2007 predictions

A new year, a new start. New faces, new places. FM Middle East asks industry professionals: What does 2007 have in store for the FM industry?

Dilip Khatwani
Dilip Khatwani

The year 2007 is set to be a big one for the facilities management industry. Why? For many reasons that can't possibly be outlined and explained in the next 500 words - however, here are a few which I predict will cause a stir in the industry this year.

This month, FM Middle East exclusively reports on the launch of a new FM show to hit the region in 2007 and the biggest research project into the Middle East FM sector.

CMPi will launch new exhibition, Working Buildings Middle East, in December and in the meantime, will work in conjunction with Frost and Sullivan to extensively research the FM and building management sector. Watch this space for the results.

If that isn't enough to convince you, then read on.

As easy as it is to focus on the FM industry in Dubai due to it being the main focal area of the Middle East, I believe countries like Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia will start putting FM in the spotlight, raise its profile and begin to take a slice of that market share.

The beginnings of this have been illustrated by the amount of interest shown in the newly launched FMBG (FM Business Group) meetings, with people from Bahrain and Kuwait attending.

If the hard work of industry professionals pays off the FMBG will be approved by the DCCI in early 2007 and a chapter of IFMA could soon follow.

Another area to consider is the sheer number of buildings and units due to be handed over in 2007. Each building can have a number of units and these units may or may not be serviced by the same FM company. There is no concrete data available to demonstrate the scale of handover, but it could well run into the 100s.

When these projects were originally designed and thought about, FM was still a newly introduced and misunderstood term. Developers were solely concerned with getting the building up the cheapest way possible so they were in budget and therefore received praise and most importantly, bonuses.

They were not interested in the process after handover and as a result, handover contracts next year could be at the detriment of the tenants by the creation of teething problems and long terms troubles.

It's important to manage the tenant's facilities in a convenient, cost-effective and efficient manner. A high level of customer service also has to be achieved.

For example, the wrong type of air conditioning installation or no thought going into the irrigation of the landscaping could mean more energy/water being used and in turn, increasing costs to the FM company servicing the building/area and further more, the tenant.

On the flip side, many developers are now thinking about these problems early on and involving FM at the design stage to ensure an easier handover. But the positive effect of involving FM as the design stage may take a couple of years to emerge.

While on the subject of building and design, it seems the Middle East is now quickly catching on to ‘saving the environment' or in business terms, corporate social responsibility (CSR).

CSR benefits the company, its employees/tenants and the environment by making businesses think about the way in which they operate. Sustainable development is also linked to CSR and the Middle East has seen an increase in the design of sustainable buildings. This seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Last but not least - obviously the implementation of any new legislation will have an impact on the industry, whether this is positive or negative remains to be seen. Again, if approved and formed, an IFMA chapter could well have the power to help with the implementation or change of laws that will help steer and drive best practice standards in the region.


Dilip Khatwani

Job title:


Responsible for:

As one of the founder members of Reliance FM, he is responsible for its business in the region. He is also heading the Real Estate Consultancy arm recently floated by the company


Reliance FM

Based in:

Dubai, UAE and operations in Qatar and Kuwait


A Bachelors degree in Marine Engineering and 20 years experience in the service industry

While evolving, every industry goes through a transition until the time it hits the first peak year. The construction industry in Dubai had this in 2003, for the FM industry it will be 2007.

With many properties completing in 2007, a fast growing awareness campaign on facilities management should help FM companies benefit in this coming year.

The important thing is for these companies to keep their business model smart and plan their structure and systems in advance to be prepared for a speedy year to come.

The FM business will not just limit itself to Dubai, but further spread into Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. As the competition builds, markets will start to evolve at a faster pace and companies will have to keep their operation efficient and introduce best practices.

FM has become a ‘fashionable' term in the Middle East with many cleaning, security and MEP companies calling themselves FM companies.

However, once more people start to understand the term ‘FM' these companies will no longer be able to call themselves FM companies and will have to revert back to being their original status. This could cause confusion for the client.

The market segments to target for FM would be the developer market, corporate FM, retail FM, hospital FM and township management.

The industry will see an inflow of many FM professionals entering the market from different world markets and a lot of in-house people that will be trained to learn facilities management.

FM is a peoples business. Client FM departments and FM companies will flourish if they are able to create their unique HR modules to sustain in a market which has a large expatriate population.

Wishing all of you in the FM Middle East industry, a great 2007.


Markus Oberlin

Job Title:


Responsible for:

Avireal Middle East LLC is a joint venture between Khalifa Juma Al Nabooda Group of Companies and Avireal AG Switzerland


Avireal Middle East LLC

Core products/services:

FM consultancy company with a trading licence for energy saving products.

Based in:



Swiss certified HVAC engineer/executive MBA. Over 15 years experience in FM

As the FM industry is still quite young here, it is the responsibility of FM professionals to further educate the customers and the building owners about what FM is about.

They need convincing that FM is not just another cost factor and is in fact, quite the opposite. People need to understand that professional FM brings added value and can even cut costs.

I believe business people are looking for ways they can increase the efficiency of their business and how they can further reduce costs - especially in a marketplace as Dubai, where the business is very competitive - everybody has to deal with efficiency and better margins.

If a FM professional understands the value chain of their customers, they will be able to consult their customers about tailor made FM solutions and determine if it makes sense to outsource certain services in order to manage them differently or even reduce certain services.

Also the utility bill is increasing year by year and the energy prices will not come down, it is just a matter of time before the price for energy becomes a major problem for a lot of people.

On the other hand, there are still a lot of property owners or tenants who are just not aware of how they waste energy and money. There are a lot of good and reliable energy saving products available which are state of the art in Europe or America but not yet installed in the Middle East.

Such products can reduce energy consumption by up to 20% and in my opinion, especially with professional energy management, a FM company using these proves to their customers they care and want the best for their customers.


Sanjay S. Bhatia

Job title:

Vice President

Responsible for:

Facilities Management


Damac Properties

Based in:



More than a decade worth of property and FM experience in initiating and running FM businesses for global companies including CB Richard Ellis, Jones Lang LaSalle and Sodexho

It is difficult to appreciate how quickly the property and facilities management markets have changed. Less than two years ago facilities management was only just gaining acceptance, as a useful tool capable of improving customer service, while the property industry seemed determined to focus on design and delivery.

Facilities managers were seldom part of the design process where they could have integrated daily management challenges like parking, ease of maintenance, finishes used etc.

Developers will have to stop thinking as ‘owners' but ‘managers' of their creations in the freehold arena.

With this approach, investors and occupiers will find the offer more attractive where not only the capital values appreciate but the asset life too is enhanced.

FM Companies will quickly need to upgrade their ability to truly integrate services and not just supply work force. In the future, we will see rapid vertical integration of the property supply chain and the removal of unnecessary layers replicating real estate functions.

So, where does this leave the facilities management industry?

What changes does it need to make to break out of the low-margin, low-investment and poor-service spiral?

How can it gain and sustain a competitive advantage?

We can be sure that the old tactics will be no more effective than they are now, such as:

• Trying to make FM a technical profession instead of a service

• Failing to invest in IT to systemise and simplify the service delivery process.

• Overcomplicating the service and confusing or frightening the customer with unnecessary ‘technical blurbs'

• Operating a command and control culture where cost control is the primary focus.

• Failing to train, motivate and empower all staff to ‘just do it' and serve the customer first.


Stuart G Thomas

Job title:


Responsible for:

FM Division



Based in:



Over 30 years in service and facilities management roles around the world and with several years in Dubai.

There will be significant changes throughout 2007 as more players come into the market and customers start to become more aware of the benefits of FM both internally and to outsourced companies.

Currently there are over 100 companies purporting to be FM companies, in reality these companies consist mainly of single function operations such as cleaning.

A true FM Company needs to have the flexibility to offer a complete package to their customers that allows them to get on with their core business(es) and leave the operational side of running their premises to reputed FM experts.

Currently in comparison with other countries, the UAE and for that matter the Middle East has a lot of catching up to do in relation to service and communication levels and I foresee very large advances in this particular area in 2007.

It is the nature of the people in the region not to convey the actual true information to clients and as a consequence, as a customer, the level of frustration increases through not receiving the real facts.

Because the nature of the FM business is reliant on people and service, it is imperative the end user is regularly updated with the status of a problem or situation - ‘reporting by exception / negative reporting and also positive reporting'.

The advent of the formation of the Facilities Management Business Group, with the experienced professionals that attend the meetings will help to speed up and improve the education process that is required in the market place and the combination of various skills will ensure professionalism and improved levels of service throughout the industry.

In summary, 2007 will be a fantastic year and will see facilities management make its mark in the region.

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