Leading figures in the UAE construction industry predict the major trends and issues that will disrupt the market in 2019
Over the last few years, we at ALEC have worked on some high-profile projects and we are seeing a few trends influencing the construction industry that might change the way we build in the future.
We are noticing a great trend towards design and build delivery projects. The brief is clear, and it will be a more efficient delivery model in the market. Design and build projects provide flexibility through a variety of approaches ranging from procurement to contracting, including best-value selection and progressive design-build.
We notice various positive aspects that contribute towards the success of a project by adopting this model, with the reduction in design time and the simplification of construction drawings, additional potential value engineering opportunities and the ability for the contractor to innovate when it comes to constructability.
It does change the cycle life of the project by considerably reducing the overall risk, as the contractor is a single point of contact and responsible for the design, and it streamlines the construction phase and potentially reduces calendar time.
The other trend is going to be a shift towards modular construction where a lot more off-site production will take place. We see a reduced impact on the surroundings in busy cities in term of pollution, noise, etc, as most of the production will be happening in a controlled environment where site logistics (traffic management, noise pollution, congested area) are no longer a challenge for the contractor.
We see also our industry going towards energy efficiency from a sustainability point of view. We are quite fortunate that due to the various businesses that we are involved with, we can add value to our clients. Two of our related businesses will support this new trend and assist current and future businesses to lean towards energy efficiency.
As an example, Dubai Hills Mall’s solar power facility will feature 24,000 solar panels on the mall’s roof and is expected to generate 10.5m kwh/units of electrical energy within a year of operational commencement. As a result, the project will record an offset of 4.62m kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year – the equivalent of offsetting the annual CO2 emissions of 1,673 passenger vehicles. ALEC Energy will provide system design, local approval and construction services for the plant, which will be built and commissioned in line with Dubai Hills Mall’s programme.
ALEC’s work on the Dubai Hills Mall scheme exemplifies how contractors can add value to both a project and its developer. This collaboration across the supply chain, from clients down to subcontractors, is essential, and a contractor’s early involvement can ensure that efficiency gains are accumulated across the construction life cycle.
We have to create a culture of innovation throughout the business where everyone is constantly trying to figure out how to improve efficiency and production. Everything should be simplified as much as possible, and improvements should be recognised and communicated throughout the business. Innovation is key and we have seen an appetite for new technologies and innovation across our industry.
We also notice that the UAE is growing – the population is growing at approximately 100,000 people a year, and with that comes demand for everything. Al Maktoum International Airport is still going to be developed, and Dubai Creek Harbour is a massive development that is kicking into gear – there’s a huge amount of work that’s going to take place.
Even after Expo 2020, we do have large and complex projects that are going to be on the go, and I think that will sustain market activity.