Tarek Shuaib, Managing Partner at Pace, Kuwait talks to WAN about the evolution of the AEC industry in Kuwait and his key channels of procurement
In this second installment of our interview with Tarek Shuaib, Managing Partner at Kuwait-based multidisciplinary firm Pace, we discuss the how the architecture, engineering and construction industries have changed in Kuwait over the past ten years, the ways in which Pace procures new work and what lies in store for this successful practice. Click here to read part one of this interview.
How has the AEC industry evolved in Kuwait over the past decade?
From an architectural perspective, the profession in Kuwait has evolved from the beginning of the 21st century. That is primarily due to the influence of economic, local, and global changes. In addition to environmental factors influencing change, a dichotomy between the cultural forces of globalization and localization is instrumental in shaping today’s architecture; i.e. the modern versus the traditional, the Islamic versus the Western, and the local perspective versus the global. Our engineering professions are similarly answering a growing appetite for sustainable, energy efficient design, as environmental awareness is key to economic growth in an extreme climate such as that we have in Kuwait.
From a market and business perspective, our exposure to working with acclaimed global consultants has given us the opportunity to affect the evolution of Kuwait’s AEC industry by bringing the best practices of international consultants to the marketplace. Pace was the first in the market to successfully partner with many known leaders in the global consultancy arena such as SOM, Arup, Buro Happold, Gensler, HOK, Fentress Architects, and TRO JB as well as signature architects like Zaha Hadid. Some of these long term partnerships and joint ventures have spanned more than 25 years. Most of these firms continue to grow successfully with new challenging projects and landmark ventures in Kuwait and the wider region and Pace has always been able to identify these key influencers and associate with them. We have even introduced some of them to the Kuwaiti market in order to bring about the highest level of design professionalism and construction standards, aiming for an ambitious future and leading internationally informed professional development in Kuwait.
Contemporaneously, the Kuwaiti Government has geared towards launching new projects and ventures in the last decade, which were visualized in Kuwait’s Development Plan 2030 and approved by the Kuwaiti National Assembly - the first plan of its kind since 1986. The plan will turn Kuwait into a regional trade and financial hub through sustaining economic development, industrial diversification and GDP growth. Governmental projects will be tendered and the private sector will be invited to engage with projects mainly through PPP and BOT schemes. Consequently, the banking sector has developed the appetite to provide credit lines for such projects as long as government support is there and is itself experiencing growth in this sector. The industry has had to re-gear to meet the challenges of the plan, but we are now starting to see projects coming through on-site, delivering real change and modernization of infrastructure in the country, in addition to reinvigorated AEC professionals who are able to deliver to the best international and award winning standards.
Within this context, we developed real estate consultancy services for our long term clients as a way of providing them with the whole spectrum of services under one umbrella. This innovation, along with our complete portfolio of traditional services, is being offered to clients in Kuwait as well as the GCC and wider MENA regions through our head office in Kuwait, and other studios in Bahrain, Morocco and KSA, Riyadh.
What are your key methods of procurement?
Procurement strategies have been based on traditional contracts, with the designer supporting the client from inception, through construction supervision to completion. This is one of the conventional methods utilized in the market. However, with the support of the central government and the presence of international contractors in the Kuwaiti market, there are alternative methods that are currently being implemented. Our ability to act as project manager, alongside our traditional professional leadership role, means we can advise our clients on the most appropriate way to deliver excellence in design quality within the programme and budgetary constraints.
Currently, the procurement trend in Kuwait and the wider region is towards fast-track methodologies (i.e. fast-track design, fast-track procurement, along with fast-track construction). This leads towards either management contracting or design and build contracting, although traditional contracts remain popular with a number of clients for their ability to deliver extremely high design and construction quality within defined programme and cost parameters.
What does the future hold for Pace?
We are proud of our rich and impressive history and are looking forward to an equally bright future. Our portfolios of existing and future projects are a true testament to the direction towards which Pace is heading. Nonetheless, we continue to focus on design quality by reengineering our processes and refining our systems.
We have recently rebranded our company to better represent our aspirations and values. We always seek to recruit the highest calibre architects, designers and engineers from local and international talent pools, and this blend of new and seasoned professionals continues to keep us at the forefront of our industry.
Our plans for future expansion are well researched, measured and achievable. We have recently opened new regional studios within other GCC and MENA countries and will continue to expand regionally and globally to support our clients in the delivery of projects of the highest design quality.