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Thu 17 Jan 2008 04:00 AM

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Abu Dhabi 2008: quality vs quantity?

With construction in the UAE's capital on the increase, what's in store for Abu Dhabi's FM sector in 2008?

With competition between Dubai's booming construction industry and the more reserved Abu Dhabi growing stronger, the FM sector is set to rapidly emerge in the UAE's capital.

According to Stephen Barker, director, Operon, there is currently a distinct division between the Dubai and Abu Dhabi FM markets. "It's different in Abu Dhabi. The clients are more mature, street wise and selective. I don't think it's quite as cut-throat.

The FM market is different in Abu Dhabi. The clients are more mature, street wise and selective

"You'll find that a developer in Dubai might want to align itself with one service provider. But here, people have been
commercially sharp and know some of the developments are too big for just one FM company. So they've used three models, a joint venture, strategic partnership and simple outsourcing," he Barker.

Last year's research report on the FM market, conducted by Frost & Sullivan, concluded that the UAE in particular, was seeing a shift from single service providers to a more integrated package. A trend Iain Hartfield, general manager, ServeU, is also experiencing.

"People are just getting used to the idea of integrated services, whereas at the moment, everyone still provides single streams. They are slowly coming round and this is evidenced by some key clients starting to ask about it," he said.

The reason for this trend could stem from the large-scale developments Abu Dhabi is currently witnessing, starting to take shape. Aldar's Al Raha Beach and Yas Island developments and the Tourism Development & Investment Company's (TDIC) Saadiyat Island, to name a few.

Karim Alayli, regional manager for the Middle East at Norbain, supports this claim. "The idea of facilities management is still quite a new concept in Abu Dhabi, but the large-scale projects will help the growth of the sector. I believe that in the third quarter of 2008, we will see many advancements in FM."

With the potential promise of large FM contracts up for grabs this year, Barker predicts that more players will start to enter the Abu Dhabi market.

"If you look at the size of the market and amount of large-scale, prestige developments and then work out what the FM market will be worth over the next five to 10 years, I think it will attract more players.

"Whether companies are present in the marketplace or not, if they have an eye for expansion and an eye to develop they will consider Abu Dhabi."

Mohammed Abou Laban, business development manager, Emcor Facilities Services, agrees that the FM market will gain pace this year, but also thinks Abu Dhabi will remain consistent and stay a little more reserved.

"Here in Abu Dhabi, the growth is generally more measured than Dubai and the customers prefer to take their time to get it right. I see the people knowing more about FM and the big customers are taking their time to establish what is the best solution for them. They are learning from other people's mistakes," he said.

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