THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS

UAE, Sharjah 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Marwan Orabi, General Manager of Metallic Equipment Co. L.L.C., on the importance of nurturing human capital, the regulatory environments most conducive to growth, and why it is expanding into Africa.

Marwan Orabi
BIOGRAPHY
Marwan Orabi is responsible for the entire operations of MEC in Sharjah. An engineer by profession, he graduated in 1986 from Damascus University and has 30 years of experience in different fields. MEC is well known as one of the leading global business organizations in the field of interior architectural design that focuses on the latest innovations. His contribution to achieving the highest levels of sustainability is in line with the company’s objectives, while remaining environmentally-aware and pushing the boundaries of excellence in the industry.

How do you stay competitive and differentiate yourself from the competition?

To adequately compete in the UAE construction and trade market, it is essential to have accurate market analytics. We consistently review, analyze, and quantify the market in order to maintain our niche and work on projects. Our area of architectural metal works is specialized for hotels, malls, hospitals, towers, oil & gas, residential, mixed-use, and airports. We deliver high-quality products and services for our customers, which greatly differentiates us in a crowded market. We also hire qualified and supportive staff, a professional corps of engineers, and technical team. We also actively seek out the newest and most efficient technology by attending international trade fairs.

How do you assess the strength of the rules and regulations in the UAE?

One of the best aspects of doing business in the UAE is that with its stellar growth, it has come to be known for attracting all businesses because of its efficient licensing rules and infrastructure, to name a few. It has strict, but favorable business regulations that protect labor rights and promote a healthy, transparent relationship between employers and employees. The UAE also has its own regulations that prohibit monopoly and encourage competition. It encourages private sector growth and maintains liberal policies in terms of foreign exchange controls, visa policies, and import regulations. This is why it is growing so fast.

What led you to go overseas, and how are these operations performing?

Expanding overseas is one of the most important targets for us to ensure we increase in turnover and growth. We work in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Uganda, where there is a big boom in construction and sub-contracting. We have also had projects as far apart as Angola, Kazakhstan, and India. We are extremely interested in India as a growing market because of the growth of luxury high-rises, airports, and hotels. In Africa, we have begun operating in Nigeria, where we have worked on palaces and villas for luxury properties. Our location attracts a great deal of business as when a contractor develops a luxury property, they seek out sub-contractors in the hub of construction and development.

What are the main benefits of being based in Sharjah?

Sharjah is all about location. The combination of developed infrastructure, capability, and professional logistics services makes Sharjah the perfect location for a business to have its headquarters. The cost of living is reasonable, transportation to and from work is reasonable, and the government is flexible and accommodating.

What are the best strategies for the successfully managing and growing human capital?

To maintain a great team with committed employees, a company has to run a successful business, manage well, and inspire loyalty and respect. Firstly, the system of management should be healthy, happy, and friendly so that employees feel safe and secure in their jobs. The second factor is timely salary payments. It is impossible to expect loyalty without respect, and if a company pays an employee less than they deserve or less than their work is worth, they will lose their employees' respect. Another of the most challenging things is to retain employees after they have developed, matured their skills, and are recognized in the business world for the unique asset they are.

What are your ambitions for 2017 and beyond?

We are extremely busy. We have a high rate of tendering within the industry—450 jobs for 1,000 quoted. Due to our professional reputation, strong portfolio, and positive relations with all our clients, we receive 4,000 inquiries annually. We have been in Sharjah since 1969, myself for 20 years, and I stand behind the success of our work. However, our achievement and accomplishment in this business were made possible by our dedicated team in every department.