Riyadh to host 3rd Saudi Megaprojects conference

433Riyadh is to host distinguished speakers and delegates at the 3rd annual Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure conference at the Al Faisaliah Hotel on 16-17 September.

The event’s opening keynote address will be delivered by HE Dr Muhammad Al Jasser, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy & Planning. Other speakers will highlight the opportunities emerging in the kingdom’s large-scale projects market.

Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure conference is organised by MEED and supported by the King Saud Foundation. Its aim is to support Saudi Arabia’s intensifying effort to promote the non-oil sector, says Faisal Alfadl, secretary general of King Abdullah initiative for Green Building and head of the conference’s organising committee.

“After two consecutive conferences on the subject, it is clear there is a growing need to establish a megaproject management culture where leading public and private sector project management firms can focus their growing attention on the opportunities for employment and investment in the region’s largest construction market,” Alfadl says.

According to MEED data, a total of more than 80 megaprojects each worth at least $1bn, are underway or planned for completion by 2030. This makes the kingdom the Middle East’s largest megaproject market by a wide margin.

Other speakers will highlight the opportunities emerging in the kingdom’s large-scale projects market. They include Saudi Aramco’s plan to invest $40 billion a year over the next decade to keep oil production capacity steady and double gas production, Saudi Aramco’s president and chief executive office Khalid Al-Falih said at a conference in Stavanger at the end of August.

“The resurgence of large scale and complex projects and programmes being developed in the GCC region continues to present delivery challenges to the mega-project industry,” says CH2M Hill Saudi Arabia Country Manager Amer Khan. “Part of the overall holistic solution is to implement tailored program management methodologies for mega project delivery with strategic level integrated teams comprising project owners, sponsors and world class delivery professionals.”

Representatives of the world’s leading project management companies will tell the MEED Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure Projects conference that the kingdom’s project continues to be highly attractive.

“The Saudi Arabian megaproject market is an exciting, challenging and rapidly growing entity,” says Faithful & Gould regional development director David Clifton. “To ensure successful delivery, we need to ensure global best practice, procedures and systems are both brought and then tailored to the market and implanted. Further, with the rapid rise of major programmes, we need to develop intelligent procurement as the supply stretches and capacity is taken up by multiple mega programs running concurrently.”

“We see the kingdom’s public and private development a real opportunity for our commitment of expansion of design-build and construction services from Riyadh and Al Khobar to Jeddah, King Abdullah Economic City, and most of the cities,” says Shapoorji Pallonji International senior vice president Steven Miller. “We are proud to be part of the renovation and addition to the King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh. It shows the continued depth of the commitment of the government to upgrade all of their infrastructure.”

The challenges associated with delivering some of the world’s largest and most demanding megaprojects are also formidable. They include the groundbreaking $20bn Riyadh Metro. First work on the project is now beginning. Further major metro projects are planned for Makkah and Jeddah.

“The public transport programme being rolled out in Saudi Arabia will be truly revolutionary, contributing to economic growth, social and job mobility and easing the otherwise chronic congestion of city streets,” says Hyder Consulting regional rail director Geoff Leffek who will address the MEED Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure Conference on 16 September. “ Essential in the development of these networks is integration with commercial and residential developments. These are exciting times for designers and contractors to contribute to a step change in the growth and development of the nation’s major cities.”

The MEED Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure Conference will be told the solution is action to increase labour productivity and the efficiency of the design and delivery process. Human talent always comes first, says Hill International senior vice president John Spitz of Hill International.

“The mega project challenge in Saudi Arabia is huge but it can be overcome by the talent and quality of the people that you employ,” he says.

Technology will play a critical role, the conference will be told.

“The construction industry which includes design, engineering and construction has been plagued by flat and declining productivity, low growth and constant complaints about margin compression,” says global head of programme management at Arcadis Julio Maggi.

“There has been very little innovation. We really don’t’ design things any better, faster or cheaper than we have done in the past. So we are no delivering value to the client that you see happening in the microchip industry for example.”

“There needs to be more innovation and a wider embrace of the technologies that are emerging including robotics, 3-D printing and driverless vehicles. A wider adoption of BIM would be beneficial, particularly in large infrastructure programmes. Saudi Arabia has a vision for 2025.”

Maggi is the chairman of the MEED pre-conference Developing a Programme Management Culture in Saudi Arabia masterclass at the Al Faisaliah Hotel on 15 September. CH2M Hill’s Khan, Hill Internatiol’s Spitz and Clifton from Faithful & Gould will participate.

The importance of information management and full lifecycle BIM on megaprojects will the subject of a special breakfast briefing at the conference on 17 September hosted by Bentley Systems.

“The Saudi Mega Transport & Infrastructure conference will concentrate on finding solutions to the megaproject challenge the kingdom faces,” says MEED Event’s chairman Edmund O’Sullivan, who will moderate the event. “This will involve assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the project delivery supply chain from master planning to operations and maintenance.”

The challenge will be enormous, but the rewards will be greater, the conference will be told.

“In 11 years, the world will be unrecognisable principally because of the emergence of technology,” says Maggio. “Will the construction industry keep up? Are we going to try to push for more value for our clients? The good news that if we do, the capital markets will reward us and our clients will do so with better margins.”

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