Leaders UAE 2018 Preview: The fourth industrial revolution is here

The UAE is one of the world's few countries that is at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution – and its construction sector is reaping the benefits

The UAE is leading the fourth industrial revolution.
The UAE is leading the fourth industrial revolution.
Jad Chouman, partner at advisory, consulting, and expert services provider HKA.
Jad Chouman, partner at advisory, consulting, and expert services provider HKA.

Jad Chouman, partner at advisory, consulting, and expert services provider HKA, shares his insights on the state of the UAE’s industry two weeks ahead of Construction Week: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018.

What are the main challenges facing the construction industry in 2018?

The construction sector is now enduring substantial pressure due to the prolonged slump in oil prices, resulting in fiscal challenges.

Despite the modest increase in oil prices since the middle of 2017, we are still witnessing financial pressure resulting in payments from both public- and private-sector clients being slow, with fewer contract awards than expected; this is eroding already slim profit margins. This is leading to disputes arising between owners, contractors, and subcontractors, negatively impacting the construction industry more generally.

The first challenge is enabling amicable settlements between parties relating to commercial matters, and resolving these disputes in a cooperative, constructive, and collaborative manner where possible. This is to minimise any detriment to the parties involved, and in turn the wider industry.

Another challenge is the emergence and applicability of new forms of project procurement and financing, such as public-private partnerships. Although established and widely used in more advanced economies, this is a new form of infrastructure procurement in the Middle East. Their success will have notable benefits to the construction industry over the next few years.

A third challenge is overcoming the political unrest and turmoil in the Middle East. It is critical to have a clear and calculated view of the risks arising from the geopolitical instability at regional level, which could hamper foreign investment and government spending on major infrastructure projects in the region.

What excites you most about the UAE construction industry in 2018?

What is exciting about the construction industry in the UAE is that despite economic, fiscal, and geopolitical tensions around the region, the UAE construction industry remains strong and resilient. A key driver of the continued growth of the UAE’s economy is the number of megaprojects that are emerging across the country.

It is also exciting to see the emphasis and the attention paid to the industry by UAE leaders, facilitating the prosperity of the sector through sound commercial and business-oriented measures, innovative infrastructure plans, and transformational programmes of major cities as part of a smart future.

In that context, the UAE is one of the few countries at this point that is leading the world’s fourth industrial revolution, turning itself into a major hub for technology and innovation, and significantly augmenting the Middle East's construction industry.

What are the latest launches that your company has unveiled this year?

HKA will continue to focus on delivering commercial results through its core service offer – claims consulting and expert services. This will further solidify our position as a leading sources of expertise to help clients manage disputes, risk, and uncertainty on major capital projects.

The key driver for our success is our people – their knowledge and expertise repeatedly deliver the best possible outcomes for our clients. We will continue to invest in and develop our people, and are already in the process of launching the HKA Academy. This educational facility provides a blended approach to training, with a selection of online, classroom, and self-learning courses covering the development of technical leadership skills.

We will continue to grow, organically and geographically, by attracting the best talent the industry has to offer. As a company, we look to the future with excitement and optimism as we aim to become the pre-eminent globally connected brand in the industry.

What other news can we expect from HKA in the near future?

HKA will launch the first issue of CRUX Insight in 2018 – the output of HKA’s continuous point-of-failure analysis on projects worldwide.

CRUX is a research programme that objectively analyses more than 300 projects a year from around the world where HKA has provided consulting on construction claims, expert, and advisory services. CRUX looks beyond the headline issues and considers numerous causes and the interrelationships between them.

The CRUX research programme leverages our position as a top provider of expert services in order to analyse and draw insights from the largest and most diverse pool of projects on an ongoing basis.

Why is it important for HKA, and for you, to support and attend the CW: Leaders in Construction Summit UAE 2018?

HKA is one of the leading privately owned, independent providers of consulting, expert, and advisory services for the construction, manufacturing, process, and technology industries. Our experience and knowledge in the industry will provide significant benefits  to leaders present at the summit.

We consider the event to be an important platform for construction industry leaders to share insight and foresight that is founded on years of experience in delivering real commercial outcomes, and devising pragmatic mitigation measures to address the various challenges faced by the construction industry.

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