2019 CW Power 100: New Middle East construction leaders debut

EXCLUSIVE: Meet the industry leaders that entered the Construction Week Power 100 ranking for the first time in 2019

The 2019 CW Power 100 was released in June.
The 2019 CW Power 100 was released in June.

The 2019 Construction Week Power 100 has been unveiled and more than 20 new entrants – from Acwa Power's Paddy Padmanathan to Ssangyong's Joon Hun Kim – made the list this year. 

The following article sheds light on the new leaders that found their way into the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 list, which include: 

  • Joon Hun Kim, Ssangyong E&C
  • Craig Muir, SNC-Lavalin
  • Paddy Padmanathan, Acwa Power
  • Riyadh Al Saleh, Kharafi National
  • Abdulrahman Almofadhi, Sreco
  • Dong Wook Park, Hyundai E&C
  • Mike Haigh, Mott Macdonald
  • Saleh Abdullah Lootah, Lootah Real Estate Development
  • Scott McCulloch, ISG
  • Talal Shair, Dar Al-Handasah
  • Christian Laugier, Egis
  • Carlos Hernandez, Fluor
  • Adnan Nalwala, Al Ansari Trading
  • Richard Stratton, Cundall
  • A R Suresh Kumar, Voltas
  • Ayman Asfari, Petrofac
  • Linh Austin, McDermott
  • Zheng Jianhua, Shanghai Electric
  • Jae-Hyun Ahn, SK Engineering and Construction
  • Johan Hesselsøe, Atkins Acuity
  • Mohammed Abdullah Al Fouzan, Al Fouzan Trading

The 10th annual Construction Week Power 100, our annual ranking of the most influential individuals working within the Middle East’s construction sector, was published on 29 June, 2019, and can be read here.

The individuals included in the 2019 Power 100 – and their respective positions – have been selected based on publicly available information and details submitted directly to Construction Week. The editorial team has spent months discussing who deserves to be featured, and in what order. The final rankings reflect our collective decision, which was made based on the most pertinent information available.

Joon Hun Kim
Ssangyong E&C 
HQ: South Korea

Joon Hun Kim is the managing director of South Korea’s Ssangyong Engineering & Construction Company’s (Ssangyong E&C) operation in the Middle East.

One of the key contract wins for Ssangyong E&C in the past 12 months was a $169m contract from UAE-based Wasl Asset Management Group (Wasl) for Dubai 1 Residence – a 44-storey residential building in Wasl’s community development project in Dubai.

The contracting giant is also working on Dubai-based megaproject, the $1.4bn (AED5.14bn), 46-storey, 800-room Royal Atlantis Resort & Residences development on the Palm Jumeirah.

In addition, the company is working on the Andaz Hotel by Hyatt in Jumeirah 1 District in Dubai’s La Mer – a seven-floor, 156-key hotel that is slated to complete in 2020. This will be the firm’s sixth project since its re-entry into Dubai’s construction market in 2015.

According to intelligence platform ProTenders, Ssangyong E&C is also working on ICD Brookfield Place – a 54-storey commercial tower located in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The project’s office tower and retail building will be connected by pedestrian walkways, and will have underground parking facilities that can accommodate 2,700 vehicles. The development will also contain 1,672 m2 of public areas flanked by restaurants.

Other major projects for Ssangyong E&C include the company’s involvement – as part of a joint venture with Trojan – as the lead works contractor at the Deira Enrichment Project by Dubai-headquartered real estate developer Ithra Dubai.

Craig Muir
HQ: Canada

A relatively new entry to the Construction Week Power 100 rankings, Craig Muir was appointed president of resources at Canadian engineering and contracting firm SNC-Lavalin, effective 8 April.

Based in the UAE, Muir is responsible for leading the company’s global resources sector, including the oil and gas, and mining and metallurgy markets.

Among the company's portfolio is a $70m contract to provide engineering and procurement services for Meydan Group’s Mahra, Jeyad, and Forsan 132/11kV substations for Meydan One. 

Paddy Padmanathan
Acwa Power
HQ: Saudi Arabia

A veteran in the construction industry, with more than 35 years of experience, Paddy Padmanathan joined Saudi Arabia-based Acwa Power in 2006 as the chief executive officer.

The company, which is backed by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, is developing the 5,000MW Mohammed Bin Rashid Solar Park along with Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and China’s Silk Road Fund. The project has netted total investments of $13.6bn (AED50bn).

Riyadh Al Salaeh
Kharafi National 
HQ: Kuwait


Led by chairman and chief executive officer Riyadh Al Saleh, Kuwait-based investment, design, engineering, construction, and facilities management company Kharafi National has a 22,700-strong, multinational workforce.

The company is currently carrying out engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) work for the expansion of Sulaibiya Wastewater Treatment & Reclamation Plant in Kuwait. Upon completion of the project – which is due in 2030, according to Kharafi National – the plant’s capacity will increase from 375,000m3 to 600,000m3 a day.

Abdulrahman Almofadhi
Al Akaria Real Estate Company (Sreco)
HQ: Saudi Arabia

Al Akaria Real Estate Company (Sreco) is led by chairman Abdulrahman Almofadhi. The Saudi Arabian builder has plans to build Al Widyan, a 700ha, mixed-use project in Riyadh’s northern corridor. Announced in August last year, Phase 1 construction activities are expected to cost $2.7bn (SAR10bn).

Speaking to Construction Week in August 2018, Almofadhi said: “Co-developers and sub-developers will be able to enjoy significantly shorter go-to-market timelines, making the project an attractive investment opportunity with fast and efficient procedures that will cut through bureaucracy and remove the need to engage with central government authorities.”

Dong Wook Park
Hyundai E&C
HQ: South Korea


A new entry to the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 is the president and chief executive officer of Korean Stock Exchange-listed Hyundai Engineering and Construction (E&C), Dong-Wook Park.

Hyundai E&C was the main contractor for Kuwait’s Sheikh Jaber Causeway, a 48.5km-long bridge that was built at a cost of $2.6bn (KWD790m) to reduce the travel time between Kuwait City and Subiyah New Town.

Mike Haigh
Mott Macdonald


Making his debut in the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 is the newly appointed chairman of UK-based construction consultancy Mott Macdonald, Mike Haigh. Haigh replaces Keith Howells, who will be retiring after serving 45 years at the firm.

Haigh was the group’s managing director since 2017, and previously served as the regional managing director for Mott Macdonald’s Europe and Africa business, as well as its Middle East and South Asia unit.

The firm is currently working on New Zealand’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai site, along with Abu Dhabi-based Italian builder Cimolai Rimond Middle East.

Saleh Abdullah Lootah
Lootah Real Estate Development 

The chief executive officer of Lootah Real Estate Development (LRED), Saleh Abdullah Lootah, has been busy over the past 12 months as he charts the real estate development company's growth in its home market, the UAE. 

In June 2019, LRED launched the Senaeyat Industrial Hub project, which comprises pre-built warehouses in Dubai Industrial Park, close to the Expo 2020 Dubai site and Al Maktoum International airport. The property’s units will be sold under a lease-to-own agreement model.

LRED is also set to launch Living Garden homes, comprising studio and one-bedroom units spanning between 28m2 and 111m2, in the Dubai’s Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) residential neighbourhood, close to the Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Al Khail roads.

Scott McCulloch


Scott McCulloch has spent seven years at ISG and took up his current role as general manager for the Middle East a year ago.

On the fit-out company's future plans, he says: “ISG will be imminently recruiting labourers to ensure self-delivery and to uphold quality of delivery.”

In 2018, ISG Group recorded profits of $2.9bn, and the Middle East division of the firm has been achieving average year-on-year growth of 18% since 2007.

Recent projects for the firm include work at W Dubai – The Palm, on the hotel’s Akira Back Restaurant and SoBe Lounge; and on the Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority office and Federal Tax Authority offices.

Talal Shair
Dar Al-Handasah
HQ: Lebanon

Making his debut in the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 is the chairman and chief executive officer of Beirut-headquartered design, planning, and management consultancy, Dar Al-Handasah.

The company employs 9,850 staff members across 40 offices in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with five principal design centres located in Beirut; Cairo; London; Amman; and Pune, India.

Dar Al-Handasah was appointed as the design and supervision consultant — along with SSH — for Kuwait’s 48.5km-long Sheikh Jaber Causeway, which was built at a cost of $2.6bn (KWD790m) by Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Combined Group Contracting.

Christian Laugier
HQ: France

A 36-year veteran of French engineering group Egis, Christian Laugier has served as chief executive officer of the multi-service consultancy’s Middle East business unit for the past 12 years.

For the current fiscal year – covering the 12-month period ending 31 December, 2019 – the value of the company’s projected revenue stands at $150m, 75% of which has already been secured.

Dubai-based Laugier is overseeing 570 full-time, qualified engineers this year, a 20-person increase on 2018’s corresponding figure.

In 2018, Egis generated 13% of its total revenue in the Middle East, according to the group’s website.

Carlos Hernandez

A new entry in the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 is the newly appointed chief executive officer of US-based engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and maintenance firm, Fluor. Hernandez joined the company in 2007 and worked in various executive roles before being appointed CEO.

With more than 53,000 employees in over 100 countries, Fluor currently maintains four offices in the Middle East, and has offered its services to clients in the region for more than 70 years. 

In March 2019, ground was broken on Halliburton’s plant at the ethylene oxide/ propylene oxide cluster of Plaschem Value Park in Jubail Industrial City 2, which Fluor is building. This came a month after the Texas-headquartered contractor won an EPC contract for Saudi Arabia Basic Corporation’s polyphenylene ether resin plant in Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands.

Adnan Nalwala
Al Ansari

HQ: Oman

Adnan Nalwala is the executive director of Oman-based builder Al Ansari, which operates in three verticals – construction, building materials, and engineering products. Nalwala says the company has continued to grow despite a general market-wide reduction in demand over the last 12 months.

Richard Stratton

Main board director at multi-service consultancy Cundall, Richard Stratton, oversaw $10.6m in revenues in the 12-month period ending 30 June, and this value is projected to hit $14.3m for the upcoming fiscal year, with $5.3m already secured. Stratton says Saudi Arabia and the entertainment sector are two key areas of opportunity for the group going forward.

A R Suresh Kumar
HQ: India

A new entry to the Construction Week Power 100 this year, senior general manager of operations at Tata-group backed Voltas, A R Suresh Kumar, joined the Indian conglomerate in 1995 and was appointed to his current role in December 2018.

During the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Conference UAE 2019, Kumar told Construction Week: “Either governments or [a global] association should introduce regulations to make sure that all the issues faced by MEP contractors [...] are resolved with clients, contractors, and consultants.”

In the financial year ending March 2019, the company posted an 11.3% drop in consolidated net profit compared to the previous year.

Ayman Asfari
HQ: Jersey

Another new entry to the Construction Week Power 100 this year, Ayman Asfari established Petrofac International in 1991 and, 11 years later, became the chief executive officer of the firm, where he is responsible for its operational and financial performance.

Oil services company Petrofac has been involved as the EPC contractor for the Salalah Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Project in Oman, which had recorded 60% completion as of May 2019. 

In June 2018, Petrofac was awarded its third engineering, procurement, and construction management (EPCM) contract by Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). Valued at $75m, and covering a period of 10 years, the contract is for the Mabrouk North East Line Pipe Procurement Project in the sultanate.

Linh Austin

Based in the UAE, Linh Austin currently serves as vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region at US engineering, procurement, construction, and installation company McDermott.

McDermott has inked several major contracts across the Middle East since the start of this year, with companies including Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), and Saudi Aramco

Zheng Jianhua
Shanghai Electric
HQ: China

Another new entry to the 2019 Construction Week Power 100, the chairman and chief executive officer of Shanghai Electric, Zheng Jianhua, has been with the company since 2004. He has more than 30 years of experience in the equipment manufacturing business.

Shanghai Electric has been delivering EPC services for the $13.6bn (AED50bn) MBR Solar Park, which is being co-developed by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Acwa Power.

Jae-Hyun Ahn
HQ: South Korea

A new entry to the 2019 Construction Week Power 100 is the president and chief executive officer of South Korea-based SK Engineering and Construction (SKEC), Jae-Hyun Ahn.

In February, SKEC was awarded an EPC contract valued at $1.2bn (AED4.4bn) by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) to construct the largest single storage facility in the emirate of Fujairah.

Approximately 50% of the contract spend will feed back into the UAE economy through Adnoc’s In-Country Value programme, it was announced at the time of the contract award.

Johan Hesselsøe
Atkins Acuity

Managing director Johan Hesselsøe has led Atkins Acuity – a strategic and financial advisory consultancy that is part of SNC-Lavalin Group – for the past three years.

In addition to his current role at Atkins Acuity, Hesselsøe also oversees Atkins’ East Africa business. During the last 12 months, the group successfully launched its Building People Leaders programme.

The group is also piloting a new employee training and professional development initiative called Deliberate Development – a scheme that starts with a two-month pilot programme designed to accelerate the development of each individual consultant.

The group’s Middle East chief says that the most important geographic markets for Atkins Acuity this year will be Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Mohammed Abdullah Al Fouzan
Al Fouzan Trading and General Construction
HQ: Saudi Arabia


Rounding out the 2019 Power 100 is Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al Fouzan, the chairman of Saudi Arabia-based Al Fouzan Trading and General Construction, the firm behind the 1km-tall Jeddah Tower, which was previously known as the Kingdom Tower.

In May 2019, the company won a contract from Bahrain’s Arabian Gulf University (AGU) to construct King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Academic Medical Centre, a project within the Saudi-funded King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Medical City.

The firm has previously completed hospital, medical city, and residential projects in Saudi Arabia and it lists Jeddah Economic City Phase 1 and Darb Al Haramain Development Project Phase 1 among the projects currently under construction in the kingdom.

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