Gerhard Hope on Mar 31, 2011
Contractors looking to enter the potentially lucrative Saudi Arabia construction market need to beware of the potential pitfall posed by a shortage of skilled labour, says Drake & Scull International (DSI) executive director – civil Saleh Muradweij.
DSI has entered into a joint venture with Saudi-based International Centre for Contracting for the Al Jawharah Tower on the Jeddah Corniche by developer Damac Properties.
“We have JVed with them on this and other jobs also, basically to help with the local resources required and the classification we need for these high-rise projects. As a newly-registered entity in Saudi, it takes a little bit longer to get the required classification.
“That is something most of the UAE contractors are facing in Saudi; they do not realise this. Or they do, but it takes a long time to put it together. It is mostly required from the government sector. For the private sector it is required if you want to tender for specific, special projects,” says Muradweij.
“We are basically bringing in management and expertise, mostly skilled employees that have done a lot of high-rise buildings in Dubai. Saudi is not known for high-rise, so the expertise there, both in terms of staff and labourers, is minimal.
“That was why Damac has selected us, due to our high-rise experience in the UAE. It is a really good foothold to get other high-rise projects. We are tendering a lot in Saudi, mostly in Makkah. The type of construction in Saudi is mostly horizontal, not vertical. They have a lot of urban space they want to cover.”
Commenting on sourcing skilled labour in Saudi, Muradweij says, “There are a lot of labourers, but skilled ones with high-rise experience is very rare, so we depend on our ability to train the local workforce and monitor the works ourselves. We have set teams of experts from Dubai to oversee the training.
“That is going to be a major input into the Saudi construction market going forward, as it represents a big investment on the part of the company. We will depend on the Saudi market for many years to come.”