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Making an impression

It's that time of year when the region plays host to a number of events relating to the construction industry in the Middle East

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, Construction industry, Middle east

It's that time of year when the region plays host to a number of events relating to the construction industry in the Middle East. How involved are FM companies in them? fmME takes a look at the FM presence at two recent high-profile events.

Event in focus: The Big 5 Kuwait 2014
UFM: A drive to raise awareness on FM

UFM was the gold sponsor of The Big 5 Kuwait 2014, which was held from September 22-24 in Kuwait

fmME: Could you tell us your reasons for UFM’s participation in The Big 5 Kuwait, and its relation to your overall plans for your business?
Ahmad Yousef Al Kandari, CEO, UFM: UFM’s participation in The Big 5 Kuwait 2014 as a gold sponsor reflects the importance of facility management and its principal role in the life-cycle of any real estate property. The fact that servicing and maintaining a facility outlasts the construction period by multiple folds dictates the fundamental role of facility management in the total investment in the asset.

At UFM, we are keen on raising the awareness of total facility management in the real estate and construction industry and the benefits it delivers to not only the asset itself, but also to the occupants and tenants of that asset. This is one of the major reasons we decided to sponsor this event.

In addition, the concept of facility management is still in its nascent stages here in Kuwait, and The Big 5 represents an opportunity to expose visitors to the idea of integrated facility management. We worked intensely with The Big 5 Kuwait management to create a unique section within the exhibition solely focused on facility management.

UFM proposed an exclusive sponsorship of an FM Congress, and the Big 5 developed an annex to the main exhibition solely focused on facility management. It was the first FM Congress to be held in Kuwait and the event managed to bring together stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, and active discussions took place to identify the role that the FM industry ought to play in Kuwait specifically and the region in general.

UFM’s engagement in such events is in line with our strategic plan that aims to have the FM industry officially recognized as a vital and integral part of the life cycle of any commercial or public property, and therefore, have both the public and private sectors respond to this fact by either introducing appropriate legislations to recognize FM as a discipline, and by strictly mandating the compliance with FM standards and best practice principles in every development project.

fmME: Based on your experience at The Big 5 Kuwait, what do you see the future of the FM industry in Kuwait to be like?
AYAK: The future of the FM industry is looking positive and promising in the state of Kuwait. With the high volume of investment in public projects the government is undertaking coupled with the continuous increase in awareness to the necessity of facility management services, it is inevitable that this industry will flourish on multiple levels.

During the FM Congress, I was extremely pleased to see the large volume of participants and interested professionals who were eager to learn more and understand the importance of what we do. For UFM, these individuals will in turn become the champions of FM discipline within their organizations and hence facilitate in achieving our goals.

We are committed to assisting them by remaining ready to provide them guidance, support and training in order to further their understanding of FM standards and guidelines. We will be considering various vehicles to provide them necessary information so that they become more knowledgeable about the FM industry.

With regards to UFM’s growth plan in the state of Kuwait, I can comfortably say that we are well on our way to be recognized as the leading Kuwaiti company in the field of integrated facilities management services. UFM’s business has been steadily growing in Kuwait, and we’re becoming one of the authoritative references in the FM industry in Kuwait.

fmME: Finally, what are your expectations from next year’s edition of The Big 5 Kuwait?
AYAK: We are indeed looking forward to next year, and I am confident that the FM Congress and The Big 5 exhibition in 2015 will be equally successful, if not more than what it was this year. We believe that next year, The Big 5 Kuwait will need a larger venue and FM Congress will attract a larger audience, and hence we see the necessity for a larger conference setting. Such a step will also be instrumental in getting the public sector further involved and securing the participation of key figures and decision makers in the country.

Company profile: UFM
UFM currently manages over 600,000 square meters of property in Kuwait, Oman and the UAE. With experience in properties ranging from skyscrapers, office buildings, malls and multi-use projects to hotels and resorts in both the public and private sectors. Some of UFM’s major projects include KIPCO tower, Marina World and Salalah Gardens Mall. UFM also provides cleaning and security services to almost 40 clients all over Kuwait, including major government facilities.

EVENT in focus: Cityscape global 2014
QBG: Showcasing expert capabilities

QBG was an exhibitor at Cityscape Global 2014, which was held from September 21-23 in Dubai

fmME: First up: what has been your experience like being an exhibitor at Cityscape Global 2014?
Atul Sinha, director – business development, QBG Facilities Management: Our time here has been very important, because, ultimately, we have to work with most of these developers and contracting companies that are here today.
So, we are here at Cityscape to make sure the market knows about the services we offer, and also make them more aware of the work that we do.

In addition, we also want to gain an understanding into the new projects that are being announced here, and see how we can be involved in the inception stages, and see where we can add value. Cityscape gives us a 360-degree view of what the market is looking like right now, and where it intends to be in the next 2-3 years, and so we can use that knowledge to realign ourselves keeping in mind the short-term goals, also the long-term goals in the interim period.

fmME: From the point of view of a FM service provider, what are some of the things you have learned from your time at Cityscape?
AS: Cityscape has given us directions of how we need to take our business forward. For instance, there have been projects being announced in places like Dubai World Central. Now, we are already a part of the aviation sector—we provide mostly soft services in this sector—but we were still surprised to know how grand the scale of projects being planned in DWC are.

Similarly, we got to know about this new development called Golf City, where many projects are being launched. So for us, the takeaway is to find out how do we process our structure, or realign ourselves, to make sure we are catering to these new areas, logistically, and also, how do we strategize ourselves to meet the demand for FM services that these projects will bring about in 3-5 years.

After all, this is a more realistic real estate market we are seeing now. The developers know where they intend to be in the next 3-5 years, and we, being service providers, have to move hand in glove with them. So, we are preparing ourselves accordingly, and figuring out where we need to be in six months or a year, where should we open up new branches and offices—things like that.

fmME: Based on what you have learned at Cityscape, what are some of the plans you now have for QBG?
AS: We are planning to add some service lines, but initially, the plan is to enhance the capabilities. The demand is huge. We still believe that there’s a huge milestone which needs to be achieved in terms of our capabilities—when I say capabilities, it’s our system capabilities, our talent capabilities, etc. that will ensure that we are where it makes a difference.

We also want to be very, very selective about which kinds of clients we are servicing—so we want to ensure we offer the best in terms of service.

At Cityscape, we have learned a lot about the developers and the projects that they intend to offer, and so we have to position ourselves accordingly to be a niche services provider. And that’s the reason we are here. We intend to be with them and track them in their growth plans, and be ahead of the game, introduce game-changing policies, enhance our capabilities, and understand what their needs are. We already have our systems in place, the ground work is ready, and we are very strong in terms of our talent acquisition. And that’s why we’re here, showcasing our capabilities.

fmME: While it was good to see QBG at Cityscape, the FM presence at this event has been quite minimal. What are your thoughts on the same?
AS: As FM service providers, we need to have a very close-knit association with all these projects and developers here, as they are the target clientele we are trying to cater to. And so, if you are not here, you’re not really in the game.

I would really have liked to have seen more FM companies at this event. While it is important to showcase your capabilities, your vision at industry-specific events like FM Expo, etc., I think that in the current market, it’s a huge crime to not be a part of Cityscape, when your intention is to service all of these clients.

QBG Facilities Management is one of the region’s leading integrated facilities management (IFM) companies, offering customers operating in the built environment a range of services including FM consultancy, hard FM and soft FM, in both the UAE and Oman markets. Today, QBG serves more than 395 locations across the two national markets, for corporate, government and private customers, of varying sizes and with properties of diverse requirements and complexity.

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