Paul Wallet, Regional Director of Trimble Solutions, Middle East and India, shares his views on the rapid transformation of the construction sector in the Middle East
The significance of globalisation has had an inevitable impact on economies, cultures and societies. As markets interconnect and barriers challenge international economy, the boundaries get blurred. Industries are now experiencing a paradigm shift in the way they operate, innovate and grow. The ripples of this major change have created several beneficial and challenging transformations in the construction industry, which in turn have revolutionised construction management practices.
From exchange of ideas, identifying and leveraging technologies and adopting global best practices, the tremendous impact of globalisation has driven innovation in construction management practices. In order to navigate the evolving global construction sector, market players are pushed to develop novel construction methodologies, project management strategies and sustainable construction practices.
As construction sector is majorly aiming at the global market and a diverse customer base, one of the most notable transformations the industry has witnessed is the internationalisation of the project team. With involvement of professionals from different parts of the world, developers are now able to integrate diverse skill sets, cultural perspectives and innovative ideas into their projects. Through this fusion of expertise, developers are enabled to enhance their project outcomes in addition to setting an example of effective employment of various project management techniques from across the globe.
In addition, global interconnectedness has led to the standardisation of construction regulations and codes to ensure consistency, efficiency and safety in the practices across various regions and markets. Organisations like the International Code Council (ICC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have contributed to harmonising the construction industry practices with global benchmarks. As countries become increasingly involved in cross-border collaborations, the standardisation of industry regulations has enabled professionals to adhere to uniform guidelines. For instance, the adoption of ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management has helped streamline construction processes while ensuring global standards of excellence.
Being one of the key regions profoundly impacted by globalisation, the Middle East’s construction sector has been flourishing with commencement of innovative projects and new companies entering the market. Fast-paced globalisation of the construction sector in the region has also propelled industry players to identify and adopt advanced construction technologies. The seamless knowledge transfer between the global community through international conferences and collaborations has promoted modern construction practices like Building Information Modelling (BIM), Prefabrication and Green Building in the regional market. Conferences like Tekla Users Day and The Big 5 in Dubai attract industry leaders who share insights on innovative construction techniques.
Apart from this, the efforts of Middle Eastern countries to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI) have further encouraged the adoption of modern construction technologies. International companies bring with them expertise and technologies that aid in the upskilling of regional professionals in line with the novel industry practices. For instance, the introduction of state-of-the-art construction equipment and machinery like BIM or robotics has helped in improving efficiency and productivity in projects like the Museum of the Future and the One Za’abeel Tower. Moreover, several Middle Eastern governments have partnered with technologically advanced countries to facilitate skill development like the UAE’s collaboration with South Korea for the establishment of a Smart Construction Laboratory that promotes research and development of intelligent construction technologies.
The construction industry has been severely impacted by the wave of digital revolution brought on by globalisation. Digital communication tools, collaborative software platforms, and cloud-based project management systems have now become vital elements in the construction practices in the Middle East. The profound impact of globalisation has also drawn attention to environmentally-conscious sustainable building methods. In line with this, companies are setting emissions reduction objectives that are in line with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 2°C by utilising science-based targets (SBTs), which serve as an effective framework. Construction solution suppliers are also recommending construction companies to use carbon footprint-calculating software technologies like BIM and Digital Twins.
Furthermore, globalisation has opened immense opportunities for Middle Eastern companies to access international financial markets and investment opportunities. This financial integration has facilitated the seamless funding of ambitious projects like Burj Khalifa, which was successfully completed through global financial partnerships.
Globalisation has also increased the demand for upgraded infrastructure in the Middle East to accommodate increased international trade and connectivity. In light of this, nations like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made investments in developing their transportation infrastructure, including their airports, seaports, and roads. These infrastructure projects also demonstrate the incorporation of cutting-edge building techniques and technologies. Globalisation's impact may be seen in the Middle East's growing urbanisation, which gave rise to the idea of smart cities. These cities make use of technology to increase residents' quality of life and improve resource management.
As the construction industry continues to evolve in line with globalisation, it also brings several challenges. Industry players should overcome complexities like potential cultural clashes, skill gaps and the need for continuous adaptation. In order to thrive in the interconnected world and set future trajectory, industry players have to efficiently leverage opportunities brought by globalisation and proactively address challenges. Construction managers should possess the ability to effectively communicate across borders, make best use of innovative tools and implement flexible strategies to thrive in the global market.