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Mon 12 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Diverse year ahead

The last month of 2008 was a busy one for MEP Middle East. In December we were delighted to host our annual MEP awards and we also took the opportunity to hold our first MEP conference.

The last month of 2008 was a busy one for MEP Middle East. In December we were delighted to host our annual MEP awards and we also took the opportunity to hold our first MEP conference.

Both events brought members of the industry together for a mix of networking, knowledge sharing and celebration of achievements.

One thing the events made clear is that, possibly more than any other sector of the construction industry, MEP practitioners are looking for improvement and they are prepared to collaborate to get it.

There is a real sense that those involved in MEP want to change things for the better and will use opportunities such as awards and conferences to help make it happen. The activities of strong local chapters of organisations such as ASHRAE, CIBSE and the IDEA back that up.

Naturally, as MEP businesses face an uncertain financial climate in 2009, there is a sense of trepidation about what lies ahead. However, the MEP conference showed that there could be benefits from a period of consolidation and the ‘flight to quality' that uncertain times will bring. There was also a strong willingness to step back from the frantic pace of construction and use any slowdown as an opportunity to improve.

Slowdown or not, work in the region continues. Alastair Mitchell of Hyder Consulting played to his conference audience brilliantly when he gave a progress update on the MEP work of the Burj Dubai Tower, where the highest point on the building - the aircraft warning lights - is an MEP installation.

While the Burj Dubai is a project that will obviously continue its steady progress to completion, there are plenty of other new jobs up for grabs.

While the focus has been on Dubai for quite some time, people are now looking for more alternative sources of contracts, with Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia both seeing an influx of ‘business development managers'. Wherever the jobs may come from one thing is clear for the year ahead: more businesses will be putting considerably more effort into regional diversification.

Stuart Matthews is the senior group editor of ITP Business' construction and energy magazines.

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