British Business Group poll shows UAE construction professionals would welcome a government-monitored national construction playbook to safeguard the industry

A survey of construction professionals by the UAE’s largest business group has found an overwhelming desire for a UAE construction playbook, providing government guidance on sourcing and contracting public works projects and programmes.

According to the poll by British Business Group (BBG) of UAE-based professionals, the majority of whom are owners, contractors or consultants working in the construction industry, 64 per cent of respondents believe the adoption of the same principles of the UK Construction Playbook would benefit the UAE’s construction sector and protect the underlying performance of the industry.

Christopher Seymour, Mott MacDonald’s Head of Strategy and Investment Middle East, Africa and South Asia and speaker at BBG’s Construction Working Group, held in Dubai on Wednesday, 14 June 2023, said: “The UK Construction Playbook was well received by both supply chain and clients when it was released in 2020 and this survey demonstrates cross-sector support is extremely strong in the UAE for a guide based on similar themes.”

A resounding 90 per cent of those surveyed feel there has not, to date, been enough focus at the outset of a project on the whole life cost of the project. In addition, 65 per cent of respondents feel adopting the UK Construction Playbook approach to a UAE version would drive earlier stakeholder engagement, team collaboration and whole life perspective of the planning, delivery and operation of major projects.

Nearly 90 per cent agree a playbook could enable all stakeholders to bring enhanced efficiency, innovation, transparency and standardisation to the sector, which can positively impact the returns achieved for all. The same percentage of those polled agree a playbook implemented and monitored by an appropriately designated government body to safeguard the underlying performance of the industry would drive the change required to deal with the challenges experienced by many project stakeholders.

Furthermore, over 80 per cent of respondents feel the playbook, implemented and monitored through Project Outcome Profiles, or scorecards, by an appropriately designated government body, will provide the confidence required in the region’s construction industry to attract further foreign direct investment (FDI) and stimulate the sector. Almost all respondents agree a Construction Act codifying payment timeframes, adjudication and certification terms should be formulated and enforced.

Suzannah Newboult, partner at the global law firm DLA Piper, said: “It is great to see the industry’s confidence in the adoption of a construction playbook, which, if appropriately monitored, could result in the use of standard form contracts and risks being shared fairly. If properly implemented, a construction playbook would play a major part in establishing new market norms for the industry.”

Newboult added: “Backed up by a Construction Act in due course, we could see much more confidence in delivering projects here and reattract some of the major international contractors we have lost from the market. With the playbook would come transparency of the project pipeline, which more than 90 per cent agreed would help investment planning and regional commitment. Furthermore, 85 per cent support the concept of a playbook, which can bring about the principles required for contracts to be in a more standard form with risk being shared more fairly between the parties.”

General Manager of BBG in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, Katy Holmes, concluded: “Since the BBG Construction Sector Working Group’s inception in 2019, it has sought to provide a collective view of British construction and related companies to share with the UK and UAE governments. The survey shows a great willingness by companies keen to work together across the sector to improve the FDI environment, which will, in turn, support the UAE’s progressive growth plans.”

Most respondents predict the introduction of a playbook could have additional benefits, with nearly 90 per cent surveyed believing a UAE-specific playbook can emphasise environmental, social and governance principles to ensure organisations take the steps towards becoming more environmentally sustainable throughout the entire life cycle of a capital project.

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