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2018 Construction Week Power 100: 61-70

Construction Week’s annual ranking of the Middle East’s most influential construction leaders

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61. Joseph Daher, Almabani General Contractors

Joseph Daher has been the chief executive officer of Almabani General Contractors since 2014 and leads the company’s 14,000 staff in the region. Since the company was formed in 1972, it has established itself as an ever-present force in an increasingly competitive, challenging, and demanding construction environment. The contractor has completed a broad mix of prestigious projects in the kingdom that range from complex infrastructure to heavy civil engineering works. Recently, it was involved in the Phase 2 Sharurah Airport upgrade, a domestic aviation hub located near the country’s southern border with Yemen. This project, one of several aviation expansion projects in the south of the country, consists of an expansion of the taxiway to accommodate more aeroplanes, and the renovation of the 4km runway. As a member of the BACS Consortium, along with Bechtel, CCC, and Siemens, the contractor is also involved in the construction of Riyadh Metro Lines 1 and 2, worth just under $10bn (SAR37.5bn).

62. Sulaiman Al Marouf, Combined Group Contracting

Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Al Marouf is the chairman of Kuwait-based firm, Combined Group Contracting (CGC). Since the company was founded in 1965, CGC has completed more than 250 projects for public and private sector clients from Asia and the Middle East. Its core areas of expertise include engineering, construction, and procurement for oil projects, with the company claiming to be a specialist in pipeline building.

CGC reported pre-tax profit of $60.9m (KWD18.4m) in its full-year trading figures for 2017, which is an approximate 30% year-on-year increase. The company has grown from one that generated revenue of approximately $164,000 (KWD 50,000) in 1965 to reach a figure of $975m (KWD295.5) today.

63. Hatem Farah, ECC

Hatem Farah is the chief executive officer and chairman of Engineering Contracting Company (ECC), an established name in the UAE’s construction sector.

ECC has grown in size since its formation in 1975. In 2016, the company recorded an 8% hike in its revenues, and its workforce currently exceeds 7,000 staff. The contractor is licensed for unlimited height construction.

Among the various ECC group companies are the fit-out and joinery firm, Abanos; real-estate developer, Aurora; facilities management specialist, Core Serv; and United Masters Electromechanical. Over the years, the contractor has worked with notable UAE clients such as Emaar, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Properties, Dubai Investments, Etisalat, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the Ruler’s Office, Union Properties, and the Roads and Transport Authority.

Its latest contract wins include a 25-month deal for developer Nshama’s Una project in Dubai, for which ECC is delivering enabling and main contracting operations. Ground was due to be broken on the project in May 2018.

64. Sachin Kerur, Pinsent Masons

Sachin Kerur is head of the Middle East region for law firm Pinsent Masons. He has lived and worked in the region for the past 14 years, advising on complex construction project delivery systems.

Under Kerur’s direction, in the past year Pinsent Masons Middle East has expanded its infrastructure practice with new lawyer and partner recruits, and won the Real Estate Team of the Year Award at the Corporate Counsel Legal Awards 2018. This year also saw the official opening of Pinsent Masons in Saudi Arabia, with a formal association being signed with Riyadh-based AlSabhan & AlAjaji Law Firm.

Some of the projects that the law firm has been working on in the past 12 months have involved advising FlyDubai in relation to its new corporate headquarters, and advising Limak in relation to the construction of Kuwait Airport’s new Terminal 2.

“Our team of construction specialists also advised on all aspects of Kier’s role in Dubai Arena,” adds Kerur.

“Other clients we have advised throughout the past year include Eagle Hills, Al Futtaim Real Estate Group, Arabtec, TAV, and Larsen & Toubro,” he continues.

Pinsent Masons has 3,000 employees globally, including 1,800 lawyers. “We need to make sure we are on top of the latest issue in construction contracts,” says Kerur.

This year, the lawyers’ training has focused on the launch of the new International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) suite, which came out in December 2017. “Over several sessions, the training covered the main issues raised by the FIDIC suite from both a contentious and non-contentious perspective,” says Kerur.

“It will also include an examination of the key changes introduced by the 2017 amendments, and consider the amendments that parties are likely to press for when negotiating contracts based on the revised suite.”

65. Campbell Gray, Faithful+Gould

Having celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017 with a ‘70 days of giving’ campaign that raised funds for a number of global and local charities, this year Faithful+Gould’s (F+G) managing director for the Middle East, Campbell Gray – and his local team – are committed to a new corporate social responsibility scheme, Race. This three-year programme aims to reduce energy consumption and lower the impact of business operations on climate change.

The multi-service consultancy has been involved with a number of recently completed projects, including the Bulgari Resort & Residences on Jumeirah Bay Island, where the company was the client’s representative and programme manager; and the Riviera housing compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Gray tells Construction Week that F+G plans to “embrace and harness the opportunity arising in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the next 12 months”. The coming year will see F+G’s continued involvement in the kingdom’s King Abdulaziz International Airport project, and the Aldara Hospital and Medical Centre development, a state-of-the-art healthcare facility in Riyadh.

In addition, in the UAE, F+G will continue to be engaged on the Kings College Hospital Dubai project and with work on Yas Island in the capital.

One of the training initiatives that is under way this year at F+G, which is a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, is called ‘Re-imagining the Future’.

“An F+G/SNC-Lavalin training initiative arranged by the Women’s Business Network in the Middle East, the focus is to empower employees to be able to adapt to change positively and to understand and become part of our digital future,” explains Gray.

66. Emad Jaber, Lacasa

Managing partner of regional architecture and engineering consultancy Lacasa, Emad Jaber, is optimistic about the company’s performance, having exceeded his revenue projection for 2017 by about $17.4m (AED63.9m).

Last year, Jaber told Construction Week that he expected the company’s revenue to reach $32.6m (AED120m) in 2017, but this year reported revenue for the January–December 2017 fiscal year of approximately $50m (AED183.7m). He predicts a further 10% revenue growth for the company in 2018.

Lacasa’s team of architects and engineers has designed more than 500 projects to date, from residential, commercial, hospitality, and mixed-use developments, to master plans and interior designs. The multi-service consultancy delivers interiors; architectural design; mechanical, electrical, and plumbing; structural engineering; and quantity surveying.

With 85% of its 2018 project revenue already secured, Lacasa is currently providing design, review, and supervision services for Aykon City by Damac, a freehold development of multiple towers on Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road overlooking Dubai Canal. The firm is also delivering design and master-plan services for the Sultan Qaboos University project in Oman; and design, supervision, and project management for a staff accommodation development in Saudi Arabia. Design and supervision services are also being provided at a furnished apartments building in Jordan and at the Mall of Palestine project.

Speaking to Construction Week this year, Jaber lists the Gulf and North Africa as key markets that Lacasa will focus on in the months to come, adding that Saudi Arabia will be the single biggest opportunity to spur the firm’s success. However, he warns that significant competition will be a challenge to watch out for over the next 12 months.

67. Muhammad Al Salmy, Hoehler + Alsalmy

Muhammad Sultan Al Salmy, managing director, partner, and lead architect at Oman-based specialist consultancy Hoehler + alSalmy, enjoyed a strong performance from his company in 2017, with revenue in the last fiscal year of $2.8m (AED10.4m). This figure is predicted to almost double – projected revenue for the financial year to December 2018 is $5.7m (AED20.8m), according to Al Salmy.

During the next 12 months, Hoehler + alSalmy will be involved with projects in Oman, including the refurbishment of the Crowne Plaza Muscat; and design, supervision, and interior design at Al Muzn Corp Hotel. The consultancy is also working on a lab building, student accommodation, and the Finnish School at the German University of Technology in Oman.

“The ongoing instability of the current economic climate continues to be a challenge for Hoehler + alSalmy. The level of competition continues to rise, with companies struggling to survive and bidding competitively for projects,” Al Salmy tells Construction Week.

“We therefore have to match these bids whilst still maintaining the quality assurance we are known for.”

He continues: “As the current market is still unpredictable, [Oman] is highly focused on tourism and as a result is investing a large budget in hospitality projects. This is a great opportunity for us, as we aim to focus on hospitality projects for the year. With our current position and reputation in the market, we have been shortlisted for numerous hotel projects in the country, to be revealed later this year.”

68. Edmund Mahabir, AF Construction

The past 12 months have been productive for Edmund Mahabir, chief executive officer of AF Construction – formerly known as Al Futtaim Carillion. The company, which has a prominent presence across the UAE and Egypt, was formed in 1975, and has since worked on impressive regional projects such as Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai Festival City, Dubai Motor City, and Al Bahar Towers. In Egypt, AF Construction is known for delivering the popular urban community Cairo Festival City. The firm was also recently awarded the contracts to build Expo 2020’s thematic souks, as well as the Creek Horizon project at Emaar Properties’ Dubai Creek Harbour, the Al Futtaim Festival Plaza in Jebel Ali, Bee’ah’s headquarters building in Sharjah, and the W Dubai – The Palm hotel. 

69. Matt Squires, SSH

Matt Squires joined master-planning, infrastructure, building design, construction supervision, and project management firm SSH in 2013 and became managing director for all SSH’s territories excluding Kuwait the following year. He then became chief operating officer across all territories in 2015, and last year Squires was appointed the company’s chief executive officer.

SSH has recently completed work on developments such as the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre and the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre – Package 2, for which it delivered lead design and construction supervision.

70. Ermis Marques, Aurecon

As regional director for the Middle East at engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon, Ermis Marques is responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the firm’s business in the region. Among Aurecon’s recently completed projects are works on the UAE Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, and a traffic impact study that was carried out at the Dubai Creek Harbour retail district. Multidisciplinary engineering work was also carried out at the Aqua Hotel, Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. The firm’s portfolio of ongoing projects includes work on the Dubai Creek Tower, the Dubai Conference & Exhibition Expo 2020 Campus, and Sobha Hartland Tower.

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