BIM Summit: Middle East must raise its game to compete with global players

The design and build industry across the Middle East must raise its game to compete with global companies who are making a much greater use of BIM, according to delegates from across the engineering, architecture and interiors sectors meeting in Dubai.

The BIM Summit 2016 held at the city’s Conrad Hotel, heard that although the emirate’s municipality was mandating the use of the technology – which is a 3D modelling process which allows a project to be constantly updated with the resulting information shared by all parties working on a development – it was still not being used to its full potential.

A panel discussion entitled: “How involved should clients be in BIM?” called for stricter regulatory standards to be put into place to involve everyone from concept architect to end user.

“We need common ground for suppliers, contractors, clients and designers who would all benefit,” said Arsen Safarvan, BIM manager at contractor Alec, which is currently using the technology on the Al Maktoum Airport passenger terminal expansion in Dubai.

Steve Jolley, senior director at Bentley Systems, emphasised the need for the region to more fully embrace BIM across all sectors.

“A large number of global companies have a significant presence in the Middle East,” he said. “But they may have regional teams which may not always communicate with the head office. The company as a whole may be using BIM very effectively but that usage may not be transmitted properly.

“There may be reasons for the amount of variations given to regions. For instance 10 years ago labour costs in the Middle East were so low that a greater return on investment generated by the use of BIM was not that important.

“But because of the drop in the price of oil that has now changed and owners cannot afford to operate in the way that they did before. They have looked at other areas of the world and seen how BIM has been successful in increasing margins. That is why Dubai Municipality has introduced its mandate.”

Suhail Arfath, regional head on consulting for Autodesk, added: “The local supply chain also needs to increase its level of expertise. The business needs to invest in a revamping process which moves beyond training and software to encompass the use of BIM in its entirety.

“This is critical for local players as when their international competitors come in they will fall behind.

“The business in the Middle East is not starting from zero but it is at a lower level. The industry to be deliberate at looking at its strategies and how BIM can play a role.”