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2018 Construction Week Power 100: 91-100

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

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91. Daousser Chennoufi, Draw Link Group

For the team at architecture and interior design company Draw Link Group (DLG) – led by principal and chief executive officer, Daousser Chennoufi – the past 12 months have brought strong business. The company recorded revenues worth $28m (AED102.9m) in 2017, and this figure is expected to hit $32m (AED117.5m) this year, with 70% of the sum already secured.

The UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia are among DLG’s largest markets, Chennoufi tells Construction Week. He also aims to continue expanding the firm’s reach in East Africa, he adds. “We started with one project in Kampala last year and extended to four: one more in Kampala, one in Nairobi, and one in Madagascar.”

DLG’s recent project portfolio includes several projects in Dubai, such as a five-star hotel and hotel apartment development in Deira, a three-star business hotel in Jumeirah, and two high-end residential villas for Emaar at Dubai Hills. The company also recently completed The Act Hotel in the emirate of Sharjah, where the firm was contracted for design and fit-out services.

DLG is also actively involved in work for the Rotana, Radisson Blu, Kempinski, Marriott, and Four Points by Sheraton hotel brands.

With more than 60 engineers and 210 labourers in its workforce, DLG’s staff training aims to enable its employees to effectively meet the requirements of the company’s clients, according to Chennoufi. In 2017, the firm conducted ISO training “in order to meet the international quality-management standards, with a focus on client expectations and satisfaction”, he tells Construction Week.

This year, with a training and development budget of $60,000 (AED220,000), the focus is on offering an MBA qualification in global management to some of DLG’s senior managers, to help them “manage and lead in the global environment, and strategically manage our team and projects”, says Chennoufi.

92. Dr Hans Erlings, Galfar Engineering

Galfar Engineering and Contracting, formed in 1972, claims to be one of the largest construction firms with engineering, construction, and procurement capabilities in Oman’s lucrative oil and gas sector. At the helm of the mighty regional player is chief executive officer, Dr Hans Erlings. Galfar reinforced its position in Oman’s oil and gas sector by winning a $95m (OMR36.7m) contract from BP Exploration (Epsilon) to work on Phase 2 of a gas gathering system for the oil and gas giant. Work on this 33-month contract started in March 2018 and Erlings said the Epsilon award would generate “reasonable income” for the contractor, which had to contend with payment delays late last year. Still, the contractor boasts a solid pipeline of work for 2018 and beyond. In a missive issued to the Muscat bourse last November, Galfar stated it had been “significantly affected by delays in receiving its dues” on projects, but confirmed it had a “solid work pipeline” to look forward to.

93. Abdo E Kardous, Hill International

Abdo E Kardous is regional president for Hill International’s Middle East operation. With 29 years of experience in the design, procurement, construction, and delivery of major projects across the building, electro-mechanical, infrastructure, and marine sectors, Kardous was appointed to his role earlier this year. In his current job, Kardous succeeds Mohammed Al Rais, who resigned from his position in April. Kardous joined Hill in 1997 as part of the team managing the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque project in Abu Dhabi. Prior to that, he was the real-estate development manager at the firm rebuilding Beirut City Centre. Kardous started his career in 1982 with a regional architectural practice.

94. Nadia Zaal, Al Barari

One of only three women to be included in the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 rankings, Nadia Zaal is the chief executive officer of Al Barari, the developer behind the $6.4bn (AED23.5bn) real-estate project of the same name located off Emirates Road in Dubailand.  She is also the CEO and co-founder of Abu Dhabi-based real-estate company Zaya Living, which is responsible for luxury projects in the UAE such as Zaya Nurai Island, a boutique private island resort off the coast of Abu Dhabi that houses more than 30 stand-alone holiday villas, 23 residential villas, and three food and beverage outlets. Zaal’s career spans 16 years, and she has spent the past 13 of those years in her current role.

95. Jesús Sancho Carrascosa, Acciona

Jesús Sancho Carrascosa is the managing director of energy and infrastructure conglomerate, Acciona, a role he has held since March 2014. He joined the company as regional director for Acciona Agua’s Middle East operation in November 2011. According to his LinkedIn profile, Carrascosa holds a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Technical University of Madrid in Spain, and an executive master of business administration diploma from the IESE Business School in Barcelona. Acciona’s divisions are expanding their reach across the Gulf, and most prominently in Dubai, where the firm is working with Besix in a joint venture on Dubai Electricity and Water Authority’s $237.2m (AED871m) contract for a desalination plant in Jebel Ali.

96. Benoy Kurien, Al Hamra Group

Benoy Kurien, general manager of Al Hamra Group, has been busy over the last 12 months as the Ras Al Khaimah-based development firm takes major strides in its construction and expansion plans.

This May, the developer announced it had completed the main construction works on Phase 1 of its $100m (AED367.3m) Manar Mall expansion project. Fit-out activities on individual units were being implemented in stages, the company revealed in a statement, noting that all works on Phase 1 were expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.

In April, the firm announced plans to bring all subsidiaries under one umbrella in a major branding shake-up. Commenting on the development at the time, Kurien said: “We have garnered a reputation for always delivering quality products while providing first-class service, something our rebranding will further enhance.”

97. Pedram Rad, U+A

U+A was established in 2006 by chartered architects Pedram Rad and his partner Pierre Martin Dufresne. Rad is the firm’s managing director. The international multi-disciplinary practice has offices in Dubai, London, Toronto, and Cape Town, and offers design solutions related to architecture, interior design, master-planning, landscape design, and construction supervision.

Since its inception, U+A has worked with developers throughout the Middle East, on projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the wider GCC region.

Rad has served as managing director of U+A for six years and has 11 years design and development experience on projects in the Gulf, in the commercial, hotel, and residential sectors. Specialising in concept development, design coordination, and architectural specification, he is a member of the UAE’s Society of Engineers.

In the financial year to March 2018, U+A posted actual revenue of $26m (AED95.5m). Rad says this is expected to rise to $32m (AED117.5m) during the current financial year, with 70% of that figure already secured.

Rad says he and his team have been involved with various projects in Dubai of late, including the 53-unit Marasi Floating Homes development in Business Bay by Dubai Properties; the 68,000m² Swiss International School; and Wasl Experience Centre, a four-storey, purpose-built sales centre conceptualised by U+A for Al Wasl Properties.

With a focus on real estate, hospitality, and education developments, U+A’s key geographic markets in the Middle East are the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

Looking ahead, the consultancy will be continuing its work on a villa project in the Emaar South development, as well as on Damac’s Paramount Hotel, Emaar’s Dubai Creek Harbor Tower, and the Marasi Riverside development, according to Rad.

98. Firas Hnoosh, Perkins+Will

Perkins+Will has enjoyed a busy year, recording $23m (AED84.5m) in revenue in 2017, and the architecture and design practice estimates this will grow to reach $27m (AED99.2m) by year-end.

Under principal design director of architecture, Firas Hnoosh, the company has completed projects at Boulevard Heights Residences, Acacia Park Heights, and Kings College Hospital in Dubai between June 2017 and May of this year, as well as at Saudi Arabia’s Sail Tower Shangri-La Hotel & Residences in Jeddah, and the Marriott Diplomatic Quarter Hotel in Riyadh.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain are Perkins+Will’s largest markets in the Middle East, but Hnoosh tells Construction Week that “operating [at] a sustainable size that can best service our markets and our clients while achieving and maintaining a high level of design quality” will be a significant challenge facing the business in the next 12 months. Between now and May 2019, Perkins+Will will be involved in projects such as the Mövenpick Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE; Shams Bridges III in Abu Dhabi; the Address Hotel Marassi Al Bahrain in Manama; and the Basaksehir Hospital & Healthcare Campus in Istanbul, Turkey.

99. Ralf Steinhauer, RSP

Having served as RSP’s director for two years, Ralf Steinhauer has more than 13 years of professional experience, with a specialism in architecture, from conceptual design to project delivery. He has led his team on several high-profile hospitality, retail, commercial, lifestyle, and residential projects in key geographic markets for RSP, such as Dubai, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

The firm has recently completed its work on the extension of Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, having acted as the lead consultant, architect, and interior designer on the project, which houses the emirate’s first medical school, as well as an integrated engineering college, and research and development facilities.

RSP also has a number of projects under way in Dubai that are yet to be completed. These include the 418,000m² Nakheel Mall on the Palm Jumeirah, for which the firm is lead consultant, architect, and interior designer; and the business park development for Emaar’s Dubai Hills.

100. Mahdi Amjad, Omniyat

Mahdi Amjad is the chairman and chief executive officer of high-end developer Omniyat, an enterprise he founded more than a decade ago in 2005.

Since its formation, the business has been focused on achieving its goal of contributing to Dubai’s skyline with a mix of classy real-estate developments. Perhaps the crowning jewel of this is the cantilevered, mixed-use One Palm luxury development on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. The 84,500m2 project is located on the southern tip of the island’s trunk; it made international headlines when one of the development’s penthouses sold for a record-breaking $27.8m (AED102m).

For Omniyat and Amjad, however, the One Palm project is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Recent projects that have caught the eye include The Opus – designed by late architect Dame Zaha Hadid – which has an open space between the two main buildings, a feature that is intended to make the building resemble “an ice cube melting from the inside out”. Omniyat also expects to award more than $500m-worth of contracts before the end of the year, as the developer looks to bring in talented contractors and sub-contractors for a mix of high-end developments.

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