Keeping It Real with the Middle East Project Management Consulting Team

The Keeping It Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. This time around, it’s a little different. We’re interviewing some of our Middle East team that worked on the Al Ain Hospital project, pictured above. Read their individual answers and learn more about our team and our work overseas.

The Team:
Mahmoud Amin – Project Control Manager/Temp Acting PM
Mohammed Tajuddin – Project Coordinator
Naeem Adam Khan – Sr. ICT/ELV Specialist, Healthcare
Oprea Tudorama – MEP Manager

The Project:
Al Ain Hospital is a major acute care and emergency hospital with associated health service facilities serving the Al Ain community and its surrounding area in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It’s a 358,000 sq. meter, 713-bed hospital, and will have an underground parking facility for 1,500 cars. The new state-of-the-art hospital is designed in line with German building standards, which are among the most stringent in the world, and its clinical services will meet European healthcare standards.

Describe your team’s role in the design, building, and management of the Al Ain hospital.
Amin: Project control management.
Tajuddin: To boost construction progress by providing timely information, clarifications, and decision making in all fields including shop drawing, materials, and on-time execution approvals.
Khan: I am the ELV & ICT Specialist, and I interact with other disciplines like MEP and MEQ to deliver the full pledge to the client and workable solution systems for a project like Al Ain.
Tudorama: My role is complete charge of the project’s overall MEP management during the design, documents preparation, construction, commissioning, and hand-over. I coordinate between all disciplines and advise on technical issues, technical solutions, and contractual issues. I also represent the client during the construction phase and attend project construction site meetings.


What was the greatest challenge you faced in managing this product. How did you overcome it?

Amin: I was trusted to temporarily become the Project Manager’s replacement for such a mega project, at a very critical stage.
Tajuddin: The greatest challenge was to convince the contractor and consultant that we are a supporting hand for quality assurance and timely completion of the project. I hope we have fulfilled our commitment by reducing most of the hindrances and providing all required approvals and decisions on time. Regular discussions and follow up with the consultant and contractor has made us confident in our position.
Khan: When I studied the IFC documents for the ELV and ICT systems, I noticed that most of the specifications and design were for outdated technology from 2008/2009. I discussed this with my project manager on site first, then with the employer, Musanada. I arranged with consultants for a series of workshops for all 25 ELV and ICT systems, and with the involvement of the end user SEHA/AAH, we have established the Enhancement in ELV Systems and adopted the new technology for all the ELV and ICT systems.
Tudorama: The main contractor did not have an MEP contractor and was instead working with many subcontractors. This is a great challenge in terms of coordination, supervision, and quality assurances of the work. It involves putting in much more effort, and always being available to assist, clarify, and/or mitigate any issue with all stakeholders of the project, from the client to the PM to the consultants to the contractors.

Talk about one of the key moments of success in this project.
Amin: Together with a team, I managed to implement the BIM 4D/5D reporting system for the first time at Allen & Shariff, which is considered the latest trend in the project management field.
Tajuddin: Teamwork.
Khan: Establishing the Systems Integration Matrix (BMS, EWLV) and enhancing the entire ELV/ICT systems through workshops (PIN 12, 17).
Tudorama: For MEP it’s the energization of the substations.

How does the Al Ain Hospital benefit the city of Abu Dhabi?
Amin: The Al Ain Hospital project will be 347,449 square meters of built up area with 719 beds, and will have an underground parking facility for 1,573 cars. The new state-of-the-art acute hospital consists of the Main Hospital, administration building, rehabilitation building, and utility and logistic center.
Tajuddin: The hospital will make the people of UAE confident that they can meet all their health needs at one facility, under one roof, through advanced technology.
Khan: The new Al Ain hospital is prestigious, well-equipped, and offers the most enhanced, first-class facilities to the Al Ain community. It may provide services to nearby Oman as well.
Tudorama: Any new healthcare facility is a huge benefit for the people of Abu Dhabi/UAE, which is seeing a rapid increase in diseases like heart disease, depression, and diabetes, and an increase in the number of accidents and injuries.

If someone asked you to describe your unique approach to problem solving, what would you say?
Amin: Decomposition and recomposition, in order to identify the root cause of the problem and to select the best, most suitable solution.
Tajuddin: Discuss the problem at all levels until it is solved.
Khan: I am always studying the available IFC documents, comparing the latest available technology in the market with IFC, and reporting to superiors about the changes required for such technology.
Tudorama: The ability to be a team player, to handle, motivate, and lead multi-disciplinary teams of engineers and people of varying cultural backgrounds based on a good understanding of local traditions and work culture.

What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship? How does that apply to the Al Ain project?
Amin: Building mutual trust, the early detection of issues, and providing solutions in a timely manner.
Tajuddin: Completion of assigned work on time.
Khan: To fulfill and even exceed the client’s expectations.
Tudorama: Developing and establishing good relationships with all team members, based on competency, superior services, mutual trust, and respect, and trying to establish a sense of solidarity and single-minded purpose. Being always available to assist, clarify, and/or mitigate any issue. Establishing and developing a long-term relationship with the client is not an easy task at all.

What are the industry challenges that are unique to the Middle East region?
Amin: Customer satisfaction, cost efficiency, competitive opponents, and the unique nature of the projects.
Tajuddin: Finance control.
Khan: Challenges in Middle East are similar to other regions in terms of executing and managing the projects. However, in individual capacity there are challenges in terms of residency for some nationalities.
Tudorama: The Middle East is mostly an “application market.” There’s not much innovation or R&D. There are many standards and codes, subject to the designer in charge. Varying cultural backgrounds, expertise, local traditions, and work culture diversity is also unique to the Middle East.

Allen & Shariff is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What do you think has given this organization its staying power?
Amin: The team members’ dedication and qualifications.
Tajuddin: Teamwork and skills.
Khan: The ability to contribute to the design and design validation as well as managing the project.
Tudorama: For Allen & Shariff in the UAE, it’s the ability to get these mega projects.

Keeping It Real with Alpha Sallah

The Keeping it Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and leadership, straight from the trenches. Sometimes literally.

Name and Title: Alpha Sallah, Mechanical Designer
Office location: Columbia Headquarters
Years at Allen & Shariff: 2 years


What’s the one skill that you would say is essential to being a great designer?
Empathy. Not the sunshine and rainbows connotation of empathy, but the ability to step back and look at a problem from various perspectives in order to solve it in a wholistic manner. For one, this centers the design around the building occupant. The designer should assess how every decision will affect the health, comfort, and mental well-being of those who will spend time in the building. Two, empathy helps team relations because the designer will keep an open mind to suggestions and compromise. This cooperation allows a team to flourish and maximizes productivity.

What is the most innovative advancement you’ve seen in mechanical design since you first started your career? How has it affected the industry?
Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) programs, such as Revit and AutoCAD, are relatively new and extremely prevalent in this field. I have only been in the field for a year, but the hand-drafting stories I hear from some of the veterans seem bizarre to me.

Describe something from your past (school, work experience, a mentor) that most influenced you to become a designer.
When I was in middle school, I lost about 4 pages of work on a class essay by kicking the power chord underneath the desk. I was so devastated that I began to throw a huge fit with loud and ugly crying. After about 30 minutes of this tantrum, I turned the computer on to find that the document autosaved. I was so happy that I ran to tell my parents in the other room. To my surprise, my dad disappointedly said something like this:

“Your mom and I just listened to you cry like a baby for a half an hour. Instead of trying to solve the problem or asking for help, you sat there pathetically feeling sorry for yourself. I don’t ever want to see you do that again.”

That lesson, although embarrassing to bring up, completely changed my mentality and approach to problem solving.

Maryland weather: Love it or hate it?
I like the fact that you get the full spectrum of seasons. But, it forces me to buy a lot of different types of clothes.

Allen & Shariff is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What do you think has given this organization its staying power?
The organization is very well rounded with a lot of experience across all branches. The leadership is also very interested in each and every individual growing in their respective fields, which reduces complacently.

What’s the #1 “rookie mistake” you see in those just starting out their career in your field? Explain.
The number one rookie mistake, that I made since I am still a rookie, was trying too hard to “already know things.” Meaning, I was embarrassed to stop and ask someone if I did not know something. I realized that doing this is only limiting the opportunity to learn from the experienced designers around me.

What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Being available and responsive. The most important thing is not having a flawless design the first attempt; the key is being quick and cooperative in mediating any conflicts or coordination issues.

How would you describe the company culture at Allen & Shariff?
Allen & Shariff has an environment that encourages individual growth first and foremost. We are a group of individuals who are intrinsically motivated, and we know that we can feed off one another to put together a great team.

If Allen & Shariff were a car, what kind of car would it be and why?
A Honda Accord. It is reliable and easy to work with.

What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?
The Beginning of Guidance – Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali
Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self- Deception – Daniel Goleman

Keeping It Real with David Price


The Keeping it Real series is your chance to hear from Allen & Shariff staff on life, lessons, and 
leadership, straight from the trenches. Sometimes literally.

Name: David Price, PE, Senior VP of Engineering
Office: Pittsburgh
Years at Allen & Shariff: 21 years


What’s the one skill that you would say is essential to being a great engineer?
The ability to listen.

What is the most innovative advancement you’ve seen in engineering since you first started your career? How has it affected the industry?
Revit. The 3D capabilities of these types of programs have exponentially improved the interaction between the architect’s vision and the engineer’s intent.

Describe something from your past (school, work experience, a mentor) that most influenced you to become an engineer.
When I applied for college, my intention was to obtain a math degree.  During my summer orientation at West Virginia University, my mother happened to walk by the ‘Engineering’ table and had a conversation with the Dean of the college.   She felt that engineering would be a better career for me, and I switched disciplines that day.  The rest is history.

Pittsburgh weather: Love it or hate it?
Love it.

Allen & Shariff is celebrating its 25th anniversary. What do you think has given this organization its staying power?
The people, the family culture, and the team approach to success.

What’s the #1 “rookie mistake” you see in those just starting out their career in your field? Explain.
The need to always communicate through email or text.  Pick up the phone, have a conversation, start building a relationship.

What’s the single most important ingredient when it comes to a successful client relationship?
Friendships. I enjoy building them with the clients I work with. I want everyone I work with to be considered friend, not a business acquaintance.

How would you describe the company culture at Allen & Shariff?
Team oriented.

If Allen & Shariff were a car, what kind of car would it be and why?
Jeep – Not the flashiest out there, but it’s dependable and gets the job done.

What book(s) are on your nightstand right now?
The Bible

Word on the Street with Allen & Shariff (May 31, 2019)

What’s been happening at Allen & Shariff? Here’s what you may have missed on our blog and social channels.

Website: Keeping It Real with Don Hocking

Facebook: Phillip Showell Elementary School

Facebook: New Stansell Coastal Hospice House Celebrated

Facebook: Talbot County 911 Center

Facebook: Clarksburg-Damascus Middle School 


Got a minute? Pick a link and click it. Remember, we’re relying on you to help share all the amazing things we’re up to at Allen & Shariff.