While construction work on many real estate projects in the UAE has been slowed down or suspended due to rising costs, Nigel Sale, Regional Director at Faithful & Gould, believes efficient and effective project management can limit the threat of escalating project costs.
Delays in completing projects has eaten into developers' margins but Dubai's land department also recently warned developers against using the ruse of cost increases to buy back properties from investors.
Speaking to Emirates Business, Sale said Faithful & Gould has been assisting clients in meeting time, cost, quality and other identified targets.
"The early introduction of an experienced project manager into the project cycle can assist the developer to set realistic targets with lessened risk of cost over-runs," said Sale. He said this was achieved through a professional evaluation of the client's needs, the resourcing problems faced by the contractors and the subsequent decisions taken on methods of procurement.
"We at F&G do it by applying sound management techniques for the planning, design and construction of a project," he said.
What are the main challenges the construction industry is facing at present?
There is a severe shortage of resources and people with skill and experience. In this regard, one of the values that F&G can bring to this market is its international experience and the transferable knowledge and resources that is available from its international workforce from its 60 offices in the UK, USA and Asia-Pacific regions.
Moreover the reputation of Faithful & Gould goes before it and we naturally attract staff of the highest quality because we can offer a long-term career with high quality training and ongoing education, enabling accreditation to professional bodies – such as RICS and MICE – and opportunities to work elsewhere in the world.
Most of the ongoing projects in the UAE are getting delayed. How do you think the problem can be solved?
There are projects getting delayed and often it is caused because completion dates are set too optimistically, although resource restraints on the designers and contractors and scheme changes are also having an affect.
Developers and contractors need to consider the restraints in the construction market place.
How can project managers help solve the problem? What are the factors that need to be considered before setting the completion date?
We understand the restraints and the difficulties that both developers and suppliers or contractors are facing. The early introduction of experienced project managers into the project cycle can assist the developer to set realistic targets with lessened risk of cost over-runs, through their professional evaluation of the client's needs as well as the resourcing problems faced by the contractors and the subsequent decisions taken on methods of procurement.
What are the major projects you will be involved with during the next few years?
To date we have worked on some 150 projects, providing a wide range of services including project management, commercial management (including cost estimating, post-contract management and contract administration) and facilities management. Our current workforce exceeds 200 – an increase of over 100 per cent from a year ago – and we are anticipating further growth during this year.
In Dubai, for example, besides the Jumeirah Lakes Towers we are working on the Jebel Ali Downtown and the International City projects while we have recently been awarded work on the Arabian Canal. In Abu Dhabi, we have just acquired the Zayed Sports City and Mazdar City projects and in Oman we are the project managers for the 2nd Asian Beach Games.
What are the highlights of your decade-long experience in the construction industry in the Gulf and especially in the UAE?
One of our first projects in the UAE was the Burj Al Arab, where we worked in association with Atkins. The construction industry in the region, and especially in the UAE, has grown tremendously since then and today is worth more than US $2 trillion. In 2004 we were awarded the contract for project management services for the infrastructure and common facilities on Jumeirah Lake Towers.
How has the company grown since it was launched 60 years ago?
We started off in a small way in 1947 in Bristol, England. The company witnessed steady growth to become one of the largest cost management consultants in the UK involved with major clients such as ICI and British Nuclear Fuels.
In 1996 Faithful & Gould became a member of the Atkins group. In 2002, Faithful & Gould acquired Hanscomb, which provided a spring-board into the US market. And in 2005 we started full-time operations in Dubai focusing on the Middle East and India.
Today, Faithful & Gould is one of the world's largest project and cost management companies. With a turnover in excess of Dh 1.17bn we employ more than 2,200 staff and have an expanding office base in the UK, USA, Europe, UAE and Asia Pacific Regions.
Nigel Sale Regional Director Nigel Sale, Regional Director for Faithful & Gould in the Middle East, is a civil engineer with more than 35 years' experience covering a range of management and technical skills, and looks after the running of complex and varied major projects.
He is also a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, UK. Since it was established in Bristol in 1947, F&B has grown from small beginnings to an international business of more than 64 offices worldwide.
The company claims it has been helping to change the face of construction over the past 60 years. In 1996 Faithful & Gould joined the Atkins group. Today, it is one of the world's largest project and cost management companies. With a turnover in excess of £160 million (Dh1.1bn), Faithful & Gould employs more than 2,000 people.