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UAE: Keeping the real estate momentum going

24 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

In a new Op Ed with Gulf Business, Sultan Al Ghurair shares his insights into the UAE real estate market, and how the growth trajectory can be maintained.

UAE: Keeping the real estate momentum going
Friday 24 June 2022

24 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

In a new Op Ed with Gulf Business, Sultan Al Ghurair shares his insights into the UAE real estate market, and how the growth trajectory can be maintained.

Recent months have boldly played around different recovery scenarios for the UAE’s real estate sector – some say it’s driven by the government’s stellar handling of the Covid-19 health crisis; others pin it down to the recently concluded Expo 2020 Dubai.

Wherever the conversation goes, we know the recovery story borrows its plot points from a combination of both factors. The pandemic made the world realise the importance of global mobility – and this seems to be the UAE’s strategic approach in stimulating the economy, with the real estate industry as one of the biggest winners.

The important question to ask is how do we keep this real estate momentum going?

The year 2021 showcased an extraordinary display of resilience from Dubai. After a tumultuous year of global economic standstill, the emirate’s economy expanded at an estimated 3.5 per cent. The government played a huge role in ensuring the economy endured the pandemic – from introducing short-term economic relief packages, to relaxing visa and social regulations, to continue attracting talent and investment.

According to S&P Global, this growth is set to continue in 2022, with the GDP predicted to increase by 2.5 per cent and 2 per cent in 2023. Dubai’s population is also forecast to rise 2 per cent per year in 2022 and 2023. These numbers aided the much-anticipated comeback of Dubai’s property market, as investors and residents gradually regained their confidence in the emirate’s, and the wider UAE’s, economic health.

Transactions surged 60 per cent last year, while average annual prices of residential properties jumped 9 per cent and 6 per cent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, by December 2021.

Recent policy initiatives that make it easier for foreigners to live and work in the UAE have also bolstered the demand for real estate properties. Experts agree that this progressive approach will continue cementing the country’s position as a great enabler of global mobility.

The uptick in the real estate industry provides an interesting vantage point of realisation as people try to understand the impact of Covid-19 – particularly in the way it perpetually changed how we live our lives. Navigating a modern-day pandemic has pushed people to rethink their lifestyles, with community living becoming a preferred option – and even a priority – for many.

For others, especially foreign investors, reevaluating lifestyles meant looking for a country that has emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed. The UAE was one of the first countries to successfully launch a nation-wide vaccination campaign, allowing it to open borders earlier than most other countries. This drew a lot of international attention, including from potential residents who now have more visa options.

Projections point to a continuous rise in property transaction volumes in the UAE, with a particular stellar performance by off-plan projects, and larger properties within community spaces.

The Expo 2020 Dubai has also put a spotlight on the potential of the emirate – not just in hosting international events amid a global crisis, but in strengthening its potential as a hub for businesses and residents alike. Over 24 million people visited the world Expo over its 6-month run, and the Dubai government has made its legacy plans clear from the outset.

Commercial real estate took more hits from the pandemic, as tenants were forced to make difficult business trade-offs, as they also accelerated digitalisation efforts to keep up with what seems like a consumer exodus to virtual retail spaces. Hawk-eyed analysts are watching the sector closely to unearth more predictive insights as pandemic recovery continues.

In the UAE at least, footfall to brick-and-mortar shops have generally recovered from its 2020 low, and while e-commerce dominated consumer spending, physical shopping remains a central role in the country’s lifestyle – for residents and tourists alike. Creativity will define the next few years in commercial real estate – and not just “regular creativity”, but a type that can cut through the promises of advanced life-like inventions that appeal to people’s natural inclination towards comfort and convenience.

Real estate operators and leaders are sitting on the precipice of a new lifestyle era – modern and contemporary ways of how societies live, work, shop, and play. The numbers in the UAE seem to be on our side, but the real challenge is preserving that trajectory, and ultimately unlocking the future of the industry.

Read the article in its original location here: https://gulfbusiness.com/uae-keeping-the-real-estate-momentum-going/

Jacob John named in Middle East’s 100 most influential construction leaders

15 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

Congratulations to K. Jacob John, CEO of AG Engineering for being recognised in Construction Week’s ‘Power 100’ as #10 of the Middle East’s 100 most influential construction leaders in 2022!

Jacob John named in Middle East’s 100 most influential construction leaders
Wednesday 15 June 2022

15 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

Congratulations to K. Jacob John, CEO of AG Engineering for being recognised in Construction Week’s ‘Power 100’ as #10 of the Middle East’s 100 most influential construction leaders in 2022!

Specialising in building services and infrastructure projects, AG Engineering, an Al Ghurair business under its Construction and Services division, continues to position itself as one of the best firms in the UAE within the construction sector – demonstrating the required strength and skill by successfully completing countless commercial projects that have played an important role in advancing the development of infrastructure in the nation.

The company’s growing team consists of over 3,000 employees from 26 diverse countries – led by the conscientious strategic leadership of Jacob John who has enabled the key legacy knowledge, talent and experience of one of the largest construction conglomerates in the Middle East into the AG Engineering business!

AG Facilities Solutions receives ISO certification in recognition of outstanding customer care

15 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

AG Facilities Solutions’ (AGFS) ‘AG Centre for Enhancing Life’ has received the international ISO 18295:2017 quality standard, receiving formal certification for the second consecutive year.

AG Facilities Solutions receives ISO certification in recognition of outstanding customer care
Wednesday 15 June 2022

15 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

AG Facilities Solutions’ (AGFS) ‘AG Centre for Enhancing Life’ has received the international ISO 18295:2017 quality standard, receiving formal certification for the second consecutive year.

AG Facilities Solutions’ (AGFS) ‘AG Centre for Enhancing Life’ has received the international ISO 18295:2017 quality standard, receiving formal certification for the second consecutive year.

The certification specifies best-practice requirements and standards for customer interactions, reinforcing AGFS’ commitment to customer-centricity and service excellence.

Centered around delivering an optimal experience, implementation of this ISO standard creates value for both customers and employees at the customer care centre.

The ‘AG Centre for Enhancing Life’ provides 24/7 support for customers, across hard services – such as AC, electrical maintenance and plumbing, and soft services- such as cleaning and pest control. The centre is staffed with a diverse team of different nationalities and linguistic competencies, all with extensive knowledge of the Facilities Management (FM) sector. In 2021, the Centre assisted with more than 30,000+ requests, achieving a high customer satisfaction score.

“A customer-centric way is focusing on supporting customer involvement before and after providing the service to drive the business and enhance customer loyalty which, combined, drive business growth. At AGFS, centricity is our hallmark”, said Tarek Nizameddin, CEO of AGFS.

The Centre has created various omni-channels to register all service requests through calls, email, and web portal or mobile application.

Read the article in its’ original location in Community Management Today here: https://bit.ly/3b3BUCM

Tarek Nizameddin, CEO of AG Facilities Solutions, plans to guide the firm through new transformational changes

09 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

In a new interview with Facilities Management Middle East, Tarek Nizameddin, CEO of AG Facilities Solutions, speaks about his planned transformational changes for Al Ghurair Facilities.

Tarek Nizameddin, CEO of AG Facilities Solutions, plans to guide the firm through new transformational changes
Thursday 09 June 2022

09 June 2022, Dubai, UAE:

In a new interview with Facilities Management Middle East, Tarek Nizameddin, CEO of AG Facilities Solutions, speaks about his planned transformational changes for Al Ghurair Facilities.

There is a new sheriff in town! Tarek Nizameddin joined as the new CEO of AG Facilities Solutions (AGFS), in January this year, prompting exciting new transformational changes across AGFS’ structure and operations. With more than 27 years of experience, Nizameddin brings with him a plethora of knowledge to navigate and embed change. He will be responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership to drive the transformation at AGFS.

Talking about AGFS, Nizameddin says: “We have a very large operation today. We have around 11,000 employees all over the UAE providing both hard and soft services. We are operating in seven emirates servicing a diverse range of sectors.”

These sectors include oil and gas, education, healthcare, retail, residential and commercial, shopping malls, and infrastructure projects, wherein AGFS provides, integrated facilities management (IFM) services, landscaping, pest control, and cleaning that includes facade cleaning and duct cleaning.

Nizameddin’s mandate is to build upon the success of AGFS and take it to the “next level”. He explains: “We are operating currently under two brands. One is a pure soft services firm called MBM. The second is AG Facilities Solutions that is focused on IFM and hard services. I’m in the process of integrating these two companies, merging the operations under one brand which will be launched soon as AG Facilities Solutions. With this approach, we form one solid brand that will provide a one-stop-shop solution to our clients.”

Explaining the rationale behind this, Nizameddin says that it is always better for clients to have a single, holistic provider, bringing greater quality control and increasing efficiency for AGFS’ operations and its clients. He adds: “This is what integrated facilities management is about. Clients don’t like to coordinate with different people for both soft and hard services.”

For such a transformation, the company is working on identifying SOP’s and processes for the addition of new systems. The firm is upgrading its own computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) systems. He adds: “We are integrating many systems such as time and attendance for HRMS. We have a full digital transformation plan that will be completed before the end of the year.”

In a nutshell, Nizameddin says that the company plans to offer multiple options to its clients that includes IoT and robotics. The firm has started business incubators to provide new in-house specialised services, which is currently outsourced by the firm. The company also plans to enter new segments, such as waste management. Nizameddin says: “The goal is to bring all this under one umbrella. Our purpose is ‘Empowering Facilities, Enhancing Life’. We are a purpose-driven organisation and this is our core focus.”

Explaining a bit more, Nizameddin says: “When we say empowering facilities, it doesn’t mean that I am empowering the AC system. It’s empowering everything including the facility manager, the client, my cleaners, technicians, and security guards. Everything is one interconnected ecosystem that provides a great experience for the building occupant. We are empowering and enhancing the life of everybody; enhancing the life of the building users, enhancing the life of investors, enhancing the lives of our employees by providing them with the proper welfare and proper employment working conditions; and we are enhancing the lives of our suppliers, by paying them on time and having a fair contract with them. This is our purpose.”

Employee welfare and cultural transformation

Talking about the firm’s commitment when it comes to employee welfare, Nizameddin says that one of the firm’s objectives for 2025 is to be one of the top employers in the region.
In parallel, there is a cultural transformation underway at AGFS which will help the firm achieve its corporate strategy, purpose, and goals.

AGFS calls itself a great company that aims to be even better. Nizameddin implies that the company needs “to be fit for the future”. And that can only come when all the moving parts are in line with each other. “Be it culture, welfare, technology, purpose of the organisation, they all need to aligned and such a strategy which will help AGFS achieve its goals”.

He adds that the firm believes in cultural diversity and empowerment of women. Nizameddin says: “We hope to see more and more women coming into play in the FM industry, and that’s something we are already proud to be championing in our own operations. We have a lot of senior women in leading roles at our organisation.”

The other purpose of rebranding is to align AGFS with the parent company, Al Ghurair Investment, a 60-year-old family-owned group of businesses, revered for being part of the infrastructure of the UAE since its founding days. AGFS intends to build upon that legacy.

Challenges

On the subject of competition in the market, Nizameddin says that it “is one of the challenges in the industry today”. He adds: “Everything is price sensitive and everybody is focusing on the cost. This has been an issue even before the pandemic, but I believe that with time clients will understand that FM is an investment and they have to invest at selecting the right partner, with the right capabilities, to support them. Clients need an FM service provider to provide them the right support for the sustainability of their operations, and at the same time, to maintain their asset lifecycle. We’re targeting these type of conscious clients: those that understand the importance of selecting the right partner with a balance between the cost and that added value that’s provided.”

The other challenge is that the FM industry still doesn’t receive the due recognition that it deserves. FM is still considered as a cost-center, when actually it is an “investment”. A good FM service partner can help you enhance the return on your assets to a very large extent, Nizameddin implies. That is something which is AGFS’ core deliverable.

Nizameddin says: “We bring that professionalism, technology, and the right systems into helping our clients manage facilities better but also enhance the facilities and the lifecycle cost. Operational Maintenance cost vary from 40-60% of the whole life cycle cost of a building and the right FM partner can help in improving the ROI.”

The last obvious challenge facing the firm is change management. Nizameddin concludes: “Change management is always a demanding. We are undertaking a huge transformation and we have people who have spent over 30 years working with us. It is a big challenge, especially when it comes to transforming from a traditional FM company to not just an integrated facility management company but also integrating the services across various functions. But we have a very strong team, and I am confident we will see through these positive changes.”

Read the article in its original location here: https://www.fm-middleeast.com/business/tarek-nizameddin-ceo-of-ag-facilitiessolutions-plans-to-guide-the-firmthrough-new-transformational-changes