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Sat 16 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Reinvention a must to survive

Contractors and developers in the Middle East need to ‘reinvent' themselves in order to remain competitive and avoid potentially huge losses.

Contractors and developers in the Middle East need to 'reinvent' themselves in order to remain competitive and avoid potentially huge losses.

According to Mounir Haider, chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi-based Sorouh Real Estate, contractors and developers need to work in closer harmony to achieve this.

"Companies involved in construction here have to reinvent themselves," he said. "Developers also need to make sure the contractor gets paid on time, so that they can pay their subcontractors and labourers on time to avoid labour disputes.

"These are very important things we need to consider as we mature our industry."

Contractors should also look towards restructuring their internal systems and techniques in order to remain competitive, as well as ensure a decent standard of accommodation is provided to their workers.

"We need to improve the accommodation we provide labourers, our systems and expertise, and the way we work with developers," said Fatima Obaid Al Jaber, chief operating officer of Al Jaber Group.

Better salaries also need to be paid to workers to allow the industry to grow.

Two contractors that have had experience of labour strikes over pay are Besix and Arabtec.

"If we don't increase salaries then we'll have quality and growth problems," said Johan Beerlandt, chief executive officer of Besix.

Riad Kamal, chairman of Arabtec, agreed. He said: "When we had the strike we saw it as an issue for the whole industry. The consensus was that we should have a minimum wage.

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