Market opportunities

Recently announced survey results have put an estimated value of US $14.5 billion (AED53 billion) on the MEP contracting sector for 2008.

COMMENT, MEP

Recently announced survey results have put an estimated value of US $14.5 billion (AED53 billion) on the MEP contracting sector for 2008.

The orders booked by the largest eight MEP contractors alone over the past two years was valued at around $7.8 billion, with higher levels of work yet expected over the coming years.

Every week in the Middle East brings announcements of at least one major new development planned for construction. And in most weeks, several projects are starting life on the region's drawing boards.

With MEP services averaging around one-third of the value of each project, every new development announced means yet more work for the sector. And the opportunities for market growth are not just confined to taking on more work.

As this month's main interviewee demonstrates, some lateral thinking and diversification can enable MEP firms to expand in several directions, while maintaining and strengthening their core business.

For DC Pro Engineering the obvious move was into the green building market - another sector that is currently undergoing massive growth in the region. But while making the move the firm has maintained its focus on the provision of efficient air conditioning solutions.

By combining a knowledge of the district cooling sector with that of efficient fresh air delivery and recovery systems, the firm can now offer an overall building air conditioning solution. It believes that its order book will rise significantly as a result of this move.

And while the opportunities that are available in the so-called green building or sustainability sector are huge, other markets too are crying out for the expertise of MEP professionals. Security, voice and data and facilities management - take your pick.

These, among others, form natural divisional brand extensions for many MEP consultants and contractors, with existing staff having gained experience of the equipment and techniques when working on more general contract wins.

The growing market of renewables is another area for consideration. The application of solar power systems, for example, is set to increase over the coming years.

And with an established expertise of installing electrical and plumbing systems, the MEP professionals are the obvious choice to take up this workload as little or no training is needed for most of the latest systems to hit the market.

With all these opportunities available, the future for those in the Middle East's MEP sector is certainly secure. The only question now is can firms find the time and resources to grab the chances available?

Alison Luke is the editor of Mechanical Electrical Plumbing ME.

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