Bahrain-based Haji Hassan Group, a diversified construction-focused entity, plans to further expand business across the GCC in a bid to combat the slowdown that has severely affected all sectors of the economy.
“This is the time to think of the GCC as one country and formulate a pan-GCC plan to grow more business,” Adel Hassan Al A’Ali, director of the Haji Hassan Group, tells Gulf Construction.
However, he admits the plan is not that straightforward as it may seem “as construction is not easily exportable across borders”.
Haji Hassan boasts an impressive track record of high-profile construction projects in Bahrain including leading the construction of the North Manama Causeway, runway upgrades and new apron stands at Bahrain International Airport, and the Sofitel Bahrain luxury resort hotel.
It has also worked on the Sitra Causeway and Durrat Al Bahrain.
Haji Hassan Group, which has joint venture partnerships across the GCC, is a conglomeration of complementary businesses which has been serving the construction and industrial services sectors in Bahrain and the region since 1952.
The company manufactures building materials, precast concrete, readymix concrete, plastic and sewage pipes, construction chemicals, concrete blocks, steel reinforcement, rubber and mechanical engineering spare parts, all of which are essential for the construction sector.
He says that despite the tough conditions brought about by falling oil prices and the consequent slump across all sectors, the group will try not to cut manpower.
“Instead we will focus on efficiency and productivity. We have been through such cycles of slump, but this has to be called the mother of all such cycles largely due to its longevity. It started in 2008 and is still continuing,” he says.
Although the group is geared for major projects, there have regrettably not been any major infrastructure project announcements in the past few years, which has made it very challenging to manage.
One way to combat this challenge is to reduce costs and invest the group’s manpower in research and development so that technology can be made use of to make projects cost-efficient and superior in quality, he says.
Change is very slow in the construction sector as the basic materials remain the same, Al A’Ali remarks adding that the things that can change are the methodology and the use of technology. “Our focus has been on making the best use of technology to drive change, while maintaining quality and ensuring sustainability,” he says.
“Our approach to construction is knowledge-based. We try to build knowledge-based methodology to see to it that what we achieve is sustainable,” he says. “A good example is the Regency Intercontinental Hotel, built by us in the 1970s and which is even today as good as any contemporary hotel.”
“Therefore, our capabilities, build over the last six decades, are world-class and ready to take on any challenge,” he adds.