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SAUDI ARABIA - Real Estate & Construction

Fahad Ali Siddiqui

Founder and COO, AMAQ, Saudi Arabia


Fahad Siddiqui is one of the only few Non-Engineer CEOs of an Engineering Design & Build Firm—who is taking his organization on an upward growth curve despite taking a huge-hit from the post covid-related challenges. His construction/FitOut portfolio exceeds SAR417 million in successfully & timely delivering complex projects as a CEO. In addition to his role as the CEO of one of the most vibrantly transforming organizations in KSA, Fahad wears different hats and is a renowned philanthropist, a public speaker and a current affairs commentator on various economic and geopolitical developments that impact the construction sector in MENA. Sustainable construction is at the core of his interests and for this reason, AMAQ, has successfully delivered 2 LEED-Gold sustainable projects certified directly by the United States Green Building Council. This elevates AMAQ to be amongst one of the only few distinguished firms in KSA to have delivered accredited sustainable properties. AMAQ is all set to deliver another 3 LEED Platinum targeted projects by 1Q2024.

"The challenge lies in adapting to the rapid change in pace ushered in by Vision 2030, which has seven years remaining."
TBY talks to Fahad Ali Siddiqui, Founder and COO of AMAQ, Saudi Arabia, about competition, company culture, and trends in the construction sector.
What challenges and opportunities are currently involved in the construction field?

Regeneration in Saudi Arabia is a multifaceted canvas, with every element reflecting ongoing transformation. The challenge lies in adapting to the rapid change in pace ushered in by Vision 2030, which has seven years remaining and will be succeeded by Vision 2040. Our daily progress involves planning for the post-Vision 2023 era, akin to the success seen by those anticipating developments after Expo 2020 in the UAE. Before Vision 2030, we held a strong market reputation. Upon its announcement, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to global companies, presenting both opportunities and challenges. We capitalized on being early movers, while some competitors struggled with technological advancements, vision-related changes and workforce diversity. Our team spans diverse age groups and combines the vigor of the younger generation with the experience and vision of those above 55. This synergy has positioned AMAQ at the forefront of transformation, ensuring adaptability and contributing to our business’s continual improvement. Our annual growth reflects our ability to seamlessly adapt to the evolving landscape.

Can you provide an insight into the company’s operations in Saudi Arabia?

AMAQ has been operating for 22 years, having experienced significant changes over the past five, with rapid adaptation to a changing market being a key challenge. As the CEO for the past nine of those years, I’ve led the team through these transformations. (financials kindly not to be published) We approach our expansion very cautiously, avoiding inorganic growth pitfalls experienced by other companies. We maintain a to-do and not-to-do list, emphasizing calculated risk. Our annual growth target at AMAQ is 8 to 10%, in contrast to competitors who face setbacks due to excessive bank loans and hyper-growth. A notable achievement is our status as a debt-free entity, financing projects internally without relying on external loans. We commit to projects only if we can ensure timely and high-quality delivery. AMAQ’s culture revolves around this commitment, resulting in zero liabilities, no litigation, and a court-free record throughout our history. Our pride lies in a strong foundation, allowing us to grow successfully and sustainably.

What sets Saudi Arabia apart from other GCCs countries in your line of business?

One significant challenge in Saudi Arabia is the vast cultural difference compared to the UAE. While some may liken Saudi Arabia’s development to the UAE’s trajectory, it is crucial to understand the unique cultural dynamics. In the UAE, corporate structures are emphasized, and decision-making involves expatriates and locals, with a preference for dealing with the organizational structure rather than individual owners. In Saudi Arabia, however, 90% of decision-makers are locals who prioritize personal connections; the individual connection, chemistry and vibe matters before screening the organizational capabilities. This cultural distinction leads to challenges for companies entering or expanding between the two countries. In Saudi Arabia, personal relationships are paramount and client satisfaction often hinges on a personal bond and trust whereas; in the UAE organizational qualification comes first as a part of due diligence. Saudi Arabia distinguishes itself by pioneering projects like NEOM, Red Sea Amala, Qiddiya , Riyadh Seasons, Oxagon, and the Line inside Neom.

What is AMAQ’s role in the market and what distinguishes you from other companies?

I think what really differentiates us from our competitors is how we deal with negative client feedback, it genuinely sets us apart from rest of the industry.. As construction is a significantly human-centric / labour-centric industry, mistakes are bound to happen in the name of human error, naturally. AMAQ, over the years has, as a plan; embraced all criticism by our valued clients and have channelized this feedback into sheer positivity and improving daily. Rooted in a foundation of adaptability, our ability to go with the flow has been crucial in our journey. Originating as a company manufacturing ATMs for banks, we evolved into a major organization undertaking diverse projects across Saudi Arabia, exceeding revenue expectations. Our responsiveness to customer feedback is a key factor in establishing us as a top fit-out and construction company in KSA. Timely project delivery and a commitment to quality, supported by a robust in-house quality management system, have been central to our success. And we still take pride in saying that we learn and better ourselves everyday. Our core principles are time, quality, and flexibility, and we genuinely believe in the latter. We consistently go above and beyond, regardless of whether it falls within our formal scope or not. Our approach relies more on instinct than contractual details, a key reason why clients like HSBC Arabia have been with us for 17 years, Arab National Bank for 13 years and home improvement firm SACO.continue to work with us. In retail, delivering projects ahead of schedule is particularly noteworthy and our commitment to quality and flexibility ensures our clients experience peace of mind. Even beyond retention and liability periods, we take responsibility for any oversights, viewing not just the investment itself, but the human-to-human connection. AMAQ is not the name of a firm, instead it is more of an “Experience” from the first phone call to us, until we handover keys to our client, each step is well thought-out and celebrated to give the clients a 5-start treatment.

Could you elaborate on the composition of your client portfolio and the main segments of your operations?

We serve clients across three main sectors of retail, banking, encompassing almost all major banks in Saudi Arabia, and office spaces. The office space segment is a personal favorite, focused as it is on creating comfortable, acoustically-designed eco-friendly and aesthetic environments. Average human spends 92% of the time in-doors and abour 80% of that at a workplace. We aim to make that 80% a fun time which would boost creativity and positive energy. We collaborate with clients to enhance their designs, leveraging our 20 years of expertise. Currently, we are engaged with a high-tech office space project in KAFD in partnership with a leading Chinese artificial intelligence company. Our strategy targets 8% to 10%% annual growth, primarily through expansion with existing clients. Recently venturing into hospitality, we aim to diversify further while maintaining our commitment to excellence in each sector we serve. We are now eyeing the booming food and beverage industry in Saudi Arabia. Despite past projects like IKEA cafes, we haven’t ventured into standalone restaurants. Targeting Q1 or Q2 of 2024, we aim to make our mark in the flourishing restaurant industry.

What initiatives does AMAQ have in the pipeline that could potentially impact the regeneration of Saudi Arabia?

In Saudi Arabia, there are over 543,000 registered contracting firms, yet only 896 projects are LEED certified as sustainable, making up just 0.001% of firms delivering sustainable projects. AMAQ proudly contributes by delivering six of these LEED sustainable projects, emphasizing our commitment to green construction practices. We prioritize sustainability in construction and have integrated green practices, including onboarding sustainability engineers, consultants and educating new clients about NetZero targets

What strategy and priorities does AMAQ have for the upcoming year? How will they contribute to your vision of ranking among the top 50 construction firms in Saudi Arabia?

I always tell my team that, “To be the best, you do not have to be the biggest—it’s 2 different things.” We prioritize quality over quantity, avoiding large projects with slim margins—as a financial strategy. Instead, we focus on projects where we can deliver excellence and generate substantial profit, even if the project size is smaller, in its essence we’re selling Lambo’s to a buyer who appreciates the Lambo versus someone who needs a basic commute from point A to Point B – taking nothing away from the latter. In the upcoming year, our strategy includes further enhancing our quality management system and venturing into the automotive industry for construction projects. Additionally, we’re developing a B2B e-commerce platform for construction material procurement, providing live pricing, a unique feature that sets us apart. While the platform faced delays due to challenges in onboarding vendors and teaching them the benefits, we anticipate it will significantly benefit the industry and aspiring young Saudi entrepreneurs towards owning and operating construction businesses. Our approach is selective and we politely turn down clients that don’t align with our vision. By focusing on our core strengths and continually improving our systems, we aim to set new standards in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia. At the Index exhibition, we attracted 200-300 young Saudi female designers interested in job opportunities, or seeking inspiration for their designs. Recognizing the potential and mindset in the design field, our upcoming e-commerce platform aims to be an industry game-changer. With 60% of construction business centered around procurement, our platform eliminates the traditional procurement process, shifting it online. While this presents a significant challenge, we believe the potential return is equally substantial. Embracing risks and challenges, we’re prepared to lead the way in transforming the construction industry.



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