Syria: Still a viable place for work says FM head

Youssef Abillama, CEO of MMG, says success in Syria is about 'weathering the storm'

MMG's Syrian branch employs 600 staff and is focused on high technical content
MMG's Syrian branch employs 600 staff and is focused on high technical content

Lebanon-based MMG began working in Syria in 2007 and is one of the few remaining FM companies still active in the war-torn state of Syria.

And despite the ongoing dangers of the job, the problems with logistics, safety, interuptions to the supply chain and mounting security issues, CEO Youssef Abillama says it's still a viable place to do business.

Speaking exclusively to Facilities Mnagament Middle East, Abillama said, “In a war situation, you have to be very flexible and you have to be creative. You have to adapt to the situation."

Operating primarily in hard services, MMG has fostered a reputation in the country’s banking sector, which includes Bank Bemo Saudi Frasi, Byblos Bank, QNB and Bank of Syria and Oversees (BSO). The FM company also manages the properties of insurance companies Adir and Arope, as well as the Syrian branch of the French oil and gas company Total S.A.

The CEO also shares that over time the FM provider has had to expand its services to include functionality. The devastation of the city of Homs has led the remaining FM companies to add renovation into its portfolio.

Abillama comments, “Renovation is a key opening, particularly in project management in remote areas. The banks rely on us, because they don’t want, or simply don’t have the resources to send their own people. They rely on us and we act as their project management, to organise renovations and projects.”

MMG has also found it challenging to acquire the right talent to deliver their services. While there is no shortage of technical skills, thanks largely to Syria’s historic position as an industrial nation, finding workers able to communicate in English and who have management potential is extremely difficult.

While opportunities are few and far between, the CEO shares that MMG, like many businesses in Syria, and simply weathering the storm. The shared viewpoint is an optimistic one for a brighter future.

“Our strategy is to stay in Syria and to be ready—to be well-positioned—after the war…after the storm, there is always the sun. Then there will be recovery and opportunity, and the people that are there from the beginning will be the best equipped to handle the situation,” explains Abillama.

For the full interview, keep an eye out for the May issue of Facilities Management Middle East.


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