Atkins selected for Oman Khazaen Economic City logistics hub project

13 July 2018

The British multinational engineering and design consultancy Atkins has been selected as the lead planning and supervision provider on Oman’s Khazaen Economic City development.

A joint venture between the Oman Investment Corporation and Saudi Arabia-based construction firm Mohammed Ali Al Swailem Group (MASCO), the Khazaen Economic City is envisioned as an international logistics hub and eventually a fully integrated economic smart city, featuring a ‘dry’ port and commercial, residential and light industrial zones spread over 51 square kilometres of land in the Batinah region 60 clicks west of Muscat.

Following the contract announcement, worth $6.8 million over five years with a two-year mutual extension clause, the UK-based engineering, design and project management firm Atkins will now come board as lead development consultant to provide master planning, design, and supervision services – beating out rival short-listed bids from Parsons International, KEO International Consultants, and F&M Middle East.

Under the terms of the tender, the consulting firm will be tasked with the integrated urban planning for the city, including carrying out environmental and sustainability assessments, along with engineering design for infrastructure and utilities and the preparation and evaluation of future construction tenders, with the firm then supervising the Phase 1 infrastructure implementation. Altogether, the time-span for the completion of Phase 1 is set at twenty years, with further phases of the project expected to span many more decades to eventually become a fully integrated city.Atkins selected for Oman Khazaen Economic city logistics hub development“We are delighted to appoint Atkins as the lead consultant for Khazaen,” Kalat bin Ghuloom al Bulooshi, the CEO of Oman Investment Corporation said. “This is a demonstration of our approach of entering partnerships with global firms with a proven track record in delivering truly outstanding projects and also implementing true in-country value. The contract award comes after months of in-depth evaluation and discussions with each of the shortlisted firms.”

Al Bulooshi said previously that the first priorities for Atkins – along with establishing a fruit and vegetables market and a building to serve as Khazaen headquarters – would be to complete the engineering and design work for the project’s Phase 1 logistics & industrial area and the central ‘first-of-its-kind’ inland port – which will connect road and rail freight directly with maritime shipping through the Sohar Port, and operate under a customs ‘pre-clearance’ model for immediate loading.

At the time of the initial project launch earlier this year in March, Al Bulooshi said that it was hoped that the development would break ground in six-to-nine-months, with September the aim. Atkins’ managing director for Oman, Marco Malpiedi said in response; “It is a fantastic for us to be retained to assist Khazaen Economic City… This is an exciting time to be part of the realisation of such an important project in Oman’s economic expansion, and we are looking forward to bringing our projects expertise to this development.”

That expertise includes completion on numerous projects throughout the GCC and Greater Middle East over the past 50 years, with Atkins – which is the largest British engineering consultancy and one the biggest in the sector worldwide – serving the region through 12 local offices and a staff tally pushing 2,500 at the beginning of last year. Global revenues exceeded £2 billion in the year ending March 2017, up 11.8 percent. 

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”