We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Sat 13 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Singapore brings quality to the GCC

Capitaland Ilec's CEO on the differences between Singapore's and the GCC's construction industry.

Heang Fine Wong, the CEO of Singaporean developer Capitaland Ilec, talks to Construction Week about the differences between Singapore and the GCC's construction industry.

Is the standard of construction in Singapore better than the GCC?

I think the difference between other developers and our developers is that we tend to project manage our developments ourselves. In terms of our quality standards and the specification of materials to be used and so on - our orders are done by our own people in-house. You can then count on the selection of materials. So in a way we are able to determine the quality of a development.

In terms of our quality standards and the specification of materials to be used and so on – our orders are done by our own people in-house.

Do you think there's a lack of quality in the Middle East?

Part of the reason for this is that there is a great haste to get the product to the market and there's not enough time allowed for planning and selection of materials and detailing. So generally with a market that is growing so fast it tends to be an issue in terms of quality.

Does this affect your operations in the Middle East?

Part of our reason to be here is to bring that level of quality that other developers won't have. Unless you have your own in-house team to project manage it, you will have to contract it out to a third party for which you cannot ensure quality.

Is it common in Singapore for developers to handle their own project management?

Yes, it is very common. We control it and make critical decisions during construction and make sure contractors have clear instructions. Our people regularly walk the site to see what is happening.

For example, when we do marble flooring, part of our specification is that the marble is cut and dry-laid in the factory and then marked, graded, labeled and packed into crates. That way when it arrives on site we know where it should go and we don't get different grains and gradings in the same spot.

Why do you think in-house project management is not as popular in the GCC?

I guess it is the sudden growth of the industry, the experience of the developer and you also need the breadth and the depth of projects to be able to afford a project team. A technical team will need to work on different projects at different times and unless you have that plate of projects, it's hard to keep it in-house.

Could developers in the GCC learn from those in Singapore?

I wouldn't say learn, but as the market matures and players like us enter the market and bring the industry to the next level then all the developers and existing players will come up with us. I am sure we will soon see less and less short-term developers in the GCC market and the dominance of larger players.

How long has Capitaland been in the GCC and what are your future plans?

We have only been here for two years. At the present moment we are concentrating on executing our two projects, Raffles City Bahrain and Arzanah in Abu Dhabi. Both are relatively huge projects so that will allow us to build our own local team in terms of undertaking the project.

Thereafter we will look at nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We are not land developers - we don't just come in with a master plan and sell the land, we actually build the building and make sure that the execution is right and the end quality to the user is assured before we move on to another project.

What about the global financial crisis, will this put the brakes on your projects?

We operate in a global environment, we're in 20 countries and 120 cities. So the economic crisis worldwide will affect us. But for the GCC over the last few years the oil price has been very good and the current wealth in this region will still be maintained.

People will still need to buy apartments and the population is growing so we'll still continue to grow here. But it may not be at break-neck paces but you will still have quite substantial growth.

GCC is still a growing market and there will be a need for quality developers, especially in a very competitive market - that's where quality in terms of design, the finish on materials and the ability to guarantee delivery will come in very important.

It is often said that Dubai is modeling itself on Singapore, where can Dubai and other cities in the GCC learn from Singapore's mistakes and successes?

I think the models are very different, in Singapore our growth in the early days was driven by manufacturing and thereafter the services growth. Dubai is purely driven by the services growth, manufacturing is still very small. So the two models are actually very different.

When it's manufacturing growth, then we concentrate on infrastructure - things like electricity, ports and traffic. So it is important to look at the growth of the country and where it comes from to determine whether you've done very well. It cannot be a total transplant of what happened in Singapore to Dubai.

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

For all the latest construction news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.
Alan 11 years ago

Mr. Wong sounds like he knows what he is talking about. This market and current climate could do with a few more of his calibre

Alan 11 years ago

Mr. Wong sounds like he knows what he is talking about. This market and current climate could do with a few more of his calibre