Once the fireworks are over

Welcome to 2014; there's plenty to do

COMMENT, Business

I've just taken the unprecedented step of rereading my old copy. Never a comfortable process for any writer, I had a look at what I wrote in this column last year, secretly hoping it would inspire me on a quiet afternoon, during the slow holiday period.

At the time I was full of praise for the UAE's road network, something I'd just spent a couple of days trailing up and down on, helping out a colleague with a car test photo shoot.

It must be something to do with the time of year, but I've just done exactly the same thing. This time the road of choice was up a mountain in Ras Al Khaimah.

Currently a road to nowhere, it's an amazing piece of engineering that is cutting and blasting its way up a nasty piece of rock. The result is a testing series of swerves and switchbacks that will put any vehicle through its paces. It's also created a cracking picnic spot if the number of local day-trippers was anything to go by - views from the current pinnacle are pretty good.

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There's a magazine trade secret that no one wants to let you know: most of the fast-looking car shots you see on a page are taken doing about 15kph. This makes for a day driving up and down a hill, and around the same corner, while the esteemed editor takes 2,543 photographs in the hope of getting six or seven of them in frame and in focus. That's not to say it's a dull job – I once met people who spent the day putting lids on pies, that's a dull job – but there's a stop-start pattern to the activity.

This left me with plenty of time to think. A staggering amount of effort, energy, planning and resource has been expended developing this piece of unfinished infrastructure. Much like the massive amount of infrastructure work going on around the region, it's impressive, but there's plenty more to do.

If 2013 was a year of fledgling optimism in property and even occasional fanfare around Expos and Metros, 2014 needs to be a year of getting stuff done. Nothing will kill the sense of market revival as quickly as stagnant project progress or prolonged silence on the issue of contract awards.

So, that said, here's a micro-manifesto for things Construction Week would like to see more of this year. I'll start with the obvious and say contract awards. The wide variety of regional infrastructure projects will likely provide most of them. The sooner this happens the more secure the industry will feel.

Adherence to regulations and standards will help too. There's been a great deal of thought and effort that's gone into developing regional examples for the industry. It's time the entire construction supply chain paid attention; it will be better for everyone.

Prompt payment is one contractors and suppliers alike will be grateful for. It's the elephant in the room at any construction event and people are gradually becoming more vocal on the issue.

Finally, any company still ignoring or downplaying sustainability issues really needs to stop now.

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