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Tue 12 Apr 2011 09:38 AM

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Class act

Jamal Lootah, CEO, Imdaad, talks about his CSR programme and the importance of the environment and sustainability

Class act
A face in the crowd: Lootah stands side by side with his workers

The FM sector has grown rapidly since Jamal Lootah joined Imdaad as its CEO from Dubai World in 2007. Sustainability and environmental concerns now play a large part in the way solutions are delivered and the industry continues to expand as the needs of each client and society in general evolve.

Despite this, Lootah insists there is still a lack of awareness with the end-user and it remains one of the biggest challenges for facility management solution providers today.

“Many property owners, that are non-corporate entities, are still not familiar with the advantages of outsourcing facilities management services and we have to make more effort to boost awareness and educate the public about the new possibilities being offered by integrated FM solutions,” he said.

Imdaad recently integrated its waste management and recycling services including a twin bin system, one for recyclables and another for general waste, at the Palm Jumeirah villas in Duabi and with its multi-bin systems at Imdaad’s shoreline apartments and at the Burj Khalifa, in Downtown Dubai.

It outlined its strategic road map for 2011 recently and will start to focus on more markets outside the UAE, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, as it expects to boost its revenue by up to 15% this year.

“I have made a significant contribution to a sustainable development strategy for Imdaad, which is based on acquisition of environment-friendly equipment and adopting sustainable practices and techniques across all operations, such as instituting recycling programmes within the company and conducting audits and reviews of Imdaad’s carbon footprint,” said Lootah.

“I have also launched a programme that provides recycling training to clients and corporate partners along with free recycling bins and collection services. I am very passionate about Be’ati, a flagship programme launched in 2009 that raises environmental awareness among school children.

“It is important to educate children at an early stage about the importance of environmental sustainability as this will help develop a deeper sense of responsibility among the future leaders of our society,” said Lootah.

“Our operations have an immediate and direct impact on the environment and the sustainable development of our society, so it is only practical that we incorporate sustainable criteria such as reduction of energy usage, waste management and procurement controls in developing a truly sustainable FM plan for all our projects.

“To deliver sustainable FM services, we make sure all elements in the entire process of developing and implementing services are in accordance with accepted sustainable norms, taking into consideration the environmental and sustainable regulations such as the quality, health and safety standards that are being adopted in the UAE and across the region.”

Lootah serves as the president of the Middle East Facilities Management Association (MEFMA) and believes it will be an important vehicle for FM professionals and industry stakeholders to work together in addressing future challenges in the industry, particularly in terms of promoting sustainable practices in the maintenance and management of facilities in the region.

“Imdaad continues to adhere to its core values of ‘people, services and making a difference’, which has provided the inspiration and guidance for the company to achieve its key objectives of upholding the interest of customers, its own employees and society,” he said.

“We can achieve even greater success by continuing to focus on creating value for all stakeholders of the FM industry.”

Its client portfolio includes Emaar, Nakheel, Jebel Ali Free Zone “Jafza”, DP World-UAE, Dubai Customs, Limitless and Tamweel.

It has projects for waste management at Burj Khalifa; soft and hard FM services at the Palm Jumeirah; Atlantis The Palm hotel; Jumeirah Golf Estates; International City; Jebel Ali Port; Jebel Ali Free Zone; Wasl – Asset Management Group, subsidiary of Dubai Properties; and several shopping malls including Ibn Battuta Mall and Dragon Mart.

It has arranged five awareness training sessions for housekeeping supervisors, internal cleaning staff and Armani Hotel staff, educating them about the process of recycling and the types of waste that can be recycled and has arranged for 104 multi-recycle bins on residential floors, 13 “Recycling Islands” at the car parks and loading bay, and several bins for cartons, plastic recycling boxes and paper recycling boxes.

In 2010, industry analysts predicted the total revenues of the FM sector in the GCC were USD 4.2 billion, increasing from USD 3.8 billion in 2009.

“We are in a much more secure position in terms of sustaining long-term growth because of the vast size of the GCC market,” added Lootah.

“I think the region’s growth trend over the past few years has been a lot more impressive compared to other markets such as the UK, which witnessed a much slower growth in the past two years. Recent figures from the Management Market Development (MMD) revealed the UK’s growth was just 1% in 2010.”

HomePro

Speaking on how Imdaad was going to grow its business outside the UAE, he said an efficient system for FM allows clients a greater flexibility in achieving strategic and operational objectives. “With a fully functional integrated FM solution in place, it is much easier to manage facilities, while benefiting from enhanced security and protection of assets,” he said.

“When it comes to the day-to-day affairs of clients, integrated FM services give them the freedom to operate in a safe and secure working environment, which can lead to greater productivity and efficiency of the entire workforce.”

“We recently launched our HomePro Maintenance Services, an exclusive service division that capitalises on the boom in demand for comprehensive home maintenance services. With customer requirements changing at a rapid pace and new niche markets emerging, it certainly gives great incentive to remain proactive in developing new services and solutions for customers.”

According to Lootah, HomePro has received excellent feedback from homeowners and he believes there is a strong long-term growth potential for the service due to the sheer number of homeowners who are looking for a variety of services including maintenance of air-conditioners, MEP and civil work, drainage chambers, water tank, pest control, façade and window cleaning.

It also includes pool maintenance, cleaning, lawn care, irrigation, garage doors, painting, masonry and carpentry. HomePro also offers contents insurance as well as a Customer Response Centre (help desk) staffed by multi-lingual agents 24 hours a day.

“Any homeowner would definitely find value in having a one-stop-shop for all types of home maintenance work. It eliminates the need to contact individual service providers, while customers are assured that the services are provided by a trusted name in the industry.”

“Construction and real estate developments will remain a key focus of FM. As such, services will evolve and expand in line with the growth of construction activities and real estate. The development of innovative, groundbreaking properties has been a major trend in the GCC, so it will be a challenge to develop integrated FM solutions that match the requirements of these iconic projects.”

Imdaad also recently signed a contract to provide MEP services for a governmental organisation in Abu Dhabi and maintenance services for electrical, mechanical and specialist systems in Dubai, but would not disclose more details.

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