Demand management approaches have been advocated in a variety of areas, but even the specialists in specific infrastructure sectors do not see managing demand as the primary solution to their challenges. Yet with consumption consistently outstripping supply in many cities and infrastructure areas, there is a strong case for the wider adoption of demand management strategies on a global basis. Many believe the answer lies in embedding more (and better) technology into the networks and systems that underpin our cities, and the effects of such an outlook are already being felt around the globe. Transportation officials in Singapore, Brisbane and Stockholm are using state-ofthe-art systems to reduce both congestion and pollution. Public safety administrators in major cities like New York and Chicago are able not only to solve crimes and respond to emergencies, but to help prevent them. A large hospital organisation in Paris is implementing an integrated patient-care management solution to facilitate seamless communication across its business applications – enabling them to track every stage of a patient’s stay in the hospital. While smart water management in the Paraguay-Paraná River Basin of Brazil is helping to improve water quality for São Paulo’s 17 million residents. And of course, when urban planners can no longer fi nd the surface space to install vital infrastructure components, they go underground. And while few, if any, cities can rival New York in the density and complexity of its subterranean networks, 21st century cities are looking to take the concept to a new level. For instance, officials in Oslo, Norway, may be the next underground pioneers. In their capital, developers have created a whole sub-urban community. Troubled by the city’s hilly terrain, engineers have built all sorts of structures – such as power plants, an air-traffic-control tower, and a dairy processing operation – under the surface. As a result, some of the world’s most sophisticated air-circulation systems can be found in Oslo, as well as underground lighting that’s tweaked to mimic the movement of the sun throughout the day. Thoreau called the city “millions of people being lonesome together”, but it needn’t be; that is where infrastructure – the underlying network of nodes and interconnections that underpin every urban centre – has a vital role to play. „

16/09/2010 10:31



Wasting away

With water availability at a critical low in the region, MENA Infrastructure speaks to industry experts to find out what can be done to help the situation. Water shortage is one of the biggest factors to take into consideration when developing infrastructure in the MENA region. How do you deal with this challenge? Derk Z. Maat. Water recycling and reuse is the solution to the water shortage in the region. However, the cost of treating wastewater to levels suitable for reuse is often expensive and represents a real technical challenge. The treatment of wastewater is also energy intensive and as a result the cost of treatment will increase as energy prices are projected to increase by 30-50 percent over the next three years. The challenge is to fi nd new and cost effective technology to treat wastewater, minimising infrastructure costs and operational energy related costs associated with current technologies and methods of treatment. Wastewater generated from human activity and food production is characterised by high organic contaminant levels. Biochemical approaches involving both mechanical processes in conjunction with advanced bio-processes represent the largest potential for cost savings and reuse/recycling of waste water for beneficial purposes. Coupled with this is a challenge to segregate water use into drinking water demand; grey water treatment and reuse; and black water treatment to grey water standards for reuse and recycling. William Danshin. Our HGF-hydro automatic gravity fi lter technology provides low cost ‘good water’. The biggest issue is that people and industries need to pay for ‘good water’. A recent survey of global water providers found

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that water prices worldwide rose by 10 percent last year, well above inflation. Water is today’s issue, not a question. Water is the oil of this century; in fact, it is the world’s most critical resource, more vital than oil as water sustains life and thus the global food chain.

“The challenge is to find new and cost effective technology to treat wastewater, minimising infrastructure costs and operational energy related costs associated with current technologies and methods of treatment” Derk Z. Maat What are the key advantages to be gained from water treatment and water reuse? WD. Less than one percent of all water naturally available on earth is suitable for agriculture and potable use. Water treatment and reuse is not an option anymore, it is an absolute necessity. Existing or anticipated water shortages may lead regulators to restrict or prohibit housing development in certain regions. Municipalities may restrict or place moratoriums on the availability of utilities, such as water and sewer tap. Homes consume 11 percent of all the freshwater in the United States. Agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of water use globally, with this share

Derk Z. Maat has 40 years of engineering and corporate management expertise in applying a wide range of environmental technologies to solid waste and wastewater management. Maat has been involved in consulting, design, construction, engineering, and technology development for clients across North America and around the world. As CEO and President of Scicorp International Corp, he has developed a wide range of micronutrient products for the stimulation of organic liquid and solid waste systems that has resulted in dramatic system performance improvements while at the same time eliminating odour issues in almost every application.

16/09/2010 10:22


06/09/2010 09:00



rising as high as 90 percent in some developing countries. Agricultural water use has doubled over the past century. Beverage manufacturers can lose their license to operate when their water use comes into direct confl ict with the priorities of local communities. Beverage makers face risks of agricultural commodity shortages and higher prices due to drought. Reduced water for cooling and higher temperatures of available water poses increased regulatory risk for electric utilities. Hydropower is likely to be most directly affected by climate change because of its sensitivity to the amount and timing of natural water flows. Constraints on water resources make companies more susceptible to reputation risks. Contamination of coastal surface and groundwater resources due to sea level rise and resulting saltwater intrusion, is also a problem, as is increased algal and bacterial blooms due to increased water temperatures. DZM. The key advantages from wastewater treatment and water reuse include the significant overall reduction of total water demand; a reduction in the carbon footprint associated with water supply by other methods, such as desalination; reduction in the cost of water supply to consumers; and the development of closed loop systems for industry and commercial enterprises.

“Increases in agricultural and industrial production, coupled with a lack of adequate wastewater treatment inhibit access to safe drinking water for almost 900 million people worldwide” William Danshin Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the MENA region. How can wastewater solutions improve sustainability in the region? DZM. Sustainability is the key. The use and reuse of water by consumers and industries and commercial enterprises has to be analysed from new perspectives that take into account a number of factors. First, the sustainability and limits of water supply sources, such as groundwater and fresh surface water supplies in view of climate change are dwindling rapidly and are no longer unlimited. Second, a water resource depletion cost has to be entered into the fi nancial modelling of new infrastructure projects and the long-term costs of desalination must be considered in relation to energy costs. Th ird, the actual quality requirements for different water use – such as potable drinking water requirements or grey water use requirements – must be considered, as well as the actual demand for each industrial plant and the potential for reuse and recycling within the plant for grey water uses or process water uses. Fourth, the lifecycle cost of water use for each industrial activity must be considered in order to determine the demand over lifetime of the facility. And fi nally, the carbon footprint generated by water

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demand and use by consumers, commercial enterprises and industry must be considered – for example it may make no sense to locate a plant in a water scarce area that has extremely high water demand requirements or it may make little sense to locate a population centre in an area with scarce water resources that would generate a large investment to supply water and sustain the demand over time. WD. Millions globally lack safe drinking water. Increases in agricultural and industrial production, coupled with a lack of adequate wastewater treatment inhibit access to safe drinking water for almost 900 million people worldwide. Five million die each year from water-related illness. More than one-third of the world’s population – roughly 2.4 billion people – lives in water stressed regions. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to two-thirds. By 2030, the earth’s projected eight billion inhabitants will need 25 percent more freshwater. There is not enough low cost ‘good water’ in the MENA region. Wastewater recycling and reuse is an necessity now, along with severe water conservation techniques. How do you see the wastewater industry developing over the next five years? What do you envisage will be the biggest drivers? WD. We need to fi nd ways to establish fi nancing and funding of joint-ventures with government, corporations and/ or stakeholders to clean or recycle wastewater for industrial and commercial needs fi rst, and provide ‘good water’ to many global companies and countries that are now or will be in critical and desperate situations due to lack of water. Th is has global implications for peace on earth. The biggest drivers will be trying to maintain sustainable economies, corporations, communities and food production for a growing global population. Water is now worth more than oil. DZM. I see, in light of the limits of water supply and in light of the increasing demand and cost for treating wastewater, that the wastewater industry has to refocus from supplying concrete, pipes, pumps and mechanical processes to developing new biochemical processes. These processes will significantly increase the efficiency of treatment via bio reactions, reduce the generation of waste such as biosolids, reduce the use of energy and consequently reduce the cost and carbon footprint of wastewater treatment. In addition, the wastewater industry in conjunction with the residential/commercial/industry will have to develop new designs to segregate water quality demand for different uses and design appropriate systems for treatment, reuse and recycling. The biggest drivers will be the public demand for clean water at an affordable cost and demonstrated methods and technologies to live within our “water footprint” that limit our carbon footprint. We live in a world where climate change is dramatically affecting everything we have assumed as constant with respect to water resources that have been entrusted to us for management and conservation. ■

William Danshin is President of Pure Water Corporation, a private company that has been operating as a new technology provider and distributor/agent/ supplier/manufacturer of water purification, wastewater treatment, waste material reuse/recycle technologies and sustainable development products and services. He is bilingual in English/Russian languages and has an established a global network of friends, business associates, equipment and technology providers, positioned to provide low cost “good water” with clean energy.

16/09/2010 10:22


As the Middle East grows ever more arid, water professionals are finding alternative ways to supply its growing population with this vital resource. But just how viable and sustainable are these treatments and how should water utility providers respond to the challenges posed by this issue?


irst, some statistics. Studies show that one unit of currency invested in a modern water system produces about 10 units of currency worth of benefits to the overall economy of a country. On the other hand, studies of developing countries that lack modern water systems generally demonstrate that the economic cost of not having such a system is around three to five percent of a nation’s entire GDP. The Middle East is home to around six percent of the world’s population, a figure that is projected to double over the next 40 years. The Middle East also holds a tiny one percent of the world’s available water supplies, with per capita water at 170 cubic metres a year, significantly beneath the 1000 cubic metres per year water poverty line. Yemen is predicted to become the fi rst country in the world to run out of water.

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In the fiercely hot and densely populated desert landscapes of the MENA region, water quite literally is liquid gold. Everything from cooling systems to agriculture to healthcare is subject to the availability of water; with a significant proportion of water being used in the region for irrigation, the food output from MENA countries is suffering as a consequence. As running out altogether becomes a very real possibility, there is no denying the fact that there needs to be a change in the way water is managed. “Utilities around the world are learning that they need to manage both the supply of water and also the consumption of water,” explains Glen Daigger, President of the International Water Association, highlighting that this is an international issue. And with the development boom and growing populations that the wealthy emerging economies

16/09/2010 11:04



of the Gulf have seen in recent years, a comprehensive utilities infrastructure has become a necessary consideration. Jeanette Brown, incoming President of the Water Environment Federation, agrees. “Education can reduce water use and wastage,” she points out, highlighting a key underlying issue behind the water problems in the region. Of course, the notion of water conservation remains fairly immature in the Gulf region, and consequently knowing how best to approach the issue is of paramount concern. Both Daigger and Brown feel that there is something to be learnt from western attitudes to water management and conservation. “It is important to look at those regions in the US that have reduced water supply such as Arizona and southern California,” explain Brown. “Both those areas have strong public education programmes on the use of water. They also promote water conservation, including irrigation practices. Some communities have upgraded their treatment plants to allow water reuse for irrigation and sanitary facilities.” Daigger’s attitude, however, is a little more measured. “If you look at the US and Western European experience, what happened was that standards have improved over time as the infrastructure has been put in place… What are now fairly stringent standards have become something of a barrier to making progress. So if we had to do it again, in Western Europe and the US, I believe that we would be less prescriptive in terms of our standards. And we would look for a more continuous improvement process. “To simply impose stringent standards is probably not the best approach. A more tiered approach and a more integrated and performance-based approach would probably be more successful in the longer term and lead to better outcomes.”

In the UAE, a single litre of desalinated water costs 3.76 dirhams (US$1.02)

Cultural awareness According to Daigger, for utility and water professionals looking to manage supply and consumption of water, three key areas of concern have been highlighted. First, he says, is assisting and advising consumers on their water use, such as suggesting the most efficient practices that could be used, or recommending products on the market that allow for a more efficient use of water. These might include fi xtures such as low-flow taps or shower-heads that consume less water; or appliances such as washing machines that are more efficient in terms of both water and electricity consumption. The second is to encourage consumers to use less water. “Th is can adversely affect their revenue,” Daigger adds, pointing out one of the numerous challenges posed by the fight to improve water efficiency. “Pricing of water becomes very important, in terms of either having a progressive charge rate for water, or being very clear that as conservation is adopted, that water rates will have to go up, as the water utility companies still need to have their costs covered.” The third consideration, he explains, is the issue of equity, making sure that the water conservation practices and tools recommended to manage water use are available

Water Feature 136

On average, each resident of Abu Dhabi consumes 550 litres of water ever day. The average resident of India consumes 25

to everyone. “That needs to be dealt with in terms of the pricing structure so that at least a minimum – and when I say minimum I don’t necessarily mean a low amount, but a certain amount that is deemed to be the amount a person needs to live – is either very affordable, or at some utilities, actually being provided for free.” While Brown’s point about educating consumers as to how they can minimise their water consumption certainly rings true, this can still only go so far in improving the availability of water in a region as arid as the Middle East. With such a major imbalance in the supply-demand ratio, the level of water available needs to improve if the problem is to be tackled. “Treatment of the waste stream [is needed] to allow for that water to be reused directly,” she explains, touching on an area that has seen significant growth in the MENA region. Indeed, today there is no shortage of water treatment facilities in the Gulf; recent reports indicate that the Gulf accounts for 41 percent of the world’s desalinated water, and projects continue to pop up across the region to further this sector. As MENA Infrastructure went to press, a contract had just been announced for the development of the Ras Al Zour water desalination plant in Saudi Arabia, projected to be the world’s biggest and to cost an estimated US$5.5 billion. Elsewhere, a desalination plant in the Al Wusta region of Oman had received some US$2.6 million in government funds. Daigger reiterates the point. “Technologies for water treatment, water reuse in particular, are quite available and continue to improve,” he says. Significantly, these treatments are capable of making water suitable to any standard, including drinking water. “Increasingly we’re seeing the use of membrane systems because of their ability to remove particulate matter,” he explains. “In some instances, we are seeing even reverse osmosis technology, which is able to remove dissolved substances. The vast array of advanced oxidation technologies, which are able to remove dissolved organics very efficiently, coupled with biological treatment of water, are some of the technologies that are allowing us to really produce water of any quality desired from any source water.” As he talks about the various technologies available to treat water, Daigger touches on a point crucial to the development of a sustainable, longterm solution to the chronic thirst of the Middle Eastern landscape. “I try to be careful not to talk about wastewater, because we shouldn’t be talking about wasting water. We ought to be talking about recovering water, and recovering energy and nutrients from the waste stream.”

Fit for purpose “The Australians have a great phrase,” laughs Daigger. “They talk about fit for purpose, that water should be supplied of a quantity and quality that matches the purpose, not necessarily treated to the highest level.” His point resonates as one of the paramount solutions to the MENA water supply problem. For all the benefits that a water treatment system can bring, the energy costs involved in treating water to a drinkable standard can make this an expensive and unsustainable option. However, as Daigger

16/09/2010 11:12


Cities of the Future


he next generation in wet infrastructure master planning, the Cities of the Future initiative from the IWA is designed to bring new concepts in water management to utility professionals in an urban environment, and also to unite water professionals with the other planning, designing and engineering professionals responsible for an urban environment. “The most efficient water infrastructure is infrastructure that is built into the city, so water professionals need to be at the table as city plans are developed and city policies are developed,” explains Daigger. Pioneering the Cities of the Future programme in the MENA region, Turkish cities Istanbul, Kayseri and Trabzon are implementing the initiatives over the next three years. Experts from Turkish universities, as well as water professionals from the IWA, will collaborate to provide models, technologies and approaches that meet the highest global standards in urban water management. “Cities of the Future represents an acknowledgement by leaders in the water sector that the current, most predominantly used techniques for water supply, wastewater treatment and stormwater management do not reflect the growing realities of a changing global context. Human population growth, rising incomes and increased urbanisation are colliding with resource limits and global warming to create an imperative for change in both the developing and developed regions. “Cities of the Future is about learning by doing. Turkish and international experts will combine the facts on the ground with emerging global best practice gleaned from leading-edge projects from around the world.”

points out, the average daily consumption of potable water – water used for drinking, or in food preparation – is in the region of 10 to 20 litres a day, while the total water consumption, even in more efficient and developed countries, is somewhere around 130-150 litres a day. “I go through the numbers just to illustrate that not every drop of water needs to be of drinking quality,” he highlights. Indeed, this point paves the way for water treatment to be a widely utilised solution to the shortage in the region. To treat all water to the standard it would need to be in order to be consumed safely would incur significant, and largely unnecessary, costs. Brown points out the downsides. “There is significant capital and operating costs associated with treatment technologies that might not be appropriate for the region. The plants are also energy intensive.” With more and more utility and water professionals in the region, and the world over, calling for a specific approach to water treatment, it would seem that solutions are beginning to be uncovered. Daigger points out that: “If we’re treating every drop of water to the highest standard, and if we have poor quality water resources, then one can get into very expensive treatment. If we treat only water for

Water Feature 137


MENA region has 6% of the world’s people, and 1% of the world’s water

potable uses to the highest standard, then the amount of energy that’s needed is going to be reduced.” As the issue of numbers is raised, it is only natural to look then to the economic effects of water treatment systems and wet infrastructure. And undoubtedly, the 10-to-one metric that Daigger laid down poses a very real argument for investing in water infrastructure. The energy expenditure involved, both in human and industrial terms, is neither economically viable nor sustainable; and the long-term health of the population is negatively affected by the lack of a comprehensive water management system. “People have to have water,” adds Daigger. “You have to have water to live. People who don’t have a modern system put a tremendous amount of energy either into purchasing water at a much higher price than would be provided by a modern system, or in the time taken to walk kilometres to get water.” Ultimately he says, the problem lies in the management of water. “We have water shortages based on continuing to manage water in the way we have in the past. But it’s clear that we have approaches in which we can manage water in a much more productive fashion.” „

16/09/2010 11:12



Sane in the membrane OrangeBoat’s Jantje Johnson on why specialised technical support for membrane water treatment systems is critical.

M Jantje Johnson is the founding partner of OrangeBoat – a provider of technical service for membrane based water treatment systems to membrane manufacturers, OEMs, engineering companies and end-users. She has over 25 years of experience in membranes, chemicals, system design and operation.

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embrane-based water treatment systems are increasingly favored for their efficiency and reliability, but they also introduce some unique technical challenges in management, development and installation. Appropriate expertise is at a premium and often in short supply. Mobilising a unique blend of know-how to deliver expert membrane and application support when it is needed is critical for the successful operation of your membrane system. Where to get that expertise when you need it can be a challenge. Often companies offering a product simply want to sell you their products and are not interested in providing service or know-how to solve your problem. We provide independent technical support and advice about membrane-based water treatment systems available to engineering companies, equipment suppliers, membrane manufacturers and operators. Membrane systems may experience performance problems that affect cost-effectiveness and reliability. Having the expertise available to take care of operational problems is important. However, before your project begins it is important to evaluate the overall process to ensure the unit operations work well together. Optimisation starts right at the beginning of the project, in choosing the best design considerations for the job. OrangeBoat believes there are four key factors to consider for a successful operation. These are design, execution, commissioning and training.

With regard to design, winning the project with a well thought out design is important for trouble-free operation. Being the successful bidder is one thing; evaluation of different process schemes should include an understanding of the common pitfalls in design and operation. Understanding the impact of pre-treatment on the performance of the reverse osmosis system can provide a basis for different design options for your client. In terms of execution, once you win the project, be sure to solicit third party advice on membrane design and operation. Eliminating defects during the execution phase can prevent costly mistakes later on. On to the next phase, many mistakes are made during the commissioning phase of the project. Many times contractors are focused on getting pumps and valves operating and often overlook the membrane system that can lead to irreversible membrane damage. Having an advisor on site, looking after the membrane system, can save money over the long run. And fi nally training; well-trained operators and staff can ensure a successful project during the design, execution and operation phase of your project. Keep your team up-to-date by investing in training. While you may have membrane experts on your staff they may not be available when you need it or where you need it. Working with a specialised service provider can help you close short-term gaps in technical support and solve specific performance problems in membrane-based water treatment systems. „

16/09/2010 10:32


31/08/2010 17:00



Getting the balance right With fishing – both salt and freshwater – becoming increasingly popular as a recreational activity in the Middle East, finding the right water balance is a growing part of fish ecology, explains Tony Wynes.


hen you look into your lake, are the fish constantly near the surface? Are they lethargic? Are they just surfacing for their regular food or really desperate to breathe? What are you doing to improve the quality of life of your fish and their surrounding ecology? Most proprietors and managers ensure that their fish have enough to eat, but many do not think about a lack of near-bed oxygen. It is generally accepted that fish suffer if the dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations fall below about 4mg/l and have to come to the surface to breathe. Reports by the University of Stirling indicate that improvements in DO levels at 6-12m help salmon to be less lethargic, thus increasing their desire to eat. A mixing and aeration system will bring cooler water to the surface during the summer and warmer water during the winter, which should provide an aid to growth. An important indicator will be if there is any increase in demand for food by the fish. The DO level of the surface is largely controlled at no cost by the wind, whereas deeper water requires an efficient mixing and aeration system on the seabed or at the bottom of the fish farm cage. We carried out trials with two Aquaerators at Lochleven for Marine Harvest in Scotland and it was noticeable that only 30 minutes after switching on the system there were salmon swimming into the increased flow from the turbulent bubble plume near the surface – a possible reminder of their upstream journeys to spawn. Th is reaction has been previously recorded with carp in Foix Reservoir near Barcelona and rainbow trout in Bristol Water’s Blagdon Reservoir, where the Aquaeration System is switched off to ensure fishing competitions are fair. Rob Morter, the Owner of Cross Drove Fishery at Hockwold in Norfolk, which attracts top matchmen from the southeast of UK to sample some of the tremendous mixed fishing, contacted AMG. He was concerned that the DO levels in the near-bed water were falling below the comfort level for fish. Tests showed that before installation at the end of June the water temperature averaged 21.6˚C with a bed-to-surface differential of 0.4˚C, which is considered to be a very mild form of stratification. The DO at 0.3m below surface was 73 percent (6.5 mg/l) and the near-bed DO was 54 percent (4.8mg/l), quite close to the 4mg/l threshold. It is vital to be aware that bed water is a higher density than surface water, thus successful mixing and aeration requires a device on the lakebed.

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A post-installation survey was carried out at the end of July. Th is showed a lower average water temperature of 18.8˚C, but a higher level of temperature stratification of 1.2˚C, which probably resulted from the Aquaerators being switched off during the day to save power. The DO varied from an average of 111 percent (10.4mg/l) at 0.3m below the surface to 65 percent (6.1mg/l) above the bed. Th is much-improved DO, particularly above the bed, was just what Cross Drove Fishery had hoped for, as the fish could breathe without surfacing and thus provide a greater challenge to anglers. Surface aerators do not mix bed water and instead force air downwards, which is expensive. In contrast, sea/ lakebed mounted mixing and aeration systems are designed to minimise running costs, as the expanding ‘bubble plume’ entrains the still ambient water and rises naturally to the surface. The ecology of the bed is not disturbed if low DO bed water is removed by entering the aerator’s base horizontally and its density reduced by mixing. In addition, the effect of seabed aeration is not localised, especially in destratified conditions where horizontal density currents operate, causing gravitational circulation to shallower areas. Another consideration is that as the migration of groups of people takes place due to climate change and the world’s population continues to increase, the need for more water in various areas becomes crucial. The natural answer is the building of an ever-increasing number of desalination plants throughout the world. It is important that consultants are aware that very high saline seawater damages fish life and the whole of the surrounding ecology, thus powerful seabed mixing devices should be included as a vital design requirement. Life on our planet cannot be maintained without clean water and pure air. ■

The DO level of the surface is largely controlled at no cost by the wind, whereas deeper water requires an efficient mixing and aeration system on the seabed or at the bottom of the fish farm cage

Having previously commanded Royal Navy Minesweepers, Tony Wynes set up Aquarius Marine Group Ltd 37 years ago as a diving maintenance and environmental consultancy. This led him to invent and coordinate the design of the Aquaerator, which is patented in many countries.

16/09/2010 10:01

Aquarius AD.indd 1

14/09/2010 14:29



Designing sustainable sports fields – the new oasis Farzad Farshid writes: “We are the contractors for a new sports stadium and we are interested in using the latest technology to capture, store and re-use the irrigated water on the sports field and surrounding landscaped areas. We are thinking about installing underground water tanks in and around the project to harvest this water. It is very important that we deliver a sustainable solution to the Ministry of Works, so we need to know if your system will work in such a hot/arid climate?” Humberto Urriola offers his 40 years of experience in designing sustainable sports fields and environmental solutions.

Humberto Urriola is a landscape architect and industrial designer and has over 40 years’ experience in providing environment and water management solutions. He is the inventor and creator of the Atlantis Subsurface Infiltration and Rain Harvesting Tanks, and has invented and registered over 60 patented products. He is extremely passionate about saving the planet and is the driving force behind the green city design that is becoming a reality in places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha in the Middle East.

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Humberto Urriola says: Designing sports fields in the Middle East is more than a science; it’s an art, due to the harsh environment and extreme temperatures. Atlantis has been working for the past 35 years in sports field and other environmental areas. The secret is water management and we have specialised in proven water management systems that work. Atlantis has been driving a revolution in environment and water management by providing industrial designed products that have made it possible to achieve exceptional results in a sustainable way. The system works extremely well in either wet or arid climates due to its versatility, as it eliminates soil saturation and/or soil dryness, which are two of the greatest enemies in sports field design today. Moving water through horizontal surfaces is another difficult challenge in water management, as water needs to be managed by gravity. From the beginning we have been dealing with two challenges in sports field design: in hot, arid countries, where water conservation and keeping things green are the primary concerns; and in wet, European countries where we are dealing with mud or clay, where the primary focus is the removal of excessive water. Both of these scenarios have been solved by Atlantis water management systems with ease. But it is also important to note that there are no two jobs alike, as the conditions from job to job differ vastly. Th is is why Atlantis gives support to designers and installers when required to overcome some of these challenges. The Atlantis Drainage System is one such innovative solution to sports field management. The unique design of the Atlantis Drainage System creates a constant subsurface aerobic water table in suspension known as a perched water table. In dry weather, a consistent water supply is maintained below the surface. Even in a heavy storm the perch remains at a constant level below the surface. The continual water supply and beneficial subsoil ventilation of the Atlantis Sports Field Drainage System results in excellent turf colour, a healthy root system and stronger, more resilient turf overall. The Atlantis Sports Field Drainage Systems facilitates quicker wear recovery

“ But it is also important to note that there are no two jobs alike, as the conditions from job to job differ vastly” and maintains healthier turf all year by combining a highgrowth root zone environment with rapid drainage rates and increased moisture retention. Furthermore, Atlantis provides turn-key solutions to many challenges by collaborating with strategic partners that are considered the best in their respective fields. As the saying goes, “together we can achieve more” and that is certainly true when designing and offering sustainable solutions. We have said before that when you utilise integrated solutions – whether it’s for a sports field, golf course, green roof or large-scale landscaped area – Atlantis and its partners can reduce the water consumption used on-site by a staggering amount. In addition to sustainable sports fields, Atlantis technology has been used extensively in roof gardens, green vertical walls, ecological streets and podium landscaped areas very successfully. „

16/09/2010 10:14


31/08/2010 16:46



Long lasting connections – in every respect This is the philosophy behind Lenzen Hebe-und Fördertechnik GmbH, a sling and belt supplier for the construction industry that is well established in the European market and looking to break into the MENA region.


elcome to our world of lift ing, moving and lashing appliances. You can use our experience, which we’ve build up over more than 20 years of service for our clients. The company was founded in 1989 by Mr Peter Lenzen. Lenzen was a well-known name in the region. In 2004, Armin Lehmann started as the new Executive Director a new era. He initialised the expansion of activities fi rst in the whole region of Germany. Then, after only one year, Lenzen Hebe-und Fördertechnik GmbH

exported to the main European markets. The basic component of our work is our professional competence. Armin Lehmann, now CEO, has worked in this sector for more than 30 years. He was a member of the working group “lift ing slings” in the German Standard Organisation DIN for about 10 years – experiences for your profit. Our range of products include flat webbing belts from WLL 0.5 tons up to 48 tons (pipelineslings) and round slings from WLL 0.5 tons up to 200 tons, mainly made of polyester, but also

available in alternative materials like polyamide or polypropylene and Kevlar. Our steel products are steel wire ropes in standard qualities according to EN-standards as well as special wire ropes from the leading brands like CASAR, DIEPA, PYTHON, TEUFELBERGER and VEROPE. We also deliver wire rope slings, mechanically or hand spliced, endless grommets and all types of ropes for crane appliances. High alloy chains grade 80 and 100 from six up to 32 milimetres in diameter will be fi nished according to your demands in our job shop in a short term. In our stock we consistently provide a wide range of lift ing appliances like shackles, hooks, trolleys and turnbuckles. Our load handling attachments are load beams, lift ing magnets, lever and chain hoists as well as hand hydraulic pallet trucks. Especially for load beams and lift ing clamps we can offer you specialised solutions. Our construction department enables us to simulate your application with a CAD-System in 3D. To keep your cargo on the truck you can use our cargo lashing systems like ratchet lashings or chains. Since 2008 our quality management system acc. to ISO 9001 has been certified by DEKRA. Long-lasting business relationships with long-living products, that’s what we are looking for. With our competent and efficient team we are able to grant you an excellent service for all your needs referring lift ing and moving goods. Moving goods requires a high level of competence and safety. Lenzen Hebe-und Fördertechnik GmbH is well grounded in this field. „ If you are interested in our partnership, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Armin Lehmann started his career in 1979 in a leading company of lifting devices in Germany. In 1987 he moved to a Finnish producer for lifting belts and round-slings as Sales Manager. In 1989, he went back to his former company as sales manager. He was Executive Director from 2004 until 2007, when he became CEO of Lenzen Hebe-und Fördertechnik GmbH.

Lenzen 144

16/09/2010 10:29

LENZEN AD.indd 1

31/08/2010 17:00

Your World. COVERED From the people you hire to the products you sell, if you’re in business, we’ve got it covered...

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16/09/2010 10:05





A look at the region’s luxury waterfront development

36 hours in Mumbai

Your guide to the region’s events this quarter

Photo Finish: Pakastani floods





Details. In the spotlight

The Middle Middl E East’s t’ burgeoning b i golf lf scene represents t a significant economic opportunity for developers. But how will the recession impact the industry?


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iger Woods has called it a “great venue” that reminds him of being back home in Florida; Greg Norman rates it amongst the 12 best tournaments in the world; and Ernie Els clearly has a special affinity for it, claiming the title a record three times. If any further proof were needed that the Dubai Desert Classic has finally arrived as an event of global significance, then the endorsement of the world’s biggest stars is surely it. Without doubt, the event has become the glittering centrepiece of Dubai’s bid to become a new hub for world golf. Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Vice-Chairman and CEO of Golf in Dubai – the promoters and organisers of the Dubai Desert Classic – is the man at the forefront of this movement. One of the first UAE nationals to take to golf in the early 1990s, Buamaim played a key role in streamlining the affairs of the game in his capacity as a board member of the UAE Golf Association and Chairman of the Junior Development Programme. Wellknown for his formidable marketing skills, he is also widely credited with being the man who first persuaded Tiger Woods to play in Dubai. Since 2001, Woods has made five appearances in the Dubai Desert Classic, winning the title twice – in 2005, and again in 2008. Buamaim believes his event, now in it’s 21st year, has been instrumental in helping put Dubai on the sporting map. “It fits well with the ambitions and visions of Dubai,” he explains. “Building sporting infrastructure of an international standard is just one part of Dubai’s drive to develop the emirate into a thriving business and tourist centre.” Indeed, in the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of the emirate, Dubai has created the “right environment where big ideas and thinking can take off”. That environment – and the modern facilities that have sprung up all over the city – has made Dubai the sporting capital of the region. “As the city is growing, so is golf because it’s very much a business-oriented sport,” continues Buamaim. “It’s the way it’s being marketed, making it attractive to so many people. Big names like Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Greg Norman and Colin Montgomerie have already designed their signature courses or are in the process of doing so.” And not even the slowdown in Dubai’s economy has stopped the UAE’s burgeoning golf industry growing through the downturn. Although the prize purse for the Dubai World Championship – held in November last year as the finale to the season-long Race to Dubai – may have been slashed from the original US$10 million to US$7.5 million, it remained the richest tournament on the European Tour. That and the addition of four new golf courses over the past 12 months suggests that the despite a natural contraction in the market, the industry is still alive


and well. Indeed, according to a recent report from KPMG, while most European golf courses suffered from a loss of revenue – with Western Europe down eight percent and Great Britain and Ireland down six percent – the Middle East and North Africa region, led by the UAE, clocked revenue growth of almost four percent. Leading that charge was Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital city of the UAE that made a clear statement of its intent to become a major golfing destination by unveiling two distinctly different golf courses – the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and the Kyle Phillips-designed Yas Links Abu Dhabi – earlier this year. Meanwhile in Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates launched both its Earth and Fire courses, while the Faldo course at Emirates Golf Club, the sister course to the well-known Majlis, added floodlights on all holes

Above: Rory McIlroy tees off on the eighth hole during the final round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament Right: The huge crowds watch the big screen of the play-off from the clubhouse as the sun sets after the final round of the 2010 Omega Dubai Desert Classic on the Majilis Course at the Emirates Golf Club

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to become the only 18-hole championship-size facility in the country to offer night golf. Buamaim thinks the increased competition will help further cement Dubai’s reputation as the world’s premier golfing destination. “With all these golf courses coming up, you will see a phenomenal growth in golf tourism here,” he explains. “Right now we have too many golfers and not enough courses. It has become impossible to get a tee time on the weekend if you’re not a member at one of the clubs. The demand is there and it will only grow with so many residential properties coming up in and around golf courses. I think it’s fair to say that Dubai is leading the way in positioning itself as a global destination for golf.” The figures speak for themselves. Over 60,000 eager spectators poured onto the Earth course to watch a scintillating four days of golf at last year’s inaugural Dubai World Championship, while the event was also watched by an additional 50 million on TV. The Dubai Desert Challenge is also going from strength to strength each year, and recently announced the addition of a major new sponsorship deal with watchmaker Omega. Chris May, General Manager at the Emirates Golf Club, the permanent host of the Dubai Desert Classic, believes that 2011 will be a very exciting year for golf in the UAE in general and the Emirates Golf Club in particular. “We have invested heavily in improving our facilities with the assistance of Wasl (the asset


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management group of Government of Dubai, owners of EGC and Dubai Creek). These improvements, like introducing floodlights on the Faldo course and renovation of the clubhouse, will further enhance our reputation as the premier golf club in the region. I think we will start to see a recovery in the overseas market and the corporate market throughout 2011, which are the two areas that have been affected by the economic downturn.” And if previous efforts are anything to go by, we can expect plenty more from the event in the future – for if there’s one thing shrewd marketers like Buamaim understand, it is the importance of star power. “The quality of field it attracts every year, as well as the mature and professional organisational aspect of the event, have been key elements for the success of the Dubai Desert Classic,” admits Buamaim. “And don’t forget that ‘Brand Dubai’ was perhaps the biggest factor in establishing the tournament’s credentials as a jewel in the crown of early season European Tour events.” This reputation for excellence and attention to detail has certainly contributed to the economic boom of the last few years and bodes well for sustained growth over the coming decade. Perhaps more importantly, however, the golfing market within the UAE itself is growing, and the regular visits of superstars like Tiger Woods and Ernie Els have had a positive impact among UAE’s junior golfers. “It was a matter of pride for all of us in the UAE when Khalid Yousuf, a product of the UAE Golf Association’s Junior Development Programme, joined the elite field in 2008, becoming the first UAE national to compete on the global stage,” he says. “The dream of producing a homegrown player to feature in the Classic has finally become a reality.” It’s the million-dollar question: can the UAE’s success in developing major sporting brands provide a significant engine of economic growth for the region? Mark Chapleski, Area Managing Director and Vice-President of Troon Golf Middle East – operators of four of the biggest golf clubs in the UAE, including the Saadiyat Beach – is sure the catalyst to this process would be better golf packages. “Attracting tourists from developed golf markets like the UK, the USA, Japan and Korea is a challenge for all of us,” he says. “We really did not have specifically designed golf packages from tour operators. You had golf rounds advertised with desert tours and boat tours as an add-on to airline and hotel packages, but no customized golf packages as such were being marketed for Dubai, and the UAE. It is changing now – a couple of companies have started offering exclusive golf tours, SNTTA being one of them – and the hotels have realised that they do need to offer more options for their guests to drive the occupancies. I am optimistic this will not only help the hotels, but the golf courses as well.” ■


Above: Sweden's Robert Karlsson holds his trophy after winning the Qatar Masters golf tournament at the Doha Golf Club on January 2010. Below: Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez celebrates with his trophy after winning the Dubai Desert Classic golf championship in the Gulf emirate on February 2010.

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Grand by design

Working as an independent Lead Shaper, I provide an international service direct for both architect and client, on new build and existing courses. During my 11 years in the industry, I have been involved in many high proďŹ le projects around the world, and helped prepare a number of courses for PGA Tour events. – Conor Walsh, Director

Conor J Walsh Golf LTD UK no. 0044 7799635169, Irish no. 00353 14447607 Photos courtesy of Russell Kirk and Aidan Bradley

Conor J Walsh Golf Ad VER2.indd 1

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King of the green Steve Marnoch talks to MENA Infrastructure about designing world class golf courses in one of the world’s most arid regions. What are the biggest challenges facing golf course development in the MENA Region? Steve Marnoch. In arid regions, availability of water for irrigation is probably the largest physical challenge. Other factors including high initial expenditure, a land hungry development and long-term returns also pose a problem for developers wishing to cash in on the demand for golf. At golfmarnoch we work with some of the world’s best irrigation engineers with specific experience in the Middle East. When designing any golf course, the amount of available water will curtail the areas of natural grass to be developed. Desalinisation plants and the use of treated grey water provide a useful potential water source, but in addition water conservation is critical so weather stations and computer -controlled irrigation systems will help to conserve what you have. I am personally interested in the naturalisation of the course by integrating natural habitats in out-ofplay areas, the use of drought tolerant grasses and even the combination of high quality synthetic grass combined with natural grass. What main components do you believe are essential in making a great golfing destination? SM. For me it is quality throughout in the design, maintenance, management and operations – this is a must for any golf destination. For the golf element, great design naturally, but also different styles of design in different landscape character areas. They say that variety is the spice of life; this is especially true for golfing destinations. Discerning golfers don’t want to play just one course. I believe that they want to experience a variety of styles of courses produced by different designers. Given the view that the UAE alone will have over 20 courses by 2015, these surely cannot all be designed by Tiger Woods, Greg Norman and the like, so why not other internationally renowned golf designers? I completely understand that signature courses are important in providing a brand for new developments but what about the Lee Westwood, ranked world number three? At golfmarnoch we have recognised the importance of signature courses and can offer top name professionals as part of our package. What can clients and contractors expect from recognised International Golf Designers such as yourselves?


SM. Challenge and charm, a traditional edge with a hint of Scottish links styling. Over the last 40 years of involvement in the golf industry from grass roots maintenance, course construction and management at a variety of venues including St Andrews, this has provided me with a wide and varied experience. Combine this with my additional skill set in landscape architecture and you get a perfect integration with golf course design, not to mention my leading international design name plus a hunger to succeed. As the lead designer at golfmarnoch, I am backed by a massive network of consultant support dealing with every aspect of work associated with a modern golf course destination from agronomy to casino consultancy or irrigation design to state-of-the-art golf simulators – we can coordinate just about every related and even non-related aspect of any golf course development.

“Although I realise that my name will not out-sell the world renowned golf professionals, the combined packages that we can offer with other world renowned golf professionals will produce refreshingly new and attractive design solutions”

A senior member of EIGCA, Steve Marnoch has designed many prestigious golf courses around the world, including one of the world’s most exclusive private gated golf course developments at La Zagaleta, Spain. Now with proposals across North Africa, his sights are firmly set on the MENA Region for future golfmarnoch expansion.

What do you consider developers are looking for in a golf designer in today’s tough marketplace? SM. I guess there would be several main factors and maybe the highest would be brand value but also value for money. Brand value is important for developers seeking to maximise the profile for their development by carefully calculating the cost of the design and the signature names involved against the added value they would get back in future promotion and sales. We understand that branding and merchandising is hugely important and although I realise that my name will not out-sell the worlrenowned golf professionals, the combined packages that we can offer with other world-renowned golf professionals will produce refreshingly new and attractive design solutions. By keeping overheads low and outsourcing where possible this allows golfmarnoch to provide cost effective golf design and project management solutions without any impact on quality. ■

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Harbouring ambitions The luxury property market may have stalled over the last 18 months, but the marina development sector still appears to be thriving.


t’s the ultimate dream for many: relaxing on the deck of a luxury yacht, moored in a sun-kissed marina. And for an increasing number of people across the gulf region, the dream is rapidly becoming a reality as developers continue to unveil desirable marina properties at affordable prices. For instance, Mourjan Marinas IGY, a company providing innovative development and management solutions for marina lifestyle destinations in the Middle East, recently announced plans for the design, construction and operation of all marinas in the Lusail City development in Qatar. This meticulously master planned new city – sprawling over 35 square kilometres – is one of the most exciting projects in the region and will eventually become home to approximately 200,000 people. Situated along the coast just north of Doha, the development is destined to become a thriving maritime hub, with a number of marinas serving different segments of the industry, including private, business and community marinas. The Dubai-based company has been awarded a contract by Lusail Real Estate Development Company, the master developer for the project, to take over every aspect of the maritime work – from marina master planning and design to building, owning and managing the full marina portfolio, which is expected to hold more than 1500 berths across the development


once complete. Mourjan Marinas IGY will drive Lusail’s waterway strategy and management, and the phased development of the marina districts is expected to stretch over the next five years. The first phase of the marina development, estimated to be operational in January 2011, will include significant upland development such as waterfront dining outlets and a host of retail establishments. Following phases of the project will include yacht clubs and shipyards. Michael Horrigan, the company’s charismatic chief executive, believes the exclusive amenities of the Lusail marinas will set a benchmark for Gulf marinas with their quality of services, dock furnishings and fittings. “Lusail City is setting new standards in master planning communities and reflects Qatar’s unfailing commitment to world-class quality standards,” he says. “There is perfect synergy between Lusail City’s priority for the integration of communities with the development and encouragement of yachting in Qatar, and our vision for high quality, well-designed and efficiently-managed marinas.” With multiple businesses and residential communities working and living in Lusail City, the marinas will be developed to appeal to people who are keen and interested in the yachting lifestyle and caters to both mega-yacht owners as well as smaller and

“The Middle East is home to more megayachts than any other region in the world”

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recreational boat owners, providing all related facilities and amenities. The new marinas will introduce the yachting lifestyle to the local Qatari community, as well as attract regional and international yacht owners to visit and enjoy the new development. “The Lusail City marina development furthers our ambition to be at the forefront of the marina industry in this region,” says Horrigan. “We look forward to working closely with the Lusail Real Estate Development Company in delivering world-class marinas and yachting lifestyle destinations in this region.” In fact despite the downturn, waterfront developments are continuing to attract interest, reflecting the fact that marina living has become one of the most desirable and sought-after lifestyles in the world. Abu Dhabi’s 2030 strategic plan includes a massive marina component, including approximately 45 marinas of various sizes, and it is believed that in the future there could be as many as 10,000 recreational craft in the emirate. Currently there are about 1600 berths available in six existing marinas in Abu Dhabi, but further expansion is already on the cards. From the world’s largest luxury motor yachts to family day boats, from tall ships to tenders, racing yachts to fishing boats, super-yachts to ski boats, Abu Dhabi plans to deliver a range of unique marinas catering to the entire spectrum of needs.

Dubai Marina, Dubai Currently the largest man-made marina in the world, Dubai Marina remains a hot favourite for buying and renting properties despite the economic downturn, offering the vibrancy of a chic, urban lifestyle together with the advantages of owning a home on the water.


Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi The world-class facilities of the iconic Yas Island development were recently unveiled during the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and generated impressive international interest. The island project includes stunning marina facilities.

“Marine leisure is expected to play an increasingly important role in advancing Abu Dhabi’s tourism growth,” says His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. “This is a very natural lifestyle for us as Abu Dhabi is blessed with over 400 kilometres of coastline, over 200 islands and a rich marine life. Progression into the marine leisure segment will, however, be measured in line with our preferred style. We will leverage these assets while at the same time conserving them for the benefit of this generation and for those to come.” Some of the biggest projects in Abu Dhabi have marina components. A huge development in the pipeline aims to turn Mina Zayed, currently Abu Dhabi’s main port, into a super-yacht marina to be known as Marina Zayed, which will be home to a large number of mega-yachts. Close to this development will be another marina for recreational boating which will be linked to other projects such as the Corniche and Saadiyat Island developments by canals that will be cut through the existing port. And while Dubai has undoubtedly been hit hardest by the economic crisis, the 2010 edition of its International Boat Show was a resounding success, with over 23,000 visitors. Clearly the downturn has not dulled interest in the sector, and with worldclass property developments at Dubai Marina and elsewhere continuing to see sustained interest, the future looks bright across the region. “The Middle East is home to more mega-yachts than any other region in the world,” says Horrigan. ‘‘We are committed to maintaining excellent standards across all areas of our marina management services and operations, and look forward to further developing our reach across the Middle East and North African markets.’’ ■

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36 Hours in...Mumbai Time: +5.5 hours GMT | Currency: Indian Rupee | State: Maharashtra | Population: 1.7 14 million

In the know To see Mumbai is to believe it. Despite the endless stream of literature, cinema and art to emerge from this unique city, nothing can prepare you for the chaos of the metropolis formerly known as Bombay. Home to extremes of wealth, myriad religions, around 10 widely spoken languages, chic restaurants cosied up to ancient bazaars, Mumbai is India’s largest, richest and most diverse city. Its economic wealth makes it a popular business as well as tourist destination; indeed, a major port city during the British colonial rule, Mumbai has historically welcomed the world’s business men and women. Today, Mumbai’s wealth and booming population continue to make it a prime destination for development, and opportunities for investment are not hard to come by. And those just looking to take some downtime can rest assured that this city is teeming with charming nightspots, cultural wonders and delectable eateries.

Economy Not only is Mumbai the richest city in India, but it also has the highest GDP of any city in South or Central Asia. Generating 6.16 percent of the total GDP of the country, it serves as the base for a number of India’s conglomerates as well as a popular destination for foreign companies looking to establish a base in the country. Traditionally a popular trading hub thanks to its waterside location, the economy has diversified significantly in the last 40 years, and today is recognised as one of the world’s most potentially lucrative business centres.


Time off Home to such a plethora of iconic sights, choosing exactly how to spend your free time in Mumbai is one of the difficulties. Wander down to Bollywood to catch a traditional Indian movie, or alternatively take the trip into the Mumbai Harbour to Elephant Island, a spectacular Hindu site formed of temple caves carved into the basalt rock of the island. Thought to date back around 1500 years, this stunning edifice in the middle of ocean is an unmissable treat for any visitor to Mumbai. Cricket is to India what football is to South America; for a truly Indian cultural experience, head to the Oval or Azad Maidens to catch a match before kicking back on Chowpatty Beach to sample the offerings of the stall vendors, such as a traditional head massage, or simply relax and soak up the sun.

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Eat Choosing where to eat is one of the biggest challenges thrown up by Mumbai. The melting pot of cultures and heritage found in the city has resulted in some of the finest food on offer in India. For the traditional local taste, though by no means the budget-option, try Trishna in Kala Ghoda. Seafood on offer is brought for inspection before order, and is served up using the area’s traditional style. To sample a wider array of India’s dishes, or simply for something a little more informal Culture Curry serves up curry from many regions across India, while guitar-wielding musicians sing for their supper between the tables. For those looking to get a taste of traditional Mumbai living, the Bade Miya serves up some of the finest street food in the city. You might have to queue, but the freshly grilled snacks of paneer masala or tikka roll are worth the wait.

Sleep The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel One of the grandest and most elegant hotels in the city, the Taj is a quintessential Raj-era destination. Over a hundred years old and situated on the Colaba waterfront next to the Gateway of India, this is as much a landmark in its own right as it is a luxurious hotel for Mumbai’s visitors. Rooms are predictably opulent for a hotel whose guest list includes Royalty from across the world.

The entertainment capital of India, Mumbai can boast more than its fair share of hedonistic and vibrant night-spots. Dome, in the Hotel Intercontinental, is commonly cited as one of the city’s sleekest, and is often frequented by Bollywood lovelies. The slightly clumsily named Not Just Jazz By The Bay is another popular choice, and does exactly as it promises, showcasing a variety of music genres to while away a Mumbai evening. For a quieter, and perhaps more culturally fulfilling break from the bustle of the city, Samovar Café is an intimate spot inside the art gallery overlooking the picturesque gardens at the Prince of Wales Museum, where customers can get a beer, a tasty lassi or even a light snack.

Hotel Sea Princess Indeed, there is no shortage of luxurious hotels in Mumbai, with a great many to be found within easy proximity of the airport. However, for those looking to locate to heart of the city, the Sea Princess on Juhu Beach is an ideal location to explore the attractions of the city such as Siddi Vinayak Temple and Powai Lake. Well equipped with business amenities, this hotel is pleasant and accommodating.


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Coming up… Film, literature, sport, fireworks: it’s all happening in the next few months. 14-23.10 Abu Dhabi Film Festival Supporting film culture, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival showcases works by Arab film-makers alongside those by major talents of world cinema. Established in 2007, with the aim of helping to create a vibrant film culture throughout the region, the festival is committed to curating exceptional programmes to engage and educate the local community, inspire filmmakers and nurture the growth of the regional film industry.

Fireworks during the Gala dinner at the opening of the festival in 2007

26-29.10 Israel Fringe Theatre Festival Original and revolutionary plays by modern Israeli writers are performed at Acre’s annual Israel Fringe Theatre Festival, and it remains the vanguard of modern theatre in Israel. Productions are across town and some are also in English for non-Hebrew speakers.

October Damascus Book Fair The 19th annual Damascus book fair opens in October with over 38,000 titles for sale. The range of subjects is vast with titles covering areas from science to art and even children’s books.


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The start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2009

07.11 Beirut Marathon Beirut Marathon attracts elite and leisure runners from the Middle East, Africa and all over the world. You don’t have to run the full 26 miles as there are shorter races, or you could just soak up the atmosphere and watch. The course winds its way through the city centre and then north and south along the coast road. The marathon is divided by age group and ability – if you’re more likely to end up walking, you’re requested to go at the back.

12-14.11 Formula One: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, at the Yas Marina Circuit, is the final race of the Formula One season. Watch cars race at 200mph around the floodlit track. Built at a cost of more than US$1bn, the Yas Marina Circuit was opened in 2009 and is one of the most state-of-the-art circuits on the racing calendar. Rising out of the sands of the Arabian desert, it is a truly atmospheric setting to watch Formula One motor racing.

Omani soldiers march during Oman’s 37th National Day in 2007

Participants start the annual Beirut Marathon in December 2009

14-17.11 Hajj to Mecca

18.11 National Day, Oman Oman’s National Day, which is also the birthday of Sultan Qaboos, is one of the most popular festivals in Oman. The double celebration has everything from food and street fairs to camel line dancing and fireworks on the agenda. Omanis spend National Day watching military bands, children and adults dancing in bright traditional costumes, folk singing and camel races. This is the best time for a full immersion into the culture and traditions of Oman.


Pilgrims on the Mount of Mercy at Arafat on the ninth day of the month of Pilgrimage

According to the Prophet Mohammed, there are five fundamental practices of the Muslim religion, known as the Five Pillars of Islam. The last of these, the Hajj, involves a pilgrimage to his birthplace, Mecca, in the Sirat Mountains. The Hajj is an obligation for every healthy Muslim man and woman to undertake at least once in his or her life. About two million Muslims from all over the world unite to perform the Hajj each year.

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DETAILS PHOTO FINISH A man made homeless by the floods in Pakistan rests next to a grave in the Makli Graveyard in the Thatta district. Beginning in July, the annual monsoon rains in fell this year at an unprecedented rate, destroying entire villages and devastating the lives of an estimated 21 million people across the country. Relief charity Oxfam has warned that reconstruction efforts in the flood-ravaged country must start immediately to avoid devastating long-term consequences. Neva Khan, Oxfam’s country director in Pakistan, said: “One month into a crisis we would have expected the situation to have stabilised and the long-term planning to have begun. But we are still in phase one of an increasing catastrophe, evacuating people, providing them with shelter, trying to get clean water and sanitation to those people who need it. Pakistan doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for the emergency phase to be over before starting the reconstruction.” The charity believes billions will be needed to rebuild schools, hospitals, roads and bridges, and that reconstruction efforts must focus on ensuring the country is better placed to cope with future disasters.


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MENA INFRA Issue 6  
MENA INFRA Issue 6  

As Iraq swaps Humvees for JCBs, can the country's rebuilding process provide a much-needed boost to the regional construction industry?