The last few months since the previous IFE Branch update have been a period of adjustment for living and working with the Covid-19 pandemic. I personally was locked down in the UK from April through to August before I could return to the UAE. Although not wanting to dwell on the current pandemic, we collectively must adjust to the current situation which is not only affecting business in the GCC and worldwide but also impacting day-to-day living.
The announcement to delay Expo 2020 was a key decision to make after a two-thirds majority of Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) Member States voted in favor of postponing the Expo by one year. However, the resilience to continue and the drive shown by Expo 2020 Dubai for gearing up to help shape a post-pandemic world and create a better future for all should be commended worldwide.
The global mega event will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, a delay that allows all participants to safely navigate the impact of COVID-19, and allows the World Expo to focus on a collective desire for new thinking to identify solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman and CEO of Emirates Group, and Chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, said: “We welcome the decision of BIE Member States to support the delay Expo 2020 Dubai by one year. We are thankful to Member States for their continued commitment to contributing to a World Expo in Dubai that will play a pivotal role in shaping our post-pandemic world at a time when it will be most needed.”
“Over the last 50 years, we have sought to build bridges, connections, and partnerships around the world because we believe in genuine collaboration to safeguard the future of all. This swift and overwhelming vote reflects the strength of our international partnerships and truly reflects the positive role the UAE and Dubai play with all countries around the world.”
This support by the international community of Dubai’s offering and its ability to deliver, further strengthens the commitment to matching ambition with achievement to hosting an event that will capture the world’s imagination, when the time is right.
The event still stands as the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, and the largest ever event to take place in the Arab world. Expo 2020 will welcome 192 countries, plus businesses, multilateral organizations and educational establishments.
The impact on the construction sector including the fire sector has been significant. As of the end of June 2020 there were over 22,000 active projects with the GCC construction market estimated to be $2.5 trillion. The primary focus in the first quarter of 2020 was to drive ongoing projects to completion across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, however, the second quarter due to lockdowns was slow and faltered in announcements, awards as well as project completion. With a shrinking market this has a knock-on effect on project delivery, rates and resourcing which has placed significant pressure on a business’s competitive edge.
The quarter closed with $11.9 billion worth of new construction announcements with Saudi Arabia contributing 54 percent and the UAE contributing 31 per cent to the total value of new project announcements. Urban construction tops amongst the sectors with 33 per cent share. $23.8 billion worth of projects were awarded in June while the Q2 stands at $32.4 billion awards. The oil & gas sector grabs a lion’s share of 76 percent as a mega LNG project was awarded in the island kingdom.
Currently there are 21,803 active projects in the GCC estimated at USD 2.4 trillion. The GCC constitutes 85% of the number of active projects in the MENA. In dollar terms, these projects account for 61% of the total estimated value of all active projects in the region. In August, the number of active projects in the GCC decreased by 2% as compared to July 2020 and the total estimated value of the active projects decreased by 1%. In addition, 155 projects with a combined estimated value of around USD 4.2 billion were put on hold from under construction in the GCC.
It is encouraging that a total of 112 active projects with a combined estimated value of around USD 4.8 billion moved to construction from other stages during the month. The largest project which moved to construction was Wavez Residence worth USD 180 million located in Dubai. A total of 839 active projects with a combined estimated value of around USD 20.4 billion moved to completion during the month.
From a local branch perspective priorities will be reset, focusing on revising the business plan and as we are in the midst of a rapidly developing situation in which we must focus on true value propositions in every aspect of our business and personal lives. Hopefully the IFE can weather this storm and move forward providing greater support and benefits to our members and GCC community alike.
IFE UK Headquarters Update
Voting is now open for the Board of Directors election and voting members of the IFE can now cast their vote in the 2020 Board of Directors election. This year there are two vacancies on the IFE’s Board of Directors with six candidates running in the election. All voting members have been sent an email from our partners UK Engage who are administering the voting for this election. This email contains a link to the voting site where you will be able to view the candidates’ information and cast your vote. Members are urged to check both your inbox and spam/junk folders for this email from UK Engage inviting you to vote. The Board of Directors election will close on 30th September 2020 at 16:00 BST. After this time, you will not be able to cast your vote. The two new Directors joining the Board will be announced at the IFE’s AGM which is to be held on 4th November 2020 at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London.
Introducing the IFE corporate membership service
The UK has launched a new corporate membership scheme and is offering a tailored service, catered to individual organization’s needs delivering professional membership at the centre of the service.
This new way of working offers businesses, including fire services and private sector organizations, an alternative to the traditional routes to membership and IFE services as an individual. Each offering is created collaboratively with the organization to deliver a unique membership package.
Each proposal is different. It might be that an organization simply wants its workforce to hold IFE membership, in addition it could be that they would like exam entries for their employees or CPD accreditation. The idea behind corporate membership is offering businesses access to the suite of IFE services which they can pick and choose from in order to create a membership that provides benefits at a total business and individual employee level.
Benefits of IFE membership includes access to fire professionals from all around the world, the opportunity to further CPD and training, deliver personal and professional recognition and reduce corporate risk through third party accreditation to name but a few. This model of membership is supported by the local branch and we look forward to discussing this opportunity with organizations involved in the fire sector, such as Civil Defense Authorities, Airport Fire and Rescue Services and Oil & Gas Companies etc.
IFE joins forces with FPA and NFCC to host the new Fire 2020 conference
In this new industry event, the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), Fire Protection Association (FPA) and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) have collaborated, to provide a packed programme covering the latest issues in fire and essential networking opportunities. The one-day conference will host talks and workshops by leading fire professionals from the UK and around the world. Delegates will benefit from discussion and debate on the sector’s most current issues and developments, sparking thought and action for further change within the world of fire safety.
The theme for Fire 2020 is Modern Methods of Construction with the programme featuring speakers from different roles within the sector including research, operations, fire engineering, risk assessment and prevention to name a few. Stephen Greenhalgh, Minister of State for Fire, will start the day’s agenda speaking about the Building Safety Bill. In addition to plenary sessions, delegates will have the opportunity to take part in workshops focusing on a variety of topics from across the fire safety agenda.
Taking place on 4th November, the conference will be held at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in the heart of Westminster, Central London, United Kingdom. Whilst it is planned to host this as a face-to-face event, delegates will have the option to buy online only tickets to view the conference virtually. This hybrid approach creates an opportunity to bring together an even wider international and global audience. Should it be required due to Covid-19, preparations are in place to make this event completely virtual.
Roy Bishop, IFE Chief Executive, comments: “Right from the beginning of this journey, we wanted to create the go to event for fire safety. By adopting this joined up approach, we can offer a comprehensive programme and provide a forum for fire professionals from all corners of the sector, to come together and exchange knowledge.”
Speaking about Fire 2020, Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the FPA, explains: “The timely addition of IFE and NFCC as partner organizations will ensure that both the programme and the audience of Fire 2020 represents a much broader spectrum of fire enabling all stakeholders to influence and participate in the agenda for change.”
Roy Wilsher, NFCC Chair, adds: “We are delighted that our three organizations have been able to come together and take this important step to host an event that enables us to engage with and deliver content to all stakeholders involved in taking forward vital fire safety improvement.”
We are continuing to work with our sponsors to develop programmes that add benefit to our local membership and beyond the region. At the centre of these discussions are training and enhancing opportunities to gain qualifications. The first initiative with our sponsors is to develop the idea of IFE qualification/ CPD in the Passive Fire Protection (PFP) arena, in particular, the knowledge around passive fire protection which has been a concern across the fire sector for a number of years. It is hoped that this training will be live by the end of the year.
The March 2020 examinations in Dubai were cancelled due to COVID-19 government lockdown requirements at short notice and apologises went to candidates inconvenienced by this cancellation but it was wholly outside of our control.
The IFE is currently planning to provide examinations in October 2020 as in previous years. At this stage, we are following our usual processes, however depending on the COVID-19 pandemic situation IFE UK may need to cancel examinations and all candidates will be notified accordingly.
Looking forward we are planning for 2021 and the branch will be supporting an examination centre as previous years. The 2021 examinations are planned for Thursday 11th March 2021 and Friday 12th March 2021.
We anticipate that social distancing and spacing of candidates will be the key issue and therefore there may be a need to consider using more than one room for the examinations. However, it is difficult to estimate how many people will wish to take examinations in March 2021 and it may be that smaller numbers of candidates will reduce the pressure on spacing.
In closing we should be looking forward to the positive aspects of the lockdown being eased and getting back to `business as usual’ in whatever form this may be. In the interim it is important to stay safe and keep alert to avoid any future health setbacks.
For more information, go to www.ife.org.uk/branches/GCC-UAE