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UAE, ABU DHABI - Telecoms & IT

Pierre Santoni

President Middle East & Africa, Parsons

Bio

Pierre Santoni is President of Parsons Middle East Africa. He also provides regional leadership for Parsons’ security and defense offerings. Prior to his role as President of MEA, Santoni was senior vice president and division manager for infrastructure and transport, a position in which he had overall responsibility for the corporation’s transportation and water/wastewater projects in the Middle East and Africa. Based in Dubai since early 2005, he has developed trusted relationships with key decision makers in regional government bodies and private sector entities alike.

“At Parsons, sustainability is one of our six core values.”

Parsons is a leading disruptive technology provider in the national security and global infrastructure markets, with capabilities across cyber, space and missile defense, transportation, environmental remediation, urban development, and critical infrastructure protection.

Parsons achieved a global revenue of USD4.2 billion in the 2022 fiscal year, representing total growth of 15% and organic growth of 9%. What factors does the company attribute this success to?

Parsons is organized around four business units and two major segments. One is the federal solution segment, which deals with work for various entities of the US government, wherever it is in the world. Another is the critical infrastructure segment, which is what we do here, namely civil infrastructure, and connected communities’ work, which means everything that has to do with the development and management of major critical infrastructure assets around the world. In 2022, we were fortunate that all four business units within the two segments were growing at the same time. We experienced significant growth across the board, executed according to our plan and delivered solid results. We focus on basic tackling and blocking of projects, ensuring that we not only execute as per plan but also have the right strategy to target the right clients in each one of those business units. In the Middle East, this has contributed significantly to the growth of the corporation. We are primarily present in four major geographies in the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, with smaller operations in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman.

Parsons has 550 ongoing projects  in the UAE. What have been its latest achievements, and how would you define the company’s transformative mission?

In late 2021, we completed our infrastructure delivery work on Expo 2020. We have also been involved in several projects in Dubai for the Road and Transport Authority. We inaugurated the Infinity Bridge, which is part of the 14-km long Shindagha corridor project and we’re also working with the RTA on the development of roads around the Dubai Creek Harbor. We have also been engaged to carry out site-wide infrastructure design for that development by Emaar. We are involved, with a joint venture partner, in the design of the extension of the metro reaching across the Creek and beyond. There are also a variety of large development projects around town with Dubai Properties, Emaar, and Nakheel, among others. We are also supporting RTA in running the traffic management center in Dubai, which is a significant technology project. In Abu Dhabi, we have been active with both the public and private sectors. Aldar and Modon are our two main clients with which we have been developing projects. We are also the infrastructure consultant for Jubail Island. On the government side, we have been developing solutions with the Department of Municipalities and Transport for several projects on and off the island. Since His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan became president, there has been an accelerated path toward the development of more focused quality-of-life projects. In this context, we are currently involved in a number of park development projects around the city. In addition, we completed the Khalifa City Improvement Project and have been involved in the Abu Dhabi Airport in a project management capacity since the beginning of that project. We have also been involved in the Saadiyat Island project since the very beginning, including the Sheikh Khalifa Causeway. Everything we do is geared toward providing a better place for people to live, work, and operate in, our aim is to improve the way that people move around safely and sustainably.

How do Parsons’ ESG initiatives align with the UAE’s vision of becoming sustainable as well as COP28?

COP28 is a major focus worldwide, it is great that the UAE will be organizing it, and we are certain it will be a fantastic event. More than 120 heads of state are expected to visit, and we hope there will be more awareness of the UAE’s efforts in the sustainability space. Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia have invested billions of dollars in new technologies, hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture, cloud seeding, and much more in an effort to reduce their dependence on desalinated water. Many of these efforts go unnoticed in the rest of the world because people only focus on the fact that these countries have done it using oil revenues; however, that is only part of the story. For example, the UAE has funded billions of dollars’ worth of research in universities around the world. I hope that with COP28, the UAE will highlight this in a much stronger way. At Parsons, sustainability is one of our six core values. Many of our projects have had a positive impact on the sustainable goals of the UAE, such as managing traffic, reducing the use of water, optimizing the reuse of treated sewage effluent, the treatment of water, and much more. Our focus for 2023 is to highlight all our efforts in helping to make the world a better place.

What are Parsons’ aspirations for 2023?

We are fortunate enough that we get to serve some of the biggest clients in every geography that we work in. Our objective is to continue to drive innovation to help those customers deliver on their mandates. There is a significant effort being made toward sustainability, highlighting the UAE’s efforts here, and doing even more to move the industry forward. We are placing greater focus on this in 2023. The Abu Dhabi government has announced that it will make the business environment and growth in the Emirate more sustainable in the future in a bid to ensure the right people are in place to further cement these initiatives and Abu Dhabi’s position in the Middle East. Thus it is a great time to be in the Middle East and the UAE, in particular Abu Dhabi. We view the future with great expectations and responsibility and consider ourselves one of the key contributors to the development of infrastructure assets in the country.

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