It’s time for the GCC to focus on the quality of its infrastructure

There is a growing focus on safeguarding infrastructure within the GCC’s built environment, and stakeholders appear increasingly willing to pick up the bill

COMMENT, Business, Coatings, Fire and safety, Gcc, Infrastructure, UAE Civil Defence’s Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, VIP Coatings, VIP Delta

Owing to the GCC region’s unforgiving climate, the protection of infrastructure is becoming increasingly important to regional governments and construction professionals.

For example, there has been a major shift towards fire rating and safety issues this year. There has also been a greater emphasis on protecting the infrastructure that is being built, whether through the use of coatings and waterproofing solutions, or by selecting safer building materials to maintain quality.

Sami Saleem of VIP Delta in the UAE said that his company, a coatings and waterproofing firm, had recently been asked to implement B2 fire-rated coatings, at any cost.

“[Regional] building codes have improved tremendously now as we see more consultations [focussed on] our coatings. Companies are now willing to pay extra to maintain a higher [level] of safety,” he commented.

Officials are now taking action, visiting sites and testing certain materials for fire-proofing and safety, and issuing major fines for violations.

Saleem’s company has been briefed about the revisions to insulation, roofing, and waterproofing requirements that are specified by the UAE Civil Defence’s Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, which was released in sections earlier this year.

The GCC construction industry, however, still lacks openness and communication in terms of what works in the industry today, and what doesn’t, according to Saleem.

He explained that, in his opinion, the best way to improve this situation would be to establish organisational bodies that enable construction professionals to openly communicate with the rest of the industry, as well as with governmental entities.

Last month, the UAE government signed off on a number of infrastructure projects with a total value of $111.6m (AED410m), which included roads, hospitals, and housing units to be built throughout the country. Consequently, the UAE’s non-oil growth is tipped to be 2.9% in 2017, up from 2.3% last year, according to forecasts from Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB).

These days, experts seem to agree that the industry is more long-sighted when it comes to quality, a sharp contrast to pre-2008 sentiments. Although 10 years ago companies may have opted for cheaper, more cost-efficient materials, many are now seeing the benefits of more expensive yet better quality products for lasting results in the long-term.

A new infrastructure boom is well underway in the region as major events loom and populations increase. Yet this time around, a greater emphasis is being placed on quality as opposed to quantity, and this is indicative of a shift in the way the GCC’s construction industry now does business.

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