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2017 Construction Week Power 100: Top 10 new entries

The following article contains details of the 10 highest-ranking new entries on Construction Week’s 2017 Power 100

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The following article contains details of the 10 highest-ranking new entries on Construction Week’s 2017 Power 100...

1. Greg Kane, Managing Director – Middle East, WSP (Power 100 ranking: 14)

A newcomer to Construction Week’s Power 100, Greg Kane replaced Tom Bower as WSP’s Middle East managing director in May 2016, and it’s fair to say that his first at the helm has been reassuringly busy.

At a corporate level, Kane has been overseeing the Middle East portion of the consultancy’s global rebrand, which saw its name change from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP in May 2017. The transition, which began following WSP’s acquisition of Parsons Brinckerhoff in 2014, involved a comprehensive brand research and development exercise in consultation with 600 clients, 600 prospective clients, and 350 members of the company’s global workforce.

Kane’s team has also seen a significant amount of onsite action during the past 12 months, and is continuing to support the development of a diverse array of large-scale projects across the region.

For example, WSP’s historic Middle East project portfolio includes, but is by no means limited to, United Tower and South Surra in Kuwait; Jeddah Corniche in Saudi Arabia; and One JBR in the UAE.

Commenting on WSP’s current and future activities in the Gulf, Kane told Construction Week: “Dubai remains an encouraging market for our property and buildings business; we have secured some high-quality projects over the last year. Saudi Arabia is a large market, but one to which we are not heavily exposed [at present. Nevertheless], WSP believes that changes to how things are delivered in the kingdom will bring selective quality opportunities for the business during the coming years.”

2. Hamed Zaghw, CEO, Aecom (Power 100 ranking: 15)

Hamed Zaghw is the chief executive officer for Aecom’s Middle East operation. Zaghw, who joined Aecom as chief operating officer in November 2014, took over his current role in October 2016.

The company recorded $17.4bn in revenues during its 2016 fiscal year (October 2015 to September 2016), of which 3.7% was set as profit. As of 1 May, 2017, Aecom employs 3,920 full-time staff, of which 566 are female employees.

Aecom’s project portfolio from the past year includes the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Road with Musanada, for which the firm provided construction supervision services. In the months to come, Aecom’s team will work on key developments such as the King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia.

Zaghw said Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia would be “the single biggest opportunity for business” during the upcoming year.

3. 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.”

4. HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, founder and chairman, KBW Investments (Power 100 ranking: 21)

Despite having only established his portfolio group, KBW Investments, four years ago, HRH Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal has already started to set out long-term growth strategies for the conglomerate. Investment in human capital forms a major part of his vision.

“As a fairly young company, we’ve now taken measures to institute a better human capital schema,” said Prince Khaled. “The larger the company gets, the more we feel that building our human capital segment is integral to a smooth, productive, and pleasant workplace. We invest in sending our people with potential to relevant training, and we encourage participation in relevant industry events.”

Prince Khaled, who is also the chairman of the Saudi Green Building Forum’s (SGBF) trustee board, told Construction Week that he intends to cultivate “impact-driven businesses”, which will benefit communities on a grand scale.

“I have gradually moved towards impact-driven businesses, meaning start-ups with social good as a core element,” he explained.

“With our Jordan portfolio, for example, we have committed – as part of the overall solar photovoltaic (PV) and light-emitting diode (LED) implementation initiatives – to provide power to 12,000 homes of Amman’s lower-income residents. This impact investment represents a win-win scenario for the constituents, the respective governmental bodies, and for KBW, as the project driver.”

Prince Khaled is also making his presence felt in the UAE’s property sector with Nasma Residences. The Sharjah project is being developed by Arada, an enterprise formed jointly by KBW and Basma Group.

“Nasma Residences is a [development] valued at $408m (AED1.5bn), with several large-scale projects to follow in the UAE and further afield,” said Prince Khaled.

KBW’s other business units are reportedly exhibiting solid performances as well. “KBEC, our mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) endeavour, recently landed a large-scale contract for one of the [UAE’s] premier developers,” Prince Khaled noted, adding: “Our real shining star this year, in the specialty sub-contractor [segment], is TTM’s Australian arm, [which has secured] a substantial portfolio of 30 concurrent projects in the past 12 months.”

5. 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.”

6. Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah, CEO, MAG Property Development (Power 100 ranking: 29)

The property arm of MAG Group, MAG Property Development (MAG PD), has high expectations for fiscal year 2017.

Talal Moafaq Al Gaddah’s UAE-based firm is expecting its revenues for the year to hit the $544.5m (AED2bn) mark by 31 December – more than double its performance in 2016, which stood at $136.1m (AED500m).

This optimistic outlook is backed by the several projects MAG PD currently has in development, including MAG 5 Boulevard in Dubai South; MAG 230, which is adjacent to IMG World of Adventure; MAG 318 in Business Bay; MBL Residences in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT); MAG of Life Creek Resort in Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC); and Meydan District 7.

Singling out its Meydan project as the one that promises the biggest opportunities for the company, Al Gaddah commented: “A huge opportunity is our development of 4,000 units and 1,000 townhouses in Meydan – an area that is growing in popularity thanks to its proximity to key destinations, landmarks, and attractions, including City Of Arabia, Business Bay, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Healthcare City, and the Meydan racecourse.”

Al Gaddah, chief executive officer of MAG PD, also noted that the company, which considers the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait as its most important markets in the region, is working towards developing projects that meet the requirements of both the mid-range and high-end sectors.

To strengthen its presence in the Middle East, MAG provides in-house training for its 2,000 employees, Al Gaddah said, adding that the company also undertakes corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the areas of education, development, and philanthropy.

7. Ashraf Al-Garf, CEO, Projacs (Power 100 ranking: 31)

As chief executive officer of Projacs, Ashraf Al-Garf is responsible for the company’s 508 full-time employees in the GCC, 337 of whom are qualified engineers. Prior to taking on his current role two years ago, he served as the company’s deputy CEO for eight years.

Projacs currently has 12 active developments in its project portfolio, including Jeddah’s new international airport, for which it is carrying out project management oversight. It is also undertaking the complete project and construction management duties for projects like the Ikea showroom in Damman, a children’s hospital in Cairo, and an Aabar hotel in Dubai.

Between June 2016 and May 2017, the company completed a total of eight projects. These included the new headquarters of the Central Bank of Kuwait, valued at $300m (KWD91m), and the AlFareeda Residential Community in Jeddah, valued at $426m (SAR1.6bn).

8. Marcus Truscott, managing director, Multiplex (Power 100 ranking: 35)

Although he has only been the managing director of Multiplex for two years, Marcus Truscott has been with the company for 15 years, having previously served as director and general manager.

Headquartered in Australia, Multiplex has offices in the UAE and has worked on high-profile projects in the country, one of which is the Emirates Towers. In Q1 2016, the company, formerly called Brookfield Multiplex, announced that it was dropping Brookfield from its name, but would remain under the ownership of Brookfield Business Partners.

In a statement it released about the name change, the company explained: “This is a time for us to rebrand and to ensure our own unique construction identity, both within the Brookfield group and with our external stakeholders as a global construction business.”

9. Abdulla Lahej, CEO, Dubai Properties (Power 100 ranking: 36)

As chief executive officer of Dubai Properties, Abdulla Lahej has enjoyed a fruitful 12 months. During the past year, the UAE-headquartered real estate developer has launched a string of projects, including Bellevue Tower 2, and Phases 1 and 2 of VillaNova. Lahej’s team has also achieved a series of construction-related milestones during this period, including the commencement of work on Marasi Business Bay’s marina. Located on Dubai Water Canal, the $272m (AED1bn) Marasi Business Bay megaproject will feature water homes and floating restaurants, among other amenities, upon completion. In 2016, Lahej and his colleagues successfully handed over more than 3,000 units.

10. Waqas Al Adawi, vice chairman, S&T Group (Power 100 ranking: 41)

A new entry on the list, Waqas Al Adawi has been with S&T Group for more than 10 years, having started as director in 2006. He was appointed to his current position of vice chairman in 2012.

Headquartered in Muscat, S&T Interiors and Contracting is part of S&T Group and has completed more than 150 projects across the globe, a number of which are in the UAE. These include Dubai International Airport; Lapita Hotel, Dubai Parks and Resorts; and Kempinski Hotel in Dubai, making the UAE its second most strategic market, next to Oman.

Speaking about the opportunities he sees for his business in the regional market, Al Adawi told Construction Week: “[The] Middle East is seeing significant growth with Vision 2021 and Vision 2020 for the UAE and Oman, respectively. With the focus on infrastructure development, manufacturing, tourism, and mining in the region, we [see] significant opportunities [in] the market.”

He noted, however, that companies need to address certain challenges first, before they can benefit from existing opportunities.

“The opportunities in construction are growing, but so is project complexity,” he said, adding: “In view of the current market scenario, companies are operating under razor-thin profit margins with limited cash flow. Hence, it becomes a huge challenge for companies to complete the project within the project timeline. However, as an organisation, we need to always work towards improving our internal systems and procedures to achieve cost efficiencies, and deliver all our projects to the satisfaction of our clients.”

According to S&T, the next 12 months will see it completing a number of projects in the region. One of these will be The Waterfront, Muscat, which is a contemporary mixed-use development with a gross internal built-up area of 40,000m2. It will consist of eight levels, including three basement levels with 375 covered parking spaces, two levels of retail shops and restaurants, and three levels of commercial office space.

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