CHALLENGING TIME

Qatar 2019 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Karim Yazbek Vice President & Country Manager of Hill International, on the Real Estate sector.

Karim Yazbek
BIOGRAPHY
Karim Yazbek holds a master’s of science in civil engineering from MIT. He is a seasoned general manager, with over 22 years of experience across a number of locations including Lebanon, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar. He has experience in the field of construction, specializing in construction management, feasibility studies, contract management, contract negotiation, project planning, value engineering, and design management.

What have been some of the major projects and milestones of Hill International?

Over the years, we have delivered over 40 projects. 2018 was a challenging year for the construction market as a result of the blockade and the shift in priority from investing in real estate toward more strategic sectors such as food and industry. That is why we are working to enter new markets in Qatar. Even industrial projects require project management services. We are in contact with a few potential clients, now with a focus on design work and agreements like BOTs and PPPs with the private sector and the government. Nevertheless, there are still major projects going on, especially related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

What added value can Hill International bring to construction companies that want to get started in Qatar?

We help contractors navigate through the processes that are required to start operations in Qatar. Most importantly, we can work closely with subcontractors by embedding our people in their teams and help them manage projects. We can take care of project management on behalf of the client, which is our core business, though we also manage construction, especially when projects are complex, and multiple stakeholders are involved. We have a structured way of managing things that helps contractors do better in terms of delivering on time and turning a profit.

What is your outlook for the short term?

We will see greater consolidation of infrastructure projects related to the World Cup. We will also see the start of expansions at the airport and extensions of the red and green lines of the Doha metro, which will start partially operating. At the same time, we will see the delivery of major projects related to Lusail and Qatar Rail. For Hill International, this will be an interesting and challenging time to be operating in Qatar.