DON'T STOP ME NOW

UAE, Dubai 2014 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | B2B: CONTRACTOR VIEWS

Visions and dreams are what have taken Dubai from a small village to a mega city to rival any in the world, and it will be these that continue to drive the city and the UAE forward.

Khaldoun Rashid Tabari
KHALDOUN RASHID TABARI
Vice-Chairman & CEO
Drake & Scull International
Bishoy Azmy
BISHOY AZMY
CEO
Al Shafar General Contracting

What green initiatives are you working on?

KHALDOUN RASHID TABARI We have a strong commitment to the environment, and have an environment policy that focuses on reducing the consumption of resources and maximizing the recycling of old resources. In terms of our projects, we have worked on solar energy plants in India, and we also built the first waste-to-energy plant in the Middle East at Saida, Lebanon. Our water treatment business recycles wastewater and sludge to reuse for agricultural purposes. We have worked on several LEED Platinum and LEED Silver projects in the Middle East. Green stands for so many things. In the end, it is all about our actions. You can live a green life, or a normal life, and the same applies to construction.

BISHOY AZMY In 2007, we created Waste Metal Systems, a company that handles waste management, among other things. We have a division under WMS, called WMS Green. We also created another company or Sustainable Design Solutions (SDS), and this company was purely an environmental consultant. We created a company to provide LEED certification to buildings. We expected Dubai to become stringent in terms of green requirements, and sustainability criteria, but when the crisis occurred, developers were not keen on meeting the initial overheads. In terms of life cycle costs, doing something green is an expensive undertaking to start off with, but if you are the owner of this asset for the next 10 to 20 years, you will make savings.

You find the relationship with your customers and partners fundamental to conducting business. Why is this factor so important in the real estate and construction sector?

KRT You have to look at it from two different perspectives. We always like to have repeat business. Anybody is willing to try you out once and, if they don't find you suitable, they don't come back to you. Repeat business is a good indicator that your mechanisms and policies are working properly. On the engineering side, DSI has had enormous repeat business, and this is where we are leading the market. It is very important to also be extremely competitive, but at the same time to make sure you have the right quality and offering. It is not as simple as saying you take care of your client; they have to come back to you. You also have to make sure that you are always competitive. Construction is like bread and butter; if you don't get it from this store, you'll get it from another store. You have to be extremely competitive, and at the same time take care of your clients.

What are the key characteristics that have allowed you to find a place among the main players of the sector?

BA When this business started in the late 1980s, Dubai was a sleepy fishing village. My father came here and started this company, and people asked him about what influenced his decision. We believe that visionary ideas on the part of the government of Dubai and the management of our company have played a major role in our success. Dubai has been persistent in demonstrating that it is a business-friendly environment. Dubai was formerly a humble version of what it is today, but had the same ethos as it does now. They were open to business, to reducing bureaucracy, encouraging diversity, and not being prejudiced; the idea is that as long as you are focused on business you are welcome. In certain ways, we copied the Dubai vision and its principles, and many businesses here embrace those same principles. ASGC started in 1989 as a construction company. Eventually, the company started growing, and the shareholders expanded into three areas that now fall under a holding. ASGC Holding employs in excess of 15,000 people. Our group operate in over 10 countries, but Dubai is still very much our base, and it is also the center of our sphere of real estate and construction activities.