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Paula Boast is interviewed by Construction Week on Bahrain's construction industry and how it is moving towards more functional and responsible building

During a Q&A with Construction Week Middle East, Paula Boast, Partner and Head of Construction Engineering & Projects for the Middle East Region, detailed how Bahrain’s construction industry is moving towards more functional and responsible building.

In recent years, Bahrain has moved away from simply building masterplan developments like Bahrain Bay, Diyar Al Muharraq, Riffa Views, Dilmunia; to now focusing on major social infrastructure works.

Please see a snippet of the Construction Week Middle East Q&A below:

How is Bahrain’s construction industry implementing sustainable practices in its operations?

Bahrain has long used international standards and now, we have the 2019 Green Building Manual. It is an active combination of various initiatives. The Ministry of Works’ building regulations and materials specifications have been under constant review since their original 2009 release.

Post-pandemic, we have seen a move away from restrictive requirements to source only within the country. Exorbitant increases in materials and equipment costs across the Middle East region and the world have pushed developers, designers, and contractors to be more flexible about what they use and where it comes from. We are seeing more and more sustainable material imports to the market, and it is what the end users, the purchasers, the tenants etc. want to see. There are economic drivers to encourage distributors and supply chain to source and ship more sustainable materials.

As a construction lawyer, what are some common disputes you face in the industry post-pandemic? How are these problems being mitigated?

They are quite similar to what we had pre-pandemic. Across the region, getting paid, whether on time or at all, has always been the biggest issue. That has not changed. But now see increased delays coming out of design approvals, incomplete design issues, and construction integrity.

If we have to explore specific postpandemic issues then these would be predominantly logistics, equipment, and material related issues which in turn means price fluctuation and escalation.

With a particular focus on the Bahrain’s real estate sector, how is the construction industry adapting to new processes and technologies to create smarter cities?

The real estate sector has been very adaptive. One key thing that we are going to see are changes to key features. One that I am pleased about is façade design and structure integrity. It’s something we’ve always taken for granted in the Middle East generally; cheapest used to be best.

Now, façade is not just façade. It reduces serious fire risk, answers to issues around heating and cooling, and ensures functionality for long periods of time.

Extending the life cycle of a building is a key measure of sustainability. In turn, it reduces maintenance and operational costs. It goes a very long way towards contributing to the aim of smart cities overall which is to create safer, comfortable, functional, sustainable communities in Bahrain.

Read the full article in Construction Week Middle East (pages 30-31). 

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