Standing Tall – Interview with Wassim Salem, Khatib & Alami
The UAE has the most advanced and developed infrastructure in the region. From roads to airports to telecommunications, the UAE is home to world class facilities that have supported economic growth and enabled the development of business.
As published by Global Competiveness Report 2019, the UAE is ranked among the top 25 competitive economies in the world with infrastructure development being one of the main reasons. In addition to this the UAE government’s own Vision 2021 has seen a boost in infrastructure spending.
It is not surprising that Khatib & Alami, one of the region’s leading design, engineering and project management consultancies with more than 6,500 locally-based staff, have set their eyes on the infrastructure sector in UAE.
To escalate this the company appointed Wassim Salem as Infrastructure Director for Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Wassim’s wealth of experience and knowledge has brought him great success in every organisation that he’s been a part of.
Wassim’s role includes, developing and implementing the Infrastructure supervision business strategy, restructuring the supervision department to optimize its delivery and productivity, positioning the company for growth with clients seeking with alternative delivery methods, and setting up strategic ties with leading clients and contractors.
Wassim stated he is proud to have been part of Khatib & Alami’s impressive recent success in Dubai and Abu Dhabi infrastructure markets.
“Of course K&A is already well established in the UAE, with a strong reputation for high quality delivery. From these foundations, we have been able to double the infrastructure business in terms of revenue within the last year in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and next year’s target is to maintain our strong momentum and keep building on our fantastic client relationship.”
“The leadership of the UAE is always moving quickly and looking ahead. The infrastructure segment is still growing especially with RTA and semi-governmental entities,” said Wassim.
“The UAE is a bit different from anywhere else, the pace of projects is quick, you need to be proactive and pragmatic, and you need to be ready to solve major challenges as most of the work ranges from large to major projects. Projects will be presented, awarded, executed and delivered faster than anywhere else in the world, and the quality must be to best international standards,” explains Wassim.
Even though new technologies have been emerging at a breakneck pace, contractors are quite resistant to change. But a shift from the physical to the digital world is extremely beneficial and the construction industry seems to be slowly coming to this realisation.
Contractors need to review their long-standing methods and recognise that the development of such old measures will soon be replaced by more digitised solutions. Digital technology is the answer to global trends and here are some trends that are particularly driving the change.
Khatib & Alami has had a long history when it comes to being the pioneers of implementing technology in their projects. In 1979, Khatib & Alami introduced a fully equipped computer centre that would quickly transform the way the company approached projects, and it has always taken pride in being an early adopter of new technologies.
“We select technology that can fulfil our ambitions by minimising the potential to make mistakes and helping to ensure efficiency and productivity on site,” said Wassim.
Wassim explains for example how the usage of drones have been beneficial to Khatib & Alami and there is no denying its impact in the construction industry as it does speed up the delivery of large-scale infrastructure projects.
“Drones can give you accuracy, can generate time lapses on a project, and you can control quantities in a better and more efficient manner. Plus, surveying a large area now becomes easier as a result of a drone compared to the traditional avenues,” said Wassim.
Health & Safety
With so many risks associated with the construction industry, it makes perfect sense for any and all sites to implement and adhere to proper health and safety protocol. This involves regular risk assessments, analysis of any dangers present and the necessary steps to minimise or eradicate these threats.
Technology is playing an important role here as well. For example. Khatib & Alami has developed a safety management app which is accessible by all project stakeholders for reporting, statistics and knowledge sharing.
“By improving transparency and visibility about health and safety, and providing real-time reporting, we can bring a one-team approach which will keep driving standard on every site,” add Wassim.
Training also plays a significant role in how well a construction company can implement health and safety measures on their sites. Employees should be provided with the relevant training so that they’re aware of how to spot potential risks on site and how to work alongside these risks in a way that will keep accidents and illnesses to a minimum.
In any of Khatib & Alami projects, Wassim points out that all the senior individuals at the site are OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s) certified. There is no doubt about the fact that the human asset is the key intangible asset for any organization, something that Wassim believes in as well
“We know that the people who work for us are our biggest asset and we have to ensure that they are safe,” Wassim concluded.