Construction Week Power 100: 71-80

CW's inaugural list of the GCC's most powerful people in construction

Deepak Arora.
Deepak Arora.
Fernando Arteaga.
Fernando Arteaga.
John Griffiths.
John Griffiths.
Power 100, SPECIAL REPORTS
Jesper Godsk.
Jesper Godsk.
Power 100, SPECIAL REPORTS
Khalid Al Najjar.
Khalid Al Najjar.
Thrasos Thrasyvoulou
Thrasos Thrasyvoulou
Power 100, SPECIAL REPORTS
Mark Chandler.
Mark Chandler.

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71. Deepak Arora Managing director DRA Group

Co-ordinating a team of subcontractors is never easy, which is why Deepak Arora prefers to handle everything in house.

As managing director of the DRA Group of nine companies, Arora’s span of expertise has helped land the company a series of lucrative contracts during an otherwise quiet period for the construction industry.

The companies include City Diamond Contracting, MEPTech, Giant Star Trading, DRA Product Design, DRA Group, DRA Logistics, DRA Properties, DRA International and Al Wahda Contracting.

Arora’s reasoning is simple. Priority lies in the company’s main projects, but each subsidiary company is free to pursue contracts individually.

This means that the parent company not only presents a formidable united front when bidding for major contracts, but its subsidiaries can compete for contracts in their specialist fields.

Arora’s City Diamond Contracting is currently working on Kleindienst’s Heart of Europe project, which, at time of writing, was scheduled to have the first of 20 villas to be built on Germany island completed, and a clubhouse erected on Monte-Carlo island, by the end of the year.

Next: Fernando Arteaga, Hirsch Bedner Associates

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72. Fernando Arteaga
Associate managing director
Hirsch Bedner Associates

Fernando Arteaga has over 16 years of planning, architecture and design experience. As associate managing director at Hirsch Bedner Associates Dubai, his responsibilities include space planning, concept and design development, engineering coordination, project management and serving as a client liaison.

Arteaga’s expertise lies in resort master-planning, full service hotel design, F&B entertainment services and conceptual branding.

Alongside his hospitality experience, he brings an understanding of project viability and profitability for multi-residential towers, mixed-use buildings, retail and commercial developments.

Prior to HBA, he worked with Gensler, The Rockwell Group, Legorreta Architects and well-known international developers on projects throughout the Middle East, Asia, USA and Latin America.

He sits on the board of directors of the Association of Professional Interior Designers, which promotes ideals of the industry to governments.

“I’ve always thought that if you want to succeed as a professional you need to give back to the community and the best way to do that is through education,” he said.

Next: John Griffiths, Gulf Countries

 

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73. John Griffiths
President, Schneider Electric
Gulf Countries

While many MEP companies will spend the next few years running to catch up with demands placed on them by developers that want more environmentally-sound buildings, Schneider Electric is already there.

Major players in 190 countries around the globe, the company’s Gulf operations include branches in every GCC country.

In addition, the firm also has interests in the wider Middle East, Asia and North Africa.

Schneider-Electric’s remit is rather simple in theory: to make energy safe, reliable, efficient and productive.

But it’s a complex operation that takes the correct technical measures, monitoring and implementing to maximise returns – and it’s here where Schneider’s expertise excels.

Under Griffiths, the company has forged impressive territory in the GCC since it was first established in the region 30 years ago. Through its network of six regional sales offices, Schneider Electric employs over 800 employees and works with 80 channel partners, serving the Gulf economy by providing complete solutions for all its power and control needs.

Next: John Stuart, Al Raha International Integrated Facilities Management LLC

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74. John Stuart
Director of FM
Al Raha International Integrated Facilities Management LLC

With a brand new F1 track, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island development is one of the more tantalising to have come to fruition over the last two years. And right there, in the mix, ensuring every surface was spotless, every shiny-bit buffed and every worker was fed, was John Stuart and Al Raha International Integrated Facilities Management.

ARIIFM is more than simply an FM services provider. The company was formed as a 50:50 joint venture between property developers Aldar and National Catering in 2009 to provide tailored FM packages to a wide range of customers and industries.

Securing the Yas Marina Circuit contract was just the start of an exceptionally busy 18 months for Stuart and the Al Raha team.

The company also provides catering for the Yas Island Operatives Villages – six worker villages with a combined capacity of 45,000 – while also providing FM services to clients in Raha Beach, the downtown Abu Dhabi area, Mussafah and Yas Island projects (including the Links).

The company’s current major project is the Ferrari World theme park – with a looming deadline for opening set for late October, the team is likely to be in the public eye once again very soon.

Other projects include work with Mubadala in Al Ain on an aircraft factory. This means ensuring a clean working environment for medical teams, presenting some rather unique challenges for the group.

Al Raha currently employs around 3,000 people on its various contracts.

Next: Jesper Godsk, LW Design

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75. Jesper Godsk
Creative partner
LW Design

LW Design has spent the last ten years designing some of the region’s most iconic hotels. The company’s bulging portfolio features such hospitality royalty as Raffles Dubai, Grosvenor House, The Media One hotel and Hyatt Regency Dubai, to name but a few.

Conceived solely as a hospitality interior design practice, LW Design Group was established in 1999. It added an architectural arm in 2003, expanded into graphics in 2005 and then in spring 2006, established an engineering division.

Jesper Godsk is one of the three founding members of the company and commonly recognised as its “creative whirlwind”. According to Godsk, the secret of a successful hospitality project lies in creating a holistic experience.

“There are so many nice rooms on the market now so it’s very difficult to come up with a new and innovative room concept. You need more than just a good room now, you have to have the whole package, so the lobby, the people and the service. Restaurants and bars have also become a major factor. And location, of course.”

Next: Dilip Sinha, Honeywell, Electrical Devices and Systems (EDS)

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76. Dilip Sinha
General Manager
Honeywell, Electrical Devices and Systems (EDS)

Sinha, who is an electrical engineer as well as holding an MBA, has been in the region for about 25 years, moving across Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Oman. “I started with the power industry – generation, transmission and distribution. I was involved in that industry in the Middle East for almost five to seven years.

“Then I moved into controls and automation, which had more to do with oil and gas, the biggest sector in the region. Then a little over nine years back I moved to Honeywell; my direct involvement in the business which I lead in the region is construction. So if you look at it, I have been involved in all three key areas in the region – power, oil and gas and construction.”

This scope of service has given Sinha a unique perspective on the evolution of the GCC.

“I have seen the boom of the early 1980s, the oil-price crash in 1986 and 1987 and its impact on the Middle East. I have seen the bust of the 1990s, the Gulf War, the slowdown for the next seven to eight years actually, and the subsequent boom, particularly in Dubai, followed by the impact of the most recent economic downturn.”

“There are other parts of the region with a lot of
activity and potential, but in terms of infrastructure,
Dubai really stands head and shoulders above the rest.”

Dilip Sinha

Next: Khalid Al Najjar, dxb lab

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77. Khalid Al Najjar
Principal
dxb lab

As principal of local Dubai firm dxb lab, America-trained, Emirati-born Khaled Al Najjar has made a quite a name for himself in the region over the last ten years.

Al Najjar has won a slew of awards, including last year’s MEA Architect of the Year, and in 2004, the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Award for Best Design Business.

As well as running his firm in Dubai, Al Najjar is a lecturer at the American University of Sharjah.

He has also lectured at US universities including Princeton, NJ. As an architect, Al Najjar is often commended for bringing his knowledge of Emirati culture and history to a contemporary vernacular, influenced strongly by a decade as Head of Detail Planning Unit at Dubai Municipality.

Next: Thrasos Thrasyvoulou, Al-Habtoor Specon

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78. Thrasos Thrasyvoulou
Managing director
Al-Habtoor Specon

MEP contractor Al Habtoor-Specon has shown strong growth despite the downturn, and managing director Thrasos Thrasyvoulou says he knows why.

The company doubled its turnover from 2008 to 2009, and has enough projects in hand “to grow 50% this year as well,” – a remarkable achievement given the detrimental effects the downturn has had on businesses throughout the region.

“Our strategic planning for the next three years is based on a growth rate of 25% a year, based on our projections and the specific jobs which we are being called to tender on. This is reasonable growth under the circumstances,” says Thrasyvoulou. “Our aim is to get involved in projects with other major contractors in the region and abroad, and to have exposure to a broader client base.”

Thrasyvoulou’s positive outlook is not new. When CW’s sister magazine MEP Middle East spoke to him in July 2009, he was similarly confident, this time that the firm was well on its way to an impressive AED2 billion turnover.

Next: Dr Bader al Harasheh, The Center of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi

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79. Dr Bader al Harasheh
Director General
The Center of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi

One of the more proactive sustainability authorities currently in operation is Abu Dhabi’s Centre of Waste Management, a body established to coordinate the policy, strategy and contractual systems of waste management across the emirate.

Under the stewardship of Al Harasheh, the centre has developed policies to cover waste planning, licensing and permitting; data collection and management; contract management; waste policy, regulation and guidance; setting standards - competence and technology; communication and stakeholder engagement and legacy.

It’s a far-reaching brief, and one that’s designed to reduce the impact the emirate’s 5.9 million tonnes of annual household, construction, commercial, medical, marine, packaging and hazardous waste has on the environment.

The Centre is working closely with the Emirates Environmental Group, Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Masdar - Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, TAQA (Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC) and Zonescorp to improve waste management across the entire emirate. Its policies are being considered by other regional authorities.

Next: Mark Chandler, Theiss Services

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80. Mark Chandler
C&D Recycling Manager
Theiss Services

The construction industry in Abu Dhabi produces an enormous amount of waste on a daily basis – but a recycling project in the emirate is ensuring that as much waste material as possible is turned into valuable aggregate again.

The project, by Thiess Services Middle East – a joint venture between Al Habtoor Leighton Group and Australia’s Thiess Services – is headed on site by Mark Chandler and has the dual purpose of ensuring nothing valuable enters landfills, and by taking the material and turning it into aggregate, ready to be re-used in suitable construction projects.

In fact, all construction waste filters through the plant – and it’s up to Thiess staff to sift out what it can use, and dispose of the what it can’t.

In addition, The Center of Waste Management Abu Dhabi – the government client behind the project – has developed regulations that will mean all construction and demolition waste will have to be recycled.

“The beauty of recycled concrete is that you can actually recycle it endlessly, it doesn’t wear out,” said Chandler. “It’s a wonderful resource for recycling.”

Next: Trisha Wilson, Wilson Associates

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