Construction Week Newsletter 8th January 2005

  • E-Mail
By  Eudore Chand Published  January 8, 2005

Editorial Leader|~||~||~|

Help rebuild lives and homes

2004 has been consigned to history. But not what was begun last year or even earlier. Continuity has to be maintained and hope has to be built in the future. The past year had a great beginning. For the construction sector, the order books were full. Work was to be had and in plenty. Major projects were coming off the drawing boards. There was a general feeling of euphoria across the Gulf. Dubai’s major real estate developers, Emaar Properties and Nakheel, may have brought the terms ‘waterfront’ and ‘reclamation’ into the Gulf's lexicon as well as the concept of building mini-townships, but these ideas were embraced with fervour across the boundaries. Durrat Al Bahrain, The Pearl in Qatar, Shobily and Rikaz in Saudi Arabia, all are huge developments. Despite the blip on the radar in terms of skyrocketing steel prices and an alleged monopolistic shortage of cement and concrete products, the construction industry continued to gather pace. Even the tailing off of the anticipated Iraqi reconstruction boom did not affect the Gulf's construction sector. It just kept shrugging of all irritations and kept marching on to dizzying heights. The side benefits of such progress were that people across the world started to look at the region more closely. The award of contracts for Bahrain Financial Harbour, Burj Dubai and the announcement of the third and largest Palm attracted attention and cash from corporate and individual investors from the world over. It also brought publicity — some of it adverse. When five people were killed and 17 injured in the steel mesh collapse at Dubai International Airport, it made global headlines. The boom also led to the development of a massive mortgage market almost overnight. Home loan finance companies sprung up, large professionally managed mutual funds started buying into property. Even small groups of investors started off real estate development projects in a co-operative movement, especially in Saudi Arabia. The year 2004 was the year of private sector real estate development. Unlike the earlier oil-driven construction boom in the Gulf, this one was led by the private sector. Infrastructure building mostly followed private initiatives and private funding. A high oil price also did not hurt investments. In fact, governments had much more cash to infuse into their economies and to maintain, expand and upgrade infrastructure such as roads, utilities and other civic amenities. The construction juggernaut just kept marching on in the Gulf. However, for the world, the year had a tragic ending. The Tsunami on Boxing Day that began in the Bay of Bengal and wreaked havoc from Indonesia to Somalia is estimated to have killed 125 000 people and the toll is continuing to rise. The Indian Ocean coastline has been devastated from Aceh Banda across to the southern Indian coast of Tamil Nadu and the seafront of Sri Lanka. It a tragedy on an unimaginable scale. As we speak, the world is busy supplying aid and succour to the survivors. This is one area where the cash-rich real estate development and construction industry in the Gulf could find much to do. Rebuilding the lives of people, rebuilding their homes, rebuilding the streets they lived in, the villages, the towns and the cities all requires specialists skills and cash — commodities that the Gulf construction industry has in plenty. I am sure that there is a great amount of charity being undertaken by the Gulf’s publicity-shy construction and real estate development corporates. However, given the scale of the tragedy, much more needs to be done. I suggest that our industry forms a task force, liaises with the UN and other relief agencies, and mobilises resources to help rebuild the lives and homes of our fellow humans.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code