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50 Most Admired: Architects/engineers/consultants

Construction Week's most admired architects, engineers, consultants


ALSO READ: 50 Most Admired: Home page | 50 Most Admired: Suppliers | 50 Most Admired: Contractors | 50 Most Admired: Developments | 50 Most Admired: Sub-contractors


Forging new territory in architectural design and engineering is a job for the gifted few. Many firms believe that they can, but fall short when it comes to total project delivery. Construction Week details ten of the most admired and respected firms working throughout the Middle East.

If admiration for a company could be measured in sheer numbers of striking designs and innovative projects, Aedas would top every list of preferred consultants. Established in Dubai in 2005, Aedas developed from the aggregation of a number of UK practices followed by timely acquisitions in Hong Kong and the US.
Aedas’ rise to the top of its game has been swift and impressive: it was named 2010 International Practice of the Year by the Architect’s Journal for doubling its architectural fee income during the year, and it regularly features in the AJ100 top 10 (2009 rank: 5th), and in other prestigious annual industry awards.
The company’s investment in Revit building information software and R&D into sustainability helped it secure work in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. The company, as a whole, is also looking at emerging markets in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Sao Paulo, India, South America and central Africa.
Aedas’ major UAE projects include the world’s tallest residential tower, the Pentominium Tower in Dubai, due for completion in 2012, designs for the twin 25-storey towers of the new Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters and the award-winning Empire Tower in Abu Dhabi (2010).

ALSO READ: 50 Most Admired: Home page | 50 Most Admired: Suppliers | 50 Most Admired: Contractors | 50 Most Admired: Developments | 50 Most Admired: Sub-contractors

When it comes to iconic building design and engineering, Arup has produced some of the world’s most instantly recognised structures. It was Ove Arup and Partners that brought architect Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera house to life by providing the structural engineering for the project in 1976 – and it was Arup that built the Beijing Water Cube and critically acclaimed Bird’s Nest for the 2008 Olympic Games in China.
Arup was also involved in the structural design of the Yas Marina Hotel bridge which provided a dramatic and spectacular backdrop to the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 evening race last November. The hotel bridge spans 40m and encloses 980m2 of interior space on two levels, and includes a bar, restaurant and VIP lounge. Arup’s other major UAE projects include the circular Aldar Headquarters in Abu Dhabi’s Al Raha Beach, a large scale operational readiness trial at Dubai International airport’s terminal three prior to opening, and a sustainability strategy for a section of the Dubailand World site that included Legoland, Six Flags, Marvel, DreamWorks, Freej and the Central Island.

Longevity in the construction industry isn’t easily earned – but the ability to deliver constant results while also remaining ahead of the competition is what keeps companies like Consolidated Consultants busier than ever. Established in Jordan in the early 1970s, the company’s range of engineering and consultancy services are in hot demand. It was recently approached to provide project management consultancy for the $715m 240 km four-lane Al-Batinah Coastal Road Project in Oman, while its current projects also include the ongoing development of Yasmin Village and Yasmin Town Project in Ras Al Khaimah; as well as a comprehensive range of water, sewerage and dam projects, building, environment and infrastructure works throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Consolidated Consultants encourages staff to develop their talents by encouraging them to further their studies and to fulfill their potential in projects for the company. Encouragingly, for staff, CC is not a company too mired in work to not enjoy itself. Regular staff gatherings, social events and annual dinners means the company is also a welcoming place to work.

ALSO READ: 50 Most Admired: Home page | 50 Most Admired: Suppliers | 50 Most Admired: Contractors | 50 Most Admired: Developments | 50 Most Admired: Sub-contractors

Dar Al-Handasah’s rise from its beginnings as a small engineering consultancy founded by four professors near the University of Beirut in to one of the world’s largest multi-disciplinary companies, is nothing short of inspirational. Now headquartered in London, Dar Al-Handasah has offices throughout the Middle East region specialising in planning, building and infrastructure, natural resource development, environmental management, transport, industrial projects, project management, and power and telecoms. Dar Al-Handasah’s collective expertise means the company is a powerful unit capable of also conceiving major urban developments. Dar Al-Handsah’s master plan for Dubai World Central near Jebel Ali, a 140km2 self-sustaining development intended to provide homes and work for 750,000 people, is just one example. The company has also developed major master plans for dozens of projects in Oman, Yemen, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Egypt. With an impressive portfolio of work, the company’s tireless efforts in hiring young graduates and developing their talents on major developments means Dar Al-Handasah hasn’t forgotten its roots, something its peers could well learn from.

It’s difficult to escape the scale of the $1.5 billion 125 acre Atlantis Hotel resort at the head of the man-made Palm Jumeirah. Even if you’ve never stepped foot on the man-made island, the unmistakeable, salmon-coloured 1500-room Royal Towers hotel dominates the Jumeirah Beach horizon, while the marine and freshwater aquariums with their 50,000 fish, 27,000ft2 shopping centre, 65-acre water park, 2.1km transportation park and world-renowned Dolphin Lagoon all provide the ultimate holiday experience. As the Kerzner-Istithmar Limited joint venture developed, E C Harris’ Dubai’s office was appointed as technical consultants for the $1.1 billion loan facility – reporting to both Istithmar, a Government of Dubai owned Investment Company and Kerzner International Limited, a leading international developer and operator of luxury destination resorts and hotels - in financial, health and safety and environmental aspects of the project. With so much at stake, E C Harris’ role in the project was a pivotal one. E C Harris has an office in Qatar that specialises in commercial, education, healthcare, transport and oil and gas industries, while its Saudi Arabia office works with clients to make the most of their investments in the country’s new Economic City developments.

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While some companies grab headlines with impressive designs and computer generated artists impressions, others like GEMAC get on with the more important tasks of establishing mechanical, electrical, civil, structural and Industrial engineering. The company was founded in Cyprus in 1969 but quickly outgrew its home base and opened its first international offices in the UAE in 1974, then in the Kingdom of Bahrain in 1977. The company’s motto of uncompromised engineering, client loyalty and fairness to all parties has served them well over the years, with a portfolio of work that includes the major installation of infrastructural works throughout the Middle East. GEMAC’s current works include 34 major projects in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar covering in the fields of design and supervision as well as the control and management of Infrastructure and Building Services, Sewage, Water and Electricity distribution systems. The company may only be small, but GEMAC’s reputation for exceptional project delivery makes them the first choice for many government and infrastructural projects.

Very few companies have the international reach and scope of services that multi-disciplinary consultancy Halcrow can boast. With offices in 32 countries and regions around the world, Halcrow has been in the past 55 years and has led the development of some of the regions most iconic modern developments. The most recent is the critically acclaimed Yas Island development in Abu Dhabi that hosted its first ever Formula One race last November. As lead consultant for the £23 billion project’s first phase, Halcrow worked closely with its client Aldar and dedicated 700 employees and half a million hours in to the tight, 30-month schedule to deliver the site’s primary infrastructure in time for the inaugural race. Works included roads, potable water, sewerage, power and irrigation systems, as well as provisions for district cooling and vacuum solid waste – and will serve the island’s future resident population, plus up to 300,000 daily visitors. Halcrow also has offices in Dubai and Sharjah, plus a major project site in Ras Al Khaimah, as well as bases in Oman, Qatar, Iraq and Bahrain.

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There’s nothing like a list of high-profile international projects to underline your company’s reputation for project delivery, quality and technical ability – and Hyder Consulting’s achievements are legendary.
Established in Dubai 45 years ago as a subsidiary to its UK parent company, Hyder Consulting has been behind some of the Middle East’s most iconic projects – including the Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and Ski Dubai. Of the five tallest buildings in the world under construction, Hyder is involved in the design and construction of four of them, including the Burj Khalifa and Pentominium Tower in United Arab Emirates, and Al Quds Tower and Doha Convention Centre and Tower in Qatar. Hyder has also worked closely with architect Eric Kuhne in developing the infrastructure master plan and sustainability reports for the award-winning 56m ft2 Mohammed Bin Rashid Gardens in Dubai; while the infrastructural consultancy work for the 34km2 $20bn Al-Madina Azarqa (Blue City) development in Oman, was another mammoth undertaking.

KEO International Consultants is well versed in the complexity of construction in the Middle East – and its string of international awards, constant rankings as one of the best design and engineering consultancies in the world bears testimony to that.. Established in 1964, the firm’s international reputation for planning and urban development, design, project and construction management, infrastructure and contracts and quantity surveying services is the envy of its competitors. The company is actually structured in to five individual firms following each of those disciplines, with offices in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, the UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Gharbia and Ajman), Saudi Arabia, Kuala Lumpur and Washington DC. KEO handled detailed architectural design and construction supervision of the 7-star Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi which hosted the 2004 GCC summit conference; the new Al Ain Diwan Building in Al Ain for the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region of UAE; Najmat, Al Reem island in Abu Dhabi and five major master plans for urban developments throughout the UAE (Khalifa City A, Mohammed Bin Zayed city, Capital City District, Emerald Gateway ad South of Shamkha).

ALSO READ: 50 Most Admired: Home page | 50 Most Admired: Suppliers | 50 Most Admired: Contractors | 50 Most Admired: Developments | 50 Most Admired: Sub-contractors

Atkins Middle East has forged a formidable reputation for innovative design and project delivery since opening its regional headquarters in Dubai in 1979. The list of accomplishments is huge: the company designed and built the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s landmark seven star hotel; the Bahrain World Trade Centre in Manama, with its twin triangular 240m tall towers and the Dubai Metro system – the world’s largest transport infrastructure project underway in the world. The company served as environmental consultants to the $6 billion Durrat Al Bahrain development that covers an area of 20 km2 and includes the 15 inter-connected islands that make up ‘Durrat Al Bahrain’. It’s not only an inspirational place to work for its ambitious consultancy services and broad remit, but the company’s accolades also extend to distinctions by The Times newspaper as among the 20 Best Big Companies to Work For (2008); and Top 50 Companies Where Women Want to Work (2008). The company was construction sector winner for the third consecutive year in the Target National Graduate Recruitment Awards 2008.

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Latest Issue

Construction Week - Issue 741
May 11, 2019