Building standards slammed

Only 10 to 15% of completed building projects in Middle East are of 'decent' standard, expert warns.

The real estate profession is being driven by marketing and quality is suffering
The real estate profession is being driven by marketing and quality is suffering

Only 10 to 15% of completed building projects in the Middle East are of a 'decent' standard, according to an industry expert. The claim was made by Anwer Sher, managing director of EMS, at the recent Construction Week conference.

Sher also said that the industry was currently suffering at the hands of marketing campaigns.

"In my personal view, not more than 10 to 15% of projects completed in the Middle East have any semblance of quality," he said.

"Most of the projects you see are just mass-produced."

Sher backed up his views by referring to how poor quality construction is exposed whenever the region suffers downpours of rain. "A friend of mine was having a shower, and as he switched the shower off, the outside wall just fell off - the wall fell off because it was a few days after the rain."

Sher added that at the recent Cityscape exhibition in Dubai, he had quizzed many of the exhibitors about the building projects they were promoting.

"I asked each developer to walk me through the lobby of the building they were promoting, but hardly 2% knew what the finishes would be in the lobby of the buildings," he said.

"My complaint is that marketing has spoiled the industry. At the moment, advertising people are pushing the real estate industry - this is the first thing that has to stop."

But Sher claimed the industry still had a positive future.

He said: "All it needs is four or five developers and four or five consultants to take the lead. Some of them are indulging in poor labour practices.

"I would like to see contractors saying to developers 'we will not work with you because your approach is unethical'."

Bishoy Azmy, deputy general manager, Al Shafar General Contracting (ASGC), another speaker at the conference, disagreed with this view.

He said: "I think there are a lot of quality completed projects in the UAE. There is lots of money and so many of the buildings are new and of a very high standard. I am a strong advocate for the quality of buildings in the UAE, but maybe in other parts of the Middle East they are not so high."

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