Will The Sun Shine Again?
Amr Belal believes the silver lining around the present dark clouds, is in fact, all to do with solar.
The shadow cast on industries by current world geopolitics and the ongoing economic crises is indicating that traditional market cycles are no longer following a reliable pattern; business as usual is anything but usual.
The construction industry – particularly in the Middle East – is trying to come to terms with the impact of the ongoing low oil prices, turmoil in the wider MENA region and growing concern from global investors. The future is overcast.
In the Gulf, surveys to both large and SME’s involved in construction projects showed that just 32% of respondents were optimistic about 2016. This compares to 77% stating that they were optimistic about 2015 when asked the same question one year earlier.
The shift in sentiment is consistent with the industry’s concerns regarding contractual conditions, which are becoming less favorable in the current environment as payment periods are dragging out and disputes rising in number.
But the news is not all bad. Challenges of this scope pressure the industry to change and change is already under way. Qatar is seeing a surge in construction work that comes despite the negative market outlook. This is led by the hosting of the 2022 Fifa World Cup and government commitment to boost spending on infrastructure, stadiums and commercial buildings in support of the event.
Commercial construction in Qatar is set to remain the largest sector over the next five years. The government aims to attract new investments in the country’s tourism sector under the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030.
By accelerating regulatory policy, reducing the number of entities involved in decision-making along the supply chain, and making reporting and contracting structures more efficient, government can further reduce project delays and help adapt to the new market conditions.
We look at these transformative times as an opportunity to refocus operations. Shaping efficient processes that can help reduce costs while upholding quality services to customers can go a long way in riding this wave.
With Doha emerging as the 12th most polluted city in World Health Organization’s ranking for 2013, sustainability has been at the forefront of all ongoing construction projects. Qatar has set initiatives in place to reduce its carbon footprint and enhance energy delivery by increasing the number of renewable energy schemes.
A recent International Labour Organisation report recommends that the construction sector look for synergies with the “green” jobs initiative. Green jobs are central to sustainable development and respond to the global challenges of environmental protection, economic development and social inclusion. The ILO promotes these efforts to create decent employment opportunities and build low-carbon sustainable societies.
The Qatar National Development Strategy 2011–2016, which includes the Global Sustainability Assessment System, took into consideration well-known international green building codes, applied expert composition and modified it to suit Gulf Cooperation Council countries’ climate and traditions. This along with the government plans for development of the transport and tourism infrastructure will shine new light on the construction services over the next five years. GSAS certified projects are already emerging as the county’s first evidence of green building practices, including their application to sustainable stadium design. Al Sadd Multipurpose Hall represents the first such milestone, while the LEED certified Mshereib Downtown development leads the way in smart green city design.
One of the mega drivers moving the construction industry worldwide is an increase in the population of the urban areas by about 200,000 people a day, all of them needing affordable housing plus social, transportation and utility infrastructure. The construction sector now accounts for 6% of global GDP, and about 30% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to buildings. Given the industry’s size and weight, even small improvements in performance would generate huge benefits for the markets and for the world.
Leading-edge technologies are being used at various stages of the construction project’s life cycle, but their adoption is still uneven. Only when the tech advancements have been adopted systemically and pervasively will the emerging technologies boost productivity, enhance building quality and meet environmental requirements.
For a brighter future in this industry we need to make better use of our resources, see more ubiquitous use of advanced technology and renewable energy sources, and streamline the project process along the supply chain.
The sun never stopped shining, we just have to get our heads out of the sand and look up together to find new, innovative solutions to a changing world market.