KUWAIT - Real Estate & Construction
Chairman, Gulf Consult
As Chairman, Najla H. Alghanim is dedicated to maintaining Gulf Consult’s position at the forefront of engineering consulting in Kuwait. Since joining the firm in 2000 as an Associate Director, she has worked on several major projects. Previously, she interned at Banque Worms and BFI in Paris and Geneva, and later worked as a Relationship Officer in the National Bank of Kuwait’s Corporate Finance Department. She holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration (finance) from the University of Arizona at Tucson and in civil engineering from San Jose State University.
UBED ARAIN This company started in 1967, as a small A&E practice; however, in a few years the economy started to boom due to the increase in oil prices, and the government started spending on infrastructure and public housing, and this led to the company’s growth. When I joined in 1975, we started to diversify our activities further into large projects, the industrial sector, and infrastructure. This allowed us to grow over the years and sustain our activity. We have been able to adapt to the needs of the market and society while maintaining a high quality of work. Our strategy is paying off, since we have many repeat clients.
NAJLA H. ALGHANIM The private sector mostly seeks short-term ROI that is not possible with the capital requirements of green buildings, especially since power and water tariffs are already extremely low. In the US, it is worth investing in sustainable development because it reduces bills over time. It does not in Kuwait, so there is no incentive to have a more efficient building. Unfortunately, the government is not willing to initiate unpopular initiatives, and for this reason it will be hard to change this in the short term.
UA Invitations for the project were initially sent to international companies who then had to choose a local partner and submit a joint proposal. In order to win the tender, we looked into the foreign company with the highest chance of getting the project. Foster + Partners (F+P) became the obvious choice since it had recently designed the airports in Beijing and Hong Kong. We approached it and demonstrated our credentials and ability to successfully work on government projects. Once the project was awarded, we helped F+P with project’s design development and approvals from local authorities. At present, we are helping to supervise the construction of the project. The only negative factor was that the project has become much bigger and costly than initially budgeted.
NHA Another aspect of our success is the strong involvement of upper management in any project from the beginning until the end. We always make sure our values trickle down to all levels of the organization, and we make sure the client feels that.In what ways are you contributing to women empowerment in your sector?
NHA Women in Kuwait are extremely empowered. There are no restrictions on what they can or are allowed to do. In fact, since there are more female engineering students at Kuwait University than male, many women end up holding high positions in organizations across the country. For example, the current Minister of Public Works is a woman. Therefore, our business sector does not need to actively market itself to women. Today women can successfully have a career and a family at the same time.
UA We have started a small diversification overseas with two projects in Bahrain, one in Sri Lanka, and one in Sudan. We are also looking at opportunities in North Africa and Bangladesh. In Kuwait, we are currently working on some PPPs, including the Umm AlHayman Treatment Plant. In order to sustain our company, it is important to continue to work on multiple projects in different sectors and to continue to explore new possibilities.
NHA Moving forward, we need to invest in excellent human resources and technology. We need to keep ourselves abreast of any new advancements. Our strategy is to survive based on historic lessons, redefine ourselves, and do quality work. œ–
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