Our outlook for 2017 is a positive one, having been aware of several Dubai projects that were in the planning phases, and our expectations are that many of them will be announced during 2017. We also expect to see an increase in construction and real estate investment activity in Abu Dhabi, albeit in the second half of 2017.
2017 will not be without its challenges, both external & internal. Our external challenges come from the fact that today we have in our portfolio several large important projects which clients need delivered in a constrained timeframe. Hence our challenge would be to make sure that this happens, by overcoming our own deficiencies and limitations, the clients’ occasional inclinations for delays and changes, and by overcoming market conditions and any hurdles that official authorities or other 3rd parties may impose.
Internally, we are labeling 2017 as the age of digital transformation. We have recently hired a Chief Information Officer, and under his tutelage, we envisage a lot of change in how we conduct our business. This would include everything from recording attendance, performance assessment and asset management, to invoicing clients, and dealing with our subcontractors. We also envisage improvements in our procurement activities as well. This transformation is what we are considering to be the challenge.
We are expecting continued activity and growth in social infrastructure projects, over the next several months. These include airports, road works, tunnels and metro works, in addition to canals, hospitals, universities and educational complexes.
One current trend that we are already witnessing is a rise in what one can call ‘creative financing’, where contractors may end up taking on additional risk of delayed payments, or taking onboard ownership of the project, until the project is actually delivered. On a related note, we are also seeing export finance becoming very active.