Project Qatar Industry Review – September 2014

Project Qatar (PQ) 2014, the 11th International Construction Technology & Building Materials Exhibition earlier in May this year, was a phenomenal live event. It featured 2,100 exhibiting companies from countries worldwide and had 45,953 visitors. For the first time ever PQ was held at the multi award winning state of the art venue Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). The show included two concurrent events and two specialized conferences under the PQ conference series which clearly categorises different specialisations: Qatar-Stone Tech 2014; Heavy Max 2014 / LightingTech Qatar; and HVACTech Qatar.

In this Qatar Construction Review Special Report we look back at the PQ experience and what you can expect as an exhibitor – if you have not already been to this standout construction trade show. We will also bring you an interview with Nick Rose, Volvo CE’s Director Rental & Remarketing Europe, Middle East & Africa regarding their new app. Finally, we map out the route to excellence in the construction industry with Carmen Andre from the Dirextra Construction Business School. Welcome back everybody – we hope that you all had very nice holidays and wish you every success for your project endeavours from now till the end of the year.

Exhibiting at Project Qatar 2014…

QCR top 5 highlights of Project Qatar 2014

  • Map Your Show
  • The QNCC Venue
  • The event organisation
  • Unique atmosphere of networking and opportunities
  • The huge scale of the exhibition

Of course most of you will have been to PQ before and will already know what a wonderful city Doha is. It is absolutely safe, with plenty of things to do as a visitor. There is a very good choice of hotels, restaurants and shopping. PQ finished at 10.00 p.m. daily and the streets were still full of people with many venues open in the cooler night air.

I have to say that before we arrived in Doha, the team were already very excited about PQ. The organisation in the run-up to the show was first class, by which I mean communication: everything one needed to know about participating was delivered well ahead of time making the logistics very easy with their partners. There was also always someone on hand to assist with any enquiry, however the exhibition manual was very comprehensive. In addition, a press conference was held one week before the event detailing in depth what was to be expected in this years live show.

Something that we particularly liked was the ability to build networks and have communications with visitors and other exhibitors attending the shown through the ‘Map Your Show’ online resources before we arrived in Doha. (http://projectqatar14.mapyourshow.com/5_0/search.cfm#.VAbVcmRdXBc). It is the online element of the exhibition so had the exhibitor directory, full floor plan, meeting scheduler, email notifications to you when a potential client wanted a meeting at the show, ability to send personalised and standard emails, and of course analytics on how many times your listings had been visited and other data. All that, and the new PQ app on the phone, meant that being absolutely prepared at the live event to make those key contacts specific to ones’ business on the day, was straight forward.

That said, when we arrived for the lives show, nothing could prepare us for the sheer scale and size of the event at the new location. The QNCC is a state of art modern building with all the contemporary facilities one would expect in any western premier venue. However, Project Qatar is unlike any other exhibition platform.

First of all, once on site the administration of things was all very smooth with plenty of information to get you to your allocated stand and have access to all the contracted services during the building day of the exhibition. There was a very good organisation to everything.

On the opening day of the exhibition, you could see straight away that there are endless opportunities for networking with visitors and other exhibitors as well. There were many countries under one roof with different styles of doing business, but all there with the same purpose. Many construction projects are underway in Qatar, however, everyone present at the show knows exactly this and more importantly what the future plans of the country is encompassed in the 2030 National Vision.

There was a real sense of purpose, with agreements and deals being struck at PQ – in a fashion unlike any other exhibition we have attended before. This is probably as a direct result of the government’s well-documented infrastructure and development plans and the Gulf State’s long-term financial clout and security of GDP allocated for this.

It is also worth mentioning that the stability of the Qatari government is another big pull for international business and not just the financial power. With the time frames involved people were there to do business and the opportunities were many.

It has to be said that the contacts made at PQ can easily keep companies busy for several months. For international construction companies wanting to enter this lucrative market, there can be no other recommendation than taking advantage of the next live event in May of 2015. It will not be long before we see levels of investment for construction projects in Qatar top the peaks of 2008 – this means the next 18 months will be frenetic and full of opportunities for the right companies.

 

Q&A session with Nick Rose, Volvo CE’s Director Rental & Remarketing Europe, Middle East & Africa regarding their new app

QCR: What is the purpose of the Volvo app? Volvo use app

Nick Rose:  It allows our customers to be able to search and locate used equipment across the Europe, Middle East and Africa region in addition to our normal website www.volvoce.com/used where we have listings for all of those machines. What we have done is integrated that real time data to feed the app and therefore customers on the move – working in job sites, moving around in the construction industry, can use their mobile devices to search for used equipment which they might need for some of their projects.

QCR: How did Volvo come about developing this new app?

NR: I am responsible for rental and remarketing and EMEA and one of the things we do is support our dealers in terms of technical support or we provide a number of tools to support our dealers to enable them to be more efficient in handling used equipment. We realised that one of the best ways to attract more customers into our dealers is to look at new ways, including the Internet, apple iPhones and mobile devices. We are receiving about 160,000 product card views on the normal used equipment listing site on the internet and we think that more and more customers and users are accessing the internet with mobile devices, and that up to 40% of searches can take place on a mobile device and we want to be part of that within our strategic approach and we think that we will increase our product card views from 160,000 to more than 200,000 plus, when this app gets established.

QCR: Were any clients involved in the development process?

NR: We work very closely with some of our suppliers and we know that generally more and more users are using the Internet with mobile devices. In the development phase of the app we involved some customers from our industry to come and help us test it and we had some good suggestions from some of our customers and as a results we actually changed some of the functionality on the app. We also receive the analytical data from the number of visits on our website and specifically the number of product card views on our website and the number of contact requests that it generates. Some of our suppliers are also able to provide us with analytical data on users of mobile devices and how many of them searched for equipment using their mobile device and tablets. We just wanted to be ahead to be ahead of the game in releasing this app for our customers and it helps our dealers increase their customer database. It enables us to have more contact with our customers on used equipment and also allows us to offer other Volvo products and services to those same customers. 

QCR: So the solutions for this app are twofold?

NR: Absolutely, because it helps our dealers to attract more customers. If a customer would like to buy used equipment from a Volvo dealer they couldn’t go to a better place in terms of having the machines properly inspected and cleaned and offered in a professional way.  We also have the Volvo approved used programme for which certain machines qualify, these are refurbished to Volvo standards and they come with a certificate and with a Volvo construction equipment warranty. It’s one of the best ways to buy used equipment. Volvo approved used gives the customer peace of mind and a reliable machine and hopefully satisfies the customers’ budget.

QCR: How important is Qatar as a market for Volvo?

NR: Greatly important in the Middle East region and also in the EMEA region and we understand that there is considerable investment going into Qatar and as a result of that a number of construction projects are taking place and will be taking place and we work very closely with our dealer in Qatar ARACO and they do a great job for us and we want to support them to maximise the opportunities in Qatar with Volvo products.

 

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The pursuit of excellence in the construction industry

Qatar is by far the most attractive job market in the MENA region, with the country currently in the midst of a large-scale construction programme.  To realise the Qatar 2030 National Vision, the government has set aside billions of dollars from GDP for large-scale infrastructure projects over the next few years.  There is no question that Qatar will be a booming market of lucrative construction contracts for the foreseeable future.

However, the GCC is currently experiencing some supply constraints in delivering projects and these issues will become increasingly more acute. Market capacity is dropping behind levels of demand primarily because of financial constraints and adequately skilled people. There are also delays in the client decision-making process that is leading to projects falling behind scheduled time frames and raising costs. Indeed, what has happened with the Sidra Hospital Project – change of contractor, is a high profile example emphasising some of the many pressures facing those working in the construction industry.

In this Qatar Construction Review Special Report, we are highlight what contracting companies can do in the pursuit of excellence in the construction industry in Qatar through professional training.

The shortages of qualified staff in the whole region have been well documented.  The favoured model for many contract awards in Qatar has been for joint partnerships between local companies and international contractors.  With this in mind and with the aim of delivering excellence, the training of staff should be of paramount importance to construction companies in Qatar. Local contractors and their international counterparts should be actively investing in training to address this issue now and for the future.

Construction industry expertise in managing projects through their whole life cycle from inception to completion encompasses a range of different managerial skills. To discuss why these skills are so important and the implications for contractors, we caught up with Carmen Andre from the Dirextra Construction Business School.

QCR: What advantages are there for the joint partnerships in Qatar in professional training with Dirextra?

CA: Qatar is now booming in construction and needs excellent engineers and professional expert in construction.

Dirextra historically operates in advanced training in construction organising Master’s and Mini Master’s Programs at the highest levels in the industry internationally.

“Excellent training and know-how specific for Construction Sector”, this formula was consolidated by Dirextra to offer new opportunities to future generations.

Dirextra is specifically oriented in the International Construction Sector, directed towards those that, after their degree or during their professional careers, intend to undertake an in depth study and qualification process of their skills and competencies and of course their talent in General Contracting for Large Works so this can match exactly with Qatari Construction Companies looking for a high qualified professional in Construction.

How successful have those who have undertaken your programmes been?

CA: Engineers, Architects and Lawyers who decide to kick start their career with a Masters Degree in Construction from Dirextra take the opportunities to shape their career, which unmatched anywhere else.  We are leaders in the field of Construction Business and Engineering Education; top-ranked for our Master’s Program in Construction.

Dirextra is the sole provider for the placement of professional figures who are highly qualified within Construction companies who sponsor our Master’s Program through the Business Master’s Program for the Construction Sector.

The majority of our alumni have managerial positions and leadership within General Contractor Construction Companies sponsor of Dirextra’s Master Program all around the world. 

We are proud because a lot of our students had a really great and quick career in construction through us.

Who are some of the contractors you have worked with?

CA: Some of Contractors who have worked with us over many years are:  Salini Construttori, Impregilo, Todini Costruzioni, Ghella, Rizzani De Eccher, Codest International, Rina Industry, Saipem. 

We have just had a Qatari Company among our sponsors – Medgulf Construction.

How have you assessed the requirements of the Qatari construction industry in terms of training?

CA: We believe that the construction market in Qatar requires project managers with expertise in managing complex construction projects that are able to handle problems of increasing complexity to achieve successful performance within time and cost-controlled and content, respecting the constraints that may be rigid and attentive to the critical and crucial typical of the construction industry. 

These experts will need to have knowledge of the techniques of planning, cost control and risk management for the identification, assessment and prioritisation of risks.

What are the top 3 areas of skills shortages contractors must avoid for timely completion of successful projects?

CA: Contractors must avoid entrusting work to non-experts in the following 3 areas: Planning, Cost control and Risk Management.

Dirextra delivers excellent professional training for the construction industry, specialising in the International Construction Sector, directed towards those that, after their degree or during their professional careers, intend to undertake an in depth study and qualification process of their skills and competencies and of course their talent in General Contracting for Large Works.

For more information on their advanced training and legal advising in the following sectors: public works tendering, services and procurement, assisting General Contractors and contracting authorities in the phases for tendering, contract execution and litigation from both a technical and legal standpoint pleas email Carmen Andrecarmen.andre@dirextra.com.

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