French firm Egis lands project management contract for UAE railway

07 June 2018

French engineering and consulting firm Egis have been awarded a lucrative contract to help Etihad Rail develop the United Arab Emirates railway network.

The development of the rail that will eventually link the UAE with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman will play a key role in continued economic growth in the region. As it currently stands, the UAE’s rail network is 264km and does not provide for international connections. The overhaul is part of a larger Gulf Cooperation Council rail network plan that aims to add over 800kms of tracks throughout the Emirates.

The rail network as a whole will span through all six GCC states, increasing connectivity for both people and businesses whilst enhancing regional cooperation. The proposed UAE rail will connect all seven Emirates and link with Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar via Saudi Arabia. Overall the GCC rail will stretch for over 2,000km upon completion in 2024.

The UAE section of the rail will provide huge mobility gains for the Emirates and will also diversify multiple industries in the country. The additional rail link will provide businesses with a much needed freight link for commodities and will help the Northern Emirates develop their tourism industries. Furthermore, the connection will also allow the regions outside of Dubai and Abu Dhabi to expand their industries, bringing growth and jobs.UAE rail network when complete will stretch all seven Emirates and connect both Saudi Arabia and Oman.Egis will act as the project manager for the railway project valued at roughly $30 billion in the UAE alone. The company will work together with Etihad Rail in both stage 2 (600km) and stage 3 (250km) of the project to oversee and supervise different project contributors including the engineering consultant responsible for preliminary design and construction supervision, the future design-and-build contractors, as well as third parties.

In a press release the firm said; “For the Emirates, delivering a project of this scale will demand extensive expertise and coordination. The network is a combination of freight and passenger lines which extends over 1,000km and has nearly 40 railway facilities including logistics sites for freight, passenger stations, stabling and maintenance depots. The growth and dynamics of the Emirates generate major changes in infrastructure. The Etihad Rail PMC contract is part of the strategy to further develop in the Middle East and more particularly in the United Arab Emirates.”

This project marks Egis’s third major guided transportation project in the GCC, having previously worked on Qatar’s automatic metro and Dubai’s autonomous transportation system. The firm has 13,600 people around the globe and generated over $1 billion in managed turnover in 2017.

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.”