Thursday, December 25, 2014


Happy Holidays to all of my friends and associates around the globe.

Christmas is not an official working holiday in the Middle East, but most of my coworkers have already departed, and I'm still here because I will be joining a few of my colleagues for dinner near the office.

I recently returned to Qatar after a three week vacation in the U.S., encompassing Thanksgiving, Autodesk University, and an early Christmas celebration with my family. I was pleased to have met with several friends at the Las Vegas event, and the time spent at home was precious indeed.

Future Rail Station
I have moved on from my role as BIM Manager of the Al Wakra FIFA 2022 World Cup stadium, having been promoted to BIM Manager of KEO's Architecture and Engineering Services division. I now occupy a nice corner cubicle in our Doha office with this view of one of the country's underground rail stations under construction.

KEO has several BIM projects underway in our three main offices in Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait. I was invited to the BIM Leadership Forum at AUx Dubai, and will be presenting on BIM at the Future Interiors Conference January 20-21 in Dubai. We have recently organized the Doha BIM User's Group (D-BUG), Qatar's first ever BIM group, for which I will serve as chairman.

Hopefully this change will facilitate my return to blogging, and I intend to focus on the unique situation which now confronts everyone involved in BIM and construction in the MENA region.

I wish everyone a peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year.

Fortune Passes Everywhere

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Global BIM Acceptance

In the U.S., after two decades of development, Building Information Modeling has gained a fairly broad acceptance in most sectors of the AECO industry.There are many organizations involved in promoting and advancing BIM. Building Information Modeling is typical for large and complex buildings - airports, hospital & medical facilities, laboratories, schools.

In the beginning, BIM adoption was driven by professionals who quite simply wanted to improve quality, performance, and profit. In 2007 BIM adoption was boosted by the GSA National 3D-4D-BIM Program. Transition has not always been easy, and the level of implementation as well as methodologies vary widely, but today the top design firms in the U.S. are BIM firms: Gensler, HOK, HDR, Perkins+Will, SOM, HKS. Not coincidentally, the top construction firms have also invested in BIM: Turner, Clark, DPR, Hoffman, Hensel-Phelps.*

Similarly, in the U.K., BIM adoption is being driven by the government sponsored Building Information Modeling Task Group. The 2011 Government Construction Strategy will require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016.

The story in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region is not the same. Doha, the capital and largest city in Qatar, did not exist just fifty years ago, and it seems unlikely that many of the towers that have seemingly erupted from the desert were conceived using BIM. Even today, the new buildings currently being constructed are not exactly high tech, in terms of construction. They are reinforced concrete with block infill structures clad with aluminum and glass. They are massively built and labor-intensive and fantastic, but any evidence of BIM use is difficult to identify.

Qatar does have a National BIM initiative, which is an aspect of its 2030 National Vision for growth and development following the FIFA World Cup in 2022. All of the major infrastructure projects and all of the 2022 stadiums are BIM driven projects. Familiar names like Atkins, AECOM, Jacobs Parsons and Turner are among those involved. Overall, however, the progress and development of BIM is far behind what we take for granted in the West. Why?

In his LinkedIn article "10 Barriers to a Full BIM deployment in the Middle EastHamzeh Nawar, BIM Coordinator at Arabtec Construction LLC, explains:

Software companies took the lead in introducing BIM to Middle East, as a set of software and tools in the form of modeling, clash detection, quantity take-offs, and drawing extraction. This has resulted in a huge misunderstanding of BIM as a collaborative business process and limited the deployment of BIM in industry to the usage of BIM tools.
  • As BIM is new to the region, qualified BIM specialists are rare. Accordingly firms tend to hire and train people on using BIM tools without educating them on BIM process.
  • BIM requires significant sharing of data and information through the project life cycle between internal and external parties involved in the project; however companies in this region tend to be conservative and not so open to the sharing of information
  • BIM is a collaborative process that requires a major change in the internal work process and culture.
  • BIM (as it is meant to be!) is struggling to float to surface in this part of the world. A conservative and limited form of BIM is starting to form in the Middle East, a version of BIM limited to technology and capabilities of BIM software and tools.
Hamzeh concludes, “Benefits are still realized with this version of BIM, but the major benefits of a full BIM deployment are still a long-shot. Apparently BIM-ers still have a really long journey to go before they start realizing the actual benefits of BIM in Middle East.

*Source: 2013 rankings by Building Design + Construction

Friday, July 4, 2014

Qatar Update

I've been silent for quite some time, but I've decided to start blogging again.

The reasons for the silence include immersion in my work as BIM Manager for the FIFA 2022 World Cup Al Wakrah Stadium and Precinct Development project, the intensity of that activity, and the observance the of the client's explicit interest in confidentiality. I am not allowed to share any of the details of the project, the processes involved in its creation, or detail the challenges that are typically encountered on any large and complex building project. I intend to comply with that mandate, no matter how much it goes against my professional and democratic sensibilities. Imagine where we would be with BIM if we could not share and learn from each other's successes - and failures.

I can confirm that it is a BIM project with a high degree of complexity. I am on the Project Management team from KEO International Consultants. The project's architect of record is AECOM (London), the design architect is Zaha Hadid, and the client is represented by Project Management Consultant CH2MHill. Most of the professionals involved are British, along with Australians, a few Americans, and workers of many other Asian and European nationalities.

Personally, there are always two aspects of my work-life from which I derive satisfaction, in addition to the actual objective activity of the job. Teaching and learning.

In Qatar I have learned quite a lot, but so far the opportunities to "pay it forward" have been limited. The revival of this blog is one of the ways I intend to change that.