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fmME Site visit: Jumeirah Mosque with Imdaad's CEO

Jamal Abdullah Lootah outlines Imdaad’s three-year IFM delivery and resource-management strategy for more than 500 mosques in Dubai

Jumeirah Mosque is one of IACAD’s facilities that Imdaad is managing.
Jumeirah Mosque is one of IACAD’s facilities that Imdaad is managing.

It would be fair to say that two of Dubai’s most ubiquitous building types are skyscrapers and mosques. The team at Imdaad is keenly aware of the significance of managing the latter.

As part of a three-year renewable agreement worth $8.2m (AED30m) per annum, Imdaad is providing a package of FM services across more than 500 mosques operated by Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD), a part of the Government of Dubai. The integrated FM (IFM) contract also includes 1,200 homes associated with the mosques, typically reserved for the imam and muazzin.

IACAD’s mosques are divided across five categories, namely VIP, Heritage, Friday, Eid Musalla, and Regular. Key services delivered under the contract by more than 800 Imdaad operators include comprehensive maintenance – mainly for MEP and civil systems – in addition to general cleaning, security, landscaping, waste management, tank cleaning, pest control, fire protection systems maintenance, elevators maintenance, and sound systems maintenance.

Imdaad CEO, Jamal Abdullah Lootah, says he is particularly proud of the company’s dedication to the contract’s delivery. Speaking to fmME, Lootah asserts the cultural significance of the IACAD contract, and how Imdaad’s team is driving best practices at the facilities.

“The duration of our contract is three years, but we want to continuously add value to these mosques. As Muslims, we’re very proud to be contributing to these developments,” he explains.

“Mosques are a big part of Dubai for both, Muslims and non-Muslims. When worshippers and visitors see the quality of these mosques, they will appreciate how Dubai maintains its mosques and how Imdaad does its job here.”

The in-house delivery model is deployed for most services provided under the contract. Partial delivery of fire safety systems services, and full services for doors and escalators, are supported by Imdaad’s 2016 acquisition of companies from each sector.

Cleaning services are delivered by Isnaad, which Lootah says was developed to provide high-quality cleaning at a reasonable price: “That is why we built Isnaad, and it is growing.”

Imdaad has built a team of professionals to maintain sound systems as part of its growth plans, and this team is in action at IACAD’s mosques as well.

“The question before making such [an investment] is whether or not it will add value and prove its worth,” he explains.

“For instance, I’m not looking at launching a landscaping team within Imdaad just yet, because you still find good companies in the market, and we have a very strong supply chain relationship with them.”

Independent companies selected by IACAD provide landscaping services at its mosques, “but [Imdaad] manages them”, Lootah points out, adding that his team’s feedback about the firms’ performance is conveyed to the authority. Already, Imdaad has implemented landscaping improvements for 10 IACAD mosques.

A key component of Imdaad’s work with IACAD is resource management and savings. The company has installed 1,387 aerators into the taps of 60 mosques, and the initiative is projected to achieve 25% in water savings upon completion. Meanwhile, energy conservation systems will be installed in 35% of Imdaad’s mosque portfolio in Bur Dubai through its Imtedaad platform.

As part of its energy-saving plans for IACAD’s facilities, Imdaad will also support the authority’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dubai Municipality – signed in April 2017 – that entails the installation of Dubai Lamp units at the existing and new facilities of five government bodies in the emirate.

Imtedaad’s features include cognitive computing, predictive maintenance, machine-to-machine communication, automatic correction, real-time monitoring and asset tracking, and energy management. The platform studies the performance of interconnected assets and provides co-related data analyses to produce recommendations and corrective actions for facility optimisation.

Imdaad has integrated IACAD’s computer-aided FM (CAFM) platform with its own on a value-added basis.

A facility performance study with energy conservation measures was also conducted by Imdaad employee Mohammed Belal – nominated for the fmME Awards 2017’s Young Facilities Manager of the Year category – and Imtedaad, for the IACAD-managed Princess Haya Bint Al Husain Cultural and Islamic Center.

Lootah says Imtedaad’s installation at IACAD’s facilities offers the Imdaad team an added opportunity to learn the nuances of mosque management, especially through its interconnectivity and communication features: “All electricity assets in the mosques will be linked and managed by Imtedaad.

“For example, how many times a mosque’s doors and shutters are opened and closed, or when its lights are switched on and off, will all be monitored through Imtedaad. It will also record how many people are visiting the mosque and at what intervals. Registering all this means we can further develop best practices.

“[By using Imtedaad], as a supervisor, you won’t need to send an operator to confirm that the air-conditioning or lights are functioning properly.

“It’s a huge advantage to add [Imtedaad’s functions] to such facilities.”

Imdaad has broadly divided IACAD’s mosques across various zones based on performance and asset standards.

“Say, for instance, we want to upgrade a facility from Zone C to Zone A, then we’d aim to spend a certain amount to change its air-conditioning or lighting system to make the move possible,” Lootah explains.

“We have [an amount] set aside to upgrade such systems where required. Of course, we want to retain the cultural and classic aspects of every facility, but if its consumption cost is higher than modern systems’, then we would explore ways to [replace] it inexpensively and without impacting the overall budget.”

When possible, Lootah explains, Imdaad also advises IACAD on its future construction plans, adding that details about aspects such as window shape, door size or lighting installations are some of the key insights his team can share with IACAD.

“This is not a part of our contract, but because of the [market] experience we have, we’re able and happy to add value to our overall relationship,” he adds.

As part of its mobilising effort, Imdaad transferred staff from some of its existing contracts to the IACAD assignment in order to ensure that technical expertise is transferred between new joiners and experienced staff.

This is particularly helpful while cleaning the facilities, a service that Lootah agrees is the most critical element of mosque management. Cleaning frequency is a crucial element of the maintenance schedule, since the mosque must be tidy for every prayer.

This, in turn, means increased emphasis on training and supervision of cleaning operators who must, from Imdaad’s point of view, “know how and when to clean”.

Accordingly, these training efforts focus on time selection for cleaning, as well as how to manage cleaning schedules during special occasions such as the Holy Month of Ramadan, Eid, and special prayers at VIP mosques.

On average, an IACAD team could comprise between one to five cleaners, based on the facility’s size, location, and usage. Certain mosques are provided mobile teams that can move between facilities to deliver cleaning services. Minarets, which are sometimes up to 40m high, are also cleaned by Isnaad.

An equally significant aspect of Imdaad’s work at IACAD’s mosques is maintaining mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) and heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The contract’s physical vastness the importance of quick response times for Imdaad’s team. Priority 1 (P1) level complaints must be closed within an hour, which means reaching the mosque in time is critical.

Dedicated teams have therefore been assigned to different areas within which IACAD’s facilities are located, and these teams are encouraged to build close working relationships with the mosques’ imams and muazzins, which includes a special training module for each.

“We train the imams and muazzins about what to do until the Imdaad team gets on site to fix an issue,” Lootah adds.

“This is not a part of the contract, but why should we not train the people [spending long hours] in the mosque? So we offer tips on what they could do before we reach the mosque; for example, if the air-conditioning is not working effectively, then they could check the thermostat, or make sure that the mosque’s windows and doors are closed.”

This checklist is particularly handy when considering a typical mosque’s long hours of operation. Any temporary disconnection of electricity or water flow for maintenance work, for instance, must be planned to ensure none of the day’s five main prayers are impacted in even a minor way.

Imdaad has also implemented reactive maintenance analyses with IACAD to reduce asset downtime in the long run, instead promoting a proactive maintenance programme at the facilities.

Ramadan and Eid are, in addition to Fridays, among Imdaad’s busiest periods at IACAD’s facilities. The company ensures that all planned preventive maintenance (PPM) work is completed before the month of Ramadan commences, and PPM teams are boosted with members from Imdaad’s staff pool to ensure the programme is completed in time.

Lootah says Imdaad’s work with IACAD will likely lead to increased recognition of mosque management as a strong niche in the years to come.

The CEO is optimistic about Imdaad’s role in the segment: “We’re very happy with this project, and I hope we’ll be known as the best at mosque maintenance across the GCC someday soon.”

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