The Middle-East region is taking giant strides in terms of economic growth, investment and infrastructure development as it gears up to host the two most iconic events on Earth - World Expo in 2020 and FIFA World Cup in 2022. Here's a glimpse of the views and visions of several stalwarts from the construction sector in the Gulf as they move forward in 2014.
We are well positioned to meet the likely rise in hotel and themed project developments in the near future." - Kez Taylor, CEO, ALEC
New initiatives in 2014
We are always looking for ways to develop our people's skills. Our Leadership Development Programme will help us improve employee skills in leadership and ensure that we are able to effectively lead the current complex projects as well as those in the future.
Also, we are focusing on a centralised construction model whereby knowledge is being shared across the business, and strengthening our Corporate Social Responsibility plan in 2014.
Economic outlook for the Middle-East
The Expo 2020 win has definitely paved the way for strong growth in the economy across the UAE with cascading effect on the surrounding region. It will boost tourism and infrastructure in the region. Also, the recent lifting of sanction in Iran will potentially have a great impact on the UAE in terms of trade and commerce.
Opportunities in the construction sector
There are immense opportunities for growth and expansion with many regional markets experiencing a construction boom - from Qatar with the Fifa World Cup in 2022, to the UAE for Expo 2020. We are delighted with the recent awards received by our projects across several areas of operation. Some of these include the Jabal Akhdar Anantara Resort & Spa in Oman in JV with S&T; the Doha Festival City Mall in Qatar, a JV with GCC; and a new One & Only hotel complex in Montenegro.
The growth and expansion of Dubai International Airport as well as the works of the Abu Dhabi Airport form a huge driver for us. Also, we are well positioned to meet the likely rise in hotel and themed project developments in the near future with our recent completion of hotels and the Yas Waterworld Park in Abu Dhabi.
One of the constant challenges in the industry is alignment between all stakeholders, the client, designer and subcontractors, which is key to a successful project and a great way to form long term relationships for future works. Another challenge is the increase in prices of various construction materials.
"The main opportunities for us are centred around urbanisation of the region's major cities." - Simon Moon, CEO Middle East, Atkins
For 2014, our focus is on growth in our strategic sectors of property, infrastructure and rail, which includes key investments in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In addition, through a new document 'Atkins Minimum Requirements for Construction Safety' that we just launched, we are looking to engage our clients and their supply chain on a much deeper level to help drive international best practice and support long term improvements in the health and safety culture of the region.
Opportunities in the construction and building sector
The main opportunities for us are centred around urbanisation of the region's major cities, which presents some fascinating challenges that our experts are well placed to help solve. The challenges include planning and design of intelligent and sustainable communities that encourage healthy, active lifestyles and connect people to the place they live, work and socialise within.
Your major growth drivers
We are already involved in Doha Metro in Qatar and Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia. Going forward, metro projects across the region will remain a key growth driver for us considering the scale of planned investment in these projects. In the UAE and Qatar, we are working on major public sector projects for the likes of Abu Dhabi Municipality, the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport and Ashghal, all of whom have significant long term investment plans. We are also encouraged by the level of activity in the property sector of Dubai, where we are working for major developers such as Emaar and Al Habtoor. Besides, we expect to see growth in the property market in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Your business focus areas
In terms of our market sector focus, the three sectors are property, infrastructure and rail. The UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia form our focus in terms of geographic markets.
The biggest challenge facing the region is related to logistics - bringing the required quantity and quality of resources to the market at the right time. This includes not only the vast amounts of plant, labour and materials, but also access to the number of skilled people with the knowhow to deliver major, complex projects.
"Our main projects to be completed this year will be in the luxury serviced hotel apartments sector." - Niall McLoughlin, Senior Vice President, DAMAC Properties
DAMAC Properties has a host of projects throughout Dubai and the wider Middle-East region - many of which will be completed in 2014, with many more under construction. Our main projects to be completed this year will be in the luxury serviced hotel apartments sector. Under the management of DAMAC Maison, we have 1,833 new units set for completion in 2014, making DAMAC Properties one of the largest operators of luxury serviced hotel apartments in the region.
Economic and investment outlook for the Middle-East
Dubai's property market was on a strong growth path before the announcement of the Expo 2020 victory, but the confirmation that Dubai will host the event is sure to have a further positive response. Tourism is now set to increase to 25 million visitors by 2020, compared to about 10 million in 2013, which will drive demand for hotels and luxury serviced hotel apartments, in particular.
Opportunities in the construction and building sector Dubai has always been an attractive market to overseas investors, whether it is buying-to-live or buying-to-invest. However, as countries came out of the global liquidity crisis, investors were again able to return to the market at dramatically reduced prices. Increased regulation and structure has strengthened confidence in the market and further government investments in infrastructure have made Dubai an attractive market once more.
The Expo 2020 win has also seen projects in the Dubai World Central area, close to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and Jebel Ali port rise in prices, but fundamentals remain.
Your growth drivers
DAMAC Properties has launched a number of projects in the past twelve months, all of which have been well received by the market. The two main areas of focus for the company in this year will be luxury serviced hotel apartments and our Master Development, AKOYA by DAMAC, which is being developed around the Trump International Golf Club, Dubai.
"We expect many projects to be announced from the tourism and hospitality sector." - Saleh Muradweij, Managing Director, Drake & Scull Construction
Your plans for 2014
Drake & Scull Construction (DSC) will continue to build on its strengths and secure more projects in its key markets, which are the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), the UAE, Algeria and Jordan. We will improve our value proposition to the clients, strengthen our services portfolio and expand our resources and capabilities in the region. We are going to focus on improving our margins and consolidate our position as the leading general contractor in MENA.
Your key projects
DSC is currently delivering several landmark large scale projects in KSA including the $ 800 million King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC), the $ 460 million Lamar Towers and the $ 350 million Jabal Omar Development, besides the $ 208 million Saraya Aqaba in Jordan and the $ 111 million Forum El Djazair in Algeria. Some of the other major projects undertaken by DSC in the past include the Mangrove Place Development (UAE), The Royal Amwaj Resorts & Spa (UAE), Laguna Towers (UAE), Cayan Business Centre (UAE) and Movenpick Hotel & Oceana Residences (UAE).
Braving global economic challenges
We kept working, bidding for new projects, putting proposals together, doing what we do best, and the tide turned last year. We won more new business, and our backlog (for the entire DSI PJSC group) stands at the highest ever, largely as a result of end-to-end service that clients appreciate in the GCC and KSA, in particular. We have invested in key systems such as ERP that will deliver value to our clients in the future. We expanded our footprint into key markets in the region, which allowed us to make inroads into previously untapped sectors.
Opportunities due to the Expo 2020
The Expo 2020 is a shot in the arm for the UAE market and we are pleased for the entire industry. The Dubai Government has already announced several billion Dirham worth of projects and there are more projects in the pipeline. Besides the public sector developments, the private sector is getting ready to utilise the opportunity and we expect many projects to be announced from the tourism and hospitality sector.
"We are planning to bid for the Fifa World Cup 2022 stadiums in Qatar."- Campbell Gray, Managing Director (Middle-East), Faithful+Gould
New initiatives in 2014
We have the appetite to deliver significant work programmes that require project and cost management help. Our key focus for 2014 is on providing an integrated approach encapsulating project management and cost management to our global clients as they are demanding more in-depth service offering international standards and best prices for their projects.
Economic scenario in Dubai
Dubai has transformed itself and evolved by adapting to the changing circumstances. The Middle-East has always represented a core part of our business and we are experiencing encouraging levels of growth and opportunities in the UAE, as well as our other core GCC markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where there is a strong drive for major infrastructure spending and the 2022 Fifa World Cup. Dubai is the regional hub of the UAE and winning the World Expo 2020 has boosted the confidence of the city. We are excited to be a part of this journey and the ambitious 2021 vision.
In the last few years, we have grown with a more diverse workload, providing more project management consultancy services in addition to cost management. We do not aim to simply rely on a few large projects, but extend beyond the current infrastructure focus into property and social infrastructure sectors.
There are a lot of opportunities for the construction and building sector in the Gulf and due to this, we are focusing on projects related to the hospitality and retail segment. We are also looking at diverse segments such as property, healthcare, infrastructure and transport projects in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Investment plans and challenges
Our Group has recently acquired Confluence, a project management business employing about 200 staff. The acquisition supports our project and cost management consultancy business and, in particular, augments our presence in the commercial, retail and hospitality sectors.
We will continue to leverage on Confluence's extensive hospitality and retail experience and invest in various sectors including infrastructure and industrial sectors. However, there are major challenges in the Middle-East due to logistics and material prices.
"The construction industry is expected to witness a boom again."- Roger Kelso, General Manager, GCC Region, RW Armstrong
As RW Armstrong is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of CHA Consulting based in New York, it provides us with opportunities to increase our resources and the depth and breadth of our services across additional markets such as infrastructure, sports, power & water, and oil & gas activities. We expect 2014 to be a good year where we will be able to integrate our architectural design work with best practices in engineering and project management to provide a truly one-stop shop for our clients.
The construction industry is expected to witness a boom again and the property, infrastructure and hospitality sectors have already shown signs of increased activity by reviving stalled projects or announcing new ones. The Middle East will start preparing for the Expo 2020 that entails the actual Expo site and the development of the country.
Major opportunities are in mixed-use developments, as well as commercial and residential projects and transportation and infrastructure, such as aviation, roads, ports and rail. Especially the infrastructure projects will support the UAE's economic sustainability in the GCC region and we believe that our experience from the US can bring in additional value.
Your growth drivers
Our growth driver will not be linked to a certain market as historically RW Armstrong has served all markets, either in the MENA region or in the US. We feel that our architect of record, project management and construction supervision services provide areas for growth. Another growth area will be our infrastructure division as we have a strong team in Abu Dhabi and can rely on an experienced team in the US to supply all disciplines of planning, design and engineering services needed for the success of any transportation project.
Your investment plan and business focus areas
Our main investment will be in finding, hiring and retaining the right people to take on the massive amount of consulting work planned within the GCC over the next few years.
RW Armstrong has its regional focus on Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which we view as the top of the market for global consulting firms.
"Opportunities continue to manifest across the built environment."- Simon Higgins, Executive Director, Sweett Group
Economic and investment outlook for the Middle East
We have seen a gradual increase in tender activity and an altered profile of the project where the scale appears to be growing. A number of our clients are seeking to activate projects ahead of a perceived upward swing in construction costs due to increased market activity amid positive market confidence.
Opportunities continue to manifest across the built environment. All sectors that we operate in are seeing movement, with the residential sector coming back on stream after a number of dormant years. In Saudi Arabia, this sector appears to have done better to accommodate growing numbers in both expat residents and local communities. We are also seeing progressive growth in the hospitality sector, an area where Sweett Group has consistently done well. Overall, the increased investment in capital projects appears to be evident in all markets where we have a presence including the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Our core services of project management and cost management continue to be in demand. Besides, a specialist area for us in fund monitoring and project due diligence is showing steady growth. Confidence is key to this and we are seeing institutional investment growing in the UAE. Sectors such as hospitality, aviation and healthcare, where Sweett Group has a strong track record, also continue to provide opportunities to support revenue growth for our business.
The continuance of service quality for our existing client base is a priority. Eighty per cent of our commissions are generated out of repeat business and we will work hard to maintain this. We will also continue to focus on overall profitability and steady growth in line with our objectives for the MENA region. In 2014 we will strive to expand into new markets including recent licensing in Oman that provides opportunity to capitalise on strong public sector spending on capital works projects and the hospitality sector. Qatar will be another focus for us where a number of promising opportunities are being explored.