How does your current portfolio reflect recent economic trends in Abu Dhabi and what future projects do you hope to engage with?
Overall, 2018 was a positive year for Trojan Holding. We engaged in many notable projects, including the Water's Edge project which was a waterfront infrastructure development from Aldar as well as Emaar's Sidra and Rove La Mer. These projects add significant value to the economy in a number of ways. They allowed us to also hire more employees and apply new expertise. Additionally, we have opened new branches as a developer and have now acquired land in both Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Furthermore, we are planning to open international branches, with a hub office in Saudi Arabia also on the horizon. Our diverse competences stretch throughout many of the core building disciplines such as infrastructure, design and development.
What was the driving force behind entering the Saudi Arabian market?
We have started subsidiary work in Saudi Arabia already, with one project being worked on with SABIC. This is a factory for Reem Aluminum. There's also Hitech, for cement products. There is significant demand in Saudi with the need for infrastructural development, commercial, cultural and educational buildings. The government has a different vision now and this provides us with promising opportunities in areas including Jeddah and Dammam. We are in the tendering stage, which will lead us to start in one region, get involved in a project, and work in other regions to grow sustainably.
What are the challenges and opportunities when it comes to using innovative technology and materials? How are you incorporating these in your operations?
The UAE is an open place for people who have talent and who think creatively. The government embraces innovation by easing regulations and supporting technological development. Technology is being applied at every stage of the life cycle; design, operation, handover, and then maintenance. It is my vision to have a ready-made product that we can sell to our clients. I want to make the most efficient and flexible design that can be modified. Our clients can propose a budget and we can provide a list of options available based on premade designs. This will allow us to offer competitive prices, identify mistakes, and develop a product for our clients pre-designed stock. A database would allow us to achieve this. Robotics and drones are technologies we anticipate will have greater use across the entire industry in years to come. We already use drones to map project sites and this improves efficiency and allows us to reduce costs.
Does price sensitivity across the local construction sector hinder the adoption of new technology and materials?
Price is always a driver. When new technology is made available it is never priced according to the cost of the material. It is priced according to the cycle of the project. Cheaper material isn't always a good thing. We want material with a longer life span that can be adaptable for the future and will give a better result during the project life cycle. Looking at the price alone does not reflect everything, but it depends on the client and the cycle. In the current cycle there is concern about pricing, but price engineering is always a good solution in the end. We are seen as a turnkey contractor that knows everything, even the minute details. You can change tiles from porcelain to ceramic, for example. Ceramic chips more easily, but it is reasonably priced. A client can take the risk or pay more to have a higher quality product that doesn't need to be replaced as often. Overall, business cycles correct the issues in the industry itself. By slowing down, there will be both correction and a willingness to address issues relating to regulations, resources, efficiency, and productivity.
How do you engage with sustainability across your operations and how successful has the Estidama rating system been in delivering sustainability across Built Environment?
Estidama started a long time ago, and today we have evidence of how successful it is. We used to have the highest consumption per capita of electricity and water. Today, culturally, people have a greater awareness of sustainable practices. We are building in a better way. I believe it is a positive point in our culture, which began about 10 years ago. Moreover, this extends to include the materials that are most easily recycled, and how they can be used properly. Moreover, I believe the UAE has built an environmentally aware culture and we are in a better place than 10 years ago.
What are your expectations for Expo 2020, and how do you expect demand for your services to evolve in the years ahead?
We have positive expectations for Expo 2020. While it does represent only one step up the mountain we wish to climb, it is a big step. The UAE will continue hosting events that bring new ideas to the country. We have our own unique platform. As long as people want to live in this country, we are here to build. The country's growth plans always come into being, you can see evidence of this in our country's history. We can anticipate the future due to our recent experiences. From that plan, we are going to be busy for at least 40-50 years.