‘The assets we maintain today are truly iconic’

Abdulla Al Wahedi, the Senior Director, Facilities Management at Emaar Properties, tells Megha S Anthony about the vision of maintaining the leadership status in the market and shares the details of Emaar’s FM strategy for the years ahead.

Emaar Properties have always been in line with Dubai’s vision of Smart City. Adapting the latest innovations, technologies and best practices across all of its developments, they have been able to provide excellent service and customer experience. And through this, the qualified group of professionals in the FM team of Emaar Properties has maintained the leadership in the industry.

Abdulla Al Wahedi, the Senior Director, Facilities Management at Emaar Properties, tells Megha S Anthony about the vision of maintaining the leadership status in the market and shares the details of Emaar’s FM strategy for the years ahead.

With more than 10 years of experience in this line, it was interesting to find out that facilities management was something Abdulla had not planned for himself. But now, he says that he has gained a lot from facilities management in return and that there is a sense of pride when he looks after assets like the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall.

Here are the excerpts from the interview…

First Job

My first job was in the year 2000 in a District Cooling company. I was given the role of an Assistant Area Manager in the Northern Emirates and my focus was more on the business development aspect than on engineering. This was an interesting and a challenging time as district cooling was a new concept in the UAE and new for me as well. Later I moved to Etisalat, where I worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia setting up a new Telecom company for two years. Post my return from Saudi Arabia I joined Emaar Properties and have been here for little over 10 years.

Role Model

I believe the best role model in the UAE is His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. I have learned a lot from him and his willingness to be No. 1 at everything that encourages not just me but everyone living here.

FM journey

When I began my career, Facilities Management was the last thing on my mind. Reflecting on my life now I can see that I have done everything that I said I will not. However, once I start enjoying any challenge, I give it my 100 percent and that’s what drives me to go further.

My journey in FM started 10 years ago when I returned from the Kingdom. Emaar Properties, as I mentioned earlier, was not part of my plan as at that point I did not have any experience in maintenance but the HR believed I was the right person for the job. And since then I believe that I have learned a lot in this field. Growing with the company I’ve realized the value and the need for proper FM to maintain any facility.

What truly motivates me is that the assets we maintain today are truly iconic and represent the spirit of the nation. And we feel a great sense of pride in maintaining these one-of-kind properties.

Every time I go to see the Burj Khalifa I always see people taking pictures and I remember the old days when we used to go to Europe and take pictures out there as we didn’t have anything here. But now people come over to UAE to just look at the achievements of this country.

Career Highlight

The highlight has to be the fact that I’ve overcome the many challenges in my career, especially in Emaar Properties. Maintaining the tallest building in the world or the biggest mall may come through as easy but in fact it is very difficult as they are one-of-a-kind assets. I still remember being handed over these properties once they were built. It was a difficult exercise and being able to overcome those challenges and manage them is an achievement for me today. 2016 for FM division in Emaar


The year 2016 was a different one for Emaar Properties. Earlier, we didn’t have a concrete FM plan in place. Most FM operators in the industry are constantly on the move and rarely do they find time to come up with a good plan to abide by. While you do have good consultants out there to help, most often they provide short-term solutions. I felt that there was a need to bring a team together, that will be the ‘think-tank’ for the operations team and provide a plan that will help in the long run for better management of the company and the assets.

In 2016, we launched our own FM strategy for the next 5 years, which has been the biggest achievement for us. The reason behind this strategy formation was to sustain and extend Emaar’s leadership in FM by continuing to provide excellent service and leading on innovation, delivering exceptional customer experience in the years to come.

The fact that we have been successful before does not guarantee our success in the future. To maintain leadership means one has to constantly come up with new sustainable initiatives and through this strategy, we have aimed to do just that. Our mission is to ensure the functionality of the built environment by operating and maintaining our facilities with a qualified team in a cost effective manner whilst ensuring high customer satisfaction, which is key to us. These pillars form the foundation of our strategy.

The year 2017 will see the implementation of this strategy. The main aim of the strategy is not just to maintain the leadership in the market, but also to meet the requirements of the Dubai 2021 strategy. I want Emaar to be in a position where certain rules have already been implemented even before it becomes a mandate in the industry.

What’s next?

As we are building the Dubai Creek Harbour and everyone is talking about Smart Cities and Smart Energy, I am now asking myself what are the innovations in the market that will help us improve the way we operate and achieve our objectives. And we now plan to make use of these opportunities that are available in the market so that we can build on them to become pioneers in these methods.

Adopting new innovations

Any innovation is directly related to technology. We started with Burj Khalifa, where we implemented IoT (internet of things), which is the future. Through IoT, we can approach maintenance and utilize the connectivity to the internet to make decisions and allow the machine to adjust and fix itself without the need of human interaction. By doing that, we eliminate the need of certain maintenance tasks that require human attention.

We also want to change certain terms in Contracts, for instance, those that demand more than double the labour that is required on-site, which will result in a more cost-effective manner of functioning. And we also need service providers who will understand such requirements and work on these types of contracts. But that would require education and partnership on both ends. We have also introduced other innovations like the smart metering and a new concept called Energy Centre Maintenance. The concept is similar to IoT, but here it depends on the energy consumption of various parts of the machinery and the crucial decisions based on these results.

We are currently in discussions with leading IT companies for new innovations that we can adopt for the Dubai Creek Harbour.











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Nivedha Sridhar is a member of the founding team at Facilio Inc