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Growth hampered in MEP sector by the over cautious

A newfound cautiousness is hampering MEP growth even further

Keith Hill, design director for Atkins, thinks new found cautiosness is hampering growth.
Keith Hill, design director for Atkins, thinks new found cautiosness is hampering growth.

The slowdown in the construction industry has not only had a major impact on ancillary sectors like MEP, but the newfound cautiousness towards project implementation is hampering growth even further.

“If you are actually going to audit yourself every time you do a development or a masterplan, you cannot do it in a snap-judgement kind of way. This is all good, as it brings a different level of innovation and understanding to bear, but it is bound to slow things down even further,” says Atkins design director: building services Keith Hill.

The Middle East market used to be characterised by shorter timelines, he says. “When you are working here, timelines are more constrained, but things actually get built. So you tend not to have that big lag on a project, whereas in Europe there is quite a lot more consultation.”

However, the MEP sector in the Middle East is starting to adopt more rigorous upfront consultation processes, which means it is maturing along the same lines as more developed sectors as in Europe. What this means is “in my view a slightly more mature market,” says Hill.

In terms of specific challenges, he cites ongoing transition as a major issue. “I think we are in that big transition stage right now, certainly if you look at Abu Dhabi as a focal market. It is now the centre of attention again, probably as it used to be back in the 1980s.

“Atkins has been in the Middle East for over 40 years now. We started originally in Umm Al Qawain and Ras Al Khaimah. We are used to working in what is perceived as ‘alien’ or different markets. We are actually moving back into such areas again as they have got a chance to actually spread their wings and do something different.”

Read the full interview with Keith Hill in the May 2010 edition of MEP Middle East.

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