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How quickly is the status of GCC PMs improving?

by Paromita Dey on Feb 28, 2016

SSH is the project manager for Kuwait’s 360 Mall.
SSH is the project manager for Kuwait’s 360 Mall.

The GCC’s construction sector is expected to significantly expand between 2015 and 2018 as regional member states target economic diversification. This is the conclusion of the GCC Construction Report 2015 by Alpen Capital. The paper states that growth will be driven by factors such as favourable macroeconomics, positive demographics, higher budget allocation, and increased tourism activities.

Last year, the UAE led the GCC pack with projects worth $525.6bn. Trailing behind the Emirates were Saudi Arabia, with projects worth $407.8bn; Kuwait, with $123.6bn-worth of projects; Qatar, with $113.8bn of projects; and Oman, with developments worth $29.6bn.

Estimates suggest the GCC’s construction sector will remain busy in the years to come. However, developers and contractors face the risk of programme delays due to the lack of effective project management. Experts contend there is a long way to go before this specialism reaches its full potential in the Middle East.

Melvyn Ford, vice president and director for business development at Hill International Middle East, tells Construction Week: “Clients need to appoint project managers (PMs) at the very start of the project – such as during feasibility studies – instead of waiting until later, as it often happens.

“PMs are considered just another layer of management by some clients, who try to reduce their costs by appointing only architects or engineers to supervise design and build with no high-level management of the entire process,” he continues.

“Some developers employ in-house teams and think this is sufficient, but for large and complicated projects, they are often found wanting when it comes to management skills and abilities.

“Often, clients believe PMs will only look after their own interests, [but a good PM is] – and should be – impartial to ensure the project comes first. Collaborative approaches work better,” Ford adds.

Clearly, project management appears to be under-appreciated by certain sections of the construction community. Nevertheless, GCC nations have been steadily embracing project management as a tool to control spending and improve project results. Indeed, effective project management became even more important at the onset of the economic downturn in 2008.

More recently, Saudi Arabia passed the project management office (PMO) law, which is aimed at developing a programme management culture to improve performance and help the Kingdom’s industry move towards a model of best value rather than best price.