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Mon 1 Jan 2007 06:27 PM

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Dazed and confused

Has Dubai’s rapid development caused confusion in the property management recruitment industry? Danielle Le Faucheur, senior international consultant for Macdonald & Company seems to think so.

As we all know, the facilities management market in the Gulf is estimated to reach a value of US $892 billion (AED over 3 trillion) over the next 25 years, according to the Middle East Strategy Advisors (MESA). The figures show that the FM market in the UAE alone is potentially worth $704 billion (AED over 2.5 trillion). The markets in Saudi Arabia and Qatar will be worth $96 billion (AED 352 billion) and $92 billion (AED 337 billion) respectively.

From a recruitment perspective it is essential that the right employees are acquired to develop an FM model which will fit such a niche market.

Macdonald & Company was present at the Cityscape Exhibition in December where I had the chance to meet numerous representatives from FM companies all of which enlightened me on the current market in Dubai and surrounding areas.

One of the main topics of discussion was directed towards the current structure of the FM market and its differences to other FM models used in other international locations. I think that due to Dubai's rapid development there has been confusion in distinguishing the vital differences between asset management, property management, FM and residential/estates management.

Therefore, providers within the FM industry need to highlight the difference which will allow the local market to understand how international best practice can be localised to meet Dubai's developing needs.

Due to the confusion surrounding FM in the Middle East the initial demand will be for property management staff who will over time develop an FM model suited to the region. When FM candidates are selected for roles in the region it is important they are aware FM systems from other international markets cannot be transported.

UK based candidates looking to relocate must recognise that the model they use in the UK will not totally work in the Middle East due to the market still being very young. This is the same for Asian, Australian and South African candidates.

It is essential that staff moving to the Middle East recognise the fact that part of their role will be to educate clients. Clients need to be guided and educated on the FM discipline. Currently clients tend to know what they want from this service but it is up to facilities managers and operations managers to direct these requirements so that they develop a standard FM model which suits the market.

When recruiting FM staff for the Middle East we are prepared for the fact that it will be a rigorous process. Candidates need to be prepared to use their expertise innovatively thus applying ideas differently whilst training local FM's.

Candidates who are moving into this market in 2007 will be at the forefront of FM development and it is essential that they are willing to be malleable and forward thinkers. They also have to be culturally aware and highly skilled in their field as the buildings in Dubai and GCC are completely different to any other international market. In light of the above, salaries must reflect the high demands that will be placed on facilities management candidates.

Research carried out by Macdonald & Company into the FM market has shown that an assistant FM's salary can range from $4,000 (AED15,000) to $5,400 (AED20,000) a month, plus benefits, and an FM can expect between $6,800 (AED25,000) and $8,100 (AED30,000) a month, plus package. Operations managers can expect salaries between $9,500 (AED35,000) and $10,800 (AED40,000) a month.

These figures are comparable to the UK market but may need to be reassessed if clients want to retain the best staff the market can offer bearing in mind what will be required of these people once they are here.

FM's are faced with a major task when relocating to the Middle East considering they will have to transfer their skills which as discussed above will not be easy. In turn, with property prices in Dubai and the Middle East rising salaries may not lure the right calibre of candidate as living costs tend to take a large proportion of anyone's salary especially in Dubai and Qatar.

In conclusion, if the FM market is going to succeed in Dubai then strategic development of an FM model needs to be carried out. But the only way this can be done is through highly qualified staff being recruited into the market whereby they can educate clients about this service and how best it can be utilised on their buildings.

But like most things this will come at a price and salaries should really reflect this.

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