Edara offers local insight to growth of PM in the region

In the second installment of our interviews with leading project management players, Zoe Naylor talks to Adel Ahmed Lootah, general manager of Dubai-based PM firm, Edara.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  April 8, 2006

|~|116int200.gif|~|According to Lootah, the growth of a local project management firm has given developers the option to source homegrown expertise.|~|Who are you and where do you come from?

Headquartered in Dubai, Edara is a wholly owned subsidiary under the Union Properties’ umbrella — one of Dubai’s most successful property development companies.

What kind of business is Edara involved in?

We offer top quality project management services to the property market. Edara is fully capable of leading both construction and real estate projects from the concept stage through to completion.

I came on board about a year ago with the main objective of growing the project management company. Project management is still a relatively recent concept here — until two or three years ago, they used to hire management people in house, but gradually people realised that they could make use of us.

What differentiates Edara from the other project management companies here?

Edara is the only project management company to have grown out of Dubai. We’re currently handling around US $2.1 billion (AED8 billion) worth of projects, all Dubai-based.

But we’re getting close to expanding our remit to elsewhere in the region. Developers from the other emirates and other countries in the region look to us because we can bring the Dubai experience.

What is the role of the project manager?

Our role as the project manager is to see what the developer wants to do, and to ensure that it runs to the agreed budget and time scale. Project management is all about prediction and being ahead of the game.

If you look at the cycle of the project manager, they get involved at the early stages. For example, some developers may not be technical, so the project manager can challenge the design. We can look deeper into a project, such as the width of beams, the air conditioning, electricals, etc — these are all simple things that are often over-engineered.

A project manager will help to balance the project. During the design they will look at the drawings and will try to ascertain how far it is away from what the developer wants, and how to bring it closer.

They look at the quality, cost and the time to build the project. And when the construction is completed, we also hand the project over to the facilities management company.

How important is it for project managers to be closely involved in the actual construction phase of a project?

Sometimes a contractor comes up with different claims; for example, changes are requested that result in increased construction costs, so we take care of the details of these.

And sometimes a contractor may fail to supply the agreed number of labourers on site. On occasion we are even called in during the operations stage; if there’s a mechanical failure, we may be called in to study the situation and give a recommendation as to whether it’s the contractor’s responsibility, for example. We’re the only local company doing this type of work.

Is Dubai’s property market anywhere near reaching maturity yet?

The Dubai market is fairly young — it is not yet 15 years old. Of course, people have been living here for much longer, but to go from that to what you see today has only taken around 15 years. It’s still a young market, but it’s maturing.

The property laws that are now coming in are definitely helping. They encourage funds to come in, and in turn this will inject more cash. All the properties you see around here are not leveraged — they’re not mortgaged: It’s almost all paid for with hard cash. So when mortgaging becomes more prevalent, then that will even out the market more, and rents will come down.

Do you anticipate that we will see a significant drop in rent prices?

They will reduce, but not by half, for example. I also think that Dubai will become more exclusive. For the people that work here, their income levels will need to increase. This will encourage and reassure people buying properties, and will also help the market to mature.

What type of projects is Edara involved in?

We’ve primarily worked on residential projects — up to 800 villas per development. We’ve also done a 50-floor tower and a mixed-use development comprising offices and residential apartments. Our projects range from $54 million up to $1 billion.

Do you think that project management in Dubai differs from elsewhere?

I think that the way things are done here is different. Firstly, take the engineering consultants: What they do and what they don’t do is different here than in other markets.
This also applies to contractors, government approvals,
infrastructure, laws and regulations i.e. the way the law
treats the consultants and their responsibilities. It’s a unique scenario to be in, here in the UAE.||**||

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