Can you provide an overview of Gulf Precast and its positive impact on the construction sector?
Gulf Precast has the largest precast manufacturing capacity in the UAE, with six plants and dozens of construction sites being developed at any point in time. At present, thanks to the initiatives taken by the public sector, we are working on new schools, hundreds of villas in Mirfa, a port extension, an airport extension, a data center in Al Ain, a presidential guard command center, and a prison. We are also participating in numerous private projects, ranging from villas to high-rise towers, factories, mosques, and shopping centers. With 35 years of experience, Gulf Precast is involved in extremely diverse construction projects, both in the UAE and in neighboring countries. Precast is similar to Lego construction. The pieces are manufactured in our factory and transported to a construction site where they are assembled. This technology enables for better, faster, safer, and more environmentally friendly construction.
What are some of the notable projects that you have been involved in?
We have been played a key role in the Emirate's growth over the past 35 years. Some of the notable projects we have done in Abu Dhabi are the Midfield Airport Terminal, New York University, Mariam Um Issa Mosque, and Al Wahda mall. We have also been engaged in infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges, including projects for Etihad Rail and the oil and gas sector. So far, we have completed over AED6 billion worth of projects. Our work always starts with a phase of study carried out by the 50 engineers in our technical department. They ensure the structural soundness of the project and design it in a way that maximizes safety and minimizes construction costs.
With the oil price stabilizing and renewed optimism in the market, what opportunities do you foresee?
For a company such as Gulf Precast, a long period of market slowdown is highly damaging. Over
the past three years, the government has reduced its spending drastically, and as a result, we were running at 15 to 20% of our capacity in Abu Dhabi. We are hopeful that the government will be releasing about AED60 billion in construction projects and a similar amount in oil and gas projects, providing a much-needed boost to the construction industry. In order to revitalize the construction sector, the government should not only launch projects, but also ensure the fluidity of the payment system. The precast industry is suffering from an endemic lack of cash liquidity, as the first progress payment certificate is received after site assembly, while expenses related to design, production, and transport have already been incurred. It is thus critical for the government to settle the construction work on time and ensure that the main contractors pay their subcontractors on time.
How do you see increased sustainability regulations helping the precast sector?
Sustainability is directing construction toward precast solutions, which are highly sustainable products. They provide thermal insulation and meet many criteria in terms of Abu Dhabi's sustainability drive. They also ensure better long-term product quality, as all elements are produced under strict quality control in a factory environment. In addition, most of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process are sourced in the UAE or its neighboring countries, reducing the carbon footprint considerably.
What is the impact of technology on the precast industry?
Numerous new materials and technologies have been recently developed, such as nanotechnology and carbon reinforcement. The government plays a critical leadership role in this. In the forthcoming projects, the government should impose the use of new technologies that can enhance the sustainability of the projects, even at a marginally additional cost. Gulf Precast has a strong reputation for successfully using state-of- the-art solutions by capitalizing on its engineering capabilities and experienced employees. For example, we were selected to assemble the first 3D-printed construction in Dubai.