This feature is part of a series highlighting the most prominent engineering and design consultancy firms with headquarters in Jordan or that have a significant presence in the Kingdom.
Consolidated Consultants Group (CC)
CEO: Said Abujaber
Offices: Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, KSA, UAE, Oman, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, Angola, Kazakhstan, and Georgia
The origins of the Consolidated Consultants Group date from the mid-1970s, when Said Abujaber decided to head back to Jordan after a few years spent studying and working in the United States. He returned to find an architecture sector that was years behind, but was nonetheless rich in potential. “I found a huge gap,” he said. “At the time engineering consultancy and studies were still in their infancy in Jordan. They were still humble.”
This explains why Jordan relied so heavily on international companies to implement some of the most prominent construction projects in the Kingdom back then. To reduce this dependency, Abujaber set about the tricky task of attracting talented local engineers to his new company. “I realized that as individuals we were very qualified but we lacked proper institutions to bring us together under a unified system,” he said. “There were many difficulties … The government had no trust in the technical capabilities of Jordanian companies. So slowly we started convincing them to give us a chance to prove ourselves. And we did manage to change a lot of the prevailing systems.”
Besides relying on local talent, Abujaber learnt early on the importance of entering into strategic alliances to build a company formidable enough to compete against its rivals, as many of the companies were doing in the West. In 1993 Abujaber and three other engineering companies merged to form the CC Group.
Abujaber takes pride in the fact that his firm was among the first Jordanian engineering companies to design and supervise dams, tunnels, roads, and high-rise buildings in the Kingdom, with the Wadi Haddadeh tunnel being one of the best examples.
They also designed Amman’s Jordan Gate towers, which have been under construction since 2005 and are yet to be completed, the new expansion of the Airport Highway, Jordan Museum, Royal Automobile Museum, and many more iconic projects. But he is particularly proud of al Karama dam, for which the CC Group was given a royal medal.
Despite these projects, the Jordanian market remains limited for a company with big plans. This has sent them looking for other opportunities outside Jordan, expanding into other Arab, African, and central Asian states.
Today the company has 650 employees, 500 of which are based in Jordan. Saudi Arabia houses their second biggest office, they also have a significant presence in Iraq, UAE, Lebanon, Libya, and Angola among many other countries.
But their operations abroad haven’t distracted the CC Group from their local focus. Through a solid partnership since 2003 with Jafar Tukan, a renowned local architect who won the Aga Khan prize for the Aqaba SOS complex, the company has also worked on helping local talent hone their skills.
“Tukan has a distinguished way of thinking,” said Abujaber. “He thought that he could establish a school of architecture and he chose talented university graduates whom he helped train for years. Now he has successors, a whole school of thought that follow his style and thinking.”
Tukan is particularly known for linking between the place and its functionality, putting as much emphasis on the internal use of the building as on its aesthetics.
One of CC Group’s Social Responsibility programs is also Jafar Tukan Library, which is specialized in architecture books and references that architecture students around Jordan can skim through by paying nominal fees, according to Abujaber.
Despite all this success, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Since the 1980s the company has faced a series of surprises. “Our main challenge is that we face many security surprises in the region … during the early stages of the Gulf War back in the early 90s, particularly in Kuwait, most of the agreements that we had were frozen in a single day,” he said. “Security and peace are essential for the financial and economic stability in the Middle East … The Arab Spring and other issues affected Jordan and caused work to fluctuate.”
The company has an office in Libya that dealt with a good volume of work, but which has these couple of months come to a virtual standstill because of continuing violence in the country. He is nonetheless confident they will continue those projects as soon peace is restored.
Currently, the fear of the Islamic State militants and the ripple effects of their actions on countries around Iraq and Syria have also taken their toll. According to Abujaber, many investors have frozen their activities, leading to a slowdown in the construction sector, which had only recently recovered from the global financial crisis.
Abujaber said these challenges only made the CC Group stronger. The company learned to overcome difficulties by venturing into new markets to reduce the risk, like entering Turkmenistan following the financial downturn. “We learned from these troubles, we are immune now. We have learned to adapt, find quick solutions, and look for other roads to tread,” he explained.
Looking ahead, Abujaber is certain his company will be able to build on its expertise and reputation to penetrate new markets in the region and beyond, and boost its presence in countries that are currently awash in violence. “The secret to our success is that we managed to bring great minds together as one team under one system,” said Abujaber. “Technically we are the strongest and we are proud.”
Most prominent projects include:
Marriott Dead Sea, Jordan
Jabal Omar Development – Hyatt, Conrad & Hilton Hotels, Mecca, KSA
Wadi Haddada Tunnel, Jordan
Queen Alia International Airport Highway, Jordan
The Holy Baptism Site, Jordan
Al Wehdah Dam, Jordan-Syria
Yasser Arafat Memorial, Mosque, and Museum, Palestine
Mahmoud Darwish Memorial, Palestine
Abu Dhabi Small and Medium Courthouses, UAE
Al-Batinah Coastal Highway, Oman Coast
Metalong Dam, Lesotho
Komar University for Science and Technology, Sulaymanieh, Kurdistan Iraq
Bereket – Etrek Railway Line, Turkmenistan
Articles in the series of the engineering and design firms shaping Jordan: