To say 2020 was a challenging year is, in reflection, a major understatement. However, as we leave the doom and gloom of 2020 behind us, we look forward to emerging stronger and more resilient to tackle any challenges we encounter on our journey. Looking on the positive side we can see the construction sector rebounding with some exciting projects on the horizon.
We eagerly await the start of the Expo which had to be delayed due to the Covid pandemic which will attract visitors and investors showcasing the best that the region has to offer and is expected to lead to investment in the years ahead. In addition the UAE is poised to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022 and the UAE leadership has an inspiring vision for the development of the country over the next 50 years and is expected to make new announcements towards the end of the year that commemorate its 50th anniversary.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme is being successfully rolled out in the UAE and although the pandemic persists, with vaccines and immunisation rates in the region being among the highest in the world, economic shutdowns are most likely to be behind us.
It is pleasing to see the GCC being reunited again and the rift between Qatar and its neighbouring GCC countries has been resolved and will lead to the resumption of travel and investment within the region. The developing friendship with Israel has opened up an affluent market for investors and tourists and the region has stood by China without alienating the West and will continue to be rewarded for its friendship through Chinese investments.
More regional excitement comes with the KSA Vision 2030 with a massive development plan which is expected to accelerate as the initial planning work is completed, leading to a spate of new construction across all sectors as Saudi Arabia reinvents itself into a modern economy. The NEOM project captures this vision and it is clearly evident that with the leadership commitment to this USD 500 billion giga project it will create opportunities for the entire construction supply chain as a futuristic metropolis is built from scratch. The FIFA World Cup 2022 is firmly on the horizon with construction in Qatar for the event being well underway or complete, and the neighbouring GCC countries can expect to benefit from this global event.
Fire Safety Forum UAE (FSF)
I am delighted that the branch have had the opportunity to support the FSF, which presents an industry dialogue through six virtual best-practice panels. Taking up the Forum’s theme ‘A Global Approach to Fire & Life Safety’ Best Practice Panels will review industry sectors for advancement and technical insights into safety aspects. At the time of writing three virtual panels and discussions have been successfully delivered.
The Best Practice Panels are made up of subject matter experts who represent different industry groups and process stakeholders. The Panels share insights, research & development and industry best practice advice in collaboration with the Fire Safety Forum Committee.
The FSF encompasses two primary themes, namely:
1. Fire & Rescue Tactical Initiatives
i. Safety & Skills (3 March 2021)
ii. Hazardous Materials (10 March 2021)
iii. Hydrocarbon Fires (17 March 2021)
2. Fire safety in the Built Environment
i. Testing & Certification Protocols (24 March 2021)
ii. Active Fire Protection Systems (31 March 2021)
iii. Passive Fire Protection Systems (7 April 2021)
We are very pleased with the FSF delivery platform which consists of:
1. Conference: The virtual auditorium provides access to the live or on-demand conference content, allowing engagement with the speakers, including the opportunity to participate in Q&A sessions, polls and surveys.
2. B2B networking: View and filter the list of registered attendees (by name and company) and invite those delegates for one-to-one chats or video meetings. Moreover, the platform’s smart networking feature will help you locate attendees, matching your pre-defined preferences.
3. Exhibition: Engage with the exhibitors and sponsors, either via chat or video call. A facility to drop a business card is included along with the function to download their corporate brochures and videos into your virtual briefcase.
We have been very lucky to have several IFE members involved as speakers in the FSF. One of my personal favorite presentations was given by Adam Course titled `Learning from Incidents – The IFE Firefighter Safety Database.’
The IFE Firefighter Safety Database is designed to enable firefighters and others to learn from past experience where that experience has resulted in injury or loss of life to firefighters, or where critical learning points have been identified. The information in the database does not apportion blame, imply judgment or make any accusation of wrong-doing. It exists solely to promote understanding of what happened at major incidents and so help prevent injury or loss of life in similar future incidents. The cases described are wide ranging, diverse and the sort which could confront any firefighter at any time anywhere in the world. Firefighting and rescuing people from fires is inherently dangerous, but by learning from the past we can help mitigate the risk.
We have also been able to award two CPD points for each session for registered attendees. The CPD certificate is endorsed by the IFE (UK) and shows an ongoing commitment to educate IFE members and registered attendees. Following the conclusion of the FSF we look forward to continuing this type of event on a regular basis. Further information and registration for future events can be found by following this link: http://fsfuae.com/
IFE examinations 2021
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic the March 2021 examinations in the UAE were cancelled and are planned to be held in September 2021, combined and consolidated with the October examination programme. All registered candidates should receive individual communication from the IFE HQ.
As previously highlighted, we are continuing to work with our sponsors to develop programmes that add benefit to our local membership and beyond the region. The diversity of companies, organisations and international associations we have been in communication with through the FSF has provided us with some great opportunities to establish future relationships and potential sponsors that will certainly support one of our key objectives to bring international best practices to the region.
In closing, there are a lot of positives to take forward for the year including the launch of the Expo and, in particular, the strength of the Fire Safety Forum UAE will allow the branch to promote international best practices on a global platform. In the interim it is important to stay safe and keep alert to avoid any future setbacks.
For more information, go to www.ife.org.uk/branches/GCC-UAE