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Giuseppe Di Marco, CEO for ABB in UAE and Cluster Manager for ABB in Southern Gulf says there remains a vast array of exciting opportunities in the Middle East, and $2.5 billion in regional volumes is just the beginning
The Middle East is at an exciting juncture in its infrastructure development story. Waves of boom years have spread throughout the region, and whilst the investment peaks and troughs have come at different times to different countries, the overwhelming rapid development story remains the same.
For utility providers even the quieter years have provided no respite. Power demands, transmission and distribution challenges, and water and desalination requirements have continued to soar. The watchwords which surround that development are changing, however.
What was once a mantra of build, build, build, is morphing into one of efficiency, management and value.
Questions remain over how those goals will be attained, but growing adoption of renewable power generation, smarter energy management, and intelligent design are beginning to fill those gaps.
Giuseppe Di Marco, CEO for ABB in United Arab Emirates and Cluster Manager for ABB in Southern Gulf and Pakistan tells Utilities Middle East that new technology adoption and a drive towards efficiency are ideas which are swiftly gaining ground with the leadership of the region’s big utility providers.
“In the utilities field throughout the Middle East there is a huge opportunity in transmission and distribution, which is a growing necessity. Of course desalination and power generation are huge growth areas too,” says Di Marco.
Opportunities are ripe right across the contracting and supply spectrum, he adds. “In the Southern Gulf cluster there are exciting opportunities in everything from full scope EPC projects right down to instrumentation and automation, and through to small process packages. These are all areas we expect to grow dynamically.”
The regional shift, from playing catch-up with an ever growing power and water demand base towards a more measured approach to efficiency, has had an important impact on behavior and approach, says DiMarco.
“There is a thirst for technology and innovation here. All the customers we meet are ready to test, to trial, and keen to embrace new technology. In my former market, the Mediterranean region, people were more interested in maintaining plants and keeping them in operation as long as possible. That thirst for technology here has been a real motivating factor for me,” he enthuses.
For the region’s energy-rich economies, the years of contraction are already distant memories, if indeed they materialized with much force at all. Civil infrastructure projects which were built prior to, or during the leaner years, are entering a mature phase, which in itself poses business opportunities.
“The crisis period is well and truly over. Maintenance is a key issue for a great deal of the infrastructure put in place before and finished during the crisis. There hasn’t really been time for a maintenance culture to develop here, it’s been far more geared around a construct and build culture,” he says.
ABB has been present in the region in a big way for decades, and as such benefits from a vast installed base. “What we are very keen to develop is our service business. Already in Qatar we are doing very well when it comes to service, and we see a similar situation in Oman too,” reveals DiMarco. “In the UAE it is there, but there is certainly scope to expand the service and added-value elements of our portfolio.”
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