24 May 2016 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
The facilities management sector in the Middle East remains optimistic about prospects for growth over the coming year, despite some uncertainty over the economy, according to research conducted by the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM).
The FM Business Confidence Monitor of the Middle East surveyed professionals from in the region and found that 59 per cent describe the outlook of the FM business environment as "positive" or "very positive", and over half (57 per cent) expect it to improve over the next 12 months.
Although respondents recognise that fluctuations with the economy could affect their businesses over the coming year (56 per cent), they cite competition in the market as the biggest challenge (54 per cent). Interviews and qualitative insights show that competition in the region is being driven by an increasing number of FM companies operating as the FM sector matures.
An emerging issue in this year's survey is regulation and enforcement - 21 per cent of respondents list this as a concern. Again, insights show that advancements in this area may favour larger organisations that are better equipped to respond to the region's regulatory environment, where a gradual increase in regulations governing FM activities is expected.
The number of people working in the industry is also set to grow. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents expect their workforces to increase over the next 12 months while only 8 per cent believe there will be a decline.
A sustained government drive to create smart cities in the region is set to intensify the pressure on FM providers to deliver innovative approaches across all services. As a direct result, 51 per cent of respondents expect to see growth in investment for research and development - a 4 per cent increase from 2015, while 36 per cent of respondents believe investment in research and development will remain steady.
Technology is considered a tool for growing business by 87 per cent of respondents, with it potentially being used to provide greater depth and insight as to performance and also to tackle issues of the environment and sustainability.
The BCM research was created as a result of a survey and supported by a series of interviews. The aim is to establish a complete view of FM market confidence by canvassing the views of its senior decision-makers as well as the teams on the ground delivering those services throughout the Middle East.
James Sutton, chief executive of BIFM, said: "It's encouraging to see the continued optimism regarding the long-term prospects for the FM sector in the Middle East. This, of course, appears to be tempered slightly by market conditions, but the research appears to show that any anticipated fluctuations will not be strong enough to throw facilities management's growth in the region off its upward course.
"Having just launched BIFM's operations in the UAE, it is positive to see a continuing appetite for training, qualifications and professional development with 70 per cent seeing qualifications as essential for their career development."
Jaafar Shubber, senior project manager, FM EXPO said: "Facilities management is an industry that just continues to grow here. The sheer volume of construction within the region, increasing tourist numbers, and the fact that investors appreciate that the buildings here are very modern and sophisticated means that facilities management will only grow in importance."
The Facilities Management Business Confidence Monitor 2016 - Middle East has been released on the opening day of FM EXPO www.fm-expo.com, which runs from 23-25 May at the Dubai World Trade Centre, and will be distributed for free to visitors at the BIFM stand, Z6 D136.
The research was conducted in partnership with i-FM.net and FM EXPO.