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.
Executive Managing Director: Bisher M. Jardaneh
Regional Offices: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Oman, Iraq, Yemen, and the UAE.
From two engineering consultancies founded in the early 1960s, and following the 1992 merger of Arabtech and M.A.R. Jardaneh & Partners, the Arabtech Jardaneh Group (AJ) has grown to become one of the key players in the engineering and architecture market both in Jordan and the region.
The company has a varied and rich international project portfolio, which includes 50 years of experience in construction and urban planning, healthcare projects, touristic facilities, industrial projects, roads and transportation, water and environment, as well as project development management.
AJ Executive Managing Director Bisher Jardaneh said his company has managed to sustain its competitive edge through a “glocal” mindset: global in their standards of best practice, implementation processes, and professional fabric, whilst being local in their knowledge and understanding of the Arab market. “We adopted a policy which has proven over the years to be successful. All architects locally, regionally, and internationally are our partners, representing different schools of design,” Jardaneh said.
How do you stay competitive in a cut throat market?
One of the things that distinguishes AJ is that 70 percent of our revenue comes from outside of Jordan. This is an example of how Jordanian private sector companies, when run according to the best international standards, can become drivers of economic growth in the Kingdom through the creation of knowledge based economies and jobs.
We are client-focused and strategy-driven. One of our main differentiators is that we are a one-stop shop, operating in buildings, healthcare, water, and transportation. Simultaneously, we have a multi-geographic presence; in Jordan, Palestine, the Gulf, as well as Yemen and Iraq and other places. That diversity, both in product line and geography, allowed us to actually do better during the economic downturn. Additionally, we constantly look for ways in which we can add value to our clients with outstanding service, therefore differentiating us from other companies in the market.
How do you assess the local market, and what are the projects that are mostly in demand today?
I like to look at things with a long-term perspective rather than quick fixes. Due to the presence of a highly educated workforce, there has been a strong comeback into the services sector, which I believe will probably be the savior of the Jordanian economy in the long-run. It will help in transferring quite a lot of the people who depend on the public sector to the private sector.
In general, most of the markets within the region will be primarily demanding healthcare, education, and housing projects. To a lesser level, in the short-run the market still demands hospitality, leisure facilities, and commercial buildings. Demand for such buildings will increase again in the long-run.
Also, we are in line with the government’s focus on the environment and energy sector, which I believe should be a priority in this market.
Out of all your undertakings, which projects are you most proud of?
We are proud of every project we have done and we hold all our clients dear. But if I were asked to name a few, some of the highlights in Amman include the Housing Bank for Trade and Finance, an icon steel structure building, the Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB), a tower that will rise to the height of 64 meters, the St. Regis Amman, a high-end hotel and serviced apartments, the Abdali Boulevard, the Galleria Mall, and Taj Mall. Of course, there’s the Royal Jordanian Airlines Headquarters, and the Abdali Mall Project.
As for our work in Aqaba, there’s Marsa Zayed, the largest mixed-use development project in Aqaba, Ayla Oasis, where we designed the infrastructure and are currently supervising the construction work, and last but not least, Saraya Aqaba.
Is regional instability one of the main challenges you are facing and is there enough capital flowing into this sector?
In the past few years, it’s not just regional companies that have faced challenges due to instability, but companies all over the world have had difficulties due to a turbulent economic climate, which AJ was not completely immune to. As for regional instability, the Jordanian market has started to recover, and investors have trust in our market due to the political stability Jordan enjoys.
I am proud to say that through dynamic and strategic focus, AJ overcame many of the challenges that the global economy presented in the past few years.
How do you see the future of the sector in Jordan and the region, and what are some of your future plans?
I just came back from meetings that included the CEOs of the top global companies in the architecture and engineering world. Over 2014 and 2015, the most promising markets globally in this sector are Canada, the United States, and the Middle East.
Last year, the size of the engineering services sector in the region was over $10 billion. The vast majority of the projects were executed by global firms. The amount of growth available for regional companies once they provide services to international standards becomes unlimited.
Today through AJ’s 2014 to 2016 strategic plan, our goal is to continue our growth regionally by enhancing our position in existing markets and introducing our services to new ones. Our motto has always been to be one of the serious regional players when it comes to engineering in terms of waste water, transportation, buildings and health, in the design, supervision, and contract management sectors. I continue to be optimistic about the future.
Some of AJs international projects include:
Karbala Teaching Hospital, Karbala – Iraq
Al Murjan Medical Center, Jeddah – Saudi Arabia
Crown Plaza Hotel, Muscat – Oman
Abu Dhabi Plaza, Astana – Kazakhstan
Aden and Hodeidah Hospitals, Aden – Yemen
Intercontinental Hotel and Golf Club, Muscat, Oman
Duhok 300 Bed Emergency Hospital, Iraq – Duhok
Duhok 300 Bed Maternity Hospital, Iraq – Duhok
King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Medical City, Yemen – Sana’a
Articles in the series of the engineering and design firms shaping Jordan: