Design consultancy of Oman to partner with Qatar project managers

21 February 2018

Design consultants F&M Middle East of Oman have struck a strategic partnership agreement with the Qatari project management consultancy ASTAD.

The Omani-based design and engineering consultancy F&M Middle East Engineering has signed a strategic memorandum of understanding with fellow GCC member-state project management company ASTAD of Qatar, with a view to extending mutual business opportunities in the engineering consultancy, construction, design and project management fields.

Established in Muscat at the end of 2015 with over a dozen specialists, F&M Middle East serves as the regional base of Italian-headquartered design and engineering consultancy F&M Ingeneria SPA, which has been active in the Sultanate since 2009. Previous regional projects include the structural design contract for a School of Peace in Palestine, an energy self-sufficient school and recreation centre at a refugee camp in Gaza as the first of twenty such UN-commissioned projects in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

In Qatar, the firm has been engaged for multidisciplinary design and management services for the development of the new CTO2 Cargo handling facility at Doha’s Hamad International Airport, its capacity expected to be among largest in the world, while closer to home, the company is providing services on the Crew Reporting Building for the New Muscat International Airport – which, with the help of airport consultants Munich Airport International, is in its final testing phase before opening next month.Design consultancy of Oman to partner with Qatar project managersThe firm’s new strategic partner ASTAD, meanwhile, has since 2002 been involved in the development and delivery of numerous complex and high-profile sites domestically, including project management for Qatar’s Foundation Stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup – the first open air-conditioned sports stadium in the world – and consultancy on the new National Museum of Qatar, which is certain to become an iconic regional landmark courtesy of its extraordinary desert rose-inspired design.

Altogether, the firm, which is home to some 800 employees, has participated in over 250 building and infrastructure projects across industries such as education, healthcare, recreation, transport, and the commercial and residential sectors, offering services in design, project and construction management, quantity surveying, and facility management.

Future collaboration

Commenting on the firm’s new strategic collaboration agreement with F&M Middle East, ASTAD’s CEO Ali Al-Khalifa said, “ This MoU allows us to collaboratively deliver expert design and project management services not just in Qatar, but internationally. ASTAD and F&M are specialists in our respective fields and markets and this MoU will support the continued growth and success of our companies.”

Hazem Abdul Karim, a Lebanese national with F&M since 2008 and General Manager of the firm’s Middle East operations, responded in kind; “ASTAD and F&M have worked hand-in-hand on multiple projects since 2010. We have also jointly participated on tenders here in Oman. This MoU further cements our working relationship and will serve as a value-add for our clients in Oman and in the region.”

Late last year, it was reported that trade between Oman and Qatar had increased by 2,000% following Doha’s freeze-out by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with Oman’s long-cultivated political neutrality allowing the country to capitalise on the blockade. Such stability and the country’s broadly cordial diplomatic status were recently cited by the Big Four firm EY upon their unveiling of a multimillion-dollar regional cybersecurity centre in Muscat.

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.”