Blockade has opened up opportunities for local companies in Qatar: Official

(MENAFN- Gulf Times) With the Doha Metro on track to open in 2020, contractors responsible for installing the sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems integral to the network are now busy ensuring that all aspects meet the highest specifications and quality standards.
Gulf Times spoke to Brian Noone, managing director of Specialist Independent Building Services (SiBS), which is currently providing commissioning services on a number of high-profile projects in Qatar, including the Metro Red and Green Line North, to learn more about his company's contribution to the projects.
SiBS, an Irish-owned multinational company, is a market leader in the area of heating, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) commissioning and validation in the Middle East and Ireland.
The company has a strong track record and portfolio in Qatar.
Projects include Hamad International Airport, Qatar National Library, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, the College of Media & Communications in Education City, and the Sidra Medical and Research Center.
Providing a comfortable environment within buildings and facilities where summer temperatures can soar to the 50 degrees C, requires a lot of expertise.
Noone explained: 'The commissioning of mechanical and electrical systems is an essential part of the construction process to ensure design parameters are achieved, so buildings are fit for purpose at handover.
Ventilation and air conditioning systems today provide real-time responsiveness to changing conditions and temperatures. The digitally connected devices provide a well-regulated, ventilated airflow and temperature ambience within workplaces and public facilities. In addition to providing a comfortable environment, there is a positive impact on employee productivity and equipment longevity.
Asked if the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt had had any adverse impact on his company's operations, he said: 'There was some concern initially at the onset of the blockade last summer, but the country has responded very well and we are not seeing any significant impact on our business. We were prepared for a possible contraction with a drop in turnover and trade, but in fact, the reverse has happened. We have seen an increase in turnover in the first quarter of this year.
'New routes for construction materials entering Qatar are now well-established. Local companies in Qatar are reaping the benefits as companies in the blockading countries lose out.
However, commercial aspects aside, he said he feels a great deal of sympathy for those whose lives have been negatively impacted.
'I hope, for the sake of families who have suffered because of the blockade, that a political solution can be found, he said.
Noone had a well-established business in Ireland prior to setting up his operation in Qatar. He reflected how during the economic crash of 2008, which had a devastating impact on the Irish economy, it was clear that he must look further afield to continue the company's growth as construction activity in Ireland decreased by 75% .
In 2009, supported by Enterprise Ireland, he visited Qatar to assess the market and initial indications suggested there were great opportunities. This was confirmed after a six-month period of market research. However, despite his company's excellent track record on major projects in Ireland, including Dublin Airport Terminal 2, he had to prove his company's credentials locally.
'Coming in as an outsider, I realised that no matter what your track record or experience in other parts of the world, you are judged on what you have delivered in Qatar. It's a tight-knit community where recommendations and referrals are vital to a company's survival. You are only as good as your last project. Building a track record for reliability and quality is essential to secure future work, he said.
He credits his local team of 65 engineers for the success of the company in Qatar. 'I am very grateful to them for the quality of their work — they are the backbone of the business, he said.
Asked to comment on the ease otherwise of operating in Qatar, Noone replied:
'I found setting up in Qatar relatively straightforward. The only challenge has been at times securing sufficient work visas for new staff.
Asked for his view on the issue of payment, he said: 'In every country we have worked, payment delays in the construction industry occur from time to time for different reasons. We have always fully supported out clients during such periods and worked with them to find a resolution to any problems.
With preparations for the Qatar 2022 World Cup in full swing, Noone was asked if his company is involved in any of the projects. He said that they are currently tendering for them and hopes to be involved as these projects progress to the commissioning phase.
For Noone, positioning his company in Qatar has proved a very sound business move. Figures talk and in his case — they tell a very positive story.
'Since 2009 we have grown a Qatar business that is financially solid, with a good client base and a world-class reputation. We are proud to do our bit in delivering the national vision.


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