A consultant’s primary role is to assist an organisation with certain areas of its work. To act as an educator, a resource, a facilitator, or simply put, a subject matter expert. And every organisation needs expert advice.
Therefore, it is essential to know some of the top performing consultants in the Middle East region. So we undertook the daunting task of compiling a list. Daunting because there was too much information and, at the same time, too little information, the veracity of which needed to be challenged. There were some who did not participate in the process, did not return the questionnaire, or simply declined, for reasons of lack of data, data protection, or time constraints.
Deciding on a ranking from these challenges is therefore difficult and the results therefore suffer from a degree of subjectivity in among the verifiable facts. So in addition, we went a step further and got in touch with several top contractors for an informal second opinion, to know and understand reviews from the people who work with consultants on a regular basis.
The questionnaire had several parameters for gauging different aspects of consultancy performance. And since there were so many parameters, a holistic approach was adopted to rank various players. We also had a look at historic data pertaining to the consultants involved in the list. The key point to keep in mind is that even to appear on this list is a significant achievement – a recognition of success – and I sincerely thank all the participants who took the time to fill out the comprehensive questionnaire.
We have managed to assess all the relevant information to hand to give our readers an overall perspective of the best consultants in the market. But please appreciate the relative subjectivity of our endeavour, and feel free to debate and challenge its conclusions. In short, the more the information, the better the ranking!
WSP Global unveiled last month its new brand identity, represented by the introduction of a new logo that marks its growth and transformation. The new brand is evocative of WSP’s strong and future-focused identity. With significant growth in recent years the change in name from WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP is a fundamental step in bringing together over 85 legacy organisations under one powerful global brand.
Greg Kane, managing director for WSP in the Middle East commented on the development of the new brand: “Our business has expanded significantly in recent years, both organically and through the acquisition of many different businesses. Today we are over 36,000 people in 40 countries around the world. Whilst we are proud of our history and heritage we believe it is the right time to focus on our shared vision for the future and what that means for our people, clients and partners.”
WSP currently has 1,221 full-time people working in the region, with around 146 qualified MEP/Building Services Engineers working for the Firm.
Last year WSP completed work at: New York University in Abu Dhabi; The Avenue, phase 2 (city walk); Kempinski Hotel, The Wave, Muscat; and Dubai World Trade Center, C2/C4.
Some of its projects for this year include Yas South Integrated Destination Resort, Abu Dhabi – a luxurious development at Yas Island, One Za’abeel – twin towers alongside Dubai’s Trade Centre roundabout, linked with a steel structure spanning an active highway, Project Star – a modern retail and hospitality destination situated at the corner of Dubai’s EXPO 2020 site that includes a mixed community master plan. Those are just some of the dozen other projects that WSP is catering to.
WSP is currently looking at opportunities across a number of market segments and sectors. Its primary focus remains in the programme management arena, design and supervision of mixed use developments across a number of sectors and the front end advisory services relating to Environment & Sustainability.
As part of its targets, MEP design remains a significant proportion of its annual revenue.
When it comes to WSP’s involvement in various industry bodies, Isaac Coker, technical director – Building Services, is involved with the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineering (CIBSE) Committee as an interviewer, Dean McGrail, director of Property & Buildings, represents Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) in the Middle East, and Matthew Jackson, regional HSEQ manager is the UAE chairman for the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health.
On sustainable business practices, WSP is focused on the way it impacts the environment, both during the design and construction phase, following project completion.
Dean McGrail, director – property & buildings, says: “Sustainability is such an important consideration here in the Middle East as the decision we make as engineers now will impact the region for many years to come. As we build new infrastructure and communities within the region we have the chance to change the future. By ensuring our designs consider their impact on the environment, we cannot only safe-guard the Middle East future, but also save money and resources, and improve the quality of the built environment.”
Dean McGrail, Director – Property & Buildings
Number of years in role: 2+
Number of years in company: 15+
Number of years working in Middle East: 12+
Aecom’s largest markets are the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. “We have recently put a lot of effort and investment in Oman and are seeing some good returns there. Bahrain is also doing well,” says Georges Basmaji, building services director.
Some of the project Aecom handled in 2016 were: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Road, Wahat Al Karama, Investment Gateway, Bahrain, Phase 1, and Dubai Canal.
The projects Aecom is currently involved in are: Midfield Terminal Complex, Al Maryah Central, Dubai Tram Extension – phases 2 & 3, Tatweer Schools Program, Mall of Oman, etc.
Aecom has 3,920 full time staff working in the Middle East, with around 235 qualified MEP/building services engineers working for the firm.
When it comes to challenges, Basmaji says: “The downturn in the market continues to pose challenges industry wide. Consultants and contractors alike are being required to respond to the cost pressures being faced by clients. At Aecom we are working closely with our clients to help them manage cash flow on their existing projects. This takes the form of value engineering, removing parts of the scope that may not be immediately required or can be phased over a longer period.”
“For new projects, we’re talking to our clients about alternative funding mechanisms. We’re also ensuring that any new work we take on has been priced to deliver, not just to win. While the margins have shrunk somewhat recently, it’s imperative that projects are priced to deliver; otherwise there will be problems down the line.”
On staff training programs, he adds: “Last year Aecom launched a ‘reverse mentoring’ program that involves members of the leadership team being mentored by junior staff from different gender, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to show our leaders what life is like from different perspectives so that we can make our business better for everyone.” Aecom has a series of internally designed leadership programs which draw upon contemporary learning methodologies. These are targeted at various levels of leadership within the business and have application across the region.
In addition, Aecom has a fully integrated learning platform — Aecom University — which has in excess of 6,000 courses. Aecom University draws from leading training providers, internal thought leaders, and technical and functional academies.
Georges Basmaji, Building Services Director
Number of years in role: 11
Number of years in company: 11
Number of years working in Middle East: 25
Middle East workforce: 3,920
MEP/ Building Services Engineers: 235
GCC nationals: 211
Female staff: 566
Atkins has been in the news quite lately. Canada’s SNC-Lavalin will reportedly acquire UK-headquartered consultancy, Atkins, for $2.6bn, it has been confirmed. The acquisition will give a much stronger foothold to Atkins in the Middle East region.
Atkins currently has around 2,459 full-time people working in the region, with around 153 qualified MEP/building services engineers working for the the company.
Last year Atkins completed work at: Dubai Opera, a multi-format entertainment venue; Al Habtoor Residences, a mixed-use development with residential apartments and retail podium; Al Forsan Sports Hotel, a five-star hotel; Doha Festival City; and Qetaifan Island Concept Master Plan, Lusail, a leisure, commercial and residential development.
Some of its projects for this year include Dubai Waterfront Development, a mixed-use waterfront development; Viceroy Dubai Jumeirah, hotel and serviced apartments; Al Habtoor Polo Ranch, a mixed use development with hotel, polo fields, and equestrian facilities; Hotel Tower, hotel and serviced apartments, etc., all these in Dubai.
Atkin’s current tenders include a mixed used development, KSA, retail mall, Dubai, UAE, retail mall, KSA, a number of high-rise residential buildings, Dubai UAE, mixed use waterfront development, Abu Dhabi, UAE, among others.
When it comes to sustainable business practices, Mark Cummins, regional design director – MEP, says: “Atkins has a responsibility to help enable a sustainable future through our leadership role, our operations and the services we provide. We are embedding the key sustainability principles of how we can support society, reduce our impact on the environment, and be a responsible business through our leadership role, our operations and the services we provide.”
According to Cummins, this includes: “A society for our future – inspiring the next generation; investing in communities; developing sustainability knowledge and skills; striving to be an employer of choice; and creating a healthy, safe and secure workplace.
An environment with a future – supporting a low carbon economy; demonstrating respect for the environment through resource efficiency and preventing pollution; and protecting and improving ecosystems.
And a responsible business of the future – supporting sustainable economic growth with strong governance and accountability; being an international business whilst recognising the importance of providing local services; and collaborating with key organisations to develop innovative solutions.”
Cummins remarks that in the coming months the company is captalising on the market opportunities and managing a significant business through the region’s economic challenges.
Atkin’s focus is on property, transport, and infrastructure in the Middle East and Africa.
Mark Cummins, Regional Design Director – MEP
Number of years in role: 1
Number of years in company: 1
Number of years working in Middle East: 4
Middle East workforce: 2,459
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 153
GCC nationals: 87
Female staff: 453
Arcadis Middle East currently employs 2,250 people based across our offices in the UAE, Qatar, KSA, Oman, and Bahrain. It also has a Global Excellence Centre in Manila.
Over the last twelve months, its MEP team has grown significantly following a number of big project wins. Reid Donovan, regional director of MEP Solutions, says: “Within the Middle East business, we currently employ 223 qualified MEP engineers based in our offices across the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines.”
Some of the projects Arcadis handled in 2016 were: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Road, Wahat Al Karama, Investment Gateway, Bahrain, Phase 1, and Dubai Canal. “We have successfully delivered a large number of projects over the last twelve months,” says Donovan. He outlines a selection of some of the most significant projects that the company’s MEP team worked on. This shortlist included two award-winning schemes, one of which was the refurbishment of the Bur Juman Centre that was highly commended in the ‘Retrofit Project of the Year’ category at the 2016 MEP Middle East Awards. The other projects were North Wing, Jumeirah Open Beach, and Kempinski Hotel & W Hotel and Residences, all in Dubai, and the Al Falah Community Mall in Abu Dhabi.
This year’s projects include Security Forces Medical Center Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Dubai Creek Harbour Retail District, Dubai Hills Estate Mall, Tilal Mall & Hotel, Sharjah, UAE, and Red Line of Doha Metro.
Talking about challenges, Donovan says: “From a practical perspective, the biggest challenge that we see in 2017 will be around resource. More specifically, this is around hiring a sufficient number of skilled MEP professionals that we need to help deliver some of the large programmes that we’ve already won, and some of the new schemes that we hope to be awarded later in the year.
“More broadly, we’re seeing a push from clients to try and deliver projects quicker and at a lower cost than ever before. At the same time, however, projects are becoming more challenging in terms of scale, cost, and technical complexity. The only way in which the industry can address this challenge will be by embracing change, focusing on innovation, and working differently than before.”
Reid Donovan, Regional Director of MEP Solutions
Number of years in role: 2+
Number of years in company: 2+
Number of years working in Middle East: 9
Middle East workforce: 2,250
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 223
GCC nationals: 5-10% of total workforce
Female staff: 400+
Kuwait-headquartered KEO completed several projects last year, such as Kuwait institute of Science and Technology University in Kuwait, Doha Westin Hotel and Spa, Mall of Qatar, and The Gateway Towers, all in Qatar, and Sofitel Dubai Downtown in Dubai.
Darrel Strobel, managing director, MEP Engineering, adds: “We have a range of projects at various stages of design and construction in any one calendar year. Those listed above have completed and are functioning facilities. For all of the above projects we provided multi-disciplinary design services including architecture, structures and MEP amongst many others. Many of these are award winning projects.”
KEO also has a plethora of ongoing projects in its pipeline. At the moment, KEO is tendering for multiple projects across the GCC. Some of these include: Al Wedyan Theme Park and Water Park – Riyad, KSA, Kifaf development – Al Wasl Dubai (6 towers), Sawdat border post between Qatar and KSA, and second and third ring roads in Kuwait.
Strobel reveals that it has not been an easy journey. He says: “The current market is highly competitive, creating pressure on design consultants in winning new work. This in combination with the increasing complexity of projects and tight timelines for delivery is forcing consultants to become ever more efficient and streamlined in their project delivery. Technologies like BIM are becoming essential to achieving coordinated and ‘ready to build’ designs, and for larger more complex projects, the role of the design manager comes to the fore, working in conjunction with clients, PM’s and design teams to ensure smooth progress.”
KEO is committed to the protection and enhancement of the environment and the sustainability of natural resources. To this end, the company develops and implements sustainability policies, regulations, strategies and guidelines and woks with multiple sustainability rating systems in Qatar including GSAS, LEED, CEEQAL and WELL Building Standard. KEO regularly speaks at sustainability conferences and seminars in Qatar to share its knowledge and achievements with the industry.
The company is active in the research of new technologies and ideas and are involved in developing and advancing standards for public safety, commercial standards and public policy. KEO has signed an International Environmental and Sustainability Policy committing to the protection and enhancement of the environment and sustainability of natural resources. Quoting the company’s commitment: “Environmental and sustainability management is a major component of KEO’s business strategy and will be a principal consideration in respect of all of the company’s work activities.”
Darrel Strobel, Managing Director, MEP Engineering
Number of years in role: 5
Number of years in company: 5
Number of years working in Middle East: 8
Middle East workforce: 2,431
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 262
GCC nationals: 84
Female staff: 385
A biofuel research facility in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi is tackling the dual challenges of food and water security, while simultaneously providing a sustainable source of aviation fuel. CH2M, along with its clients - Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar Institute) and the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), last year started working together with industry, academia and government on the world’s first research facility using desert lands irrigated by seawater to produce both bioenergy for aviation, as well as raise farmed fish and shrimp for food.
CH2M was commissioned to undertake the engineering design and construction oversight of this sophisticated research facility. Working closely with Masdar Institute and the SBRC, CH2M engineers translated and defined the high-level concept for this seawater agriculture system into a viable operating plant, successfully mimicking a coastal environment in an inland location for research purposes.
In more recent global news, CH2M announced that it has completed the issuance of $200m in aggregate principal amount of senior secured fixed-rate notes, the net proceeds of which will be used to pay down debt borrowed under its existing bank revolving credit agreement. At closing, total debt outstanding remained approximately the same.
The $200 million of additional financing when combined with related bank amendments to the revolving credit facility increase available borrowing capacity to over $300 million – more than adequate to meet the Company’s liquidity needs.
“We already are realizing benefits from steps taken last year to substantially improve overall profitability and cash flow, and are looking forward to a much stronger year in 2017,” said CH2M Chief Financial Officer Gary McArthur. “This new funding mechanism provides access to additional capital as a prudent safety net for our liquidity.”
SSH is a provider of infrastructure, master planning, building design, and construction supervision services in the region, with more than 130 projects in its team’s collective portfolio.
Currently, SSH employs over 1,300 people with offices in Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Bahrain, Dubai, Iraq, Kuwait, London, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Most recently, SSH was awarded a contract by Marsa Al Seef Real Estate Investment Company for the Marsa Al Seef mixed-use development in Bahrain.
SSH will provide the design of primary infrastructure and updating of master planning services at Marsa Al Seef. Services include the initial works on a 122ha site, forming the first phase of what will ultimately be a 235ha project.
Robert Hope CEO of SSH expressed his belief that market sentiment is improving. He stated that certain markets and sectors are being hit harder than others and that the key for SSH is to navigate a steady course around the region focusing on our key client relationships and delivering to the very demanding schedules.
He said : “I think that we will see a trend towards utilising consultants committed to and based in the region, who can draw upon world class expertise locally to meet the budget and time constraints that our regional clients face.”
Aurecon has 227 full-time people working in the region, with around 26 qualified MEP/building services engineers.
Some of the projects completed last year were Motiongate, Bulk Materials Handling Project at Port Umm Sa’id, and Madinat Jumeirah Al-Naseem Resort.
On Motiongate – a Hollywood-inspired theme park and part of Dubai Parks and Resorts – Aurecon was responsible for all engineering services. In 2014, Gensler Architects engaged Aurecon for all of the engineering services for the theme park. These included civil engineering; infrastructure; mechanical engineering; electrical engineering; plumbing; fire protection and detection; information and communication technologies (ICT); structures and facade services.
One of the projects for this year include the Tall Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour.
Robert Charles Gregory, MEP Technical Director, says that in addition to the usual recycling and reducing wastage practices, Aurecon encourages its clients to adopt sustainable elements in the design and construction of projects.
Robert Charles Gregory, MEP Technical Director
Number of years in role: 1
Number of years in company: 1
Number of years working in Middle East: 15
9. Ted Jacob Engineering Group
Ted Jacob Engineering Group (TJEG) has a team strength of 150 employees, 60% of which are qualified engineers. Talking about company expansion, Ted Jacob, principal, says: “We are preparing for the expansion of our team to accommodate the necessary resources for this year’s projects. The team’s backlog is the healthiest it has been since the establishment of the company in the Middle East in 2012. We estimate the team will be doubled in size.”
TJEG’s turnover last year was around $17.6m (AED65m). There are two iconic projects in Dubai that the company is involved in at the moment. The first is the DEWA Solar Innovation Center, which is a LEED Platinum certified building that will showcase solar technologies. TJEG has completed the design for the project and is now in charge of the supervision of site works. TJEG is the lead consultant on this project, responsible for all consultants including architecture and quantity surveyor sub consultants.
The second project is the Deira Islands Mall, a shopping center that will span over 10.3-million square feet and will be the main and first attraction at the new Deira Islands Development. The project was recently awarded for a $1.1bn (AED4.2bn) contract. Jacob says that the total value for the project is an investment of $1.6bn (AED6.1bn).
Jacob proudly talks about his team’s quialifications: “Our engineers are members of the Society of Engineers, and participate in both academic and networking workshops continuously. We also have members who are actively involved in CIBSE, MIET and ISTRUCE.”
When it comes to sustainability, he adds: “All our projects embrace zero-energy building technologies. Over the years, TJEG has developed concepts that reduce the building’s energy consumption and supplement it with renewable energies.”
TJEG is currently tendering for major projects in the UAE, KSA, Iraq, and Kuwait; in addition, it also does tenders and design for India. He says: “Our bidding team is constantly busy with new requests for proposals from our clients.”
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq will be the company’s focus in the Middle East during 2017.
Ted Jacob, Principal
Number of years in role: Founded TJEG in 1985
Middle East workforce: 150
Female staff: 35% of the team
10. WME Consultants
WME Consultant’s projects last year included: La Villa Hotel, Lapita hotel, Riverpark retail, Festival City Phase 2, and Nikki Beach hotel all in Dubai.
The company says that this year’s projects include UAE pavilion, Wellness residential project, Nashma Town square, Acacia, Palace Island hotel, etc.
“Sustainability,” Nicholas Bycznski, MEP director, says, “is one of our company core values, WME is committed to the design and promotion of low energy construction and the adoption of appropriate sustainability measures wherever feasible. We are currently working at 1 LEED platinum project – UAE pavilion and 3 LEED building as well as 2 Estidama pearl 2 buildings and offering our clients a full suite of sustainable designs at concept for free to encourage the process and demonstrate that it’s not costly to be environmentally friendly.”
Nicholas Bycznski, MEP Director
Number of years in role: 6 months
Number of years in company: 6 months
Number of years working in Middle East: 11
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 75
GCC nationals: 1
Female staff: 28
11. Hoare Lea
Hoare Lea’s combined turnover from UAE and Qatar is circa $15m, and the turnover for the overall firm is approximately $100m.
Talking about the projects involved in last year is Ian Gow, director and general manager, who says: “We have completed a number of key design milestones in the last year on some significant projects; however, the majority of these projects have not completed the construction phase. For example, Doha Metro Green line project, The Dubai Expo Thematic District, Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar, Specialist Rehab Hospital Abu Dhabi, and Etihad Lounges at Midfield terminal project. We are providing MEP consultancy services on these projects.”
The projects for 2017 include Dubai Expo 2020 Thematic Districts, which commenced in June 2016. The Dubai Expo Al Wasl Plaza, which commenced in April 2017, the Al Rayyan Stadium (Qatar World Cup stadium), etc.
Gow adds: “Our main focus is providing a good service to our clients in UAE and Qatar.”
Ian Gow, Director & General Manager
Number of years in role: 4
Number of years in company: 14
Number of years working in Middle East: 9
Middle East workforce: 40
Female staff: 4
Ramboll’s revenue for 2016 was $1.5bn (Euro1.4bn) of which Ramboll Middle East’s revenue was $42.8m (Euro39.2m).
Ramboll’s 2017 revenue for the Middle East is projected to be less than 2016 due to the continued low oil price that has affected its Oil & Gas business.
Ramboll employs approximately 13,000 experts in more than 300 offices in 35 countries providing consultancy services. Ramboll in the Middle East employs almost 400 international experts located across four offices located in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai and Riyadh.
Seán Murphy, MEP director, says: “The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia remain the most important Middle Eastern markets for Ramboll. With four offices located in the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), Qatar (Doha) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Riyadh), we are able to provide clients complete, integrated, and multi-disciplinary solutions.”
Seán Murphy, MEP Director
Number of years in role: 18 months
Number of years in company: 18 months
Number of years working in Middle East: 12
Middle East workforce: 398
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 36
GCC nationals: 4
Female staff: 68
13. Hilson Moran
Hilson Moran has 20 qualified engineers working within the practice in its Abu Dhabi and Doha offices, in addition to 20 individuals, based in the UK offices, who focus on GCC projects. Additional UK resources are brought onto projects to reinforce this base resource to suit the individual project needs.
The United Arab Emirates and Qatar represent the two most important Middle Eastern markets for Hilson Moran.
One of the Hilson Moran GCC offices’ key projects in 2016 was the engineering design for the Al Thumama Stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup QatarTM.
Tony Morris, international director (pictured), says: “Regional challenges present the biggest obstacles for the Hilson Moran GCC and UAE offices; however with a well-formulated approach and service offering, Hilson Moran expects to overcome these as they have done so in previous years.”
14. Godwin Austen Johnson
The projects completed by Godwin Austen Johnson in 2016 were: Arcadia Preparatory School, Ladybird Early Learning Centre, and Sunmarke School.
Talking about the challenges ahead, Cathy Christer, Partner, head of MEP (pictured), says: “The biggest challenge in the next 12 months will be to meet the challenges of cost conscious construction while maintaining the design and installation quality that is required to ensure sustainable building stock over the next 25 years.
“The second challenge will be to continuously challenge ourselves and to improve the performance of buildings through sustainable design and implementation.
“The third challenge will be to ensure that we as a team continuously improve our knowledge and skills to keep ahead of fast pace regulatory and product changes.”
15. DC PRO engineering
DC Pro’s revenues for 2016 were $11.2m (AED41.4m) and the projected revenue for 2017 is $14.4m (AED53m).
Last year, DC PRO was involved in several projects spread over UAE, Qatar, and Saudi, with clients such as Empower, L&T, Nakheel, and Emicool. A few of DC PRO’s awarded projects of 2017 include: DEWA HQ DCP — Extension of Site Supervision Services (Dubai), Empower Tecom C — Design Variaton (Dubai), Dubai Creek District Cooling Plant TES Tank (Dubai), MAN Enterprise — Warehousing, and Logistic Park — Electrical Infrastructure Redesign (Qatar), etc.
George Berbari, founder and CEO, says: “Year after year we have continually set the benchmark as a leader and innovator in our field, now the competition is growing so our challenge is to continue to improve our offering and research new opportunities that will allow us to stay ahead of the curve. All the signs point to a challenging 2017 for various business sectors across the global. But we are confident we have the strategy and team in place to continue our growth as we work on some key projects.”
DC Pro Engineering is a pioneer of Tri-Generation, which is still emerging in the region. Tri-Generation or combined cooling, heat, and power (CCHP), is the process by which some of the heat produced by a cogeneration plant is used to generate chilled water for air conditioning or refrigeration.
Berbari adds: “Tri-Generation not only utilises waste products that would otherwise be discarded, but generates increased efficiencies from about 40% to more than 80%, thereby reducing primary energy use which saves money and preserves the environment. One famous project that integrates Tri Generation with Renewables is the award-winning Muscat Innovation Park Project.”
There have been success stories in the adoption of Tri-Generation in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, says Berbari.
George Berbari, Founder and CEO
Number of years in role: 11
Number of years in company: 11
Number of years working in Middle East: 26
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 31
Female staff: 16
16. Griffin Consultants
Four years after Griffin Consultants was founded in 2013, the company has 16 full time technical employees. Out of which, 11 are qualified MEP engineers and four are BIM engineers.
Talking about the role women play in the company, Omnia Halawani, director and partner at Griffin Consultants, says: “As a woman myself, I am a big advocate of promoting women’s active participation in the engineering workforce. I am, however, against the notion of quantifying women as a quota in companies. Our hiring schemes are independent of gender and we hire professionals purely based on their technical and professional merit; which women are capable of as much as men are. Having that said, 25% of our employees are female.”
In 2016, Griffin Consultants completed an energy benchmarking study for Emaar on all of its properties in Dubai. It was part of an overall energy management plan in support of Emaar’s strategic objective of “offering excellence in Facility Management Services.”
Another project was the energy audit and retrofit supervision of all of Meraas’ owned buildings in the Discovery Gardens. “We used state-of-the-art energy modelling software IES VE, which is adopted in our firm for all energy modelling tasks,” says Halawani. “In this specific project, we used innovative and low cost measures which paid back in less than 6 months yet resulted in 20% cooling reduction and 35% savings in power.”
Speaking on current projects, Halawani says: “We have been awarded the prototype design of a highly sustainable villa by the Abu Dhabi Housing Authority. With sustainability forming the essence of design decisions, the energy consuming systems selected were based on detailed study balancing energy efficiency and feasibility. The third factor into the equation was user comfort which focuses on giving the user a high level of control over the adequately designed systems. All those factors were adopted to reach a truly sustainable design which end users can find affordable, efficient, and comfortable. This villa design will achieve 4 Pearl Estidama Rating.
“We are also working on the design of multi-use complex that involved warehouses, labor accommodation, a factory, and a car and boat shed and wash among other peripheral buildings. This is one of the large projects that we are working on this year. We were recently selected as a consultant to Masdar for energy efficiency projects in a framework agreement and have already conducted one energy audit under this framework. Our technical director, Hassan Younes, dedicates much time being on the Boards of Governors/Directors of the local and regional chapters of ASHRAE and CIBSE.”
Griffin Consultants’ main market is the UAE; however, it has projects in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia too.
Omnia Halawani, Director and Partner
Number of years in role: 4
Number of years in company: 4
Number of years working in Middle East: 13
Middle East workforce: 16
MEP/Building Services Engineers: 11
17. Specialised Engineering Consultants (SpEC)
Specialised Engineering Consultants (SpEC) is a single-window building services consultancy organisation and its portfolio includes design and supervision of MEP, lighting, ICT, firefighting, fire detection, AV/ELV, BMS, RMS, security access control systems and solar PV power generation. SpEC’s expertise includes value engineering, peer review, and sustainable design.
SpEC commenced its operation in the year 2006 and went on to execute various complex projects in the Middle East, Africa, and India. SpEC is part of DEWA Shams Smart Initiative and one of DEWA’s approved consultant for the design of grid connected Solar PV systems.
The projects handled by SpEC include hospitality and leisure facilities, resorts, high-rise commercial/ residential buildings, convention centers, hospitals, food processing industries, shopping malls, educational institutions, telecommunication buildings/data centres, etc.
The founders of SpEC are engineering professionals with more than 25 years of extensive design experience individually in the construction industry and have been associated with many prestigious projects. SpEC employs high-calibre professionals including LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), Approved Security and Access control system engineer, AV engineers and DEWA approved solar PV experts to deliver projects to the required quality and utmost satisfaction of clients. One of the projects handled in 2016 was the Dubai Design District (D3), for Tecom Dubai – a 2.2 million square feet fashion district consisting of 11 buildings. The project was worth over $114m.
SpEC has used its expertise in BIM platform to design one of India’s first modular MEP design for Meitra hospital, a modern hospital in India with 250 beds for KEF holdings which is currently due for handing over.
Airport Le-Meridien hotel was another project completed by SpEC and is in operation. SpEC has designed many other four to five star hotel projects, and industrial and marina projects recently.
Managing partners, Syraj Hamza and Syed Sabzada, say: “SpEC is always in the forefront matching the latest market demands and one of the first consultant to qualify for DEWA Shams programme and currently involved in the design of 23.4MWp solar power generation in Dubai.
“SpEC invested heavily on adapting to latest design tools for a modular and sustainable design approach and have developed their design team for BIM Revit within the Dubai office.
“It has been a challenge when it comes to the integration of various services for projects like MEP, solar, AV, IT, ELV, BMS, short circuit analysis using eTap, modelling and security together and SpEC is successful to build up their own expertise to have a single platform where all these requirements and stringent design demands could me met.”
Syed Sabzada (L) & Syraj hamza (R) Founding Members and Managing Partners
Number of years in role: 11
Number of years in company: 11
Number of years working in Middle East: 26
18. Bluehaus Group
Bluehaus Group is one of the leading consultancy firms inaugurated in the Middle East with multi-disciplined Architectural Design, Interior Design, and Engineering Design consultancy competencies, that delivers experience and innovation to partners and customers. A few of the projects completed last year were: Level Kids – City Walk, Dubai, Fairmont Hotel – Refurbishment of Sports Bar and Shushi Bar, Abu Dhabi, Tryano for Chalhoub – Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi, Chanel Corporate Offices – Dubai Design District, Dubai, etc.
Imteeaz Goolamhossen, engineering manager (pictured), says: “As an MEP design consultancy, we are always looking on ways and means of working smarter and in a more efficient way.”
19. JPW Consulting Group
JPW Consulting Group offers a unique blend of engineering expertise. The Group consists of engineers servicing the construction and engineering sectors specialising in mechanical, electrical, fire safety, control, and “specialist” systems (MEP).
JPW Consulting Group has the capability to provide integrated design solutions, project management, and validation services for tall buildings (commercial, residential, mixed properties), healthcare, mass transport in air and rail, and other sectors.
Some of the biggest challenges, Gary Walton, managing director (pictured), says are: “To establish clients’ understanding the value of complete consultant design; the misconception of sustainability still remains; understanding the value for money; and lastly, power quality, and systems integration.”
20. Akkawi Engineering Consulting
Headquartered in Dubai, Akkawi Engineering Consulting was established with an aim to provide world-class service to its clients in different markets. Akkawi Engineering Consulting is now in its 11th year.
With more than 45 years of experience in the industry, Yusuf Akkawi (pictured) established the Akkawi Engineering Consulting almost a decade ago in the UAE with branches in Lebanon.
When it comes to projects, Akkawi says: “In our journey of 11 years, we have delivered and achieved numerous successful projects, including the Leaf Tower (68 floors) in Abu Dhabi, EKFC-Emirates Flight Catering – Foodpoint & Linencraft Project at DIP in Dubai, Dubai Motor City Projects (three towers), MEP management and supervision for Nakheel Mall, and MEP design consultant for the four hotels at Saraya Aqaba-Jordan; in addition, plenty of other projects for residential and commercial buildings.” He admits that there are plenty of challenges as well. He says: “Among the challenges in businesses such as ours are constantly staying updated with the latest rules, which we are especially careful about and make utmost efforts to comply and stay ahead of the curve. The UAE market is flourishing under the visionary leadership of our great leaders who always inspire people to give their best and continue to excel. With many new projects being launched such as the Expo 2020, there are tremendous opportunities in every sector of the economy.”
He concludes: “For our company, we are getting new projects and are hopeful of a bright future to further grow and develop.”