Interview: Sheikh Solaiman El-Khereiji [Construction Week (United Arab Emirates)]
(Construction Week (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Hyder Consulting's three-year Engineering Management Contract (EMC) with Jeddah Municipality (Al Amanah) is set to complete its first year in June.
What might not be known to some is that it includes the secondment of 51 Hyder technical resources staff to work alongside Municipality staff. They are all Saudi nationals who are offering support on a variety of activities, including the establishment of international standards and procedures, preparation of tender documents, reviews of design applications for proposed developments and training of the Municipality's own staff.
Qualified architect Sheikh Solaiman Abdullah El-Khereiji, who entered into a partnership with Hyder to initiate the EMC last year, says they will eventually transfer over to the municipality at the end of the three years.
"The Saudi nationals employed on the EMC contract are graduates, so we're focusing on the recruitment and development of youth – a major part of Hyder Consulting's corporate social responsibility and knowledge transfer policy."
The Jeddah citizen says the work carried out by Hyder for the Municipality will ultimately provide tangible benefits for the city through higher standards of quality in planning, design and construction of infrastructure.
"This will lead to enhanced amenities and roads for residents of the city of Jeddah," he says. "In addition, Hyder and Al Amanah will make sure a legacy of knowledge is transferred throughout this period, benefiting the Saudi engineering profession."
Hyder's municipality work is currently focused on awarding projects for the design of road corridor improvements, new intersections, junctions, new buildings, parks, urban design and public realm initiatives.
"There have been a number of start-up meetings and Hyder's role will now go through a transition period where the emphasis will change from generating RfPs (Request for Proposals) and undertaking reviews of on-going projects to one of managing work on new projects, with regular progress meetings, workshops, design stage submissions and reviews," says El-Khereiji.
Many of the projects now being awarded, he says, have design programmes of 12-18 months, so within the next four years citizens will be able to see completed works.
El-Khereiji is open to continuing his relationship with the Municipality after the end of the EMC and he believes Hyder has a further role to play.
"They're (the Municipality) looking at how to sustain this growth and the services of the city and are structuring part of their strategic plan," he says.
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"This is something we all appreciate very much and wish them success with.
"I'm sure Hyder Consulting could help there because we have been involved with many projects in the world whereby we have come up with, and submitted, programmes for sustainable growth."
Outside of its Municipality work, Hyder is involved on a number of projects in the private sector.
The consultant is architect of record for Abdul Latif Jameel Company's Sky Villas project. To be located on Jeddah Corniche on a 3,800m² plot, it will involve building four, 1,000m² "sky villas" stacked vertically in a 180m-high tower.
Hyder was also appointed by Saudi Airlines Real Estate Development Company to undertake a transport masterplan for its Saudi City Development, located 10km from the downtown area.
Spread over 1.5m m², it contains mixed-use elements such as residential, commercial, offices, hotels and education facilities.
Elsewhere, it is working on behalf of Rajhu Industrial Factories to provide full design and site supervision in developing factories for different production lines.
In addition to new facilities in Yanbu and Jeddah, they include factories for the manufacture of cables, waterproofing membrane, gypsum pre-cast concrete, corrugated carton and other building materials.
It is also working from the Jeddah office on two significant water projects in Makkah for the National Water Company. One is connected to utilities elements of the Grand Mosque expansion project; the other involves the design review and supervision of the construction of large water tanks.
El-Khereiji says Hyder is looking to target extra work across its three core sectors of transport, utilities and property developments including five-star hotels, high-rise buildings and education and healthcare facilities.
Preparing for this extra workload will provide real recruitment challenges for consultants, says El-Khereiji, noting that the visa crackdown on illegal workers has affected the construction industry, but only temporarily.
"In the short-term it's creating some problems for us to readjust as consultants and even for the government departments, but I think everyone in three years' time will find the benefit in the area of manpower, as we will be able to get professional people who are really committed to Saudi Arabia."
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