“The adoption of FM from a developer’s point of view is quite interesting because there are always assets that simply cannot offer a low or medium range of service to its habitants. Consider the Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa or the Downtown district, the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi or the World Trade Centre in Abu Dhabi — these are prestigious assets and the client cannot afford to offer anything but the best,” Saddeq notes.
He identifies the UAE as a key driver in the sector, as stakeholders understand the importance of good FM, but it weren’t always the case , especially when Saddeq looks back on the early days.
“It wasn’t easy initially, and getting clients to understand the IFM concept was a bit of a challenge. However, developers such as Emaar made things easy and its ongoing relationship with Emrill helped for sure. In a way, Emaar is the pioneer in adopting the concept of integrated FM,” he explains.
The IFM concept was then ported to Abu Dhabi, when Saddeq managed to successfully sign an agreement with Aldar. The master developer, he says, saw the benefit of contracting FM works to a tier one operator, just as Emaar did in Dubai.
“Ultimately we have always focused on clients who appreciate the benefits of integrated FM. Some assets do not require a five-star level of service and historically older buildings and projects weren’t our area of focus when it came to winning new business. However, we have started to see a bit of a shift.
“Clients that have invested in facilities — even though they might not have been of a five-star calibre — which are now mid way through their lifecycles, are looking at FM companies that have a strong pedigree in comparison to those offering a single-service. They see opportunities for a re-birth, if you may, where you cannot afford to tear down and replace the asset, instead to modernise and rehabilitate what you already have,” he adds.
Like many leading FM companies, MAB has witnessed its share of contract regains in recent times. “As much as we say the market is mature [from an FM understanding perspective] there’s still some way to go. We see some developers trying to take on FM disciplines in-house. And in time, they find out that it’s not entirely their cup of tea. It’s better managed by a specialist, and that has led to a fair amount of work re-wins,” Saddeq notes.
MAB FM has managed a healthy development of its business since it began operations in 2005, experiencing double digit year-to-date growth. “The FM industry is growing and even if there is a slowdown in the economy our sector keeps on growing. Since we began the company in 2005, we have witnessed an annual growth of 20%-25% in revenue,” Saddeq notes.
However, challenges in terms of working with tighter budgets from owners’ associations and asset managers has made the firm think outside the box. “You have to comply with the property/asset management company, or the developer, to keep costs in check. That doesn’t change even though we service landmark destinations across the region. We are not penny pinching, but we work with every client to understand their needs and ensure a sustained level of quality.
“Now, that isn’t easy when the client is expecting a high level of service. And over time our operations teams have mastered ways to ensure clients receive the right level of service within stipulated budgets,” Saddeq adds.