Interview: How Ejadah has found itself advocating the need for FM legislation

Interview: How Ejadah has found itself advocating the need for FM legislation
Published: 10 October 2019 - 6:45 a.m.

Ejadah, an integrated real-estate solutions provider, caters to residential, retail, commercial, hospitality and mixed-use developments. With such versatility in operations, the firm believes they have made a strong foundation in FM industry.

Giving a background of Ejadah’s operations, Tarek Nizameddin, sr. executive director at Ejadah Asset Management Group, says that the firm is divided into three main verticals called Idama, Arkan and Shabaka. He explains: “Idama is the FM arm that provides facility management services ranging from soft services to hard services. Arkan is the security arm of the firm that provides total security solutions such as manguard services, security systems, car park management, etc. And the third vertical Shabaka, is the unit services arm that is similar to Idama. Idama will operate in the building common, while Shabaka will service an apartment or a unit. If Idama is B2B, Shabaka is B2C.”

Ejadah Asset Management Group is in fact a subsidiary of Dubai Properties Group which delivers holistic real estate solutions that meet the needs of investors, businesses, residents and visitors.

Such clear cut demarcations in roles and services affords the firm to be also thorough in the facilities management space. Nizameddin expresses his displeasure at the surge in new FM companies in the market who don’t know the rules of the game. He says. “Because there is a slowdown in other industries, some companies have started to brand themselves as FM companies as well. They could be construction companies or MEP players who have the manpower, but they don’t know the game.” Nizameddin says that the root cause of this issue is the lack of licensing requirement in the market that would ideally define the specific criteria to obtain an FM license. “There is no criteria to obtain an FM license. If you want to obtain a trade license for a construction company, there are classifications that tell you what type of engineers you need and what type of equipment is required. Currently, there are no such rules for FM.”

To curb this menace, Ejadah has been collaborating with Middle East Facilities Management Association (MEFMA) where they have many initiatives to address this through whitepapers and calling for legislations in the FM sector. MEFMA, where Ejadha is a member, is a non-profit professional organisation, formed under The Dubai Association Centre (DAC) which has been established by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dubai Business Events (part of Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing) and the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Nizameddin says that there are a few countries from which UAE can follow examples such as Australia, Singapore, Canada and the UK, where the rules are more stringent to form an FM company. However, the UAE is still advanced in some areas than the aforementioned countries. He says: “The UAE is more advanced than other countries, in some areas, when it comes to facility management. The advancement is in terms of technology, service delivery methodology, reporting and contracting model. Also, our market is unique. Here, the majority of your manpower are expatriates. You have people coming from different parts of the world. We don’t utilise local manpower. The weather condition is different. Our focus here is mainly on HVAC systems. If you go to Europe, facility management is mainly about space management.”

The other pertinent challenges in the region are cost cuts and employee welfare. He explains: “Everybody is looking at cutting costs. Unfortunately, the majority of the companies consider FM as a cost center, while it is not.

“FM is a major contributor to the success of any company and you cannot consider it as a cost center. When you’re cutting costs, you compete with companies that will compromise on the quality. The client should be very careful when they’re selecting a service provider because by cutting costs, it can affect the employee welfare and the quality that the service provider is providing. A big part of the FM cost is manpower and employee welfare plays a big part in it.”

Idama’s FM strategy
The focus on the FM industry today is on sustainability, optimisation, cost reduction, maintaining quality and providing value-added services, Nizameddin reveals. He says: “FM clients have big expectations and we have strong competition in the market. Tier 1 companies today are doing their best to offer value-added services and introducing new solutions, new technologies, and new ideas that offer better services with value for money.”

In addition, technology has transformed the manner in which Idama has carried out its FM activities. “A few years ago, the FM industry started using CAFM systems and now we have evolved to use machine learning, IoT, robotics, and drones. The sky is the limit when you talk about technology because you are dealing with buildings and machines. Before we used to communicate with the building users, and today we are communicating with buildings. You now have communication between the assets and the BMS that relay instruction to the operation team to take action. We were one of the few companies that started the implementation of technology. We were the first company to introduce the use of drones in FM. We carry out facade inspection through drones. We are using IoT and machine learning in managing a few buildings that is in our portfolio,” Nizameddin says.
Recently, Arkan announced the deployment of two security robots as staff. It was again the first in the region to rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics to provide security services for its clients. Arkabot, one of the two bots named by Ejadah employees, is able to respond to a number of vital security functions in record time and is making significant progress in AI technology.
Nizameddin says: “Technology complements the human element. The industry used to be driven by manpower and now technologies such as robots, drones and IoT are complementing this. Technology and robots will never replace people but will complement them. In fact, we have grown our manpower over the years. Today, we are at 9,300 and will reach around 10,000 by the end of this year. You would have more efficiency and accurate data [with technology]. At the same time, it can achieve some savings to a certain extent.”
The reason for such a growth, Nizameddin says, is because of the abovementioned enhancements made to the firm’s services. He adds: “The clients acknowledge that we have organic growth. Our clients are giving us more business because they feel comfortable with our services. And of course, thanks to our reputation, we are getting more business from external clients.”

Future focus
There is a big boom that’s happening in the Saudi market, Nizameddin says. “Although we are operating only in the UAE, we are studying the possibility of expanding in other regions,” he says.
There are measures that the firm has taken when it comes to energy management. Being an ESCO-accredited firm, Ejadah has an energy department that offers tailor-made solutions to clients. He says: “We do an assessment of our client’s sites and provide our recommendations, accordingly.
“Our business plan for the next five years is to maintain good growth and continue offering the best services to our clients. We will continue towards the implementation of latest technologies.
“Also, very soon, we will be rebranding Ejadah’s verticals to be unified under one group,” Nizameddin concludes with a positive suspense.

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