The Business Year

Cumhur Kaur

SAUDI ARABIA - Real Estate & Construction

The Key Stone

Deputy Managing Director, TAV Construction

Bio

Cumhur Kaur was born in 1968 in Turkey and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Engineering from the Middle East Technical University. He has been with TAV for over 14 years, previously working on projects in Qatar, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, among others.

TBY talks to Cumhur Kaur, Deputy Managing Director of TAV Construction, Saudi Arabia & Africa, on opportunities in the Kingdom, challenges in the market, and current projects.

What do the opportunities in Saudi Arabia represent for TAV?

First of all, the Saudi Arabian economy is one of the leaders for the whole world, and it is the largest oil producer, which is why it has become so important for the airport business as well. It is a large country with many airports that is highly populated in respect to other countries in the Arab region. In 2014, Jeddah had a 28 million passengers and Medina had 6 million. There is a large demand for terminals as well as airport facilities and cargo. There are catering, cargo, and ground handling buildings required, as well as airport hotels. There are many opportunities in this huge market. It is important for TAV to be in Saudi Arabia, since it has a stable economy and political environment; everything is quite attractive here

What are some of the challenges that you have faced or experienced in Saudi Arabia?

Any time you enter a market you face new challenges, such as new culture, visas, and banking systems. It is not so different from the other countries where there are megaprojects. However, the positive thing about Saudi Arabia is that there are many brands, manufacturers, and subcontractors available in the country. Since it is economically an active country, there are many companies already here. It is not difficult to attract companies, and it is not like other countries that are facing economic difficulties. This is a real advantage for Saudi Arabia. There is a proper banking system from a financial point of view, and when we start a project we have thousands involved. We feel it is one of the most stable and secure places to start a project in the world. There are great opportunities here.

How will TAV’s projects bring the airports you are working on up to international standards?

Medina hosts many passengers every year, and the airport conditions were not great, which is why the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) stepped in and launched a PPP type airport development program. We won the tender, and over three years we invested $1.2 billion in the project. Now, there is a brand new high-tech airport with facilities in Medina; therefore, we have already begun adding value in the Medina area through this airport. It is a growing airport, and will be more attractive and an important facility for travelers. There have been steps taken to rehabilitate and refurbish the Riyadh airport in the same way, and we have won the tender for T5 there as well. This will be another important and key terminal when the airport is refurbished. It will become an integral part of the system. When we go back to Jeddah, parallel to the airport the airlines are also growing. When one of them grows the other one needs to grow in accompaniment. Initiatives have already been taken to start maintenance and repair hangers. We are currently building hangers in the northeast corner of the Jeddah International Airport, which will be our contribution and value-added to Jeddah airport. Airports are active cities and organisms. Since the completion of the Medina Airport, we were asked to build an airport hotel and a catering facility in Medina Airport. Since we are growing with the market, we are available to work on major airports and become a key player. We wish to continue like this, and hopefully we will be able to continue to build new facilities in the Kingdom’s airports.

Now that TAV has entered the market in the last few years, what is your vision for TAV in Saudi Arabia over the long term?

Over the long term, we are targeting many future decades of business here. We will surely be busy in the airport, transportation, and other large scale PPP investments and projects. Anything related to airports are of interest to us. This is the beginning of a long relationship, and we anticipate being here for many projects and years to come.

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