Dr. Nasim: Vision 2030 a game-changer for the Kingdom
A giant Singapore company, Meinhardt Group, which ranks among the largest independent engineering firms globally by revenue undertaking annually about $25 billion worth of projects worldwide, has reaffirmed its commitments to work closely with Saudi Arabia within the framework of the Saudi Vision 2030. “Meinhardt can and stands ready to contribute to the Vision 2030, utilizing it global expertise and resources,” said Dr. Shahzad Nasim, Executive Chairman of Meinhardt Group International, recently.
In an interview, Dr. Nasim said that “the Vision 2030 potentially a game-changer for the Kingdom.” “It is a bold, forward-looking initiative and designed to upscale the Kingdom as a leader in the Middle East by major investments in the physical and digital infrastructure,” noted the Meinhardt chairman, adding that the Kingdom’s investor-friendly, unrestrictive and business supportive government agencies have made it easy for us to set up and operate our company locally.
He pointed out that Meinhardt owns and operates eight offices in the MENA region, including a significant permanent presence in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi operation is managed by a top-notch team led by Jalal Shah, director of Meinhardt Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Abbas, executive director, and Bastian George, office manager. Meinhardt is currently executing several projects in the Kingdom, including establishment and operation of PMO and technical support for affordable housing for the National Housing Program, and NTP Initiative Projects (School Development Program) for Tatweer Building Company.
Dr. Nasim said that Meinhardt is also involved in Qiddiya City Project for Qiddiya Investment Company and Bayt Al Fann Jameel project for Abdul Latif Jameel. The project’s work consists of an arts center located in Jeddah to provide a permanent place to showcase and celebrate the achievements of Saudi and Middle Eastern contemporary artists. The company has also been involved in advisory for construction and consultancy in the Jabal Omar Development project in the holy city of Makkah, he added.
“Being one of Singapore’s largest global engineering companies to set up operation in the Kingdom and many other countries in the Middle East and Africa is a testament to our commitment to the country and region,” said the Meinhardt chief. “Meinhardt stands ready to contribute to the Vision 2030, utilizing its global expertise and resources by helping to implement the key items of the vision--physical and digital infrastructure, training of Saudi engineers, innovation and entrepreneurship,” he observed.
Defying the challenges, he said that the contracting oil sector and the Covid-19 have inevitably led to sluggish growth in 2020 for the region and will continue to be the case for some time – very much like the rest of the world. “Unlike many other international companies, Meinhardt Group does not shift its presence or commitment, based on temporary changes in the business or fiscal environment,” he noted. Once we decide to set up in a country, we are there to stay in good times and bad times, he said.
“Our commitment to KSA and the region is irreversible,” said Dr. Nasim, adding that Meinhardt has demonstrated resilience and flexibility in adapting to the new environment and has shown professional excellence through strong and reliable performance. “We are proud to have introduced several innovative engineering and construction techniques to the region which have made a transformatory impact to our projects and the industry at large,” he said.
On the regional level, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Dr. Nasim said: Meinhardt has had several iconic projects across the Gulf states. Some of the projects include Iris Data Center in Abu Dhabi, Kifaf Phase 5 Dubai, Peer Review for City Center Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi, Movenpick Hotel in Ram Al Khaimah, Zabeel House by Jumeirah in Dubai, Marriott Resort & Spa in Ras Al Khaimah, Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi, and Etisalat Data Center in Dubai.
In Qatar, some of the Meinhardt Group’s projects are Military Medical Complex at Sailiyah, 300-bed Hospital in Tenbek, Utility Services Tunnel Project, Ras Abu Aboud Stadium, Al Rayyan Stadium, Hamad International Airport Expansion in Doha, and Transit Oriental Development at Al-Ryyad Al Qadeem and Hamad Hospital Metro Stations in Doha. The company is also doing the technical and financial feasibility study of the Sohar International Airport in Oman.
Asked about how companies are coping with the workloads during the Corona pandemic, Dr. Nasim recalled his views, which he shared in a recent ICC Conference on supply chain management and how businesses can navigate the post-pandemic era by capitalizing on technology to streamline business models. “The quick adoption of such technology-enabled models will be essential for ASEAN members to overcome existing and future supply chain shocks,” he said.
“Similarly, infrastructure (water, power, transport, and ICT systems) will need to be made more resilient and intelligent to withstand supply chain interruptions,” said Dr. Nasim. “We need to constructively find ways to improve our productivity, business models, and relevance in the new norm, which is, unfortunately, going to be more challenging as our domestic and global economies slow down,” said the Meihhardt chairman. A lot of businesses and industries will suffer if they cannot evolve quickly, he said.
He further said: “We need to consider what is relevant today and what we need to build upon, moving forward.” He said that digitalization is pivotal in adapting to the new norm. It becomes a primary driver of business resilience. “At Meinhardt, we believe digitalization will be a key growth driver and are accelerating our efforts to expand our specialist Meinhardt Digital offering, focusing on planning, design and implementation of smart and sustainable cities and built environment,” he explained.
Asked about the company’s global expansion plan, Omar Shahzad, Chief Executive Officer of the Meinhardt Group International, said that the new countries/markets where Meinhardt has ventured are New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. “We are also looking to set up or expand our presence in the United States, Canada and Europe,” said Omar, adding that the Meinhardt Group, headquartered in Singapore, has 51 global offices and 5,000 technical staff.
He pointed out that the Meinhardt Group is a leading global engineering company in master planning, design, and project management of smart cities, buildings of all types especially tall buildings, and mega infrastructure projects – including highways, airports, metros, water & sewerage treatment and distribution systems. “We are proud to be recognized as a leading engineering company in the global arena,” said Omar.
“Our high international ranking amongst Top 225 International Design Firms is a recognition of the highly innovative engineering solutions Meinhardt provides globally, especially in the area of master planning and design of high-rise buildings, major public infrastructure projects, and program management and the design of smart cities,” he noted. For Meinhardt, as a global company – the world is our market, business opportunities can always be created with innovation, entrepreneurship and commitment to the country, he said.
“Notwithstanding the Covid-19, we remain committed to the Kingdom and the rest of MENA region,” said the chief executive. “Our business with the rest of Asia and Europe is very well established already,” added. He said that globally connected project management offices (PMOs) will need to be set up to control quality, program and finances of project. He said that new opportunities will emerge in healthcare, digital technologies and smart cities and smart infrastructure which are more resilient and better connected to safeguard supply chain.
Omar, who oversees the performance of the global operation and the company’s 51 offices worldwide, assured that the Corona pandemic can be “turned into an opportunity” to remodel our cities, transport and infrastructure to deal with such calamities and emerging new business models. Meinhardt is a leading global planning, engineering and project management company providing services from 51 offices in 5 continents. The company has been managing and providing key integrated engineering services in the Middle East and North Africa region, including Saudi Arabia since 1997.