Leap of faith

Clients, contractors need to establish a beneficial relationship

Construction-industry veteran Adrian Shaw relishes the challenges of his new Qatar Rail role.
Construction-industry veteran Adrian Shaw relishes the challenges of his new Qatar Rail role.

In this issue we carry a fascinating interview with Adrian Shaw, the gentleman in the hot seat of Qatar Rail’s ambitious Doha Metro project. Having worked on such equally challenging projects as the Channel Tunnel in the UK, Shaw not only relishes the challenge, but is quick to inform detractors that the project is eminently feasible.

With over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry, Shaw is a seasoned veteran. Speaking to CWQ about the challenges faced today, Shaw says a lot of companies fall short when it comes to managing risk. Risk needs to be managed from concept to final completion.

“The criticality of any project is that nobody likes any surprises, so the earlier you can identify the risks and put preventative measures in place, then you will have a successful project.”

In addition, Shaw says that good relationships and good communication are essential. “Whenever you hear of successful projects, you always see that the client-contractor relationship was good.” This is particularly relevant here, where a lot of business is based on trust.

“A lot of contractors coming to the Middle East have got to realise that business over the years has been done on a handshake. That has been based on years and years of good relationships, so you cannot expect to have those relationships overnight.

It has got to be based on the fact that contractors have performed, they have clearly demonstrated they can build the relationship, they are not in a confrontational situation, which only inspires more confidence and trust, and so the relationship continues.

It has got to be both sides, the client as well as the contractor. I see a lot of willingness from both sides, but it is taking that leap of faith.”

Two companies that have definitely taken that leap of faith together are formwork supplier Peri and contractor Derwind Trading & Contracting. We speak to the team behind the new 52-storey Sinyar Tower in West Bay to find out how important initial collaboration is on a project of this size and complexity.

As Shaw comments: “The thing about construction is it is something different day; you are never dealing with the same issue; as soon as you have dealt with one issue, it is gone, and something else comes up. You are not sitting and wondering what you are going to do today. This is the ‘storming’ part of a project, trying to put everything together.”

And as for the future? Shaw says that what attracted him to Qatar Rail initially was the long-term nature of the project, with the entire metro system not completed until about 2026.

“And who knows, by that time we may be expanding the network, as this is only the current plan … Our long-term strategic plan, as with any organisation, is to look five, seven, ten years ahead.”

And it is the challenges and opportunities of the industry, particularly in a nascent boom market like Qatar, that is the attracting the world’s best and brightest. Shaw says he doubts there is any place in the world at the moment as exciting as Qatar.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020