By Roma Arora
Challenges are meant to be met and overcome. There are a very few who understand this and are lifted by the challenges and complexities of the industry and can create a success story out of it. One such fine example is young and dynamic Kareem Farah, director of ECC Group, who’s always on a lookout for challenging opportunities. With construction and design industry booming, and Expo 2020 drawing closer, Farah realised that there lies an opportunity in the renovations and the design sector. In 2015, ECC Renovations, an entity of ECC Group, was established in response to a gap foreseen in the growing small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector, a sector that makes up C for 95% of the establishments in Dubai as of 2018. The firm offers renovation services, turnkey fitout solutions, interior design services, project management, MEP works, and more. Farah explains: “As of 2018, SME’s contribute to over 47% to Dubai’s GDP, and is proving to be one of the leading sectors in Dubai that is currently driving the market. ECC Renovations will continue to capitalise on this market by providing a wide range of services to our diverse clientele no matter what the challenges are. We offer a complete range of services from inception to completion that includes design, value engineering, and project management across the UAE and have built a diverse portfolio that consists of commercial, residential, industrial, and infrastructure projects.”
Some of the key milestone projects are the construction of the first H2 Fuel Station in the Middle East, Zayed University, LACASA office fit-out, installation of the skylight at the Dubai Airport among many others. The current pipeline of projects includes the Dusit Residence, Emaar Pumping Station, Makeen Skylight, a couple of office fit-outs, villa extensions, and several internal projects within the ECC Group. Farah takes great pride in his team and his true leadership qualities are adding to the success of ECC Renovations. Farah feels: “Behind every successful project, there is an excellent, diverse team of professionals that bring their international and local expertise while understanding the market, its needs and requirements. If we are able to deliver a tailored approach on time and ahead of a schedule that benefits our clients, it’s all because of the skilful team. We have built a reputation for our consistency in delivering promises and offering adaptability to all project requirements – regardless of technical and/or logistical complication, a bi-product of having an excellent team.”
Farah believes in innovation and he keeps on updating himself with international and local market trends. With timely and relevant insights, he helps in bridging the gap between challenges and impactful solutions. Farah says: “It’s important to bring fresh and new ideas to the table and have a great knowledge about the market trends. Earthy, neutral tones for flooring, use of natural materials for interior decoration, wooden elements and rustic furniture, low-hanging lights as well as pastel-toned walls and drapes are some of the trending elements that we have noticed in some of our recent projects as well as in the food & beverage (F&B), residential, and commercial sectors. We are also noticing a peaked interest by clients to extend and renovate their homes, with a few of our ongoing projects pertaining to the scope of work.”
Farah thinks that challenges give an opportunity to learn and grow as every project comes with its own set of unique challenges and requirements. In a short span of time, ECC Renovations has delivered over 60 projects pertaining to various sectors such as industrial, residential, commercial, hospitality, and infrastructure. So, which projects are most challenging? Farah answers: “According to my opinion, residential projects are often the most challenging ones, requiring bespoke services, and the customisation that we are able to provide and deliver on-time due to our strategic partnerships with our suppliers. We also understand that renovation work to existing residential projects is extremely stressful to our clients and we ensure to be very transparent about the process upfront, in addition to supporting our clients at every stage of the process from authority approvals to completion.”
Farah believes that technological innovation and advancement is unavoidable for a company to stay ahead of the curve and to maintain a competitive edge in the market. At the start of 2018, ECC Group made the decision of implementing a full-fledged Business Information Modelling (BIM) department, anticipating new industry trends and to stay abreast of international industry standards. BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based platform that provides users with insights or tools for architecture, engineering, construction, and ensures all processes are adaptable, flexible, and carried out in the most efficient manner possible. BIM is a boon for the design and construction industry. The adoption of BIM ensures project clashes or inconsistencies in design, materials, and their quantities are realised in earlier stages of the project, making it invaluable in coordinating information across departments, as a collaboration between entities is an integral aspect of any project. Farah shares: “The implementation of BIM has multiple advantages in the design, construction, and architecture industry ensuring increased cost efficiency and time saved on a project. We were able to see fruitful results of the implementation of BIM on ECC Group’s and ECC Renovations’ ongoing project—Rawda, located at Town Square, Dubai. Rawda currently is 3.2% ahead of schedule and 43% complete, is a great case study showcasing the added value and benefits of BIM.” Farah is always looking for something new to work on, be it a taller tower, more complex designs, bespoke contract arrangements, to accommodate special client requirements.
Farah is excited about his latest project H2 Fuel Station and says: “We thrive by thinking outside the box, delivering uniquely-designed projects and have developed a solid reputation The implementation of BIM has multiple advantages in the design, construction, and architecture industry ensuring increased cost efficiency and time saved on a project. One of our recent milestones, the H2 Fuel Station, the first of its kind in the Middle East was an exciting experience for us. Undertaking such an interesting project, a new concept to the Middle East was a daunting task. Our scope of work included the complete construction and civil works – heavy equipment foundations, sheds, roads, equipment storage units along with MEP work. We were able to complete it successfully, on-time and ahead of schedule due to the hard work and dedication of our invaluable skilled workforce and team members.” Farah is optimistic about Expo 2020 and strongly believes that the event will attract new investors and potential buyers to the market, boosting the economy, furthermore, post expo as well.
Farah feels: “The expos in the past like Shanghai in 2010 and Milan in 2015 have had a positive effect on the country’s economy, especially in the real estate sector, which I foresee happening for Dubai as well. Dubai’s GDP for construction and real estate is set to record a growth of 4.2% and 3.8% respectively during the next five years.” Farah has extremely promising plans for the future and he wants to achieve more milestones and is further keen to expand the portfolio and work on projects in the F&B and the retail sector. Farah concludes: “We have tripled in numbers since our inception in 2015 and are definitely looking to expand in the future, systematically and organically, similar to the expansion of ECC Group. Having vast experience in office fit-out and residential projects, our aim is to continue working on more innovative projects in the same field. One of our long-term plans is to grow the business in the SME sector and become the most well-known and sought-after company for SME scale construction projects across the UAE.”