Qurashi ties up with Avalon Abseiling UK to create a rope access firm
UAE businessman Safi Qurashi ties up with Avalon Abseiling UK to create a rope access firm. fmME has the details
On February 4, 2013, a joint venture was signed between UAE-based Q Facilities Management and Avalon Abseiling UK to provide rope access services in the Middle East, resulting in the formation of Q Avalon.
Avalon, a member of the world trade association IRATA, shot into the spotlight with contract wins for the London Olympics (2008-2012), British Gas, and the London Underground.
Q Facilities Management is part of the Q Group of companies, launched by businessman Safi Qurashi in 2012 after he was found not guilty of cheque fraud and released from Dubai’s central jail. Qurashi is upbeat about the future despite his experiences.
When asked whether Qurashi’s tragic circumstances over the last two-and-a-half years affected his business philosophy, he says not.
“My business philosophy hasn’t really changed much. What happened to me was an unfortunate situation. It wasn’t because my business was doing badly — it was just an individual who decided to misuse the law. What can you do about that? So the company is still structured in exactly the same way.
I’ve gone back to where I was two-and-a-half years ago. You learn a few things, and I was fortunate enough to have some time to be able to rethink — sometimes you don’t get that in business because you’re moving at such a fast pace. I had a fair amount of time to rethink and realign, and relook at this whole market.”
He says he always wanted to enter the FM sector from the time he worked on Premier Real Estate Bureau, but only recently decided to offer specialised services rather than integrated FM.
This is why, he says, he chose to enter into a partnership with Avalon, because “Avalon in the UK provides right across the whole board solutions.” He adds: “Avalon is the only family that has chartered surveyors, engineers, and highly skilled, technical people who are qualified to abseil.”
Phil Boyce, managing director of Avalon Abseiling is equally positive about the JV. “Safi and I looked at whether we could bring our two companies together, and bring my expertise and technical ability to the UAE, which we believe is a very, very big market for us to tackle.”
He is also very buoyant about bringing best practice to the region, and explains there is scope for rope access firms to get involved in the design and architecture stages of a building.
“Instead of waiting for a building to be accessed, why not sit with architects and design the access solutions, so you can fully facilitate the whole building before it comes out of the ground?
Then you won’t have the problems which we’re looking at in Dubai now where access is an awkward environment.” Boyce has used this technique before in the UK, and says: “What people are doing in Dubai now, I did 20 years ago in England.”
Safety is another concern the organisation will focus on. Q Avalon plans to set up an IRATA training centre in Dubai to train others in international standards. “I want to install the highest level of safety and professionalism in Dubai.
We’ve spent a lot of time in England building a recognised standard worldwide; we can now come to Dubai and automatically set the next standard with our technicians,” explains Boyce.
Qurashi adds: “That’s actually one of the other reasons we chose Avalon because we realised that safety is a key issue [here]. Avalon’s safety record is a 100%, so when you’re looking at doing this kind of work, you do want to make sure you bring a company where safety is the number one driver.”
While the two self-admitted megalomaniacs say they cannot reveal which projects they are in talks for signing on, they do admit these will be spread across various sectors.
Qurashi adds the interest in Q Avalon is high. The firm will initially focus on the UAE, predominantly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The idea is to eventually move into markets such as Qatar and Saudi, Oman. But we want to create the foundation of the company here, build a base and make it strong. Then maybe next year expand to other areas of the GCC.”
Boyce agrees, and says: “We don’t need to run with this, we want to get it right.” He adds: “The future is very bright for both of us.”