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Sat 16 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Growing pains need tackling

Some of the stories in this week's issue touch the core of many of the issues currently affecting the maturing construction industry in the Middle East.

Some of the stories in this week's issue touch the core of many of the issues currently affecting the maturing construction industry in the Middle East.

The industry has reached a stage where it is having a long and hard think about how it can successfully maintain growth.

Along with capacity constraints affecting almost every market in the region, the sector as a whole is up against stiff competition from the likes of China and India - cited in a Morgan Stanley report as being the countries that will account for the largest construction share in the next few years - for equipment and human resources.

The advantages these countries have over the region is that they hold large reservoirs of labour and the means of paying them a good salary.

Labour disputes, problems with project execution, materials shortages and rising costs have forced many contractors and developers to think about how they might adapt the way they work to ensure they remain competitive.

Some of the suggestions include adopting methods of procurement that involve the contractor in a project from its early stages - something which, on the face of it, might seem like an obvious move to make, but yet is still ignored by many developers in favour of time honoured processes.

Another suggestion made was increasing workers' salaries. Two companies featured in this week's issue, both of which have been affected by labour unrest in the past, advocate the implementation of a minimum wage.

Yet such a move would mean raising that wage on a yearly basis - as it won't take long for the same problems to resurface.

Ras Al Khaimah will need to take these issues into account if the emirate is to flourish in the way it's intended. Investment can only be carried so far off the back of a regional construction boom.

Still, amid all the problems, the industry still finds time for a small dose of humour. A glossy brochure fell into our laps this week advertising tower projects to be named after two 1980s US soap operas - Dynasty and Falcon Crest.

We're just hoping this doesn't open the floodgates for UK soaps such as EastEnders, which depict more depression than prosperity.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

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