Those two little letters

Sinéad Bridgett, project manager for the FM EXPO shares her experience of facilities management in the UAE, the difficulties with developing its understanding and the subsequent launch of FM EXPO.

Looking back to last December I find it quite amazing to see how far we have come in the understanding of facilities management.

Only some months back I scanned newspaper articles and construction related magazines in the hope of finding those two letters, FM.

I am glad to report that within this small time frame the words facilities management have begun to gain the recognition they are worthy of.

We now have two magazines dedicated to FM within the region and a dedicated annual event, FM EXPO.

The launch and development of these being in direct response to the unprecedented regional development and construction and subsequent demand by developers and property managers for a dedicated event and information source for the facilities management industry.

As we know, FM is an emerging concept in the Middle East and is fundamental to the success of any organisation.

It contributes to the delivery of strategic and operational objectives while providing a safe and efficient working environment.

But how do we prove this and how do we justify a cost that seems high in comparison to what the region has been used to?

This was the problem on the onset. Changing the attitude to managing our built environment effectively by reeducating the region in new practice.

With cranes and construction sites dominating our horizon it was only a matter of time before proper facilities management became forefront.

In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alone – comprising Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar - facilities management expenditure is expected to rise significantly over the coming months and years.

This is due to the substantial expansion within the region coupled with the aging of existing buildings which undergo harsh weather conditions adding to their premature ‘wear and tear.�

Because of this, we can no longer succumb to the security man at reception with his team of unskilled maintenance men to look after these implausible buildings and projects.

One of FM Expo�s aims was and still is to educate people in how proper management can benefit them in the long run.

The result and the apparent need for FM has been encouraged by the boom in construction in the Gulf region.

However educating the region on why they need FM and implementing it is different ball game.

Middle East Strategy Advisors (MESA) has recently stated they see significant potential for companies to move into facilities management in the Middle East.

They envisage an increasing number of local and regionally based construction companies, developers and property agents expanding into the FM market, with the main international players streaming into the region.

My main aim was to make sure the Middle East region knew enough about FM to attract people to the event.

We came across some problems with getting press releases into some local newspapers as they simply didn�t understand what facilities management was all about.

Education and simple explanations about what a company could gain from attending the FM EXPO was a key factor in attracting interest.

We�ve come a long way since then. Companies and professionals are now directly involved in the layout and initial stages of design.

This is a proven cost cutting effect as solutions are presented at a stage where minor changes to the project will not incur the greater cost that retrofitting and redesign would in the later stages of development.

This was one area pushed forward at the seminar programme.

Not surprisingly the seminars proved very successful as the line up of top FM practitioners took to the podium with their explanation on what their service had to offer.

Not only has the success of the launch meant that this new requirement for facilities management will continue, it has also given rise to the need for more interaction within the industry spurring us to develop the new networking evenings each month and a dedicated on-line forum.

Next June sees the second FM EXPO.

This time round I look forward with ease as I believe we as an industry have finally begun to lift the veil on facilities management.

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