2015 Construction Week Power 100: 81-90

Construction Week's annual ranking of the most influential people in the Middle East's construction industry


Vasanth Kumar
CEO, arabian mep contracting

Established 18 years ago in Qatar, Arabian MEP Contracting currently has a workforce of over 5,000 employees and has completed 600-plus projects since its inception.

In the past year, the company successfully completed several high-profile projects, including: Qatar’s largest integrated hospital complex - Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City ; the 4-Star Centro Rotana Hotel; the Souq Waqif underground car park, high rise towers in Pearl; and the Phase 11 and Phase 12 Kahramaa substation projects.

CEO Vasanth Kuman claims that 2014 was a hugely successful year for Arabian MEP Contracting in terms of market leadership, project completion, new project awards and the formation of alliances and joint-venture partnerships in preparation for complex projects in the pipeline.

Campbell Gray
managing director, faithful + gould

Campbell Gray says Faithful+Gould’s commitment to the Middle East is stronger than ever. Revenue for 2014 stood at £42.4m. In the last few years the firm has developed a more diverse workload, providing more project and programme management consultancy services in addition to cost management.

The regional headcount stands at 500, a 20% increase over the past two years. However, Gray said that a big challenge the company faces over the next 12 months is resourcing and attracting people to the business and this region, as labour wars ensue between the UAE and Qatar due to major events such as EXPO 2020 and the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Nevertheless, Faithful+Gould is in a healthy position work-wise. It remains involved with the $10bn, 86-building Jumeirah Lakes Towers scheme, which will ultimately cater for a population of 120,000 people.

Faithful + Gould works with Dubai Multi Commodities Centre to provide integrated project and cost management services for its construction and engineering projects. Outside Dubai, it is working with Kuwait’s Ministry of Public Works to establish a world-class Project Management Office to oversee its multi-billion dollar infrastructure development programme.

Furthermore, over the next 12 months, it will be involved in major projects across the region including Jeddah Airport, Riyadh Metro, Citywalk Dubai, Al Maryah Central, Abu Dhabi, Royal Atlantis Resort in Dubai, and Bvlgari resort and residence also in Dubai.

Oliver Plunkett
Managing director Middle East, Buro Happold

After six years at Buro Happold, Oliver Plunkett was made regional managing director. He has led the firm in Saudi Arabia and sparked its renaissance with a series of landmark projects across the Kingdom and the wider Gulf nations, including the National Bank of Kuwait HQ and Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan.

“2014 was a year of impressive progress on a number of iconic developments in the Middle East,” he told Construction Week.

“The Louvre topped out with the dome, and in Saudi Arabia the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture has reached a similar stage with the tubular veil of shimmering external cladding taking shape, to name a few.”

Neil Reynolds
Regional managing director, CH2M Hill

Chartered engineer Neil Reynolds was appointed regional managing director for CH2M Hill’s operations in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and India in 2012.

He joined CH2M Hill in 2009 as international operations director and was responsible for its water business operations in the UK and Europe, MENA, India, Singapore and Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Earlier this year, Dubai World Trade Centre appointed a joint venture between consultants Mace and CH2M Hill as programme managers for the Dubai Trade Centre Jebel Ali development – the master district containing the city’s Expo 2020 site.

Abie Musa
Managing Director, MVL

As managing director of MVL, Abie Musa has made significant waves during recent years. Based in the UAE, the defence contractor conducts most of its work in Afghanistan on behalf of clients such as the US Department of Defense and the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs.

While it’s not the largest player in the market, MVL succeeded in making the jump from materials and logistics provider to prime contractor by scooping two major awards – a set of brigade garrisons and the National Police Command Center in Afghanistan – within the space of a fortnight. Earlier in 2015, the firm also won the contract for phase three of the Afghan Defense University.

Dr Navjit Singh Anand
Managing director, Goldline Group

Dr Navjit Singh Anand is chairman of the Goldline Group, a diversified conglomerate headquartered in Dubai. The company is expected to increase its annual turnover from $680m to $1bn within three years, through new developments within the construction, education, shipping and logistics, trading, and oil and gas sectors.

The company is investing $1bn in real estate, including $49m in acquiring 13 plots of land to develop properties, with the balance going to project construction and development. The company has steadily expanded since it was formed as a scrap metal dealer in 1991.

Rizwan Sajan
Chairman, Danube

Rizwan Sajan, the founder and director of Danube, is budgeting double-digit revenue growth in 2015 to take it over the $1bn mark.

The building materials company recently diversified into property development, and is currently working on nearly 1,000 dwellings – comprising the $136m Dreamz townhouses complex in Al Furjan, Dubai, and the four-phase Glitz apartment scheme in Studio City.

Sajan says Danube is focusing on prospects in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, citing Expo 2020, infrastructure and housing projects all across the GCC and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as “the next big opportunities” for his team.

Burak Kizilhan
Deputy general manager, AE Arma

Burak Kizilhan has spent seven years working at AE Arma-Elektropanç, two of which have been in his current role as a board member of the Turkish contracting company. Headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey, the company reported revenues worth $177m (AED650m) for the 2014 fiscal year, and its projected revenues for 2015 stand at $204m (AED750m).

The contracting giant’s order book is currently worth $332.6m (AED1,222m), and its new projects are valued at $356.6m (AED1,310m). Some 250 qualified engineers, 4,000 labourers and 106 employees work at AE Arma-Elektropanç, and the company is focusing on BIM training for its design team as part of its annual employee development programme.

Over the next 12 months, AE Arma-Elektropanç will work on the Legoland theme park at Dubai Parks & Resorts and carry out redevelopment work for Abu Dhabi Marina and Al Maktoum Hospital in the UAE. The company lists the UAE, Qatar and Lebanon as its most important Middle Eastern markets.

AE Arma-Elektropanç’s scope of work on the Legoland project is in MEP, where the firm has been employed by the contractor Belhasa Six and Orascom JV to work on the 25,000m² development in Dubai.

In March 2012, the formation of an alliance between AE Arma-Elektropanç and Dutch firm Imtech created an MEP business with international reach. In 2014, AE Arma-Elektropanç mutually agreed with Imtech to finalise the partnership, so as to allow both companies to explore their new strategic planning programmes.

AE Arma-Elektropanç, with ongoing projects across three continents, continues to grow as a key construction player in the region. The construction boom in Dubai due to development for Expo 2020 is, Kizilhan states, the single biggest opportunity for the company this year. He is, however, concerned about “unfair competition” creating challenges for AE Arma-Elektropanç during this period.

Rahail Aslam
CEO, Select Group

Formed in 2002, luxury real estate developer Select Group continued developing and completing projects in Dubai during the worst phase of the financial crisis.

Between 2005 and 2007, when the property market was at its peak, the company launched seven projects in the Dubai Marina district. All the projects were delivered during 2009-12 without serious delays, even when the property market slumped.

Having survived the crash in good shape, the company’s focus turned to developing the land bank it wisely acquired during the downturn. “Our biggest challenge is to ensure that we continue to exceed customer expectations on delivery,” Select Group’s CEO Rahail Aslam told Construction Week.

“We are also aiming for continuous improvement across all business verticals, and we aspire to grow from being excellent to being exceptional.”

The group has already completed and delivered West Avenue in Dubai Marina. And it has just handed over the InterContinental Hotel Dubai Marina.

The major project for the company in 2015 is its flagship development, The Residences at Marina Gate, a three-tower, 37.16ha construction, featuring approximately 1,500 apartments and more than 50 retail outlets.

Others include a beachfront residential property Pacific in Ras Al Khaimah set to be completed in December 2015; No. 9, a 34-storey tower in Dubai Marina; and – beyond the Middle East – Ballochmyle, a 100-acre estate located just outside Glasgow.

“The vast array of potential opportunities in this region has made our future strategic growth plans very obvious. We see the United Arab Emirates emerging as an even more significant player on the world stage in the coming decades,” said Aslam.

Emad Jaber
Founder, Lacasa

Emad Jaber is co-founder of Lacasa Architects and Engineering Consultants, which was formed in 2006 and offers complete design, engineering and construction services.

The firm is based in Dubai with offices in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Australia, and was started by Jaber and Nabil Al Khaja.

Lacasa continued to grow following its formation even during the global financial crash, due to its diverse approach to all aspects of the business.

It was recently involved in the construction of one of the most ambitious residential projects in Jordan, the Palace Residences, which have been designed to cater for the most affluent of the nation’s population and is sited in the embassy district of the capital city Amman.

Among the company’s 2015 projects is the 1,500-student Al Rayhaan American School in Ramallah Palestine, which saw Jaber break ground alongside the prime minister of the country Rami Al Hamdallah.

The development is part of a government drive to bring back Palestinian expatriates to boost the country’s economic prospects, both through their business and management skills and their wealth.

Jaber is also committed to developing the next generation of professionals in the design and build business, both through an employment strategy that targets recent UAE graduates and a competition his company is currently running to give students the chance to design a new school.

Jaber is 54-years-old and grew up in Palestine, before studying in Jordan. He moved to the UAE and began working as a contract supervisor prior to founding Lacasa.

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