Interview: Ziad Sharqawi, Senior Architect, Arabtec Construction LLC
Ziad Sharqawi is a senior architect with the UAE’s largest construction firm, Arabtec. With more than decade of experience in the industry behind him, he has been involved with The Big 5 Dubai as a visitor, exhibitor and participant since 2001. He currently sits on The Big 5 Dubai Advisory Board, a group of industry professionals that provide insight and guidance to the continuous development of the show to meet the needs of its visitors.
Ziad Sharqawi, Senior Architect, Arabtec Construction LLC
How long have you been involved with The Big 5?
Back in 2001 I was with a company called White Aluminium, an architectural aluminium manufacturer and fabricator, and we had a stand at the show. It was an event where we met some interesting people and did some deals too, as The Big 5 helped us to generate new business. The experience we had was positive and The Big 5 has stayed on my radar screen ever since.
How do you engage with the event now?
I have been a Senior Architect with Arabtec Construction for the last seven years. I look after the shop drawings for the company and manage the approval process, working with the consultants on the projects, plus follow up with our site teams who do the work.
As a visitor for Arabtec, I always find it useful to be at the show. Since the show is massive, we usually don’t have enough time, so I prefer to go and see specific people or companies, so I can make the best use of the time I do have.
We use the opportunity of the show to communicate with other people for our business. We see the technology that some of the best companies in the world have to offer. It is great to see all of this innovation in one place - under one umbrella - from all over the world.
How are you finding business in the UAE market?
You can see now that the market is starting to move faster. Many projects that were stopped for one or two years have now restarted; the cranes are once again moving and you can see the labour crews are working hard. Things are getting off to a good start.
Right now, I’m looking after a number of villa projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, including a 1,240 villa development in Al Barsha, which is nearing completion. So, the market is active in the residential sector again and my company is also working on a number of commercial towers.
How do you think things will shape up towards the end of the year?
I think things will start happening after September on a huge scale. There will be plenty of competition for building supplies and it will be clear to everyone that a second boom is on the way.
You are on The Big 5 Advisory Board. What is your role?
Advisory Board members attend regular meetings and discuss their views of the construction marketplace and most recent happenings. We then focus on how we can develop The Big 5 for the better. As a result of feedback from the board, the organisers of The Big 5, dmg events, have implemented changes to improve the show experience for visitors. These changes have included the introduction of a mobile app to help plan your visit and the segregation of suppliers into sections based on the type of products they provide. Two way feedback between the board and organisers is vital: it’s important to serve the needs of the Big 5 exhibitors & visitors.
How do you think architects, in particular, can benefit from attending The Big 5?
Architects can get a lot of benefit at The Big 5. Firstly, they can keep in touch with the latest technology used all over the world and see it all in one place. They also have the opportunity to attend events within the show to hear from pioneer architects, engineers and leading consultants or contractors. Doing so helps them add to their experience and motivates them to go out and gain more. It can also give them creative new ideas for the use of new techniques and materials.
Any special plans for you at this year’s Big 5 Dubai show?
Continuing professional education is important and I plan to attend the 2 day Sustainable Design & Construction Conference and some of the certified educational workshops.