Built to last

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
Al Rais says one of the key focus areas for the firm is the GCC’s multi-billion-dollar rail contracts.

Al Rais says one of the key focus areas for the firm is the GCC’s multi-billion-dollar rail contracts.

To say that things move quickly in the Gulf is something of an understatement. In 2010, when Mohammed Al Rais was made managing director of global construction consultant Hill International’s regional operations, the outlook for his industry wasn’t entirely positive. While the markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar looked strong, the same could hardly be said of Hill’s regional home base of Dubai, which was attempting to recover from a crisis founded on a property boom that had left many developers and contractors severely out of pocket.

“It was a challenge,” Al Rais recalls. “Everywhere you looked, people were pessimistic. But we’ve been here for 20 years, and this is a very important sector for us, not just in terms of the work but also the stability.

“But others were firing by the hundreds. I remember when I came in, on April 1, 2010, we looked at the backlog, and while we had a lot of promises, nothing came out, so we had to change focus and change direction, and add new markets, and I think that’s what gave us a huge push forward.”

Three years on, and Al Rais’ careful management of Hill’s resources has seen the firm diversify and pick up a series of project wins throughout the Gulf. It is currently working on some of the region’s most important and prestigious projects, including the Doha Metro, Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Midfield Terminal and the Jabal Omar complex in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

As a result, the region is starting to play a more important role in Hill International’s global operations. In his earnings call to discuss the firm’s 2012 results, president and CEO David Richter said that the Middle East and the US were now Hill’s strongest markets, during what has been a tough time for the world’s construction industry. During the company’s first-quarter call, Richter said that the region accounted for 42 percent of global consulting fees, up from 32 percent for the whole of 2012. That figure was largely due to work beginning on the $109m contract to supervise the expansion of Muscat International Airport, as well as stronger consulting fee gains in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Iraq.

Altogether, the value of Hill’s 45 current projects in the Middle East is $71bn. Last year, the firm signed $295m worth of new deals and there appear to be plenty more coming up. Al Rais says one of the key focus areas for the company is the GCC’s multi-billion-dollar rail contracts.

Last year, Hill won a key $59m deal to manage the design and construction of the green line of Doha’s Metro system, and it’s clearly hoping to use that contract as a springboard to further success.

Article continued on next page

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Qatar's labour requirements

Qatar's labour requirements

Qatar’s Supreme committee has published worker welfare standards...

$40bn housing deal may signal Gulf investment push into Egypt

$40bn housing deal may signal Gulf investment push into Egypt

Egypt's economy is recovering only slowly from the turmoil that...

Opportunity knocks

Opportunity knocks

Government-backed projects for Saudi’s housing markets have been...

Most Discussed
  • 10
    UAE father who whipped son to death wins appeal

    "Under Sharia, a parent cannot be executed for killing their child"
    A spouse could be executed if he/she kills his/her spouse, as none of them is... more

    Friday, 18 April 2014 3:38 PM - Nihar
  • 3
    To diet or not to diet?

    It is best to eat by your blood type. Following this diet is miraculous. Generic diets don't always work as certain foods are not good for the individual... more

    Friday, 18 April 2014 11:49 AM - Shamira Mitha
  • 2
    Saudi conservatives stage rare protest against Westernisation

    While one certainly appreciates a country to retain its own culture and heritage, one might call the current status in Saudi something like "stoneage"... more

    Saturday, 19 April 2014 1:51 AM - Non-Muslim
  • 54
    Three UAE women attacked with hammer at London hotel

    I really feel that Arabian Business.Com should now close this comments page. This should be all about sympathy for the families not what it is/has turned... more

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 1:06 PM - Adrienne
  • 51
    Why Dubai isn't a plastic city

    What is definitely not a plastic city. The Arabs have a culture dating back to several centuries. 50 years back Dubai was just a fishing village. Today... more

    Tuesday, 8 April 2014 3:49 PM - P. MADHUSUDAN
  • 48
    DMCC boss Ahmed Bin Sulayem entertains Robert Mugabe in Dubai

    @fga ''However today, simply because he decided to dispossess a few white farmers of their land and redistribute to the poorer indigenous blacks'' more

    Sunday, 13 April 2014 3:02 PM - Matt Williams