2018 Construction Week Power 100: 71-80
Construction Week’s annual ranking of the Middle East’s most influential construction leaders
71. Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, Meydan Group
Another heavyweight from a Dubai-based developer to feature in Construction Week’s 2018 Power 100 ranking is the chairman and chief executive of Meydan Group, Saeed Humaid Al Tayer. He has been busy with a host of commercial real-estate development projects in the past 12 months, including Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City. One of the group’s projects in the new city will feature a record-breaking man-made lagoon to be supplied by Crystal Lagoons.
72. Nasser Bin Yousef, Union Properties
It has been just over a year since Nasser Butti Omair Bin Yousef was named chairman of Dubai-based real-estate developer, Union Properties (UP), in May 2017. The company has been extremely active in the market since Yousef assumed his new role at the firm.
In March 2018, the development group’s subsidiary, UPP Capital Investment, acquired a 5% stake in Egypt’s Palm Hills Development for a fee of about $30m (EGP525.3m). The acquisition was part of the developer’s international expansion strategy to diversify its revenue stream by entering high-growth property markets. The developer described the deal as “significant” and UP, led by its energetic new chairman, is still on the hunt for diverse, dynamic, and successful investment assets in the UAE and abroad as it looks to bolster its bottom line.
In January, UP – the master developer of Dubai Motor City – confirmed that it was in the final stages of selling its stake in Emicool, for which it had received “several offers” from UAE-based companies. The stake was later bought by Dubai Investments.
73. Ahmed Osman, Desimone Consulting Engineers
DeSimone Consulting Engineers can boast a portfolio comprising high-profile developments in the UAE, such as the Sheikh Khalifa Mosque in Al Ain, and Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Visitor Centre, Zayed Military Hospital, and Saadiyat Island Beach Resort.
Led by managing principal Ahmed Osman, the structural engineering firm is also providing its services for Wasl Asset Management’s 302m-tall sloped tower in Dubai, and the two 30-storey Reem Towers in Abu Dhabi.
Osman says there are also several entertainment-related projects under way in Abu Dhabi, as well as defence projects in the UAE, and various retrofitting projects in other Gulf countries.
Founded in New York in 1969, DeSimone Consulting Engineers provides structural and façade engineering, and forensic and multidisciplinary property loss consulting services for most types of buildings and equipment. The firm has offices in the US, South America, Asia, and the Middle East.
“To date, DeSimone has designed more than 10,000 projects in 44 states and 46 countries,” Osman tells Construction Week. “Our project portfolio demonstrates the firm’s dedication to pursuing and developing superlative structures.”
DeSimone encourages its employees in their professional education. For instance, all full-time staff are eligible for tuition reimbursement of up to $10,890 (AED40,000) per year.
In addition, the engineering consultancy pays for all expenses related to engineering licenses, the managing principal tells Construction Week.
“In-house training has proved to be very effective,” adds Osman.
“In addition to continuing training for BIM (building information modelling), our focus is on speciality engineering disciplines that we need in our core design businesses.”
74. Alan Talabani, Turner & Townsend
Another business leader making his debut in the Construction Week Power 100 rankings this year is Turner & Townsend’s managing director for the Middle East, Alan Talabani. Having been with the company in various roles for 21 years, Talabani was appointed to his current role in 2017. He joined Turner & Townsend’s UK offices as a young graduate quantity surveyor in 1997, and 20 years later, he is the managing director of one of the company’s strongest business regions.
As Turner & Townsend’s regional head, Talabani’s priority is to grow the company’s strong business in the Middle East. The multidisciplinary construction management services specialist saw revenue in the millions of dollars during the fiscal year from 30 April, 2016, to 30 April, 2017.
Turner & Townsend’s portfolio includes work on Concourse D of Dubai International Airport, thematic districts for Expo 2020 Dubai, and a manufacturing facility for Unilever in the emirate. This is in addition to projects for NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi.
75. Dr Ravi Pillai, RP Group
Dr Ravi Pillai, chairman of RP Group of Companies, is responsible for more than 85,000 staff who work across complex construction operations in nine countries. Projects worth more than $25bn have been completed by RP Group since the company was formed 40 years ago, in 1978. Pillai has been a steady hand at the helm of the business, which reported more than $4bn in revenue in 2015.
The company boasts five offices in four countries in the Middle East, two in Asia, and one in Perth, Australia. Its core areas of work include construction and infrastructure, real-estate development, hospitality, retail, and information technology. The Middle East-based construction conglomerate is understood to be sitting on more than 9.3ha of real-estate projects that are currently under development. It has also opened 11 hotels in the UAE and India since it was first established.
76. Yahya Jan, Norr Group
Led by Middle East president and design director, Yahya Jan, NORR Group supports “continuous learning and self-development” for its staff, as well as the “enhancement of employee skills and knowledge appropriate to present and future opportunities within the industry”.
“All employees are encouraged to successfully complete approved courses from accredited institutions or organisations,” Jan tells Construction Week.
The group is also committed to the environmental and social well-being of the communities in which it operates. “As an example, we have collaborated with chosen organisations that provide young people with special needs the opportunity to realise their potential and integrate into the wider community,” he says.
“It comes from an awareness that, as part of a larger community, it is our responsibility to support the nation, whether through our environment-focused designs or our societal obligations.”
As a full-service consulting organisation, NORR Group offers architectural, engineering, interiors, and planning services for a variety of building types. NORR employs 108 engineers, and the number of female employees in its workforce has risen from 26 in 2017 to 33 this year.
Having replaced all its desktop PCs with high-performance workstations, this year NORR is implementing a cloud-based disaster recovery system.
“We believe that technological change will continue to have a revolutionary impact on the design and construction industry,” explains Jan.
“We have implemented an ambitious programme that embraces the latest thinking in design technology, including BIM (building information modelling) and parametric methods, to produce truly integrated design solutions – that is, designs that effectively integrate architecture, structural, and environmental engineering,” he adds.
77. Dr Najib Khatib, Khatib & Alami
Dr Najib Khatib has played an integral role in the success of Khatib & Alami (K&A) for 22 years. Between 2002 and 2006, he was K&A’s deputy general manager, responsible for the company’s strategic activities and project implementation, and he has been a member of the board’s executive committee since 2006. Khatib has previously served as the company’s general director, and has been the company’s chief executive officer since 2016. He was named chairman in February 2017.
In the 2017 fiscal year, K&A enjoyed revenue of $364.7m (AED1.3bn). The company currently employs a design and consultancy workforce of 5,006 staff, of which 1,476 are qualified engineers. It provides services such as engineering, design, tendering, supervision, and project management throughout the Gulf, with a particular focus on the geographic markets of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
“Clients across the region are keen to be active in the market, but they also want to spend their money wisely,” Khatib tells CW. “This means there is huge potential for those consultants that are able to combine high-quality technical expertise with value for money.”
He adds that the firm faces two main challenges “in order to build on the momentum of a very strong 2017”. “Firstly, we need to respond successfully in the execution of projects that we have won, and secondly, we need to retain the same focus on winning work.
“This will require a very clear understanding of client objectives, putting the best possible people on every project, and maintaining the cost-effectiveness that we have always offered the market,” he says.
K&A’s regional project portfolio includes delivering multidisciplinary design and construction supervision for a development in Dubai that includes residential towers, waterfront villas, and retail and community facilities. It is also delivering design review and construction supervision on a light rail transit project in Egypt, and a K&A-led joint venture is providing comprehensive technical consultation for the Cairo Monorail.
78. Dr Anil G Pillai, Airolink
Offering everything from pre-construction services to complete turn-key construction projects, Airolink’s building expertise encompasses educational, commercial, retail, residential, and hotel developments, industrial facilities, and government defence buildings. Under the guidance of chief executive officer and managing director, Dr Anil G Pillai, the Airolink team aims to create distinctive design ideas and develop streamlined methods of construction specifically suited to each project it undertakes.
In 2017, the main contractor saw revenue of $82m (AED301.2m). This is projected to grow significantly in 2018 – by $118m (AED433.4m) – to reach $200m (AED734.6m).
With a focus on the UAE market, the company has acted as main contractor for the Roda Villa project in Abu Dhabi, the development of Dubai Heights Academy, and the refurbishment of Roda Tower in Sharjah. Airolink is working on several other projects in Dubai, including Al Mamzar Byblos Hotel & Mall; the Art Centre Retail Mall, Brighton College, and Dwight School Campus in Al Barsha; and Seven Residences on the Palm Jumeirah.
“Airolink is an agile, competitive operator in an aggressively competitive market,” Pillai says.
Airolink has grown its workforce from 1,680 unskilled labourers and 167 qualified engineers in 2017 to 2,600 labourers and 180 engineers this year.
The company’s CEO and MD tells Construction Week: “We have significantly built up our workforce capabilities, with improved on-site management and, at the C-suite executive management level, with knowledge of banking, finance, and oil and gas bringing in further capabilities.
“We wish to further empower our site-based safety supervisors and officers by providing improved training to them and educating our management and workforce on the benefits of safety and triple bottom-line thinking,” Pillai says.
79. Abdul Halim Muwahid, UNEC
Abdul Halim Muwahid founded United Engineering Construction (UNEC) in 1976 and, as chairman, he takes an active role in directing all of the company’s day-to-day activites, as well as those of its subsidiaries, Safemix and UNEC Carpentry & Joinery Factory. UNEC has its head office in Dubai and branch offices across the UAE, in addition to one in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Recently, UNEC has been involved in the construction of Dubai developments such as the Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah, the Deira Night Souk, four packages of the Town Square Nshama project, and two residential towers in Business Bay. Ongoing projects include construction works at Deira Mall, Lulu Mall at Dubai Silicon Oasis, a hotel in Dubai Sports City, and a new UNEC headquarters building with a total built-up area of 81,000m².
80. Saad Abdulaziz Alwazzan, Mushrif Trading and Contracting Co
Saad Abdulaziz Alwazzan is another new entrant in the Construction Week Power 100 this year, having been appointed to the position chief executive officer of Mushrif Trading and Contracting Company in April 2017. Mushrif is a Kuwait-based civil construction and infrastructure company and also has business in the UAE. While Alwazzan admits that there is a “lack of projects in Kuwait, and a delay in project awards in [the country]”, it seems that Mushrif has succeeded in keeping busy. Its portfolio of recently completed work includes a $45.9m (KWD13.9m) deal for high-pressure smokeless pit flares at 14 of Kuwait Oil Company’s crude oil gathering centres.