Building services in the Middle East

As UK-based CIBSE aims to raise its profile in the Gulf, MEP Middle East joined its first Middle East members briefing to hear its plans.

  • E-Mail
By  Alison Luke Published  December 16, 2006

|~|7p17main.gif|~|CIBSE president David Hughes aims to make CIBSE a force in the Gulf. |~|“We can’t ignore this sort of [booming global] marketplace; it does build an international fraternity and Dubai and this part of the world could be part of it,” states David Hughes, president of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

Speaking at a CIBSE members seminar in Dubai during November, Hughes stressed the importance of the expanding market for engineers working in the MEP sector.

The Institution has members spread worldwide and the growing construction sector in the Middle East is attracting more than ever to the region. The main purpose of the seminar was to gauge the desire for the establishment of a CIBSE Chapter in the Middle East as a means of serving the members.

“We’re involved in your professional lives. We want to make sure that we serve you in a competent way, whether this is by conferences, publications or sessions to deliver the message which is constantly changing,” Hughes explains. “We want to look at the opportunities that are available and look at the opportunities of moving this on.”

CIBSE has around 18,000 members and like its American counterpart ASHRAE it is experiencing a growth spurt following an increase in construction industry activity, with numbers having risen by around 20% over the past six years.

The bulk of its members in the Middle East are in the Emirates, with others working in countries such as Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Recognising the changing market in which its members are now working, in its 2006-2010 strategic plan one of the six main objectives involves ‘the promoting of competence and knowledge through engagement in current issues including sustainability, climate change and globalisation of the engineering industry’.

The latter part of this objective seems to be high on the agenda, with the president personally involved. In his role at CIBSE, Hughes has board responsibility for international co-ordination and developing the Institution in the international arena, a portfolio that has already seen him reinforce ties with Hong Kong.

With the growth in both construction activities and the number of CIBSE members in the Gulf, the need for an increased presence in this area has also been recognised.

“What we’re aware of is that the economy in this part of the world and the construction that we see around us here is supported to some extent by UK expatriates who are CIBSE members, so we feel we ought to be looking after them,” explains Hughes.

Hughes has experienced expatriate life himself during his career as a consulting engineer. In 1976 he established a multi-disciplinary office in Iran that undertook the design and construction of projects in Tehran and on the Caspian Sea Coast.

The push to start a CIBSE Chapter in the region is one angle that he sees will aid members in their professional lives; he is also keen to develop links with other professional bodies in the region.

“I don’t want the mindset to be limited to what CIBSE can do here, but how we can work with other professionals and together move forward an agenda that everybody in construction can use,” he states.

“We don’t want this to be an expat-centric function, we want to expand this outside the box to encourage those we work alongside to seek to develop their own skills,” he adds. “Let’s not be disparate, let’s see where the gaps are [in education and training] and let’s see how we can fill them.”

Hughes reasons that the region’s geographic position should help the process of information dissemination to members. “Members and other professionals are constantly coming to this part of the world.

Why not structure an agenda where they could deliver something that would be useful to this market or environment and encourage people to come along and learn about things outside of their workplace?” he suggests.

Suggested formats for this include a programme of lectures on specialist subjects to be potentially delivered by professionals passing through the region on business.

“The model is one to be generated initially by the members of CIBSE that are working here,” states Hughes, “but it should also develop a local professional environment to move on some of the substantiate issues that are not only Dubai-based but are internationally-based, because with an expatriate community almost by definition they are an expatriate engineering society and therefore they are choosing to work in that society.

“We do feel at CIBSE that we could bring that expertise together, develop it and move it on for members’ own professional development, but also for the benefit of the countries that they are working in, to leave a heritage for the population when they move on,” he adds.

“The internationalisation of engineering…is also an opportunity to bring those together and move on the agenda the problems we face in society, which are carbon emissions and basically controlling the supply and demand of good clean fresh water,” Hughes adds.

With ‘Engineering for life’ the focus of Hughes’ presidential address he was keen to stress the sector’s importance to the global task of energy use and climate change. “It’s coming on the agenda now that water is equally important as climate change,” he stresses.

“We always talk about reducing climate change, but the world has very great problems with water, so bringing into the built environment [sector] the control of the use of water is extremely important,” he adds.

“The onus is changing here in the waythat construction is viewed. [The UAE] has signed the Kyoto agreement, therefore is looking to corporate and social responsibility in improving the nature of the construction process in this part of the world and we are part of that engagement,” he stresses. ||**||

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