MEP Consultants and contractors: Special report


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Focus on the major sector players in the Middle East.

Al Habtoor - Specon

Number of employees in Middle East:Approximately 3,000

Number of employees worldwide:Approximately 3,500

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

In the Middle East Al Habtoor-Specon have operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In Europe it operates in Nicosia, Cyprus and Athens, Greece.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The firm has a trade license to undertake all mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) works in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

This includes hvac; plumbing and drainage; specialist systems such as LPG, LNG, kitchen and medical systems; high and low voltage electrical distribution; electronic systems and controls; security systems and alarms; firefighting and fire alarm systems; data and telecommunications.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firms key current projects include:

• Five-star Movenpick Hotel, JBR, Dubai; • The Emerald Palace Residences and Villas, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai; • Pier 8 residential development, Dubai Marina; • The Kempinski Hotel, Palm Jumeirah; • Sadiyaat Island Facilities, Abu Dhabi.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

The immediate plan is to strengthen the presence in Abu Dhabi through medium-high voltage power distribution work, then to move into the other Emirates. Further expansion plans could include Qatar, where the parent company Al Habtoor-Leighton is very strong, and at a later stage there is a possibility of moving into India and the wider Balkan area in Europe.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

To balance the tight deadlines imposed by clients in a market where there is over-demand of materials, with high quality work.

In many cases due to tight deadlines or ongoing architectural changes the MEP design of a building is incomplete or changing, making the milestones even harder to achieve.

How is the firm tackling these?

The firm is built around a team of experienced engineers and supervisors. The engineers have many years of experience in the Gulf on landmark projects and work as a team with the client engineers and MEP consultants to achieve optimal results on projects.

This takes into account and mitigates potential delays in material deliveries through re-engineering. In effect we are witnessing an approach to the design and build concept.

Bader Al Mulla & Bros

Number of employees in Middle East:More than 400 in Dubai and more than 4,000 in Kuwait.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

In the Middle East the firm's head office is in Kuwait, it also has an office and factory in Dubai.

Firms covered under the Al Mulla Group include Bader Al Mulla & Brothers; Saleh Jamal & Co; Maseelah Trading; Gulf Trading Group; Al Mulla Consultancy; Al Mulla Environmental Systems; Al Mulla Real Estate; Al Mulla Security Services; and Al Mulla International Exchange.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Within the engineering group the firm executes projects in the fields of electrical and mechanical services, fire protection and security, building automation and control, precision environmental and power systems.

In addition, it manufactures sheet metal duct and accessories for the hvac industry, dampers, sound attenuators and undertakes civil engineering projects. Specialist services offered by the firm:

MEP facilities maintenance; the manufacture of sheet metal ducting, transport refrigeration, UL-Listed Dubai CDA-approved fire and smoke dampers and sound attenuators.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

In Dubai the firm is currently undertaking work on Sky Gardens, DIFC; Bassam Tower, Barsha and four towers for Profile Group in Sports City.

In Kuwait it's current projects include Avenues Mall, Al Maidan Hospital, Al Omooma Hospital, Public Institute for Social Security, Kuwait Petroleum Complex and the State Audit Bureau Headquarters.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Expansions are planned for Oman, Qatar and within the UAE.

What do you consider the biggest challenge to the MEP sector at present?

Ensuring installations comply with the new green building initiatives.

How is the firm tackling this?

By training of key engineering staff in the necessary requirements.

Drake & Scull International (DSI)

Number of employees in Middle East:DSI employs approximately 7,000 people throughout the UAE; this figure is expected to grow to 8,000 by the end of 2008.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

DSI is a UAE-based company, with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Its specialist MEP contracting services and civil contracting services are offered throughout the UAE, while its industrial water and power contracting (IWP) services are offered across the GCC and the Middle East.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

DSI is a leading end-to-end service provider of MEP and civil contracting. It specialises in the design, integration, installation, start-up, testing, operation and maintenance of:

• district cooling plants and networks; • distribution systems for electrical power; • lighting systems; • low voltage systems, such as fire alarms, security and process control systems; • hvac and refrigeration systems; • plumbing, process and high purity piping; • civil contracting projects.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

DSI provides mechanical engineering services to industrial and process pipework; pipe gantries and support systems; plant and machinery installations; ventilation and air treatment; heating and hot water; automation and control systems; refrigeration and air conditioning.

It provides electrical engineering services for generation plants; power distribution systems; industrial and process services; lighting and power; fire detection and alarms; programmable logic control systems; graphics and SCADA systems; instrumentation; control and automation; security systems and data cabling.

The firm also offers cold water; drainage; fire protection; gas; industrial and process services; plumbing and sanitation; rainwater, sewage and wastewater treatment; seawater cooling and special water services.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

DSI is currently contracted to work on many different projects including:

• Souq Residences, Golden Mile; • Tiara Residences and Hotel, Palm Jumeirah; • Fairmont Palm Hotel and Resort; • Hadeed district cooling plant; • Infinity Tower, Dubai Marina; • Laguna Tower and Residences; • Dubai Tiara Towers; • Ocean Heights, Marsa; • Cayan Business Centre. Does the firm have any expansion plans?

DSI intends to expand geographically across the MENA region and into new customer segments through selective acquisitions and joint ventures, as well as internally to develop new opportunities in its industry. This expansion will be accomplished through:

• organic growth - the firm plans to expand its existing civil contracting and MEP services businesses to respond to market growth and to add capabilities to enhance opportunities for further development.

• inorganic growth - the firm is evaluating numerous acquisition opportunities and is seeking to acquire MEP and general contracting firms. It plans to grow vertically by acquiring supply companies (to secure raw materials) to provide a full range of services needed for the most technically complex of projects. DSI also intends to pursue identified horizontal growth opportunities across the region.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The MEP industry currently faces a supply deficit and shortage of quality contractors that have significant experience in the local region. This can be attributed to several factors, namely the exponential growth in demand in the industry over recent years and the inability of the existing players to meet this demand.

The lack of skilled and unskilled labour in the region has also severely hindered firms' growth and discouraged new entrants.

An important consideration is the type of projects that are being tendered. Several of those announced for development in recent years have been large scale, require technical innovations and, more importantly, involve high risk.

The existing players are reluctant to take on projects whose combined value often exceeds their capital base, further constraining the supply available for general contractors and developers.

The current boom in the region's construction sector has led to a widescale scarcity of equipment and materials, which could potentially result in delays in the completion of contracts.

How is the firm tackling these?

DSI limits its MEP services to iconic and high quality projects such as Dubai Internet City, JBR district cooling scheme, Zayed University, Dubai Festival City district cooling plant and Park Place Tower. The firm utilises it high technical expertise, proven track record and significant experience to undertake projects of that magnitude.

Emirates Trading Agency - Mechanical and Electrical Division

Number of employees in Middle East:Emirates Trading Agency (ETA) has approximately 18,000 employees for its Mechanical and Electrical Division and 68,000 for the whole ETA Ascon Star Group.

Number of employees worldwide:The ETA Mechanical & Electrical Division has approximately 2,000 further employees outside the UAE in addition to the above.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

The firm's UAE head office is in Dubai, it also operates throughout the other Emirates. In addition the firm has operations in:

• Egypt; • Doha, Qatar; • Kuwait; • Muscat, Sultanate of Oman; • Chennai, Calcutta, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pondicherry and Pune, India.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The Mechanical & Electrical (M&E) Division offers a wide range of services, including the supply and installation of air conditioning, electrical, sanitary, plumbing and fire protection systems.

It also offers extra low voltage (ELV) systems such as system integration and interoperability, security systems, telephone PABX systems, CO detection systems, fire alarm systems, PAVA systems, cctv systems, building management systems, door access control systems, interactive tv, video-on-demand and internet access.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

The firm's M&E Division is currently providing environmental control and other building services for a number of prestigious buildings throughout the region that include commercial and residential properties, hotels, shopping malls, banks, cinemas, hospitals, universities, airports, railways/metro stations, IT Parks, communications and industrial projects. On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

ETA has been an integral part of the growth and development of the UAE and is continuing to contribute to the completion of some of the major landmark developments in the region including:

• Burj Dubai; • eleven towers in Business Bay, Dubai; • Dubai Light Rail Project; • Jebeli Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA) Convention Centre; • Dubai Logistic Headquarters & Business Park for Jebel Ali International Airport; • Mirdiff City Centre for Majid Al Futtaim Investment, Dubai;• Ethihad Airport Terminal, Abu Dhabi; • Barwa City, Doha; • Qatar Navigation Tower, Doha; • 100,000TR district cooling system to serve Dubai World Central, Logistic City and Residential City; • 35,000TR district cooling system for Business Bay Executive Towers; • Delhi Airport, India.

Does the firm have any plans for future expansions?

The firm is planning to open an office in Bahrain in the near future.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The biggest challenges are the availability of suitable manpower and staff poaching.

How is the firm tackling these?

ETA is providing high quality projects, which necessitates a lot of training programs for staff with regards to quality, safety and fire protection. The firm reportedly suffers from a fair amount of poaching, which it believes is due to its investment in training and resulting high quality of staff. Its recruitment offices are geared to recruit suitable engineering professionals. Hastie International

Number of employees in Middle East:840

Number of employees worldwide:7,000 across the Hastie Group.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Hastie International is a branch of Hastie Group, which is a public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and included in the ASX Top 300 Index. The Group is today a global leading MEP and allied building services company, with sales over AUD $1.6 billion (AED5.4 billion); it employs more than 7,000 staff.

In the Middle East, Hastie International operates in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while other Hastie Group companies operate in further GCC countries.

Worldwide, the Hastie Group has offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Qatar and Singapore, with operations extending from MEP services to the oil and gas industry.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Hastie offers skills in all areas of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design and construction works, from specialised inhouse design and drafting teams, to construction and site-based personnel.

MEP contracting services within the design and construction sector include:

• air conditioning; • ventilation; • medium voltage electrical services;• low voltage electrical services;• extra low voltage electrical services; • plumbing; • fire alarm and protection.

In the business sector the firm covers commercial, residential, retail, hospitality, healthcare, commercial, aviation, light industrial and aviation industries.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

The firm's sepecialist services include 3D drafting and prefabrication: The Hastie Group, as one of Australia's leaders in the design and construction of building services, has made a commitment to lead the industry in the way that building services are delivered.

The firm's commitment to 3D implementation is such that all Hastie Group offices now have the capability to design in 3D by using both REVIT and Cad Duct Solid.Hastie believes that by fully integrating mechanical, electrical and plumbing services into a common architectural and structural platform (BIM), it will enable the firm to significantly cut the labour man-hours on site by adopting off-site prefabrication and modularisation of component parts.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Four of the firm's largest current projects are:

• Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi - a three-storey design and construct project that will cover 365,000m2 when complete; • O4F & 14 A Landmark Place, Dubai Festival City - a design development project for buildings that have 13-storeys plus four basements;• Four Seasons Hotel, Dubai Festival City - design development job; • JAL Hotel and mixed-use tower, Dubai - design development project involving two 50-storey towers for clients Acico & JAL. Currently in the design phase, the project is valued at US $32.7 million (AED120 million).

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Hastie International has a vision to expand its operations across other GCC countries in the near future; two particular areas of interest are Oman and Qatar.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

Clients failing to understand and see the issues that are resulting from high inflation costs. As a contractor the firm is closer to the bottom of the supply chain, where daily pressure is being generated on supply time-frames, pricing, the ability to obtain initial quotations and factors relating to the contractors' inability to be able to fix pricing at the early stages of a project.

How is the firm tackling these?

The firm is attempting to educate clients that an open book, two-stage tender process will allow them to be able to keep a project moving, while removing risk as this progression occurs.

The two-stage process allows items to be fixed in as the MEP contractor progresses, which ensures the project as a whole does not stall, yet pricing and price inflation is also managed.

Rotary International (Middle East)

Number of employees in Middle East:1,450

Number of employees worldwide:More than 8,000

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East the firm has operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Rotary international (Middle East) provides management, installation, commissioning and maintenance of all mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

In addition to the above services, the firm offers detailed value engineering and MEP support for design development of buildings to the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system. On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Current projects being undertaken by the Rotary International include:

• Novotel, Dubai - a three x 44-story, mixed-use tower project; • Ibis Dubai - a 480-room hotel; • Atlantis Dubai - a 1600-room hotel and water park on the Palm Jumeirah; • Burj Towers - two x 26-story apartment blocks; • fast-track housing, Qatar - project includes 1,800 low-cost residential units; • Jumeirah Palm link bridge works;• leisure project, Abu Dhabi;• office fit-out works, Dubai.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

The firm is currently planning to expand into Oman during 2008.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

Ensuring a reliable and good quality supply chain is one of the main challenges in this heated market.

In addition, the new environmental drivers in the market are going to require high quality support from the MEP sector.

How is the firm tackling these?

Rotary International has introduced a supply chain strategy that enables the firm to work closely with its supply chain and develop relationships that are rewarded on good performance. The State Group International

Number of employees in Middle East:The State Group has 6,000 employees available in the region through its joint venture partner SS Lootah.

Number of employees worldwide:The State Group, being an international company, has several thousands of employees worldwide.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East the State Group International has focused on the UAE up until the current date, notwithholding future development in other regions.

The firm is looking forward to providing its services to developers and main contractors throughout the UAE.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The firm offers a complete MEP package and is able to offer design and construction solutions through its partners.

The State Group International offers a North American and European approach to MEP services within the UAE.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm is currently installing gas farms for Palm Island and Discovery Gardens in Dubai.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

The State Group is a 47-year-old company and is always looking towards the future for development, so will consider further expansions.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The largest challenges to the market at present are the constantly growing cost of commodities and equipment in the MEP sector. These change quite frequently and cannot be forecast clearly as the increases are due to the high demand and shortages of materials.

How is the firm tackling these?

The State Group International is able to work with equipment vendors due to its established partnerships and through its relationships to secure pricing on commodities and equipment.

Thermo

Number of employees in Middle East:Around 16,000

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

The company is headquartered in Dubai. It also has subsidiary companies that operate as Thermo in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Doha, in Qatar.

Thermo is part of a large group that is primarily owned and run by Union Properties. This firm is one of the largest developers in the Middle East, with some huge residential and commercial projects underway.Within the group there are a variety of offshoots that all support developments, such as:

• project management firm Edara; • MEP contracting company Thermo; • facilities management firm Serve U; • an interior fitter called Fit Out; • an acoustic specialist, ductwork and damper manufacturer called Gmamco.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

As an MEP contractor, Thermo is responsible for a range of services that are related to construction projects, including building automation, air conditioning, power distribution and control systems, lighting, communications cabling, water treatment and drainage.

The mechanical design and engineering division includes air conditioning, fire fighting, electrical engineering and plumbing. Mechanical also covers air conditioning with building automation controls, heating or hot water, plant machinery, refrigeration and ventilation.

Electrical covers generating plants, power distribution systems, lighting, fire detection and alarms, power control systems, data and structured cabling.

Plumbing services offered include cold water, drainage, plumbing, sewerage treatment and sanitation, as well as swimming pool services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

In addition to the above, the company also operates a maintenance division for aftercare for its services, a specialist offshore and industrial division.

The offshore and industrial division operates for oil platforms, instrumentation and huge sewage treatment plants, meaning that it is not just mechanical, engineering, plumbing, but also the very big process jobs that are included within Thermo's scope.

The broad range of services now offered by Thermo is a response to changing client demands. The company has expanded its services widely over the years.

In the early days MEP could easily be seen as some electrical, some air conditioning and some plumbing, but clients are increasingly looking for one-stop shop solutions where they want specific services in the building to come under one MEP contract.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

One particularly large development that Thermo has been contracted for in recent years is the expansion project at Dubai International airport for client Dubai Civil Aviation. The new Terminal Three was handed over last May. In terms of MEP works the value was around AED3 billion.

The terminal has 34 gates, all designed and ready for Airbus A380 double-decker planes. The project required around 8,000 people and was one of the biggest MEP contracts and one of the biggest civil contracts in the region.

At present Thermo is in the process of tendering for MEP works for the Jebel Ali airport (JXB) in Dubai. JXB is planned to be the biggest airport in the world when finished and it will be ten times bigger than Dubai's International Airport.

Thermo is also currently undertaking work at MotorCity; a 38 million ft2 development in Dubailand that has a combination of residential, commercial and leisure use.

A Union Properties development, this involves a new racetrack with pits, grandstands and hospitality areas, plus around 3,000 apartments, 1,000 individual villas, shopping centres, two five-star hotels and a main street based on Rodeo Drive, USA. The project is scheduled for a 2012 finish and has a MEP value of around AED3 billion.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Established in 1976, Thermo has become one of the leading MEP contracting companies in the UAE. The firm currently has more than 16,000 personnel, but this number is increasing.

The company has grown rapidly over recent years, in line with the construction boom in the region. In the past three years, it has probably grown from 3,000 staff to 16,000 today.

Part of that is due to the economic growth of the region. Most firms involved in construction or engineering related to construction in this part of the world are growing rapidly.One area where Thermo has expanded its services to respond to changing demands is IT.

Its clients were seeking cable television and networking within high-rise tower blocks and hotels and to meet this demand the company now has a specific division that covers this IT requirement. This division now does all of its IT networking and CCTV services.

Thermo has no plans to expand into areas outside the UAE or the Gulf region. However, the company does have a joint venture in Qatar, which is about to be expanded. This joint venture is between Thermo and a contractor called OITC Group and is called OITCThermo.

The company combines the strengths of both businesses and has offices located in Doha, Qatar.

Trans Gulf Electro-mechanical

Number of employees in Middle East:650 engineering and skilled staff with 2,000 skilled artisans.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East the firm has offices in Dubai and Sharjah.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The firm provides the installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) systems; electrical and extra low voltage (ELV) systems; plumbing; drainage and firefighting services for high-rise commercial and residential buildings, hotels, resorts, catering facilities, serviced apartments, hospitals, shopping malls, luxury and semi-luxury villas, airports and heavy infrastructure works, district cooling plants, palace complexes and mosques.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

The firm offers civil and electro-mechanical services for district cooling plants. It has provided such services for several projects including Dubai Healthcare City and district cooling plants two and three (DCP2 and 3) at the Burj Dubai development.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm is currently involved in many projects in the region including:

• Burj Dubai development DCP3; • Meydan Racecourse Hotel and Dubai Racing Club, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai; • I-Riser Tower, TECOM Site C; • 305 villas for phase 1 of the Al Barari development, Dubailand; • The Canal Point Hospital project in Dubai which involves US $49.5 million (AED182 million) worth of MEP works over a 24-month contract period; • Harvard Medical College, which is located within Dubai Healthcare City; • Al Tayer Tower, Dubai, which comprises a 59-storey tower; • 79 villas for phase 2 of Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Structured growth is currently being planned by the Trans Gulf management. The firm plans to begin operations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi by the end of 2008.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The firm considers the sourcing of materials and manpower as the biggest challenge facing the sector.

How is the firm tackling these?

Trans Gulf's programme for tackling these issues involves attending more exhibitions and shortlisting more suppliers, as well as entering into strategic alliances with several key suppliers.

The company is also undertaking a continuous recruitment drive from India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Nepal and providing improved training methods.

Voltas Limited

Number of employees in Middle East:4,050

Number of employees worldwide:8,000

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Voltas is headquartered in India and is part of the Tata Group. Within the Middle East Voltas has branch offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that are engaged in undertaking electro-mechanical projects.

In addition, the firm has established the following joint ventures and wholly-owned subsidiaries within the Middle East region:

Joint ventures

• Universal Voltas, Abu Dhabi undertakes small electro-mechanical projects and related maintenance works; • Lalbuksh Voltas Engineering Services & Trading, Oman, which is engaged in deep well drilling for ground water, cathodic protection and mineral exploration drilling.• The firm handles modern irrigation systems for agricultural farms and automatic irrigation systems for areas such as parks and gardens. In addition, the company is involved in wastewater treatment and landscaping activities. Wholly-owned subsidiaries

• Metrovol, Jebel Ali, Dubai is wholly owned by Voltas and engaged in the trading of engineering goods, chemicals, granite and allied engineering products;• Weathermaker, Jebel Ali, Dubai is engaged in mechanised ducting fabrication for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) air distribution. The firm uses the latest computerised machinery to mass-produce GSS ducting for delivery throughout the entire Middle East region.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

In the Middle East Voltas offers design and construction services for mechanical, electrical and public works projects. It also specifically carries out turnkey projects in electro-mechanical works comprising of electrical building services, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) systems, plumbing, public health, firefighting, extra low voltage (ELV) and specialised systems.

The firm also provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) works for district cooling plants.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Voltas offers design and build services for MEP construction projects to enable developers to deliver buildings more quickly and cost-effectively. The company has set up a Global Engineering Centre in India to further strengthen its engineering capability towards fulfilling clients' requirements.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Under a joint venture with ETA and Hitachi Plant Technologies, the firm is installing MEP services in Burj Dubai.

At the Ferrari Experience theme park in Abu Dhabi, Voltas is providing mechanical and hvac works for the Formula-1 Race track that is under construction on Al Yas Island.

The Etihad Towers project in Abu Dhabi involves the provision of MEP works for a mixed-use development that includes five towers comprising of three residential towers, one commercial tower, one 74-storey hotel tower and a shopping mall on a common podium and underground car parking structure.

In Bahrain, Voltas is providing MEP works for Kempinsky Hotel and Ixir Hotel at Bahrain City Centre, Kingdom of Bahrain.

At the Oceana Movenpick Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, the firm is providing MEP works for the 15-storey, five-star property that consists of approximately 251 guest rooms and 137 furnished hotel apartments.

Further projects currently being undertaken by the firm in Dubai include EPC works for the 42,000TR capacity North District Cooling Plant and seven energy transfer stations to be constructed in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

In addition, Voltas is providing MEP works for five floors of the Deira Movenpick Hotel & Apartment building, which will have approximately 223 hotel guest rooms and 247 furnished hotel apartments on completion.

In Qatar, Voltas is providing MEP works for the Villaggio retail, sports and entertainment centre in Doha; plus mechanical works for the Barwa City Phase I Development.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Voltas is currently considering undertaking expansion throughout the GCC into countries such as Kuwait and Libya.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The biggest issue currently facing companies operating in the Gulf is human resources. The rapid economic expansion has fuelled demand for human resources across the board.However, inflation, particularly in housing costs, coupled with the depreciation of GCC currencies against the Euro and the Rupee, is making a job in the Gulf less attractive than it was two years ago.

As a result, companies will have to place far greater emphasis on increasing productivity.

How is the firm tackling these?

Voltas has employed a strategy of worldwide recruitment as against recruiting from only Asia. The company has been able to tap required human resources from South East Asian countries, Europe and various Gulf countries.

Atkins

Number of employees in Middle East:2,500

Number of employees worldwide:18,000

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Atkins has more than 200 permanent offices across the world. Within the Middle East it has offices in Dubai; Abu Dhabi; Sharjah; Manama, Bahrain; Doha, Qatar; Safat, Kuwait; Muscat, Oman; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. What are the primary services offered by the firm?

As one of the parent company's major business streams, the Middle East unit mirrors what the Atkins Group does worldwide, providing a portfolio of skills in a multi-disciplinary approach.

This allows the company to work with a client from the very outset of a project to the final end delivery across a diverse range of project types.

Whether it is conducting feasibility studies and implementing environmental impact assessments, providing full architectural and engineering design services for the hotel and leisure sectors or detailed design for the transportation or oil and gas sectors, Atkins has demonstrated design capabilities across a wealth of market sectors including:

• masterplanning and urban design • environmental services • transport engineering - road and rail; • civil engineering • building design (architecture, structural engineering, MEP engineering, specialist building services and building physics) • oil and gas engineering • airports and industrial design • construction supervision

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Within the building design field the firm offers architecture, structural engineering, MEP engineering, specialist building services, interior design, airport terminals, education, hospitals, hotels, mixed-use, offices and commercial, residential, retail, sports and leisure, building sustainability and building physics, rail stations, depots and control centres.

Its civil and infrastructure division provides road design, rail design, bridges, viaducts and tunnels; utility services; marine and port facilities; land reclamation; and hydro-geological services.

Further divisions include geotechnical engineering, construction supervision, energy, industrial, landscape design and management services. The environmental services division provides EIA or ESIA services; permits and policies; planning and conservation.

Low carbon design is carried out by the sustainability division. There is also a business segment for oil and gas engineering, planning, transport engineering, transportation and water, which caters for networks, supply distribution, process and wastewater.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

We are involved in hundreds of projects across the region, some examples include:

• Bahrain World Trade Centre • DIFC Lighthouse Tower, Dubai • Trump International Hotel Tower, Dubai • Iris Bay, Dubai • Dubai Metro • Durrat al Bahrain • Dubai Promenade

Does the firm have expansion plans?

As demand for the firm's services remains strong its growth continues at a significant rate.Looking for new ways to reinforce the organisation and bring in capable staff, it has recently appointed a Resident Director of Atkins in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Also this year it established a design operation in Manila, Philippines, which undertakes multi-discipline design work for the Middle East offices, specifically architecture, structural design and building services engineering.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

Managing the increased profile of the MEP engineer within building design, particularly in light of the new emphasis on sustainability and green buildings.

Other challenges include: client commercial awareness and higher expectations; and the emerging economies drawing labourers away from the region.

How is the firm tackling these issues?

Atkins is tackling these issues by training its MEP engineers as LEED Accredited Professionals (AP). The firm now has a significant number of LEED AP's in the office.

The company is placing greater focus on services integration and passive design and focusing on carbon consumption.

The firm educates its staff in sustainability issues; it continues its collaboration with academia to develop innovative and deliverable sustainable solutions; it aims to inspire and challenge its clients, employees and supply chain to deliver holistic sustainable solutions to concepts and projects.

Atkins' approach to sustainability extends not just to consultancy services, but also to its impact as a corporate entity.

From the way the company recruits and retains staff, to how it manages the environmental impact of its operations and property portfolio, Atkins continuously strives to improve the positive impact it can have on the society, economy, and environment in which we operate, while seeking to minimise any adverse impacts.

Buro Happold Consulting Engineers

Number of employees in Middle East:120

Number of employees worldwide:2,005

Inwhich countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East, Buro Happold has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Kuwait and Cairo.

Other offices are based in Bath, London, Belfast, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Berlin, Dublin, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York and Warsaw.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The primary services offered by Buro Happold include multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy services, providing a comprehensive general and specialist engineering consultancy for the design of complete developments, buildings and their infrastructure.

Specialistservices offered by the firm:

In addition to its consultancy services described above, the firm provides FEDRA, geotechnical and security services.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Current Middle East projects include:

Louvre Abu Dhabi:Designed by 2008 Pritzker prize winner Jean Nouvel, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be built in the cultural district of Saadiyat Island and is due to open in 2012.

Landmark Abu Dhabi:A major high-rise development that is located on the Corniche in Abu Dhabi, this will have an approximate height of 310m over 61 storeys.

Buildings by Daman, Dubai:Located within the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the project will have a built area of approximately 280,000 m2and will include residential, offices, Sky Hotel, automated car parking, rooftop helicopter landing and three ‘smart' luxury penthouses.

Al Khiran Pearl City, Kuwait:The project involves a 6,400 hectare site that is located 85km south of Kuwait City. The planned development of Pearl City is expected to be over 25 years, with a final population anticipated to be 100,000 when the development is complete. The primary objective is to develop Al Khiran Pearl City as a water-based development that sets a high standard for other such projects in the Middle East.

Arriyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:The project involves the restoration of this important historical city near Riyadh, which comprises adobe buildings and palaces.

KSA Embassy, Cairo:The project comprises two towers: one 15-storey residential tower and one 22-storey office tower located next to the River Nile in Egypt. Once completed it will be the client's largest embassy building.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

Buro Happold recently opened a new office in Pune, India, in order to expand its operations into that region.

Whatdo you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The soaring construction costs and inflation that are making the running of profitable local businesses more and more difficult.

The competitiveness of providing services locally is being eroded.

The overheated market with rush deadlines constantly threatens the quality of the work undertaken, both at consultancy and construction/installation stages.

The increasing size of projects lend themselves to quantity orientated companies as opposed to quality focus.

The challenges that sustainability and environmental and energy awareness bring are very positive, especially when inherent in the iconic projects that are currently being visualised by architects and clients.

How is the firm tackling these?

The company is increasing even further its practice inter-office collaboration in order to ensure that resources, both in quantity and suitability, are available to match all project requirements.

It is also intending to introduce locally other specialist services that Buro Happold as a worldwide practice offers.

Cansult Maunsell

Number of employees in Middle East:More than 3,000

Number of employees worldwide:Cansult Maunsell is part of AECOM, which has more than 35,000 employees around the world.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Cansult Maunsell is one of the largest engineering, design and project management firms in the Middle East. Within the United Arab Emirates, Cansult Maunsell has offices established in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah. The company also has offices in Doha, Qatar; Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia; and Seef, Bahrain.

Cansult Maunsell is AECOM's lead operation in the Middle East, serving the building engineering, transportation, planning, design and development, programme management and water engineering markets.

AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services to a broad range of markets, including transportation, facilities, environment and energy.

AECOM is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves. It provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments.

The company serves clients in more than 60 countries and posted revenue of US $4.2 billion during the fiscal year 2007.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Cansult Maunsell provides design and engineering consultancy services, in addition to programme and construction management services.

Within the building engineering sector, Cansult Maunsell's primary services include:

• architecture • concept and detail design • structural engineering and Analysis • MEP • building services • interior design

As global building engineers, Cansult Maunsell and AECOM focus on delivering advanced design solutions that meet the needs of its clients and the planet.Combining a comprehensive range of technical services with in-depth coverage, the firm is delivering buildings that are larger, more complex, more sustainable and more technically advanced than ever before.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Within the division of Applied Sight and Sound - Acoustics, the firm provides advice to clients on building and architectural acoustics, noise control and vibration.

Cansult Maunsell also offers LEED Consultancy Services, including guidance in the documentation process required for the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

In addition, the firm provides lighting design for a wide variety of architectural and environmental projects. On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Current significant Cansult Maunsell MEP projects include:

• Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, UAE; • Al Wa'ab City, Doha, Qatar; • Dubai Studio City Soundstages, Dubai, UAE; • University of Sharjah Teaching Hospital, Sharjah, UAE; • Ain Khalid Commercial Development, Doha, Qatar; • Barwa City Development, Doha, Qatar.

Does the firm have expansion plans?

Cansult Maunsell's goal is growth by acquisition and organic growth and the company is openly looking for acquisitions within the Middle East region.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

Currently the greatest challenge the company faces within the MEP sector and across all of the company's fields of services, is attracting and retaining experienced professional employees.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

Cansult Maunsell wants to be the employer of choice within the Middle East and has launched an employee engagement programme that is intended to make its staff feel connected to their work and allow them to develop professionally to their full potential.

In addition, the company offers competitive salary and benefits packages.

Burt Hill

Number of employees in Middle East:Burt Hill has more than 550 professionals based in the UAE offering fully integrated services from design architecture, masterplanning vision planning, economic land use management, engineering, infrastructure, structural engineering, interiors, project management and site supervision.

Number of employees worldwide:The company has more than 1,000 staff members worldwide who work within select design studios that specialise in various market sectors.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Burt Hill operates from two offices in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It has ten offices in the USA, including Boston, Butler, Charlotte, Cleveland, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, State College and Washington DC.

The firm also has an office in Ahmedabad, India that is currently working on several projects throughout the country.

What are the primary services offered by the firm?

Burt Hill is an international architectural and engineering firm that offers a full spectrum of services including commercial, residential, healthcare, education, research and technology.

It is best known for its vision masterplanning and project branding. Specialist services offered by the firm:

The firm's key strength within the Middle East is its destination development service, which represents designing comprehensive, successful and desirable mixed-used projects.

Burt Hill is a multi-service provider for developers. The company services include feasibility studies, land-use allocation reports, creativity and masterplanning.

In addition, the company offers advanced technological services to its many clients through its development of existing AutoDesk technology.

Burt Hill has broadened the application of this software in order to speed up the design process with the ability to immediately see what impact alterations to building structure will have.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm is currently involved in many projects in the region including:

• Canal Point, Dubai • Jebel Ali Village, Dubai • Motor City, Dubai • The Canyons, Fujeirah • Golden Beach Hotel, Fujeirah • Al Aqr Resort, Oman • Salam Resort, Morocco • Salam Resort, Oman

The total value of Burt Hill Dubai's current commissions is in excess of US$153 billion.

Its biggest commission is Motor City for Union Properties, which spans over 850 hectares. This is nearly 20 times larger than the Vatican City, in Rome. Motor City is also the firm's most expensive commission, valued at more than US$6 billion.

The development comprises residential, hotel and office buildings and a Formula One (F1) Theme Park.

The Canyons is a 25,000,000 m2 resort town in Wurai'ah Valley, Fujeirah, this includes a series of water features linked by wadis, with emphasis on centres with different uses of water and reflects Fujeirah's agricultural heritage.

Does the firm have expansion plans?

Burt Hill has an ever expanding order book; it has a strong brand in the US and is going from strength to strength in the UAE.

The firm in the Middle East is a young, dynamic practice, with more than 550 members of staff and is still growing.

The company aims to expand its services into the UAE market and to be recognised as global architectural and engineering expert.

The firm is focused on maintaining its rapid growth in recruitment and new business wins while not compromising on the quality of the services it provides. Its ultimate aim is to be a global market leader.

What do you consider the biggest challenge to the MEP sector at present?

Tackling the world's energy transition from a fossil fuel energy source to a more sustainable energy source will be the biggest challenge in the near future.

This will require engineers to be involved from an early stage in the design process with the architects and owners to ensure that the proper building integration occurs.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

By working together with all disciplines, Burt Hill is delivering more integrated buildings that utilise the latest technology and products.The company is an industry leader in energy modelling and in drawing production technologies.

CKR Consulting Engineers

Number of employees in Middle East:60

Number of employees worldwide:120

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East the firm is located in Dubai, UAE. On a worldwide scale CKR has three offices in South Africa: Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. What primary services are offered by the firm?

The firm offers mechanical, electrical, electronic, plumbing and drainage (MEPD) consulting services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Fully-fledged extra low voltage (ELV) and electronic services form an integral part of the MEPD services.

This gives the firm an edge for hospitality-related projects.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm's current projects include:

• Golden Mile, Palm Jumeirah • The Fairmont Residence and Hotel, Palm Jumeirah • Royal Mirage Phase Three, Palm Jumeirah • Al Fattan Hotel & Residences, Palm Jumeirah • Al Fattan Commercial and Residential Tower, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) • Marriott Hotel & Marriott Executive Apartments, Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) • Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi • Eastern Mangrove, Abu Dhabi

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

CKR is planning to extend its services to other emirates as well as to the sub-continent and other Middle Eastern countries.

The firm is always planning for the future as far as expansion is concerned. If the workload requires the company to grow in order to maintain the level of service expected, then growth will always be a key factor in the firm's strategic planning.

What do you consider the biggest challenge to the MEP sector at present?

The biggest challenge in the field of MEPD services is identifying good competent contractors to execute designs efficiently, cost-effectively and within acceptable programme deadlines and quality.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

The firm uses strong tender and procurement processes, with exhaustive pre and post tender interviews, also some clients may agree pre-qualification and the direct negotiation of a contract. CKR also promotes strong stakeholdership amongst all parties to forge a good project team.

Deerns Middle East

Number of employees in Middle East:Within the Dubai office there are six permanent members of staff, which are supported frequently from the main office. There are also various other staff working directly on projects in the region.

Number of employees worldwide:Approximately 500

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

The firm has a full branch in Dubai, UAE, and is active through partners in Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; and Sana'a, Yemen. What are the primary services offered by the firm?

The firm offers MEP and LEED consultancy services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

• Specialist MEP designs for hospitals, laboratories and data centres • Airport engineering landside and airside • Energy modelling and simulations • Independent elevator simulations• Logistical studies

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm is currently undertaking various LEED consultancy projects: Abu Dhabi Airport; Midfield Terminal Complex, Cairo; Cairo International Airport Terminal Three and Borg al Arab. Does the firm have expansion plans?

Plans for expansion exist, however, no office openings are foreseen for the near future.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The biggest challenges in the Middle East region are certainly energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.

Concepts have to be developed that minimise the demand as much as possible; generate energy from sustainable sources; and use fossil fuels as efficiently as possible.

How is the firm tackling these?

The firm's proven track record on energy and environmental issues enables it to find new ways for higher energy efficiency, working in close co-operation with the other design team members from the early stages of the project.

A truly integrated approach is the best way forward to achieve the best results and optimal LEED ratings.

Deerns' research and development department is presently dedicating special attention to discovering new ways of harnessing solar energy, in the GCC countries in particular.

Hyder Consulting Middle East

Number of employees in Middle East:The firm employs a regional team of more than 1,400 professionals, who work in the Middle East.

Number of employees worldwide:As a global consultancy, the firm employs more than 4,500 people.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Hyder Consulting Middle East operates from offices located in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar.

Worldwide, the company also has offices in the UK, Australia and Hong Kong. What primary services are offered by the firm?

Working closely with its international network of staff resources and utilising the latest technology and systems, the firm is able to deliver solutions in the following disciplines on which clients and partners can build and grow:

• mechanical, electrical and plumbing • structural and civil engineering • tall buildings and high-rise • geotechnical engineering • infrastructure• transportation planning, assessment and design • highways • bridges • water and wastewater management • solid waste • management advisory services• sustainable design• oil and gas engineering• health and safety • environmental solutions• wind and seismic studies • master planning and urban planning • urban design and landscape • architecture• quantity surveying • heavy and light rail• security• facades • acoustics • project management • coastal and marine • intelligent transport systems (ITS) • telecommunications and information technology On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Established for over 45 years, the company is at the forefront of regional growth, contributing to the engineering of prestigious developments such as:

• The Burj Dubai and City of Arabia, Dubai • Shams Abu Dhabi, Reem Island, Abu Dhabi • Lusail and Education City, Qatar • Al Areen Resort & Spa, Bahrain

Does the firm have expansion plans?

As part of the firm's expansion plans in the region it will be setting up a bigger office in Bahrain and will also be moving into new countries such as India and Oman. What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The real issues that are prevalent are related to getting consultants up to speed with designing and conforming to green standards.

In reality, the single largest challenge is to maintain an holistic approach and to ensure that options are not ruled out too early.

Benchmarking schemes such as the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system or the UK's BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) present a great deal of uncertainty as they are not customised for this region.

Some developers adopt these, while many others do not consider this as it is not part of legislation yet.

Another challenge within the MEP sector is the shortage of qualified personnel in this region. Often companies have to source experts internationally.

While this has been relatively easy in the past, current inflation and cost of living in the Middle East is making it more difficult to hire the appropriate taskforce.

How is the firm tackling these issues?

The firm's experience in the UAE is that responsible design using best international standards in conjunction with current performance standards from government indicates that buildings will achieve minimum standards for certification, simply because this is based on benchmarking schemes such as LEED or BREEAM that are not currently adapted to the climate of this region.

Hyder Consulting already utilises best international practice; this is based on its position as a global organisation that is committed to a corporate social responsibility in what it designs and how it operates.

The standards for benchmarking by the real estate industry in the region are currently following internationally accepted best available advice. However, this is not the complete package as they need to be adapted to this region.

This requires local regional knowledge, something that Hyder Consulting offers after being in the region for 45 years with an office in Abu Dhabi for 35 years.

Hyder Consulting continually aims to maintain and enhance its leading position through its commitment to Quality Management Systems and Environmental Management reflecting the requirements of the latest ISO accreditation.

These systems incorporate documented procedures for projects, time/cost control, health and safety issues and environmental management.

Hyder Consulting's design philosophy remains inherently flexible to respond to local requirements with the objective of raising living standards, supporting commercial development and protecting the environment.

Its expertise and experience has enabled the firm to emerge as a leading engineering consultancy committed to creating value for all its stakeholders. Red Engineering Middle East

Number of employees in Middle East:22 employees plus 46 in Manila, the Philippines as support designers.

Number of employees worldwide:The firm has 100 employees in total worldwide: 30 in the UK; 20 in Dubai; 46 in Manila; and two in Abu Dhabi. In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East, Red Engineering has operations in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. It has further operations in the UK and the Philippines.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Red provides traditional MEP services in innovative ways. It also offers LEED assessment and energy modelling services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Red designs M&E service systems with a focus on practical innovation and low energy solutions. Its designs lead to lower capital and operating costs and the firm has a long track record in practical green solutions that can be effectively delivered.

Services offered include: LEED assessments; energy modelling; and design appraisal. Red's experience spans international hotel, residential, office and data centre projects, with a regular focus on creating simplicity and energy efficiency.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

• No. 1 Park Avenue, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) • Marina Hotel, Al Yas Island, Abu Dhabi • Tall tower modelling• The Torch Tower, Dubai Marina • Al Nasser Headquarters Building • Al Sadiyaat Island district cooling • Royal Oceanic Tower, Dubai Marina • Jumeirah Beach Club No. 1• Capital Centre Hotel, Abu Dhabi • BASF Dubai Facilities • Hilton Addis Ababa • Cinestar Mirdiff City Centre, Dubai • Ethihad Tower Spa

Does the firm have expansion plans?

The Abu Dhabi office was launched in June 2008, and a larger or second Dubai office is planned for Q3 of 2008.

What do you consider the biggest challenge to the MEP sector at present?

Recruiting quality staff.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

Red tries to overcome this problem by offering its employees incentives, recognition and career progression.

SDT International

Number of employees in Middle East:39 staff and currently recruiting more.

Number of employees worldwide:The firm has a total of 58 staff including MEP, LEED and structural engineers in the UK, USA and the Middle East.

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

The firm's headquarters is in London and it has two further offices in Dubai and Beirut, with associated LEED Certified Engineering Partners in the USA.Within the Middle East the company has been operating initially in the UAE and Lebanon. A company that it has acquired has previously carried out work in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and Eastern Europe.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The firm specialises in MEP design; sustainability green design with LEED certified engineers; civil and structural engineering; as well as the facilities and project management of MEP services.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

SDT's advanced research and development capability supports mechanical, electrical and public health issues. These services are complemented by engineering knowledge in the areas of acoustics, lighting, energy efficiency, power generation, fire protection, security, building management, IT, plus voice and data communications.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

The firm is involved in many projects including: the Ajman Gate Mall and Twin Towers development and the Dubai Canal District Cluster 1 sustainability MEP concept report.

Does the firm have any expansion plans?

SDT has been invited by its clients to have offices in Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Oman. It intends to open new offices in 2009 and 2010.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

With the emphasis on green design and energy efficient buildings the firm likes to approach every project on its individual merits and use, thereby designing bespoke systems and not general MEP services.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

The firm believes in carrying through calculations to assess the design requirements and looking at how to minimise the demand for power, lighting and air conditioning, by studying facade engineering, the use of better thermal insulation and bespoke services design systems.

Whitby & Bird Engineers

Number of employees in Middle East:200+

Number of employees worldwide:7,500+

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Whitby & Bird's headquarters in the Middle East is in Dubai, the firm also has another regional office in Abu Dhabi.

Worldwide, Whitby & Bird has further offices in London, Almaty, Birmingham, Brisbane, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Gdansk, Glasgow, Krakow, Leeds, Manchester, Mumbai, Oslo, Stockholm, Verona, Warsaw and Winchester.

The firm has recently merged with Ramboll Group, which has a global presence and a 7,500-plus strong workforce and offers quality engineering services worldwide.

Ramboll is a knowledge-based company that operates close to 130 offices in the north European region and from around 20 offices in the rest of the world. In addition, Ramboll has other branches in Australia, Russia, Lithuania, Belgium, Germany, Norway and Sweden.Ramboll is a multi-disciplinary firm that provides services under seven main service areas including buildings and design, as well as energy and climate.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

Whitby & Bird Dubai offers a wide range of engineering design and supervision services covering sectors including MEP - which covers mechanical, electrical, low current, security, AV/IT and public health systems - structure, fire and life safety, facade, sustainability and renewable energy.

Specialist services offered by the firm:

Within its energy and climate division the firm covers energy planning and strategy, district cooling, combined heat and power, energy production and transmission, plus renewable energy design and application.

In the buildings and design division, specialisms include facilities management, façade engineering, fire and safety design, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (hvac) engineering, sustainability services and technical due diligence.

Asset management, supply chain management, survey and data analysis, project management and international development are further parts of the firm's portfolio.

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

Currently the firm is involved in a lot of projects all over the Middle East, but the bulk of its current projects are in Dubai. The Dubai projects include: Bay Gate Tower, U-Bora Towers, The Pad, The Opus, Damac Heights, Dubai Water Front (various phases), Al Ghurair City Phase-II, Fortunato Development, Prudential Towers, Iris Crystal, Empire Tower, Shining Towers and DWC.

Does the firm have expansion plans?

Expansions are currently planned for Australia and Canada.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

• The availability of qualified experienced resources for design and supervision to keep pace with the ongoing hyper-activity in the region's real estate and construction industries.• The retention of experienced and trained members of staff.• Fast-track projects and unrealistic timeframes for the completion of MEP designs.• The increased demand on essential infrastructure eg electricity, water and gas.• Varied requirements for different authorities in their respective territories.• The integration of the requirements of the US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system within building design.• Determining alternative means of energy resources to further the cause of green building designs.

How is the firm tackling these?

The company is regularly recruiting technically trained people both locally and elsewhere in the wider Middle East, along with overseas staff from Europe and from within Ramboll anywhere in the world interested in working in Dubai.

Whitby & Bird Dubai was established in 2005 and it aims to be considered as one of the best engineering consultancy companies to work with by 2009/2010.

WSP Middle East

MEP: Number of employees in Middle East:700

Number of employees worldwide:9,500

In which countries does the firm operate worldwide?

Within the Middle East, WSP has offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Syria. Currently it is carrying out projects in the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Kuwait and Jordan.

Worldwide WSP has offices in the UK, Europe, USA, Africa, India, The Far East and Australia.

What primary services are offered by the firm?

The principal services are:

• building engineering services including mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) and structural systems• transport and infrastructure services• environment and energy services Specialist services offered by the firm:

Within the property sector, the company deals in the following:

• building services • intelligent building design • specialist lighting design • vertical transportation design • LEED engineering• earthquake engineering• fire engineering • high-rise / tall buildings• structural design

Within the transport and infrastructure sector, WSP offers services for:

• bridges and tunnels• highways and urban roads• traffic and transportation planning• urban planning• ports and coastal

The environment and energy division deals with the following:

• acoustics, noise and vibration• environment planning• environmental due diligence• waste and resource management• energy and sustainability services• soil and groundwater

On which Middle East projects is the firm currently involved?

• Dubai World Trade Centre Development - Phase 1 • Al Raha Beach Development, Abu Dhabi • Al Salam Resort, Bahrain • City of Arabia, Dubai • Sports City, Dubai• Yas Island, Abu Dhabi • Jeddah Corniche Tower, Saudi Arabia • Mirdif City Centre, Dubai • Shaza Hotel, Cairo, Egypt • Expo Plaza & Expo Precinct, Dubai

Does the firm have expansion plans?

WSP has recently opened an office in Syria and plans to open further offices in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan by January 2010.

What do you consider the biggest challenges to the MEP sector at present?

The biggest challenge is the locating and development of quality staff. With the demand for staff increasing it becomes more and more important to ensure that the company can hire and retain the best staff available.

How is the firm tackling this issue?

By ensuring the work environment and conditions are amongst the best and by working on internal training and development, the attraction of the best quality staff becomes easier and the staff retention rates remain high. This in turn guarantees quality and therefore delivery is secured.

As well as the retention of quality staff being of fundamental importance for WSP ME, the retention and development of quality clients is paramount to the firm's continued success.

WSP ME aims to build and develop strong client relations and partnerships to ensure high levels of repeat business.

RELATED LINKS:Preparing for issues ahead, Servicing the building boom

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