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2017 Construction Week Power 100: 81-90

<i>Construction Week</i>’s annual ranking of the most influential people in the Middle East’s construction industry.

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81. Dr Najib Khatib, chairman and CEO, Khatib & Alami

Dr Najib Khatib was named chairman of Khatib & Alami (K&A) in February 2017, and has been the company’s chief executive officer since 2016. Khatib has previously served as the company’s general director, and has been a member of the board’s executive committee since 2006. Between 2002 and 2006, Khatib was K&A’s deputy general manager, responsible for the company’s strategic activities and project implementation. K&A’s regional project portfolio includes the Abu Dhabi Military Officers’ Accommodation, Cayan Tower, and Flamingo Bay Residences in the UAE; Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Residential Tower and Jabal Omar Development Phases 1 and 3; and the Al Masarra Hospital in Oman.

82. Masood Raza, general manager, Jumbo Engineering

Masood Raza is currently in his fourth year as the general manager of Jumbo Engineering Ltd (JEL), a UAE-based mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contracting specialist. The company’s portfolio of projects includes a distribution centre for Swedish giant Ikea and the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority’s data centre in Umm Ramool. Over the next 12 months, the company will provide MEP and annual maintenance contracting (AMC) services for 70 of Sharjah Government’s facilities, the UAE’s Ministry of Culture, and RTA’s data centre. Raza said the last year has been about “consolidation and diversification […], rather than pure expansion”. He added: “Energy-efficient cooling solutions and automation have been added to JEL’s portfolio to align with the shifting regional focus on energy efficiency and sustainability.”

83. Senan Al Naboodah, CEO, Al Naboodah Construction Group

Senan Al Naboodah is the chief executive officer of Al Naboodah Construction Group (ANCG). Part of UAE conglomerate Al Naboodah Group Enterprises, ANCG is a contractor specialising in civil engineering, building, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) delivery, in the GCC and beyond. ANCG’s portfolio of projects includes Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay, Dubai Creek Harbour, and Dubai Water Canal. It has also worked with clients such as Dubai Airports and Expo 2020 Dubai. This May, Al Naboodah Group Enterprises was named the UAE’s happiest working environment for 2017 at the inaugural Happiness Awards hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

84. Eng Hamad Al Ameri, managing director, Trojan Holding

The last 12 months have been busy for Eng Hamad Al Ameri, managing director of UAE-headquartered construction group, Trojan Holding. This May, the firm announced the completion of 100 Trojan Young Engineers, a vocational programme it launched in 2016. As part of the initiative, the company invited engineering students from across the UAE to construction sites in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to offer them a first-hand experience of day-to-day field activities. As of September 2016, the company’s annual turnover was around $1.3bn (AED5bn), and “we grew by almost 12% in 2014/15”, Al Ameri told Construction Week.

85. Jamil Jadallah, managing director, National Engineering Bureau

Jamil Jadallah, managing director of UAE-headquartered consultancy, National Engineering Bureau (NEB), will has had a fruitful start to the year. The company recorded $95m (AED349m) in revenues in 2016, of which 23% was named profit. This year, the company expects to earn revenues worth $125m (AED459.2m), with 75% of the amount secured and 25% yet to be signed off.

Jadallah said the UAE and Bahrain are among NEB’s largest markets, and its recent decision to expand into the healthcare sector would further its presence in the GCC’s construction industry.

“Realising great potential in the healthcare sector, we have harvested all our past experience in varied fields, done our research, and established good relationships with governmental bodies, in order to make the successful step into the new sector,” he said.

“With plans moving forward on certain developments, we see this as being a great business opportunity and a critical move for the company,” Jadallah added.

NEB’s portfolio of regional contracts includes architectural, electro-mechanical, structural, and site supervision services for the Crowne Plaza Dubai Marina, The 8 Hotel on Palm Jumeirah, and the Maryland Hotel in the Burj Khalifa district. The firm is also working on UAE projects such as the Intercontinental Fujairah Hotel & Resort, and a mixed-use development for Wasl Properties in Dubai’s Jumeirah neighbourhood.

Delivering these high-profile projects will require skilled professionals, and NEB is fully aware of the training requirements such notable developments might entail.

Jadallah said an annual budget worth approximately $168,800 (AED620,000) “is being considered for continuing education and training upgrade courses” of NEB staff.

The company already conducts monthly workshops to update its designers, architects, and engineers about latest building materials and codes, and industry trends.

This year, one of NEB’s programmes will see 36 project engineers enrolled for project management study, and 36 employees will receive a management training course “before the end of this year”, Jadallah revealed.

“In this day and age, technology plays a huge role in daily life, and our industry is no exception. In such an sector, we see advancements in all aspects of designing and building projects, with major benefits to all parties concerned,” he told Construction Week.

“The constant developments and advances require continuous training and investment in order to stay ahead of the curve. This is an on-going challenge, [but] steps have been taken to overcome this with investment in new staff and technology.”

86. Simon Karam, director, Sarooj Construction Company

Sarooj Construction Company (SCC) has had a positive run over the last 12 months. Director Simon Karam’s industry experience of more than 40 years has made SCC one of Oman’s best-known contractors and, in 2016,  the company recorded $120m (OMR46.2m) as revenues, of which 3% was profit.

Revenue estimates for this year stand at $140m (OMR54m), of which 85% has already been secured, Karam told Construction Week.

The company employs 84 engineers and 2,552 labourers, with 42 women in its workforce, and all these employees will find themselves working on notable Omani developments this year.

SCC’s project kitty over the next 12 months includes Package 2 of the Border Infrastructure Project and the Liwa Plastic EPC-3 (FAHUD) development, where the firm will act as main contractor and fulfil civil works.

SCC is the main contractor for enabling works, roads, bridges, and tunnels at Mall of Oman. Its project portfolio also includes Package 1 of the Border Infrastructure Project, where the company was involved as main contractor for civil works.

In addition, SCC’s latest project list includes Al Mouj, Muscat, where it was named main contractor for all marine works; Oman International Container Terminal, where it acted as main contractor for civil and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) works; and a military camp in Al Mazyouna.

SCC has implemented education and training programmes to ensure delivery on these projects meets the standards the company is known for, Karam told Construction Week: “Our training objectives and programmes aim at equipping SCC employees with the tangible and intangible tools to conduct their functions safely, ethically, professionally, efficiently, and with minimum impact on the environment.

“The objectives and programmes are therefore multi-dimensional, yet specific to these overarching themes. SCC typically spends 5% of its turnover on training.”

The UAE and Iraq follow Oman as SCC’s largest markets, and Karam said the company’s reputation will further its prospects as an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor. 

“SCC has matured enough in reputation and know-how, and financially, to take on EPC contracts,” he continued.

“We see that the tendering for EPC contracts in the downstream petrochemical, power, and water projects sectors is the single biggest opportunity for our business over the next 12 months.”

While payment delays persist as an industry challenge, Karam said he is optimistic about SCC’s growth in 2017.

87. Daousser Chennoufi, principal and CEO, Draw Link Group

Last year was a good one for the team at architecture and interior design company, Draw Link Group (DLG), led by principal and chief executive officer, Daousser Chennoufi.

DLG recorded revenues worth $21.8m (AED80m) in 2016, of which 15% to 18% was set as profit. Revenues are expected to hit $27.2m (AED100m) this year, with 75% of the figure already secured.

The UAE and Oman are among DLG’s largest markets, Chennoufi told Construction Week. The firm’s recent project portfolio includes The Act Hotel in the UAE, where the firm was contracted for design and fit-out services that were delivered in March 2017. DLG’s pipeline in the UAE includes design and fit-out delivery at the Rosemont Hotel and Residence by Hilton, which the company expects to complete in 2018.

The company is also actively involved in Tunisia, with projects such as Radisson Blu Hotel in Sousse and Lac Palace Mall in Tunis. DLG provided design services for both projects.

The Tunisian projects are in line with DLG’s plans for the next 12 months, which Chennoufi said include a foray into markets outside the Middle East: “The single biggest opportunity for DLG over the next 12 months is to expand in Africa.

“We already have a project going on [in Africa] that will be our future reference in the region,” he added.

However, DLG would face certain challenges at home, much like its peers in the industry, Chennoufi said.

“With current market conditions, I believe the biggest challenge that will face our business will be [related to budgets],” he explained. “Accommodating a suitable budget in order to fulfil client needs will require some thought”

With more than 60 engineers and 200 labourers in its workforce, DLG’s training and education programme is oriented towards meeting contemporary client requirements, Chennoufi said.

DLG is a member of the UAE’s Society of Engineers and the Association of Professional Interior Designers, and annually implements a set budget towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives as well.

88. Stuart McGregor, general manager, Trans Gulf Electromechanical

Trans Gulf Electromechanical is the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) arm of Al Naboodah Construction Group (ANCG), part of the UAE-based conglomerate, Al Naboodah Group Enterprises. Trans Gulf’s revenues in 2016 were recorded at $272.2m (AED1bn). The same volume of revenues is expected this year, of which 80% has already been secured.

Stuart McGregor has been the general manager of Trans Gulf Electromechanical for three years. The company’s number of employees stands at 2,200, of which 1,560 are labourers, and 350 are engineers.

Trans Gulf’s portfolio of recent projects includes the Emirates Flight Catering Centre, an exhibition hall at Dubai World Trade Centre, and Dubai Creek Harbour’s sales office and advance promenade. Over the next 12 months, McGregor’s team will be part of the development teams of City Centre Ajman, a specialist rehabilitation hospital in Abu Dhabi, and infrastructure for Jebel Ali Hills and Satwa Zone S.

McGregor said the UAE and Oman are Trans Gulf’s most important markets, adding that the company’s biggest opportunities over the next 12 months would be the number of developments being implemented in these countries.

“The single biggest opportunity for Trans Gulf over the next 12 months is the sheer volume of work that is being put out to tender,” he explained.

“We are seeing an encouraging increase in opportunity, particularly with projects mandating the use of different technologies and taking advantage of our building information modelling (BIM) capability to create efficiencies.

“Our new civil defence division is also attracting significant and high-profile deals,” McGregor told Construction Week.

However, certain challenges will persist in the regional MEP industry, and McGregor said these would require intelligent business practices to resolve.

“The biggest challenge for the MEP industry in general will be managing project financing and payment delays, aligned with unrealistic client budgets,” he added.

“We welcome more design-and-build projects, enabling us to lead the design-to-cost solutions for our clients, whilst also ensuring that quality and technical operability are not compromised.”

89. Ahmed Osman, managing principal, DeSimone Consulting Engineers

DeSimone Consulting Engineers is one of few companies that can boast a portfolio comprising high-profile developments such as the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’s visitor centre and Wasl Tower. Led by managing principal Ahmed Osman, the structural engineering firm will, in the upcoming months, provide its services for Wasl Asset Management’s 64-storey sloping tower, and the Warner Bros-themed hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Most recently, the firm was involved with the visitor centre being developed as part of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a landmark cultural site in the UAE. The project spans 11ha, with a built-up area of 5.5ha.

The visitor centre comprises a reinforced concrete skeleton system. The ground floor features a post-tensioned slab supported by 500 concrete columns, with drop panels resting on pile caps and piles. Meanwhile, the project’s vertical elements, such as columns and walls, are constructed out of reinforced concrete.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among DeSimone’s largest regional markets, Osman told Construction Week, adding that further growth in these countries would pose an exceptional opportunity for the company over the next 12 months.

He continued: “DeSimone has been invited by many clients in Dubai [to work on] new towers and the renovation of existing structures. Expanding the new Dubai office [will be an opportunity for us], with many projects coming up on the horizon.”

Among the challenges that Osman said the company may face along this journey include the hotly discussed issue of skills shortages in the Middle East’s construction sector.

“Acquiring talented engineers – seasoned or fresh graduates – [could be a challenge over the next 12 months],” he explained.

“DeSimone is always on the look out for the best talent in the industry to continue delivering its high standard of services.”

The company, headquartered in the US, increased its global count of engineers to 350 in 2016. Its number of UAE-based engineers has increased by around 55% since 2015, when it had nine such professionals, compared to this year’s 14. Women make up more than 50% of its UAE workforce.

90. Rajesh Kumar Krishna, chairman and CEO, Beaver Gulf

Rajesh Kumar Krishna has been on a high over the last 12 months. The chairman and chief executive officer of UAE-based conglomerate, Beaver Gulf, led the firm to $109m (AED400m) in revenues last year, with 2017 projections set at $190.5m (AED700m). Up to 7% of last year’s revenues was set as profit, and 80% of this year’s project values are secured.

The company, which employs 500 engineers and more than 7,000 labourers, gained attention when it was awarded developer Nshama’s Town Square contract for the Zahra and Hayat communities in August 2015. The firm’s portfolio of ongoing projects also includes Safi townhouses in the Town Square development, in addition to a 2B+G+M+13-storey Citymax Hotel in Ras Al Khaimah.

Beaver Gulf is also working on a floating marine service station at Yas Island and Khalifa Bridge in Abu Dhabi. Around $136,000 (AED500,000) is budgeted by the firm to spend on training and education programmes this year.

Beaver Gulf acquired three companies in 2016; United Colour Film, which produces signs and graphics; Dragon Engineering, a structural steel and oil and gas-sector specialist; and Mammut Technocrete, a producer of precast concrete items.

Established in 2005, Dragon Engineering has a 1.4ha facility in Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza), which will serve as Beaver’s fabrication facility for structural steel and oil and gas sections.

Meanwhile, Mammut Technocrete, also formed in 2005, is the UAE’s largest precast factory, and annually produces more than 250ha of precast panels.

Beaver Gulf has also ventured into the real estate segment, with the company set to develop 130 Zafran townhouses in collaboration with Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Speaking to Construction Week, Krishna said the company’s greatest challenge over the next 12 months would be to sustain its growth trajectory.

“The biggest challenge is to continue our success in all segments of project management, construction, interior decoration, signage and graphics, structural steel, precast concrete products, aluminium and glazing, and real estate, across the Middle East and Asia,” he explained.

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