STAYING AHEAD OF TRENDS

Abu Dhabi 2019 | URBAN PLANNING, REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hamad Al Ameri, Managing Director of Trojan Holding, on expansion outside the UAE, the role of robotics in the construction sector, and adopting sustainable practices.

Hamad Al Ameri
BIOGRAPHY
Hamad Al Ameri serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of Trojan Holding, where he leads the growth strategy of both the holding company and its subsidiaries, which has resulted in the company expanding from a small base to a team of over 21,000 employees. In November 2015, he has joined the Aldar Properties Board of Directors, bringing significant experience from the construction industry as well as in the fields of business growth and management. He holds a number of board positions and a degree in civil engineering and a master’s in business administration.

Can you describe the evolution of your portfolio and how it reflects recent economic trends in Abu Dhabi?

Trojan Holding was founded in 2009 with 50 employees. After months of diligent work, we were granted our first major contract, with the Institute of Applied Technology in 2010, and continued this momentum into early 2013 by winning a contract for 5,000 villas in Al Ain. Trojan Holding started to expand outside the UAE in 2013 with projects in Seychelles, Jordan, Russia, Morocco, Serbia, and Belarus, among others. In 2015, we started to expand into the Dubai market and worked with the largest developers in the Emirate, such as Emaar, Nakheel, and Damac. The economic crisis in 2008-2009 forced many companies to suspend operations, but we managed to remain active. We expect to maintain this steady growth in the year on the back of strong contract wins during 2017. In the medium term, the residential segment shows the greatest potential; the region is the main producer of oil and gas in the world, and has traditionally been a potential market for us. In addition, population growth in the UAE and the GCC creates more opportunities across the board, from hospitality to utilities. Our five-year plan includes expansion to other areas, for example, opening a branch in Saudi Arabia. We aim to diversify our activities and go beyond residential real estate, with plans to include power plants and oil and gas construction projects.

How can the UAE, and specifically Abu Dhabi, strike a balance between attracting foreign talent and developing local skills?

The UAE is a large, ambitious country with a medium-sized population. Of the 9.4 million inhabitants, approximately 1 million are Emiratis. However, I do not see an imbalance or competition; we are a multicultural country. In an attempt to create a local skilled workforce, we launched a countrywide vocational initiative that offered 100 of the UAE's engineering students an opportunity to gain some invaluable experience at Trojan Holding. Proud of our heritage as a local company, we always look for locals to work with us. A company that wants to work and expand across the world requires a multicultural approach.

How is technology shaping the construction and real estate industries?

The UAE is one of the most advanced countries in terms of adopting technologies and robotics, ranging from software to materials and management. If we compare our volume of construction to other countries, we are extremely efficient and productive. Trojan Holding has adapted new technologies across the board, from aluminum to water works, construction sites, logistics, new equipment, and architecture and construction methodology. Technology has a greater role to play across the construction sector, including design, planning, and management. However, the greatest potential is found in using robotics on construction sites. Although it is in its early stages, we will see a massive jump in this field within five years. The government will have to ensure that state-of-the-art technologies are available to help create safe and sustainable growth. We expect the public sector to test and investigate new technologies that are appropriate and sustainable, and to adopt these across all sectors. In the past, for example, design and construction parameters were standardized across all types of housing.

Where do you see the greatest growth risks for Trojan Holding and the construction sector in Abu Dhabi?

The world is changing the way it consumes energy, and this will of course have some impact on oil rich cities like Abu Dhabi. Fortunately, the UAE has contained the problem arising from fluctuations in the oil and gas market. Moreover, the government has been studying the risks and is trying to further stabilize growth. On our side, there has been an effort to shift from traditional and conventional ways to more sustainable practices. These include using solar panels, more environmentally friendly materials, and lower fuel consumption equipment. We have launched many initiatives at Trojan Holding and these fall in line with Vision 2021 and Vision 2030.