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Letter from the Editor: Coronavirus hits construction

The coronavirus outbreak has hit businesses hard, but we are seeing signs that the industry can get back up on its feet

Construction Week's editor, Ashley Williams
Image: ITP Media Group
Construction Week's editor, Ashley Williams

As we’re all probably aware, the latest global epidemic – COVID-19 – shows no signs of slowing down as we have witnessed the impact that it is causing on the Middle East’s economy as well as the region’s construction industry.

Logistics have been impacted and factory output has been reduced. It has meant material and equipment suppliers have been unable to meet their obligations. This in turn has adversely impacted progress on construction sites and has resulted in delays.

The effects of the coronavirus has also caused GCC country governments to declare force majeure as part of its precautionary plans to mitigate the spread of the virus, which has resulted in some of the largest construction events and conferences to be unfortunately delayed.

The Kuwait Building Show 2020, which was set to be held on the 4-7 March, was one of the first GCC events to be postponed, while the Oman Design & Build Week and Oman Real Estate Expo were also forced to be rescheduled.

Despite the external events being shifted to other dates, the coronavirus has also hit us at Construction Week, which regrettably led to the postponement of our Leaders in Construction KSA Summit in Riyadh.

Although we were very disappointed with the decision, we are confident that we can produce an informative and exciting conference, which will now take place on the 30 March at the Sheration Hotel & Towers in Riyadh.

The agenda will remain unchanged and we will have all of our exciting speakers back for the new date.

Although the consequential impact of this virus has had far reaching implications on the industry, there is light at the end of the tunnel as businesses prepare to stamp out further disruption.

HKA’s Middle East continent head Haroon Niazi told me a few weeks back that as a business, it has mobilised its crisis management team and implemented certain safety measures to manage the risk of virus spread and to ensure the well-being of its regional staff.

Meanwhile, the Security Council of Expo 2020 Dubai has held a meeting to review the preparedness and response plans for security teams as well as disease prevention protocol before, during, and after the 173-day World Fair.

The meeting discussed the preparations and progress of plans to secure the six-month world expo and talked about the security preparedness at the entry and exit points, as well as free zones.

These are all encouraging signs for the Middle East’s construction industry, and we need to remain positive despite it being difficult to predict when the impact of the coronavirus will cease.

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Construction Week - Issue 764
May 31, 2020