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Three-part plan for public projects, says El Seif

Infrastructure COO highlights key targets amid government spending

El Seif's focus is firmly on Saudi Arabia, says Wenkenbach.
El Seif's focus is firmly on Saudi Arabia, says Wenkenbach.

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El Seif Engineering Contracting is targeting three major areas of the multi-billion riyal social development plan in Saudi Arabia while maintaining the quality of its joint ventures and client list, according to an executive.

Han Wenkenbach, COO-vice president of the company’s infrastructure division, said health, school and transport-related projects are at the core of its tendering plans.

“First there are the medical programmes, there are a lot of hospital schemes that are being and will be tendered – we have a great interest in that – and the education programmes, we’re [also] interested in.

“Also, infrastructure in general, and I don’t mean pipes in the ground. There is a programme of airport development both international and domestic and infrastructure development in terms of railway and metro schemes, in Jeddah and Riyadh in particular,” he told CW in an interview. “So roads infrastructure such as flyovers, bridges, underpasses ... they are the key areas.”

Riyadh-based El Seif is working on some of the biggest projects in Saudi Arabia on the back of the high level of government spending over the last 18 months to diversify the country’s economy, create new city developments and boost the country’s transport and industrial capacity.

These projects include the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, in which El Seif constructed and installed the utilities, two parcels on the King Abdullah Financial District, and train stations in Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City for the Haramain High Speed Rail Project.

Wenkenbach believes that spending on infrastructure goes in cycles, referring to the boost in airport investment 20 years ago that had now “come to the end of its lifespan and needs to be upgraded”.

The company would continue to bid for the biggest project, but that where the work might exceed El Seif’s current capacity, it would seek to work with partners in a way that allowed it to add value, he said.

He added that, though the company has offices in UAE, Qatar and Lebanon, its main focus is on its home market.

“We are maintaining a presence in these markets, such as the Emirates but we are concentrating on KSA. In Qatar, too, we are engaged with projects, but I think, if you look critically, it’s not a big market yet. A lot is still in the planning stage.”

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Construction Week - Issue 761
Mar 21, 2020