Al-Futtaim's MEP arm to target airport projects

Company to chase work in UAE and Saudi as aviation sector soars

Murali S., managing director, Al-Futtaim Engineering.
Murali S., managing director, Al-Futtaim Engineering.

Al-Futtaim Engineering’s MEP division will begin to target work on airport terminal projects in the coming months, the company’s managing director Murali S has revealed.

The company completed work on an airport hangar at Dubai World Central earlier this year, but has yet to execute a project on an airport terminal building.

Speaking in an interview with MEP Middle East, Murali said that the move is in response to the sustained expansion of the region’s aviation sector and that the company is now aiming to share in its growth.

“The Middle Eastern airlines are perhaps the biggest growth story within the [global] aviation business,” he said. “The regional airlines operating out of the Gulf have clearly grown exponentially. On the back of this, large infrastructure has been built and is getting built as we speak – and there will be more in the future. We as an engineering contracting company have the ability to contribute, help our customers and be part of that growth. That is [our] motivation.”

Al-Futtaim’s decision comes as a raft of GCC airport projects are either in planning or under execution, including the $32bn (AED 117.5bn) expansion of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, which was announced in September.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia, Al-Futtaim’s two core markets, will be targeted by the firm at the outset before it considers attempts at securing airport work elsewhere in the region.

“In this business, as an international company, we will go after other opportunities around the region, but that’s something that I think won’t happen for three to four years for this particular sector. The initial target markets will be in the UAE and Saudi,” Murali said.

Al-Futtaim has spent the last eight months planning to enter the sector and is currently in discussions with other parties in an attempt to break into the sector.

“We are in talks with contractors for some small and large works in Dubai, and the Saudi team is now getting into some discussions,” said Murali. “We are keen to start. I think the way it will go will see us get some reasonably small, reasonably sized opportunity; we’ll start with that and build the team. If there is a larger opportunity we will build the team for that. I’m sure within the next two quarters we will have an opportunity to start work.”

Murali added that Al-Futtaim would not necessarily seek to secure airport contracts on its own and was open to establishing partnerships with other major MEP contractors

“I wouldn’t rule out alliances and partnerships with other major subcontractors,” he said. “We have relationships with almost all major [MEP] contractors. When I say relationships, [I mean] we know each other well; we know what they are and they know what we are. At the right time and opportunity we’ll see with whom we join hands.”

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