Engineering consultancies Astad and AECOM sign MoU to build Qatari airport

30 May 2018

Two engineering and consulting firms have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to find mutual business opportunities, and to collaborate on a new airport in Qatar. US-based giant AECOM signed the agreement with Qatari firm Astad in Washington during a business delegation visit by Qatari officials in April.

As the small, gas-rich nation of Qatar heads closer to its landmark hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the country is looking to strengthen its infrastructure. More than $200 billion will be spent on stadiums, roads, rail links, hospitals, and other major infrastructure to prepare for the World Cup. As a result, the Qatari spending has been a boon for local and international engineering firms looking to get a piece of the action.

Doha-headquarted Astad – a Qatari engineering and consulting firm – recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global engineering and consulting firm AECOM. The MoU was signed in Washington during a Qatari business delegation visit in April. The two firms signed the agreement in order to identify mutual business opportunities and to collaborate on the delivery of an airport in Qatar.

“We look forward to working with American firm AECOM with the aim of forming a strategic joint venture, combining our expertise in engineering consultancy, construction management, design, and project management fields to support the development of a landmark airport and aviation facility in Qatar,” remarked Astad CEO Ali al-Khalifa.Astad and AECOM sign memorandum of understandingAstad has local Qatari expertise and contacts, and has worked on more than 250 building and infrastructure projects across various sectors. In addition to its Doha headquarters, the firm also has offices in the UK, UAE, and Egypt.

Los Angeles-based AECOM offers the wide-ranging expertise drawn from its position as one of the world’s foremost and largest engineering and design firms. AECOM had revenues of $18.2 billion in 2017, and was named one of Fortune magazine’s ‘Most Admired Companies’ for the fourth year in a row.

AECOM is also no stranger to Qatar, having completed a design-build contract in 2014 on the 61-mile North Road – which connects capital city Doha with Madinat Al Shamal/Al Ruwais on the north coast.

“Combining AECOM’s global aviation experience with ASTAD’s local expertise allows us to provide cost-effective and innovative solutions in aviation infrastructure,” remarked AECOM corporate executive vice president and group president Frederick Werner. “Our teams will work collaboratively with ASTAD to provide long-term benefits for a landmark aviation facility in Qatar.” 

With infrastructure spending booming in Qatar at an unprecedented rate, the 800-strong Astad has been looking for partners to deal with increased demand in the country for design and engineering services. The MoU with Aecom is one of several that Astad has signed in recent months: in February, the firm entered into a strategic partnership with design consultants F&M Middle East of Oman. 

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.”