K&A started as an architectural firm and later diversified into other sectors such as energy and transport. Do you plan to further expand your business lines?
The founders of K&A did not want to depend on just one sector in our business, so from the start the vision was to expand beyond architecture. They proved to be correct, based on our sustainable presence and growth over the years. We ventured into environmental engineering and transportation, partnering with American and European firms, leveraging their expertise, and eventually becoming independent and quickly growing into those fields. Later, every few years we expanded into other sectors, and that expansion continues today. We just completed a three-year restructuring of our company whereby our expansion has become more formalized and integrates and unifies all the offices under a new structure.
How do your operations in the US compare to doing business in this region?
Our business in the US was difficult, slow, and not as successful as we had hoped, and as such we are undergoing a complete reorganization. As for our other offices in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, and North Africa, we are well established; we opened the Syria office in 1995, before the troubles started. However, we are currently involved in certain projects in Damascus, though we operate from Beirut and not Syria. We have three offices in Palestine in Ramallah, Nablus, and Gaza. The first two are doing relatively fine, and projects there continue. As for the one in Gaza, the siege and lack of construction materials have created a deadlock, so everything is on hold. We have heard things will improve and that aid will come from other countries and institutions, so we hope things there will move forward soon. Our Egypt operation now employs around 800 people and the business and prospects look good and promising. We also opened a new office in India last year as well as new offices in Africa; Gabon opened in 2012, Mozambique in 2015, and we will also have an office in Ethiopia. We have our sights set on Africa and expect good progress there.
Expo 2020 has resulted in more hotels being built in Sharjah to accommodate the expected influx. Will those hotels and other buildings benefit Sharjah in the long run?
It will benefit Sharjah if tourism sector activities increase. Otherwise, we run the risk of having low occupation rates. With added activities and promotion of tourism in Sharjah, those hotels can become busier after the Expo. The biggest benefit will be seen in Dubai. However, Sharjah is extending great effort to expand its tourism sector, with initiatives such as the promotion of heritage tourism in the desert, for example.
What are your priorities and goals for the coming few years?
We have many objectives. We are ranked 39th in the top-200 ENR Consulting companies worldwide; however, our goal is to improve this ranking. We are also rated among the top-10 consulting firms in the Middle East region. Our goal is to increase our overall revenue and work on our new reorganization to strengthen our capabilities and give our staff the chance to build and enhance their skills and capabilities to better meet clients' needs and serve them. Our clients' interests are crucial to our business, and we always ask them how we can improve our services and what we can do better to fully meet their expectations. We have annual revenues of around USD400 million, and we want to expand that further in the coming years. A great deal of this also depends on what happens in the region. Egypt, for example, is a big market with plenty of potential. Overall, the outlook is promising.