Keeping It Real with the Middle East Project Management Consulting Team

The Keeping It Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. This time around, it’s a little different. We’re interviewing some of our Middle East team that worked on the Al Ain Hospital project, pictured above. Read their individual answers and learn more about our team and our work overseas.

The Team:
Mahmoud Amin – Project Control Manager/Temp Acting PM
Mohammed Tajuddin – Project Coordinator
Naeem Adam Khan – Sr. ICT/ELV Specialist, Healthcare
Oprea Tudorama – MEP Manager

The Project:
Al Ain Hospital is a major acute care and emergency hospital with associated health service facilities serving the Al Ain community and its surrounding area in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It’s a 358,000 sq. meter, 713-bed hospital, and will have an underground parking facility for 1,500 cars. The new state-of-the-art hospital is designed in line with German building standards, which are among the most stringent in the world, and its clinical services will meet European healthcare standards.

Describe your team’s role in the design, building, and management of the Al Ain hospital.
Amin: Project control management.
Tajuddin: To boost construction progress by providing timely information, clarifications, and decision making in all fields including shop drawing, materials, and on-time execution approvals.
Khan: I am the ELV & ICT Specialist, and I interact with other disciplines like MEP and MEQ to deliver the full pledge to the client and workable solution systems for a project like Al Ain.
Tudorama: My role is complete charge of the project’s overall MEP management during the design, documents preparation, construction, commissioning, and hand-over. I coordinate between all disciplines and advise on technical issues, technical solutions, and contractual issues. I also represent the client during the construction phase and attend project construction site meetings.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in managing this product. How did you overcome it?

Amin: I was trusted to temporarily become the Project Manager’s replacement for such a mega project, at a very critical stage.
Tajuddin: The greatest challenge was to convince the contractor and consultant that we are a supporting hand for quality assurance and timely completion of the project. I hope we have fulfilled our commitment by reducing most of the hindrances and providing all required approvals and decisions on time. Regular discussions and follow up with the consultant and contractor has made us confident in our position.
Khan: When I studied the IFC documents for the ELV and ICT systems, I noticed that most of the specifications and design were for outdated technology from 2008/2009. I discussed this with my project manager on site first, then with the employer, Musanada. I arranged with consultants for a series of workshops for all 25 ELV and ICT systems, and with the involvement of the end user SEHA/AAH, we have established the Enhancement in ELV Systems and adopted the new technology for all the ELV and ICT systems.
Tudorama: The main contractor did not have an MEP contractor and was instead working with many subcontractors. This is a great challenge in terms of coordination, supervision, and quality assurances of the work. It involves putting in much more effort, and always being available to assist, clarify, and/or mitigate any issue with all stakeholders of the project, from the client to the PM to the consultants to the contractors.

Talk about one of the key moments of success in this project.
Amin: Together with a team, I managed to implement the BIM 4D/5D reporting system for the first time at Allen & Shariff, which is considered the latest trend in the project management field.
Tajuddin: Teamwork.
Khan: Establishing the Systems Integration Matrix (BMS, EWLV) and enhancing the entire ELV/ICT systems through workshops (PIN 12, 17).
Tudorama: For MEP it’s the energization of the substations.

How does the Al Ain Hospital benefit the city of Abu Dhabi?
Amin: The Al Ain Hospital project will be 347,449 square meters of built up area with 719 beds, and will have an underground parking facility for 1,573 cars. The new state-of-the-art acute hospital consists of the Main Hospital, administration building, rehabilitation building, and utility and logistic center.
Tajuddin: The hospital will make the people of UAE confident that they can meet all their health needs at one facility, under one roof, through advanced technology.
Khan: The new Al Ain hospital is prestigious, well-equipped, and offers the most enhanced, first-class facilities to the Al Ain community. It may provide services to nearby Oman as well.
Tudorama: Any new healthcare facility is a huge benefit for the people of Abu Dhabi/UAE, which is seeing a rapid increase in diseases like heart disease, depression, and diabetes, and an increase in the number of accidents and injuries.

If someone asked you to describe your unique approach to problem solving, what would you say?
Amin: Decomposition and recomposition, in order to identify the root cause of the problem and to select the best, most suitable solution.
Tajuddin: Discuss the problem at all levels until it is solved.
Khan: I am always studying the available IFC documents, comparing the latest available technology in the market with IFC, and reporting to superiors about the changes required for such technology.
Tudorama: The ability to be a team player, to handle, motivate, and lead multi-disciplinary teams of engineers and people of varying cultural backgrounds based on a good understanding of local traditions and work culture.

What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship? How does that apply to the Al Ain project?
Amin: Building mutual trust, the early detection of issues, and providing solutions in a timely manner.
Tajuddin: Completion of assigned work on time.
Khan: To fulfill and even exceed the client’s expectations.
Tudorama: Developing and establishing good relationships with all team members, based on competency, superior services, mutual trust, and respect, and trying to establish a sense of solidarity and single-minded purpose. Being always available to assist, clarify, and/or mitigate any issue. Establishing and developing a long-term relationship with the client is not an easy task at all.

What are the industry challenges that are unique to the Middle East region?
Amin: Customer satisfaction, cost efficiency, competitive opponents, and the unique nature of the projects.
Tajuddin: Finance control.
Khan: Challenges in Middle East are similar to other regions in terms of executing and managing the projects. However, in individual capacity there are challenges in terms of residency for some nationalities.
Tudorama: The Middle East is mostly an “application market.” There’s not much innovation or R&D. There are many standards and codes, subject to the designer in charge. Varying cultural backgrounds, expertise, local traditions, and work culture diversity is also unique to the Middle East.

Allen & Shariff is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What do you think has given this organization its staying power?
Amin: The team members’ dedication and qualifications.
Tajuddin: Teamwork and skills.
Khan: The ability to contribute to the design and design validation as well as managing the project.
Tudorama: For Allen & Shariff in the UAE, it’s the ability to get these mega projects.


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