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Face to face: Esam Al Mazroei, Bahri & Mazroei Group

Esam Al Marzroei explains how Bahri & Mazroei Group has extended its service offering beyond that of a traditional MEP supplier to become one of the Gulf’s foremost experts within the electrical, lighting, water, and control segments

Esam Al Mazroei, Bahri & Mazroei Group.
Esam Al Mazroei, Bahri & Mazroei Group.

In May 2017, Dubai Sports City signed a long-term agreement with Bahri & Mazroei Trading Company (BMTC) for the provision and oversight of solar-powered street lighting.

Under the terms of the deal, BMTC agreed to deploy its solar street lighting system, along with smart controls, to perform remote monitoring and data analytics – a strategy that is expected to drive greater operational efficiency within the locality.

The project involves the replacement of Dubai Sports City’s existing street lighting, the design of uniform lighting levels, and the addition of new poles. It will also cover the supply, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of light-emitting diode (LED) luminaries, solar panels, and controls.

The deal aims to reduce dependence on conventional, energy-intensive street lighting arrangements. Indeed, the system that BMTC has designed will be fuelled exclusively by solar energy.

The signing of the agreement followed a comprehensive study of Dubai Sports City’s existing network, which was also conducted by BMTC. In conjunction with outdoor luminary provider, Schréder, the company commenced work on the programme in June 2017.

As part of the project, BMTC and its partners will replace the diesel generators previously used to power streetlights, helping to reduce emissions, noise, and air pollution. What’s more, BMTC’s contract with Dubai Sports City is based on the energy service company (ESCO) model, which involves long-term financing with savings-based payback.

Considering the scope of this contract, one might be surprised to learn that BMTC is a supplier, rather than a consultant. Alongside its sister companies, Bahri & Mazroei Technical Systems (BMTS) and Telematics Networking & Communications, the firm forms part of Dubai-headquartered conglomerate, Bahri & Mazroei Group.

Established almost half a century ago, this business has carved a lucrative niche within the Gulf region’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) sector, providing lighting, electrical, and water technologies, in addition to building management systems (BMS), to customers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

With a corporate history that stretches back to 1968 – two years before the formation of the United Arab Emirates – there can be no doubting Bahri & Mazroei Group’s industry knowledge. But a service offering that includes feasibility studies, remote monitoring, and data analytics extends far beyond that of a traditional wholesaler.

Esam Al Mazroei, vice chairman of Bahri & Mazroei Group, tells Construction Week that it is no longer sufficient to supply products in isolation. In today’s highly competitive market, he explains, clients are looking for partners with the ability to provide expertise and support throughout a development’s lifecycle.

“What we are seeing right now is that technology is converging,” says Al Mazroei. “Even within Bahri & Mazroei Group, our companies are coming closer and closer together.

“In the past, we might have received a request to supply electrical components. But today, individual clients are often looking for a combination of electrical, lighting, and water systems, in addition to technology that is able to control these systems. So when somebody asks us to cater to all of these requirements, they don’t have to look elsewhere. We can pull it all together.”

In reference to the increasingly consultative nature of BMTC’s activities, Al Mazroei recounts the circumstances that precipitated the implementation of a fully solar-powered street lighting system for Dubai Sports City.

“Upon being enlisted by Dubai Sports City, BMTC conducted a study and proposed a 100% solar-powered light-emitting diode (LED) solution to meet the client’s requirements. It was a win-win for everybody,” he says. “In the past, Dubai Sports City’s lighting has been powered by generators, and they’ve been paying for fuel. So we thought, if we can get the energy from the sun, then why not?

“We’re providing a total solution, but we’re not [stepping on any toes]; we’re not a contractor. Nevertheless, BMTC is responsible for the entire project.”

According to Al Mazroei, his group’s corporate strategy is based on an unwillingness to cede prospective business to its competitors. He elaborates: “I think we’re unique in what we’re offering because we can cater [to a project from] end to end. You name it, we supply it. We provide the veins of a building, and help to put it together as well.”

And make no mistake, Al Mazroei is talking about large-scale projects. His team, for example, oversaw the world’s largest Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) installation at Abu Dhabi World Trade Center’s (WTC) Trust Tower. With a total of 60,000 DALI points and 36,000 DALI light fittings, the system uses DALI protocol commands for both day-to-day lighting control and emergency lighting.

“This is a huge system,” says Al Mazroei. “It allows us to control all of the lights, and all of the building’s shutters as well. Based on the movement of the sun, a shutter will start to move [automatically]. It’s all automated; it reacts to the environment.”

Bahri & Mazroei Group boasts a diverse portfolio, which includes healthcare facilities, aviation projects, and community developments, such as lighting for the jogging track in Dubai’s Jumeirah area.

Commenting on the latter, Al Mazroei says: “Much of Dubai’s street lighting has been supplied by our company, but we offer more than just public street lighting. We are also able to cater to decorative requirements, as we did for the jogging track in Jumeirah. This is a project that touched the public. It’s a very attractive lighting system because we used a wide angle. That means that the lights don’t affect people’s sight while they’re running; we minimised the glare.”

When it comes to Bahri & Mazroei Group’s future priorities, education represents a key focus. Al Mazroei explains: “This is a normal part of our job. We advise our clients, but we also advise consultants. These firms are often looking for the latest technologies, so we go to them and explain the [related] advantages and disadvantages.”

While Al Mazroei concedes that the Gulf remains a price-sensitive market, he says that, when armed with the right information, regional customers are becoming increasingly willing to invest more at the outset in order to achieve long-term gains.

“No matter how much you invest in a project, you can achieve [returns],” he explains, pointing out that the most important factor is to ensure that money is spent in the right areas.

“If I were constructing a building today, I would select the highest available specs,” he continues. “All buildings are having to become more efficient and competitive, in terms of running costs and [energy consumption]. If you’re running a car with 12 cylinders, and I can achieve the same outcome with four, my solution is better.”

For Al Mazroei, the most successful projects will be those that prioritise intelligence over brute force. Commenting on the ongoing shift that is taking place within the MEP sector, he concludes: “It’s no longer about how big your engine is; it’s about how efficiently it operates.”

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