AESG's Saeed Al Abbar says there are no sweeping solutions to industry challenges

“When you look at the efficiency and technology advances in other sectors it is clear that we are lagging behind."

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Modular construction is one such field where contractors have sought to expand their expertise.
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Modular construction is one such field where contractors have sought to expand their expertise.

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In this second part of an exclusive interview with AESG's managing director, Saeed Al Abbar says there is no one sweeping solution for the challenges facing the industry. 

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Contract regulation to protect companies further down the supply chain were touted as being of critical importance during panel discussions at this year’s MEP Middle East Conference.

Smarter ways of working have also been flagged as potential solutions, with breakthroughs in building technology frequently providing opportunity for improved models of safeguarding assets.

Or at the very least fuel conversations over their suitability in addressing pressing issues such as cashflow, or the emerging skills gap challenge.

Modular construction is one such field where contractors have sought to expand their expertise, with some believing it is the most likely candidate to help alleviate day-to-day fears held by MEP contractors.

The process involves complete construction of a structure off-site and in controlled plant conditions.

All materials and design aspects of the project are adhered to in the typical way, but the ‘chunked’ construction process allows for massive time savings for all involved parties.

Earlier this month Bouygues Bâtiment International delivered the world’s tallest modular build; a pair of twin 140metre towers known as Clement Canopy in Singapore.

A total of 1,899 prefabricated and pre-finished modules make up the development, which took the tallest tower crown from a structure in Croydon, London.

However, the adoption of revolutionary tech – the first modular-built tower only went up in New York as recently as 2016 – is usually a slow process, particularly given the scale of projects found in this part of the world.

AESG managing director Saeed Al Abbar does not believe there is one sweeping solution to the problems professionals are facing here in the Middle East, particularly at a time when liquidity cannot compete with demand.

Instead he believes an overhaul of the dated building process in its entirety is required to bring construction up to pace with other industries.

He wants to see greater progress in the next 50 years than the industry has witnessed over the past five decades.

“I would not put the issue simply down to modular building, but a wider efficiency of construction for which modular buildings forms a part of,” he explained. 

“As a sector, construction is widely criticised as being very inefficient, and the approaches and technologies we adopt today are not too different to 50 years ago.

“When you look at the efficiency and technology advances in other sectors, such as manufacturing or aviation, it is clear that we are lagging behind. 

“Globally we are facing an unprecedented demand for construction, yet with more constrained global liquidity.

“The only solution to this is driving significant gains in construction efficiency through measures such as modular construction, BIM, technology, and more appropriate procurement and contracting mechanisms.”

A sound business ethos rooted in professionalism has ensured plenty of peaceful nights for Al Abbar and AESG over the past eight years.

And with the house firmly in order, the focus now is on smooth sailing into new markets.

“I would not say anything really keeps me up at night from that perspective.

“I am fortunate that we have an excellent team that are working with great clients on exciting projects that provide real value to society.”

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