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Five minutes with: George Abi Hana, SSH Kuwait

George Abi-Hana, resident director of SSH Kuwait talks about the current scenario of the Kuwaiti construction sector with Construction Week

George Abi-Hana, resident director of SSH Kuwait.
George Abi-Hana, resident director of SSH Kuwait.
Kuwait has courageously committed to continue with its national, development plan.
Kuwait has courageously committed to continue with its national, development plan.

According to a recent research from Timetric’s Construction Intelligence Center (CIC), Kuwait’s construction sector will hit $15.6bn (KWD4.7bn) in 2020. 

The Construction in Kuwait – Key Trends and Opportunities to 2020 report found that the value of Kuwait’s construction industry rose at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.23%, in real terms, during the review period 2011-2015.

George Abi-Hana, resident director of SSH Kuwait talks about the current scenario of the Kuwaiti construction sector.

Excerpts from the interview:-

1. What have been some of SSH's key projects in Kuwait?

We have worked on regional landmark projects with Amiri Dewan such as the Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre and Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre in Kuwait.

The Sheikh Jaber Al Ahmad Cultural Centre will showcase performing arts and create a world class theatre quarter in a spacious parkland setting. Together with Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, it will form Kuwait’s new national cultural district. 

In terms of sectors, we deliver to all including aviation, commercial, education, hospitality, marine, mixed use, residential and retail.

Healthcare is a prime focus in Kuwait, the firm is supervising the construction of the NBK Children’s Cancer Hospital and we have been commissioned by the Kuwait’s Ministry of Public Works to deliver the design of the Kuwait Children’s Hospital.

The children’s hospital project is significant for the medical sector in Kuwait and will deliver a dedicated hospital that will be the largest of it’s kind in the world.

We are also privileged to be working with the Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) on the Al Zour Refinery project. SSH is responsible for the design of the administration and other support buildings on this EPC project that indirectly supports the oil and gas industry throughout Kuwait.

We are responsible for supervision of the Kuwait University the new Al-Shadadiyah campus infrastructure works. SSH has previously designed the infrastructure for the extensive site and now leads construction supervision on the project that is nearing completion.

2. What is the state of the Kuwaiti construction industry in your opinion?

Kuwait has courageously committed to continue with its national, development plan and all the key projects they inform, including social and infrastructure projects, new rail links and upgrades of its roads, seaports and airports, construction is set to surge over the coming years.

The vitality of the Kuwaiti construction industry will always be influenced by that across the region.

There are many influencing factors including the financial situation, be that private or public investment and they will always be subject to scrutiny in terms of budget and the need to value engineer each potential project.

3. Where are the opportunities for your company and the sector moving forward?

SSH will continue to remain actively engaged in the pursuit of all aspects of our four core services - master planning, infrastructure, building design, and construction supervision/management.

Additionally, our infrastructure capabilities have been enhanced and strengthened during recent years to ensure we are ready to fulfil all our commitments within the sector.

Some of the opportunities will be made available through PPPs (Private Public Partnership) projects.

SSH are also a strategic partner of choice and frequently work with key strategic delivery partners which we see as both a strength and also an opportunity through which we can build our project portfolio.

4. What would be your one piece of advice for construction companies operating in Kuwait?

Strong leadership and management are always key for any successful business and the same applies to every construction business.

At SSH, we have developed a hybrid business model based on the growth of a local company with a strong history and deep local ties, knowledge of the market and bringing in a talented international team that focuses on the GCC/ MENA region. Most importantly, the model was tailored to benefit clients.

Second piece of advice would be for companies looking to move into Kuwait. It is important to get a strong partner and obtain local advice prior to committing.

5. Do you have any company news that you would like to share with us?

SSH has consolidated its expansion strategy through the GCC and the MENA region and we are now structured in a way that enables us to take a full advantage of local presence, a talented team of professionals and the benefits from a ‘cloud’ delivery model ensuring best practice and use of the latest BIM, CAD and REVIT software.

It is our aim to be the architectural and engineering consultant, strategic partner and employer of choice in the MENA region.

To this end we have recently opened offices in our two newest markets - Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Each has a unique set of challenges in addition to different procedures and government regulations.

SSH have developed a unique, hybrid model of operations that we believe will enable us to enter these markets successfully.

We are confident of our success and are applying the best practice we developed in Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and UAE to enable us to do so.


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