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2017 Construction Week Power 100: Top 10 UAE entries

Meet the highest-ranked UAE leaders featured in Construction Week's 2017 Power 100

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1. Kez Taylor, CEO, ALEC (Power 100 ranking: 1)

Topping Construction Week’s 2017 Power 100 is last year’s runner up, Kez Taylor. As chief executive officer of UAE-headquartered contracting giant, ALEC, Taylor has enjoyed a barnstorming 12 months.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Binaa Dubai had acquired a 90% stake in the company, and it’s not difficult to see why. With revenue in its most recent financial year passing $1.06bn (AED3.9bn), and projected income of $1.09bn (AED4bn) for 2017/18, ALEC is in rude financial health.

Taylor’s team completed a dizzying array of UAE projects between June 2016 and May 2017, including Bvlgari Resort & Residences Dubai; Phase 2 of Dubai Festival City; numerous works on Terminals 1 and 3 of Abu Dhabi International Airport; UAE Martyr’s Memorial Park; and Jebel Ali School.

ALEC’s portfolio of ongoing projects, meanwhile, includes the Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) expansion at Al Maktoum International Airport; Holiday Inn Dubai Festival City; Dubai Hills Estate Regional Mall; and Select Group’s three-tower Marina Gate development.

Commenting on potential growth areas for the coming year, Taylor told Construction Week: “The biggest opportunity [for ALEC] will be the award of mega-construction projects in Dubai, such as Dubai Creek Harbour and the Expo 2020 site.

“These megaprojects cannot be delivered by everyone; they require a certain skillset to ensure they are delivered on time and within budget. We see this as a major opportunity for ALEC and all of our related businesses,” he added.

2. Hamish Tyrwhitt, group CEO, Arabtec Holding | group CEO, DEPA (Power 100 ranking: 5)

In what looks to be a Construction Week Power 100 record, Hamish Tyrwhitt has climbed 71 places since 2016.

When last year’s issue went to print, Tyrwhitt was group chief executive officer of Depa. While he has retained this title, Tyrwhitt has added several other roles to his CV during the past 12 months, including group CEO of Arabtec Holding, acting CEO of Arabtec Construction, and acting CEO of EFECO – all part of the Arabtec family.

It’s no secret that Arabtec Holding has had a challenging few years, but the company’s fortunes appear to be on the rise. While it made a net loss of $953m (AED3.5bn) last year, Q1 2017 saw the UAE-headquartered construction giant turn a profit for the first time in since 2014.

Backed by the group’s 58,000-strong workforce, Tyrwhitt is now looking to capitalise on this momentum and secure future growth. Arabtec Construction’s ongoing projects include Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC); Bahrain International Airport; Abu Dhabi’s West Yas Development; and the University of Kuwait. Moreover, in May 2017, Wasl Asset Management awarded the $398m (AED1.46bn) main contract for Dubai’s Wasl Tower to the contractor.

Commenting on his team’s major opportunities for the coming year, Tyrwhitt told Construction Week: “Our recapitalisation programme has enabled us to look to the future and ensure we are well placed to capitalise on opportunities arising from [major events and initiatives].”

3. Emad Azmy, president, ASGC (Power 100 ranking: 6)

As president of UAE-based contractor, ASGC, Emad Azmy has enjoyed solid levels of business during the past 12 months. In its most recent financial year, his company achieved revenue of approximately $816.8m (AED3bn), and Azmy’s team projects that income in 2017 will hit $1.09bn (AED4bn).

At present, ASGC employs more than 1,100 construction professionals, 522 of whom are qualified engineers. Azmy and his colleagues are also responsible for a 9,210-strong cohort of labourers.

Azmy is a keen proponent of professional development, as evidenced by his company’s continued investment in its workforce. Last year, ASGC spent approximately $110,000 (AED405,400) on training and certification, and the company is on course to invest an additional $122,500  (AED450,000) during the course of 2017.

Encouragingly for Azmy, such investments appear to be paying off, both in terms of work secured and productivity. Between June 2016 and May 2017, ASGC completed works on numerous UAE projects, including Etihad Museum, The Onyx, and Marina Bloom. Moreover, ASGC is currently working as the main contractor on Mohamed Bin Rashid Library, the Terminal 1 refurbishment at Dubai International Airport, Vivanta Hotel by Taj, and The Dubai Mall expansion project.

Commenting on ASGC’s future priorities, Azmy said: “Our aim is to maintain the trust and confidence that Dubai government organisations and main developers have given us, and continue to develop our relationships with other main clients.”

4. Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties (Power 100 ranking: 9)

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of UAE-headquartered Emaar Properties and the highest-ranking developer on Construction Week’s 2017 Power 100, sits at the helm of a vast real estate empire in both its domestic Dubai market and beyond.

Earlier this month, the firm announced plans to list its UAE real estate development business through an equity offering of up to 30% on Dubai Financial Market (DFM) – a move that saw the DFM General Index register a three-month high of 3,406 points.

Emaar Properties reported a net profit of $377m (AED1.4bn) in Q1 2017, an increase of 15% compared to the corresponding period of the previous year. Commenting on the results, Alabbar said: “We have seen an increase in property sales in Dubai, and we are on track with our construction milestones.”

Emaar’s current flagship project, The Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour, has also witnessed significant progress during the past year. Since the development’s ground-breaking ceremony in October 2016, more than 145 barrette piles have been laid, and they are now being trimmed in preparation for the laying of a 19m-thick pile cap.

5. Pierre Sironval, managing director, Six Construct (Power 100 ranking: 11)

As managing director of Six Construct, the wholly owned Middle East subsidiary of Belgium’s Besix Group, Pierre Sironval has had a pleasingly busy 12 months.

In its 2016 financial year, Six Construct recorded revenue of approximately $1.08bn (AED3.95bn). Encouragingly, Sironval expects to grow this figure to $1.09bn (AED4bn) in 2017, having already secured $983m (AED3.61bn) worth of contracts.

Between June 2016 and May 2017 in the UAE, Six Construct completed UAE projects such as Dubai Water Canal, Deira Island’s quay wall and access bridge, and a very large crude carrier (VLCC) jetty in Fujairah. The contractor’s ongoing contracts include event infrastructure works for Expo 2020 Dubai, the Jebal Ali Sewage Treatment Plant, and The Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences.

Sironval told Construction Week that the development of Al Maktoum International Airport, and preparations for Expo 2020 Dubai, will represent Six Contract’s primary opportunities during the next 12 months.

6. Stephen Flint, group manager, Khansaheb | Director, Interserve (Power 100 ranking: 12)

Stephen Flint, group general manager of UAE-based Khansaheb and director of the contractor’s UK-headquartered parent company Interserve, has enjoyed another solid year of business in the Emirates.

During the past 12 months, Khansaheb has completed several notable projects in the UAE, including Dubai Properties’ DoubleTree by Hilton Dubai in Business Bay; and additional phases of Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of the Emirates capital expenditure (CAPEX) project.

During the coming year, Khansaheb is scheduled to complete works on Serenia Residences, Palma Holding’s 249-unit residential project on Palm Jumeirah; Phase 1 of Majid Al Futtaim’s City Centre Ajman expansion; a 389-key Premier Inn hotel in Al Jaddaf; a set of commercial offices in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC); and the refurbishment of guestrooms at Jumeirah Group’s Jumeirah Beach Hotel (JBH).

While Flint cites under-capacity within the specialist sub-contracting market and rising prices as imminent challenges, he sees Expo 2020 Dubai as a significant opportunity for Khansaheb.

“The UAE’s focus on Expo 2020 Dubai continues to act as a catalyst for a range of project opportunities across the emirate, with major developments such as Dubai Creek Harbour, Jumeirah Central, and Dubai Hills now in progress,” he explained. “Khansaheb is focussing on these areas, in addition to the numerous other development opportunities in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.”

7. Ali Rashid Lootah, chairman, Nakheel Properties (Power 100 ranking: 16)

Driven by chairman Ali Rashid Lootah, Nakheel Properties has had a positive start to the year, with $403m (AED1.48bn) in net profits for the first quarter of 2017.

Q1 2017 saw Nakheel awarding construction contracts worth $1.36bn (AED5bn), signing agreements with two Thai hotel operators, and announcing an investment of $40.84m (AED150m) to create a network of cycle routes across Dubai, state news agency, Dubai Media Office (DMO), reported. 

The developer will award a new set of contracts worth $1.09bn (AED4bn) in Q2 2017, as it continues to expand its retail, hospitality, and residential leasing businesses, DMO’s report added.

Remarking on the financials, Lootah said: “Our first quarter results are as forecast. We continue to execute our long-term business plan, in turn contributing positively to Dubai’s real estate sector.”

8. Talal Al Dhiyebi, CDO, Aldar Properties (Power 100 ranking: 17)

The first quarter of 2017 has been a happy one for Talal Al Dhiyebi, chief development officer (CDO) at Aldar Properties. This May, the company announced a 39% increase in gross profit – to $205m (AED753m) – compared to $147.5m (AED542m) in Q1 2016. Aldar’s revenue rose 28% to $430m (AED1.58bn), driven by developments under construction. 

In June, Aldar confirmed that the construction of its residential and hospitality projects on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island was progressing as planned. 

Aldar’s Vida Hotels and Resorts project, part of its hospitality portfolio, will comprise a 262-key hotel and 192 serviced apartments. The hospitality facilities will be accompanied by 329 marina residences within the Reem Island development.

Construction works for the Vida development are due to commence this year, and will complete in 2020. 

9. Wael Allan, group CEO, Drake & Scull International PJSC (Power 100 ranking: 20)

Drake & Scull International’s (DSI’s) overall revenue for fiscal year 2016 fell to $898,500 (AED3.3m), from $1.1m (AED4.2m) in 2015, with the company noting that its operating performance was affected by cost overruns and revenue reversals on disputed legacy projects.

Despite the drop in the company’s revenue, Wael Allan and the rest of the DSI team are optimistic about the market, with the company’s CEO noting that he’s expecting 2017 revenues to be consistent with DSI’s historical trading levels.

“As of 31 December, 2016, DSI’s order backlog has reached $2.2bn (AED8.1bn),” said Allan. “We believe that the demand for our MEP engineering services remains strong. We are qualified for key opportunities in the region and are well-positioned to secure prospects in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) segment in 2017.”

According to DSI, the total value of projects that it secured in 2016 stood at $221.9m (AED815m), with the UAE and the engineering businesses accounting for 23% and 71% of the backlog, respectively. These figures, Allan said, reflected the company’s “strategic and renewed focus” on its home market and core engineering business.

DSI’s team of 19,000 full-time staff is presently kept busy working on a host of projects in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Algeria, and Kuwait, among other locations. In the UAE alone, the company is involved in more than 15 projects that are under development, including the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, for which it has been brought on board to implement all MEP work and incidentals within the 64,000m2 museum complex.

DSI is also implementing the MEP contract for the Presidential Palace in Ras Al Akhdar, in Abu Dhabi, a project valued at $93m (AED340m). It has also been engaged to work on the Jewel of the Creek and Fountain View projects in Dubai.

In addition to its high-profile projects, DSI has identified corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities as another area of focus through the Drake & Scull Foundation.

Allan said: “The Drake & Scull Foundation is an integral part of our commitment to improve the conditions of society and empower people to achieve their dreams.”

10. Hussain Sajwani, founder and chairman, Damac Properties (Power 100 ranking: 22) 

The first quarter of 2017 was a productive one for Damac Properties, with the company reporting that its booked sales hit $600m (AED2.2bn), reflecting an 11% increase over Q1 2016 figures and a 29% increase over Q4 2016. 

“We generated revenues of $530m (AED1.9bn), with a gross profit of $288m (AED1.1bn) at a 54% gross profit margin,” said Hussain Sajwani, founder and chairman of Damac Properties. “We recorded a net profit of $240m (AED880m) at a margin of 45%. Our total equity was up 7%, to $3.7bn (AED13.5bn).”

Q1 2017 also saw the UAE-headquartered developer, founded by Sajwani in 2002, deliver 550 units in Damac Hills, a number that Damac said represented 20% of the company’s full-year guidance of 2,800 units.

Other than Damac Hills, the developer has 13 in-progress projects, including Damac Towers by Paramount, Tower 108, and Paramount Tower Hotel & Residences Dubai, as well as Akoya Oxygen, its second master development, and Aykon City. The latter, which is located on Sheikh Zayed Road and overlooks Dubai Canal, is a six-tower development. 

Damac also has eight projects in Dubai that are in the planning stages. They include Central Square, Madison Residences II, Cultural Village, and Plots 1 and 2 of Jumeirah Village.

According to the company, its development portfolio consists of more than 44,000 units at various stages of progress and planning, comprising more than 13,000 hotel rooms, serviced apartments, and hotel villas, which will be managed by its hospitality arm, Damac Hotels & Resorts.

Speaking about the opportunities that exist in the market for Damac, Sajwani said: “We aim to build a stable recurring income stream over medium term, which could comprise residential and retail space in our master developments, and a pool of residential units that could be put under a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for generating rental income, as well as income from hospitality division and commercial leasing.” 

He added: “We continue to look for opportunities to replenish our land bank, in Dubai mainly.”

 

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