GCC has strong foundations for long-term growth
These are challenging times for the GCC’s piling and foundations sector, but the innovations – both technical and financial – that are currently taking place will pay dividends in years to come
Piling and foundations experts are the unsung heroes of the GCC’s construction sector. The region’s architects, contractors, consultants, and developers regularly attract international applause for the myriad breathtaking developments that bejewel the Gulf’s modern metropolises – and rightly so. But these projects are only possible due to the knowledge and support of subterranean specialists.
Unfortunately, this is a challenging market for piling and foundations companies. The lacklustre oil price continues to cast an ominous shadow over the future of regional construction. We may not be talking 2009 levels of despair, but there exists significant uncertainty over the projects that will proceed, and the timeframe over which they are likely to be completed.
Encouragingly, the GCC’s piling and foundations experts are not taking this situation lying down. Rather than becoming overly cautious, many of the region’s largest outfits have adopted proactive strategies to ensure financial security and improved efficiency.
Consider contractors such as Beaver Gulf and NSCC (page 20). Rather than offloading machinery in this tough market, the former has taken the decision to “own as many assets as possible”. Beaver Gulf’s CEO, Rajesh Kumar Krishna argues that rental equipment may deliver greater flexibility to piling and foundations contractors, but it offers no residual value. Krishna’s strategy of ownership is not only bold; it also demonstrates his long-term confidence in the market.
NSCC, meanwhile, is using the current slowdown as an opportunity to enter fresh markets. The contractor has just taken on two large projects in Oman, one of which was won off the back of work conducted on behalf of an existing client in Qatar.
Then there are the innovators. Take, for example Swissboring, Construction Week’s Knowledge Partner for piling and foundations. Despite offering a full range of commonly used services to its UAE clients, the firm has spent recent years extolling the many merits of ground improvement techniques (page 22). Given the right circumstances, these methods can save significant amounts of time and money for project developers.
In short, the GCC’s piling and foundations community is facing a number of challenges. Nevertheless, industry professionals are reacting in exactly the right way. Through a combination of financial prudence, expansion, and innovation, the sector is building a solid base for long-term development across the Gulf.