GCC concrete firms can't afford to be reactive
Today’s construction market is as challenging as it is interesting for the Middle East’s concrete players. The firms that adopt proactive strategies today are most likely to thrive in the longer term
Concrete is the lifeblood of the Middle East’s construction sector. Though it comes in many forms, the grey matter has provided the foundations upon which the vast majority of regional projects have been developed, both figuratively and literally.
Yet despite the essential nature of this product and its regional ubiquity, the Middle East’s concrete sector is anything but straightforward at present. Whether you’re talking about readymix suppliers, precast providers, chemical manufacturers, or repair specialists, this vital industry is currently facing a whole host of challenges.
First of all, there are numerous external factors, many of which are plaguing the entire spectrum of construction. In recent years, Gulf states have been forced to revise their national budgets in line with reduced oil revenues. In turn, market liquidity has fallen, margins have tightened, and project-related uncertainty has increased significantly.
This situation is by no means ideal, but it is encouraging to note that several of the Middle East’s most proactive concrete players have refused to become browbeaten by a challenging market, choosing instead to innovate and adapt to their changing surroundings.
The following Special Report is testament to these efforts. Construction Week has questioned a diverse selection of forward-thinking concrete outfits active in the Middle East to find out how they are working to overcome current obstacles, and what measures they’re taking to ensure long-term prosperity.
In this week’s market overview (page 24), Readymix Abu Dhabi (RMAD) and Hard Precast Building Systems (HPBS) outline current levels of demand for readymix and precast in the UAE, and outline strategies designed to achieve higher margins from an uncertain market.
This positive mindset is also evident in the Special Report’s technology focus (page 28), in which CCL details the jointless flooring system that it is installing at FortyFour Tower in Beirut, Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Mapei recounts a productive 12 months in the Gulf (page 30). During the course of the past year, the Italy-headquartered chemicals producer has supplied concrete-related additives to a series of major projects, including Emaar Properties’ Dubai Opera.
And taking centre stage, this month’s Knowledge Partner editorial takes a long-term view of concrete assets. As the Middle East’s built environment continues to mature, the requirement for effective concrete repair and maintenance will inevitably increase. With this in mind, Chris Hill and Sibtain Kapadia, from Construction Week’s Knowledge Partner, STRUCTURAL, offer a comprehensive snapshot of the concrete-related problems common in the region, and outline a selection of measures that can be taken to combat deterioration (page 26).
As it stands, the Middle East’s concrete sector is no place for the faint of heart. The industry is facing a selection of challenges, many of which lie beyond the control of individual corporations.
Nevertheless, the companies that take ownership of the factors that are within their control – such as bidding strategies, research and development, and workforce training – are likely to be the ones best placed to reap rewards when the market returns to its former glory.