BUILD IT BIGGER

Oman 2015 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Vedat Koca, Country Manager of STFA Construction Group, on the massive infrastructure projects underway in the Sultanate, and tips on the business environment.

Vedat Koca
BIOGRAPHY
Vedat Koca graduated from Istanbul Technical University in 1983 as a Civil Engineer, and in 1986 he obtained an MSc in Hydraulics. He joined STFA Construction Group in 1987 and has worked for several infrastructure projects in different senior positions under STFA Group. He has been Country Manager (Oman) for STFA Group since 2010. As the Country Manager, Vedat Koca has spearheaded innovation within the organization to serve the clients better, as well as to provide an enhanced workplace for all employees.

What is the importance of Oman for STFA?

The Sultanate of Oman is a country where STFA, having successfully completed several iconic projects since 2000, can play a major role in Oman's construction industry and enjoy long-term growth. We find Oman to be a secure place, as the regulations are applied and the business community follows them.

How would you assess the importance of Duqm for the nation, and what were the main challenges during this project?

Being a part of the construction and development of the new Port of Duqm, and as an international Turkish company, STFA successfully completed and delivered the project. Since the Port of Duqm will play a vital role in Oman's transportation sector, as well as in ongoing investments in other sectors, STFA's participation in the construction of the port has remarkably consolidated its reputation in the entire region. In Duqm, we didn't face any major obstacles other than those resulting from natural sea conditions.

You have been awarded the OMR40 million coastal road project in the Musandam governorate. What other iconic projects do you have in your portfolio?

STFA has recently received the letter of commencement for the Mussanah Sewage Network project from the MRM&WR. We are also waiting for the letter of commencement from the Musannah Fishery Harbor. The government is putting much importance on the fisheries sector, making a huge investment in this field; during the signing ceremony for one of our fisheries projects, the Minister himself confessed that Oman has never invested such a consistent amount of money in this sector. We are currently involved in two fishery harbor projects, and we are joining the tender for the Duqm fishing harbor as well, in a joint venture with CCC. We are waiting for the results of that tender. As concerns the megaproject category, we are submitting for pre-qualification on the Mirbat Naval Base project floated by the Ministry of Defense.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities faced when working in this country?

Information passes very slowly between departments, and you have to monitor the process carefully. Omanization is also another major issue for us. In our sector, we are required to achieve 30% Omanization, but we are not able to find the right sort of qualified people and to solve this we are conducting in-house training. This is not enough, and we are still not finding the right people. We even have Omanis taking the course and then leaving, and the reason that they do this is because the Omani government pays good money to qualified individuals with experience in international organizations, such as ourselves. Omanis prefer to work in the public sector, because they consider working for international companies as a risk, because we may leave once a contract is over.

How does your experience in Oman help STFA to develop projects in other countries in the region?

In the Middle East, apart from the Sultanate of Oman, we are active in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, and the UAE. Being here in Oman since 2003 in various projects, I have developed a good business relationship with various ministries and clients. To a great extent, these relationships have helped me to ease the difficulties in many matters related to the execution of projects and other associated concerns. Although we have country heads in other parts of the Middle East, I share the market studies and vigilant follow-ups with the other country heads in coordination with the top management at the Turkish headquarters.