Revered for its innovative construction, the Middle East possesses some of the world’s most expensive infrastructure projects. In addition, the region is home to record-breaking structures, including the $22 billion Phase 2 expansion of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, a multibillion-dollar industrial city in Saudi Arabia, and the world’s widest cable-supported bridge in Egypt, not to mention the world’s tallest building and elevator shaft in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Here are eight construction executives driving such growth and innovation in the Middle East:
1. Mohamed Alabbar
Responsible for facilitating the construction of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, Mohamed Alabbar is the chairman of Emaar Properties, which maintains operations in more than 80 countries. In addition to the Burj Khalifa, the company established the Dubai Mall, which supplies roughly half of the emirate’s luxury goods consumption. Alabbar, who is regarded as one of the primary driving forces behind economic growth in Dubai (he helped to establish the Dubai Department of Economic Development), also has business interests across a diverse range of industries, including fashion, leisure, and commodities.
2. Khaled Musaed El Seif
Khaled Musaed El Seif serves as the president and CEO of the El Seif Group of Companies. In 2016, the digital magazine Business Chief ranked him third on its list of the Middle East’s most influential construction executives. The El Seif Group of Companies includes El Seif Engineering Contracting, which employs in excess of 40,000 construction professionals and which has completed prominent projects in Saudi Arabia such as an athletics stadium and sports hall, the five-star Millennium Hotel, and passenger stations for King Abdullah Economic City’s Haramain High-Speed Rail Project. Beyond overseeing a variety of businesses and investment companies, El Seif holds board positions with Saudi Medicare Company, Arabian Medicare Company, Universal Advanced Systems Company, and National Power Company.
3. Kez Taylor
In 2018, Construction Week Online ranked Kez Taylor as No. 1 on its Construction Week Power 100 list for the second consecutive year. Taylor has served as the CEO of the UAE-based ALEC Engineering and Contracting for the last 18 years, during which time he oversaw the development of some of the most high-profile construction projects among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. ALEC, which primarily focuses on retail, hospitality, and commercial projects, recorded revenue in excess of $1 billion during the 2017-18 fiscal year through its work as principal contractor on projects such as the Bluewaters Island retail district, Dubai Festival City, and the Al Maktoum International Airport expansion.
4. Fakher Al-Shawaf
Fakher Al-Shawaf, the CEO of Al-Bawani Construction, ranked No. 19 on the Construction Week Power 100 list in 2018. His company has worked in close partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contributing to projects such as the Riyadh Bank Data Centre, Financial Plaza, and Arriyadh Development Authority’s Arabsat building. More recently, the contracting company completed the 14-story CMC Tower on behalf of the Cayan Group.
5. Simon Karam
A prominent figure in the Middle East’s construction sector, Simon Karam is the director of Sarooj Construction Company, an Omani enterprise that has been in operation since 1973 and that has completed projects across the marine, transportation, general civil, and oil and gas sectors. In 2016, the company was awarded the Mall of Oman Phase 1 contract, which involved managing enabling and highway works adjacent to the mall. It has also completed work on behalf of Oman International Container Terminal Company and British Petroleum.
6. Ghassan Merehbi
As the chairman of Lebanon’s Arabian Construction Company, Ghassan Merehbi oversees a workforce of roughly 25,000 laborers and nearly 1,000 qualified engineers. The company, which registered revenue of $1.3 billion in 2017, served as the main contractor for Abu Dhabi’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, Dubai’s Fountain Views mixed-use skyscraper development, and Al Dabb’iya Surface Facilities. It particularly maintains a strong presence in Abu Dhabi, where it has also completed the 37-story Link Tower and the Al Meena Residential Towers.
7. Hamish Tyrwhitt
Building on the financial momentum that the company gained during the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year, Hamish Tyrwhitt has worked diligently to ensure Arabtec Holding’s status as a construction giant in the Middle East well into the future. In recent years, the UAE-based company served as the main contractor on projects such as Oud Muteena Villas and Damac Heights in Dubai and the Louvre Abu Dhabi. It secured revenue of $2.5 billion during the 2017 fiscal year and is especially busy in the lead up to Expo 2020 Dubai: “Expo 2020-related development projects are expected to exceed $33 billion, with more than 2,000 new structures being built in the UAE,” Tyrwhitt said.
8. Samer Khoury
With claims of being the Middle East’s largest construction enterprise, Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) employs more than 100,000 people and is active in 17 different countries. The company is led by University of Southern California alumnus Samer Khoury, who has enacted forward-thinking measures to drive profitability and reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Under Khoury, CCC is managing projects seeking green certification that are valued in excess of $5 billion. They include portions of the Riyadh Metro, the Midfield Terminal Building at Abu Dhabi International Airport, and the UAE-based Opera Grand Tower. Khoury was ranked No. 6 on the Construction Week Power 100 list in 2018.