Lebanon signs consulting contracts for initial CEDRE projects

31 May 2018 Consultancy-me.com

The Higher Council for Privatization and Public Private Partnership has signed a historic agreement with multiple players in the private sector attracting over $11 billion in soft loans and grants. The deals were made in the wake of the Council for Economic Development and Reconstruction investment conference in Paris in April this year.

The CEDRE conference brought together delegates from the public and private sector in Lebanon as well as international investors and a number of strategic advisors. Secretary General of the High Council for Privatisation, Ziad Hayek unveiled three development projects at the conference which are included in the Capital investment program.

The projects include the expansion of Rafic Hariri International airport and building a new passenger terminal, building a Khaldeh-Nahr Ibrahim road, and launching a National Information Center. These three projects, worth over $4 billion, are to be undertaken in public private partnership in line with the Capital Investments program.

Hayek commented in relation to the projects; “The advisors will assist in preparing the files and the complete studies related to each project. They are also tasked with finding interested investors to participate in the tenders.” All three of the projects presented were snapped up by private investors and consultancy firms raising over $11 billion in total.

Hayek said that he was “very happy” with the result, especially due to the support from the international community. “It is the first step in a 1,000-mile-long journey,” he added, citing Lebanon’s path to reconstruction and making the country a more attractive place for private investment.

The International Finance Corporation was appointed as transaction advisor for the project to expand Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport. The investment and advisory institute has 21 months to complete the study about the 20 million capacity expansion. When completed, Beirut Airport would have just shy of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger capacity and will be the size of the international airports in Bahrain and Kuwait put together.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has become the transaction advisor for the development of Khalde-Nahr Ibrahim Highway. The European financial institution will take on the responsibility over a period of three years and will attempt to attract investors to the 38km development.

Global professional services giant KPMG has landed the third priority project. The firm – which has been heavily active in the digital realm in the Middle East recently – has just 14 months to develop the National Information Center. The deal was made between KPMG Lebanon and the Higher Commission for Privatization and PPP at a ceremony in Grand Saray, Dubai last week.KPMG Lebanon signs agreement with Lebanese Higher Council for Privatization and PPPThe National Center will consist of two individual data centres, kept separate from each other for security reasons, and located in Dekwaneh and Erbaniyye. Together, they will form the basis of Lebanon’s cloud-based platform and will facilitate IT services for public entities, private banks and companies, and local individuals.

KPMG Lebanon’s CEO Nafez Merehbi signed the proposal with Hayek in regards to the proposal, with Merehbi thanking Hayek and the Lebanese government for the opportunity be involved in the push to digitalise the Lebanese economy, stating that the project is of strategic importance for Lebanon and the region.

The deals will be the first to test the new legal framework for public-private partnerships (PPP) in the country. Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri said; “The importance of these [agreements] is that these projects are being launched under the PPP law. They’re the first ones to be subjected to it and … the PPP law is very important for us to be able to carry out PPP projects successfully, with transparency and involving all stakeholders.”

President Emmanuel Macron of France, the host nation of the CEDRE conference, praised the international community’s support for Lebanon, saying that it showed “unprecedented mobilisation” for building the foundations of a sustainable peace in the Middle East. “At a time when the Levant probably lives one of the worst moments of its history ... it’s more important than ever to preserve the most precious asset: a peaceful, diverse and harmonious Lebanon,” Macron said.

Hariri, who met with Macron at the conference, laid bare Lebanon’s situation in the volatile region, citing the country’s unstable past and saying that if Lebanon again descended into chaos, it would have repercussions throughout Europe and the Middle East. "We are a little country facing enormous political, economic and security challenges and these challenges are exacerbated by the war in Syria and the crisis of displaced Syrians in Lebanon," the Prime Minister said. “It is not the stability of Lebanon alone. This is the stability of the region and, therefore, of our world.”

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Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019 Consultancy-me.com

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.”