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Ermis Marques

Regional Director Middle East, Aurecon

Matthew Squires


Dubai's construction sector offers a dynamic environment for the best engineering companies to apply the latest technologies and set new regional standards.

How is Aurecon leading the digital engineering transformation in Dubai?
ERMIS MARQUES Aurecon has been involved in Expo 2020 for the past two years, particularly in the Conference and Exhibition Center (CoEx) project, which is one of the main exhibition facilities. We feel privileged and proud to be undertaking the full engineering design responsibilities for this project. CoEx is an iconic building with over 45,000sqm of flexible and wide open spaces dedicated to the MICE industry. The impact of the Expo on Dubai has already been felt for several years. One of the things that Dubai is excellent at is setting up and hosting large-scale, high-quality events. Another similar example is the IMF conference, which led to the development of Madinat Jumeirah, one of our earlier projects, and the Dubai International Financial Center. Such projects are part of the Emirate’s strategy to become a regional financial hub. The challenge is to figure out how the digital environment is changing and designing the project with the future in mind. The rate at which technology is changing can be quite daunting. You need to know how to accommodate and be flexible. For this, you can collect and translate it into information that can help our clients forecast, adapt, and act. This is what we seek to do—help our clients make sense of their dynamic operating environment with the help of digital tools.

What are SSH’s most recent achievements and milestones?
MATTHEW SQUIRES SSH was founded in Kuwait almost 60 years ago and over the years has become the go-to consultantcy in Kuwait. Although the company had projects in Oman and Abu Dhabi in the early 2000s, it decided to expand further across the region, In light of this, in 2012, SSH coupled international talent with its existing solid business model to increase its presence in GCC markets. We are also working on a hotel project in Morocco and a bank in Algeria. This demonstrates our partnerships with key clients in the region. We used the same model to enter Sudan and Ethiopia. We are fully licensed in all the countries where we operate and take care of all the local requirements for our clients.

What is Aurecon’s strategy when it comes to implementing innovative technologies?
EM Typically, Aurecon’s involvement in projects starts relatively early during the planning phase. For example, we worked with the Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) on the transport masterplan for Dubai. We also collaborate with major developers to forecast where Dubai is likely to go to plan the future development of Dubai. These are typical models that get updated every 10 years, and they form the backbone of every city. We are involved in the infrastructure and technology required to support these developments.

What is your most important segment in the UAE, and what are your main ongoing projects?
MS We offer all the core consultancy services for design and supervision, which gives us agility and resilience to excel in a changing market. In terms of backlog, we are well placed in most of our markets across our service offering. This includes all the divisions such as master planning, building design, infrastructure, and supervision. SSH does not just design a project; we have a strong focus on handing over the key at the end of the project and making sure clients get exactly what they ask for.

How does Aurecon navigate the nuances and challenges of the Dubai market?
EM We are busy with a number of significant projects, but we tend to be selective of who the client is and whom we partner with. The Dubai Creek Tower, designed by the world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava for Emaar Properties, is a truly iconic landmark. Once it is completed, it will be a masterpiece. Even now before it’s completed, people want to come, visit, and drive past it. The tower is to the Dubai Creek Harbour what the Burj Khalifa is to the downtown precinct.

What are your vision and priorities for 2020?
MS Over the past six years, our business has experienced significant growth. With changing market landscapes, we are looking to capitalize on the platforms we have created within the GCC. There are still growth opportunities for us even with the challenges that exist. We have an office in Cape Town that gives us the depth and capacity to undertake larger projects. At present, that office serves the GCC market, but in 2020 it will focus on the sub-Saharan African market. 6



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