The Business Year

Yu Tao

UAE, DUBAI - Real Estate & Construction

Story-by-Story

President, China State Construction Engineering Corporation—CSCEC (Middle East) (L.L.C)

Bio

Yu Tao has over 20 years of experience in the management of corporate affairs and construction projects. He is the Chairman of ASSAS, a special purpose vehicle between China State Construction Engineering Corporation CSCEC (Middle East) and SKAI Holdings. Under his leadership, CSCEC (Middle East) has developed a reputation as one of the leading and most respected construction companies in the region. He has led the successful diversification of the company from a conventional building contractor to a comprehensive total solutions provider. He holds a Master’s Degree in Project Management from the National University of Singapore and a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from the Chongqing Civil Engineering Institute in China.

TBY talks to Yu Tao, President and CEO of China State Construction Engineering Corporation—CSCEC (Middle East) (L.L.C), on working on the Palm Jumeirah, targets for the future, and Expo 2020.

What have been your major achievements over the past 10 years?

Around 10 years ago, we came to Dubai for the Palm Jumeirah, Villas-Garden Homes project. I still remember that when I looked at the master plan of Palm Jumeirah I felt it was like a dream, which really attracted me. By 2007, we had finished 65% villas on the Palm Jumeirah successfully. From there, we started to take large and more complex orders like Sheikh Khalifa Specialist Hospital and the Doha Tower in Qatar, which is considered one of the highest-quality construction projects in the world as the winning project of Best Tall Building Worldwide. And we are also delighted to see our involvement in Abu Dhabi New Airport Project as main contractor in the infrastructure and specialist in the steel structure and mechanical package. So far, we have completed over $4.3 billion in projects across the region and involved in the Viceroy Hotel project, which is our first instance as a developer in the region. We have been actively participating in GCC railway projects and major airport projects such as in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. Hopefully, we will be able to participate in Dubai’s Al Maktoum Airport as well. We believe that as China State Construction, with its proven track record of 40 airports around the world, we have a better chance to ensure the quality and timely handing of megaprojects.

What is the importance of your partnership with SKAI Holding?

It has certainly been a milestone. For our company, it is a transition to start investing in the Middle East, although it is nothing new to us as China State Construction, one of the biggest development and investment companies in the Chinese market. To further diversify our business, it is important to shift our focus more toward development and investment. We take the Viceroy Hotel as the first step and we believe in the partnership with SKAI Holding.

What are your expectations for the construction sector in the lead up to Expo 2020?

The Expo 2020 will definitely provide contractors with more opportunities. The government will increase its budget to further complete and improve infrastructure. Compared with the neighboring countries in the GCC, Dubai probably has the best infrastructure. Nevertheless, the population is increasing rapidly. Rapid population growth has created pressure on the existing infrastructure. With the Expo 2020 attracting tens of millions of visitors, infrastructure will become extremely crucial to Dubai. We have noticed that the authorities are also building more theme parks and other leisure facilities. Of course, Expo 2020 itself is a project similar to one we experienced in Shanghai at Expo 2010, where we have built dozen of pavilions for various countries. Also, we believe Expo 2020 will bring positive to the image of Dubai and bring more business opportunities in the hospitality sector.

What are your expectations for the investment climate in Dubai over the next year or two?

We will all feel the effect of falling crude oil prices. Concern over its impact on the UAE will always be there, as it is one of the major oil-supplying countries. However, I don’t think it will have a major impact on the country’s spending. Dubai has not depended on oil for many years. After it further improves its infrastructure and assumes new projects to be built, we will see the market grow. The property market was really booming in 2013 and made Dubai one of the world leading property markets. However, it has stabilized in 2014, which I read as a positive message for long-term, sustainable growth. Consolidation is always required if prices increase too quickly. Generally, it is good to see that Dubai is recovering from the last financial crisis and coming back on the right track. In the coming one to two years, we should see something more positive, especially with the improvement of the business environment in Iran, which I believe will probably bring in more business opportunities to the UAE.

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