The raft of new building projects in Kuwait will drive the expansion of the facilities management (FM) sector in the country as owners demand higher service levels to match their investment, according to observers.
Kuwait is behind the United Arab Emirates, the USA and western Europe where the sector is well developed and building owners recognise the economic benefits.
A new event next month looks set to help Kuwait move forward when the country hosts its first Facility Management Congress on 22 September at the International Fair in Kuwait City during the first day of the Big 5 Kuwait construction show.
"Operations and maintenance and cleaning are known but in Kuwait the wide term of FM is not," says Mick Dalton, who is chairman of the British Institute of Facilities Management, who will chair the event.
FM Congress will cover the sector, from initial involvement in construction projects and its role in retaining a building's value, through to increasing the lifecycle of the asset, sustainability and energy saving.
It will include case studies from some of the country's most prestigious projects including FM at Sabah Al Salem University, sustainable initiatives at Sief Palace, value engineering at the Council of Minister's Building and facilities management implementation in Kuwait's hospitals.
Dalton added: "Facilities management is a vital discipline because it 'translates' the high-level, strategic change required by senior decision makers into day-to-day reality for people in their work or living space.
"Like most of GCC, Kuwait will embrace FM and companies will come to market both home grown and international. The market will evolve from where it is today and stakeholders will appreciate when FM is performed well."
Dalton believes that the new building projects will have an influence on the understanding of FM as the systems and technology involved require integrated management and its investors seek reassurance over the protection of their asset.
He said: "In recent years, a heightened awareness of the FM sector has been evident, like the growth in large iconic buildings and the need to keep them well maintained.
"Other factors include the increasing attention being paid to the sector by the financial community and outsourcing as a 'hot' management topic."
Bassam N Hamady is the resident engineer at Sabah Al-Salem University City, the mega-project 15km south of Kuwait city.
Hamady will appear at FM Congress to talk about integrated FM at the $6bn university project that covers 6km2, which will be home to 39,000 students.
He said: "FM is badly needed in Kuwait for many reasons, there is a lack of awareness on the subject, not in practice and poorly used in many facilities or where there are adverse weather conditions."
Hamady says the public sector is beginning to take a lead in FM as part of the government drive to employ more native Kuwatis.
"The public sector is moving forward with the Kuwaitization process especially in the administrative sections, which means that more Kuwaitis will be in charge to manage FM contracts," he said.
And he is optimistic for the successful growth of FM in the country: "The FM Sector in Kuwait has not reached a full maturity level. In general it is lacking behind other GCC countries. We would grade it six points on a ten-point scale for prestigious government projects such as the State Audit Bureau and MPW headquarters."