Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group held an open discussion forum with students on an MSc course at Columbia University. The group of eleven students were joined by Dr. Ibrahim S. Odeh, Director, Global Leaders in Construction Management, and a Professor at the school of engineering at Columbia University. Dr Ibrahim previously accompanied another group of students from the New York-based university on a visit to the Al Habtoor Group head office in 2015.
The students are studying a graduate level course which is mainly focused on strategy and marketing analysis of the construction industry in the GCC region.
The group, who were staying at Al Habtoor City, a new landmark urban development and brainchild of Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, got the opportunity to talk candidly to the head of the UAE conglomerate about the challenges and opportunities in the engineering sector in the United Arab Emirates.
Al Habtoor said, “Dubai – and the entire UAE – is a safe haven of the world. It is the land of opportunity for anyone irrespectively of nationality, culture or religion. It offers many opportunities for graduates.”
He said the students would gain the best knowledge in their field by working in Dubai after they graduate in May 2017. “You can learn the principals of civil engineering from university, but to really get an understanding of what’s required I would advise you to come to Dubai and work on one of the amazing projects here. Dubai is one of the most innovative places in the world. It is like a school for engineering. Anything is achievable here with the right planning and skillset.”
The Chairman added, “One of the biggest challenges in civil engineering around the world is MEP. Firstly, it can’t keep up with the pace of innovation within the industry. This is in addition to the lack of good MEPs, which is compromising the possibilities.”
Dr. Ibrahim S. Odeh said, "The visit was an eye opener to us on the vision of Dubai and United Arab Emirates." He added, "The team had great opportunity to meet with seven CEOs of top engineering and construction local and international firms. These meetings helped us to better understand the challenges and opportunities in the construction industry that are facing the UAE as well as the region."