TAILOR MADE

Oman 2016 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Harald A. Hartung, Managing Director of Doka Muscat, on the unique market characteristics of the construction sector in Oman in comparison to the rest of the GCC.

Harald A. Hartung
BIOGRAPHY
Since the age of 16, Harald A. Hartung has been dedicated to construction, completing several internships prior to his successful studies of Civil Engineering in Germany. He has professional experience in most fields of construction in Germany and in the wider MENA region. Before joining Doka in 2001 as GM of Doka Saudi Arabia, he was Project Engineer with Philipp Holzmann in Saudi Arabia, and prior to that he was Resident Engineer with Weidleplan/Siemens, also in Saudi Arabia. Between 1989 and 2000 he was head of the “Special construction materials” division in a Northern German Family Enterprise. As Managing Director of Doka Group he as worked in Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, and Tunisia; reviving agencies in Iran, Libya, Morocco; and founding Doka companies in Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Nigeria.

How would you currently assess competition considering that Doka is a fairly unique company in the region?

In Oman, you find, more or less, the same density of competition as you have in Dubai. Only that nearly all of them did and do not invest in Oman but operate from outside. Oman is price-sensitive, meaning there are many low-range, cheap competitors. With every new client we need to demonstrate that our products are sustainable, that they are of superior quality and durability, that they are expensive on an “item-by-item” consideration, but of high economy once seen on a “overall-solution” scale because of their low manpower requirement, long life-span, and ease of utilization It is a daily challenge to all of us. But more and more contractors of all sizes recognize the value of our products and services and see at least our formwork as an investment and not as a commodity.

Why does Doka not manufacture formwork products in Oman?

We would like there to be more facilities in Oman, meaning more external suppliers that we could use. It does not pay to have the core items produced in many different places. To have a high range of quality, you need the best supply of whatever is needed. You need to have consistent production and such an investment requires huge investments; therefore, you cannot do this in too many different places around the world. Our customer-oriented, tailor-made formwork solutions here and there require special formwork items. Also made-to-fit. With increasing business-volume, our demand for such products is also increasing. So far Oman is not offering sufficient and competitive capacity for our demand. But it is totally different in the UAE. There is a substantial number of these midsize enterprises that did invest and maintain a high quality standard of manufacture. A thoroughly selected and permanently inspected number of these enterprises are able to manufacture under our supervision as per our drawings and standards, tailor-made.

How would you assess the ease of doing business in this sector?

The Sultanate of Oman is developing rapidly and becomes more and more modern every day—also in the construction sector. This offers acceptable potential for next to all products and services. On the other hand, this fast growth goes along with a number of challenges. Sometimes I would wish that the development of banking facilities towards payment securities, the standard of the legal system and the standard of project planning and preparation, would develop similarly swifly and efficiently. However, overall, he who is prepared to come to stay, is hard-working and has patience and understanding will maybe not make a fortune but always find sufficient reward for his efforts.