UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company LLC, also known as UCC, is a Qatari-based international construction company with over 30 years of experience, building everything from highways and bridges to luxury residential and hotel projects. The company was founded in Syria back in 1983, by Mohamad Raslan Al Khayyat when it was known as Al Khayyat Contracting and Trading (KCT).
The founder’s son, Moutaz Al Khayyat, is the current CEO and he explains the company’s ethos: “At an early stage, the company vision was to ‘Build Trust’ and this vision has been inherited by UrbaCon Trading and Contracting (UCC) who, while being formed in Qatar in 2011, has a legacy of experience to build on. We are based in Qatar but with operations ongoing within the GCC, USA, Europe and Asia.”
Since it was set up in 2011, UCC has experienced remarkable growth and its strategy going forward is to continue on this path, while further diversifying into different markets. Al Khayyat explains: “UCC continually looks to see how it can strengthen its procedures and subsequently its performance, whilst having a strong emphasis on quality, safety and productivity. As a group, we are already quite diverse with companies engaged not just in construction, but also in facility management, hospitality, shipping, restaurants, clinics, retail, real estate, cargo, travel, manufacturing, farming and farm products. We continue to invest into various business sectors based on market analysis. Within the construction sector we are expanding now into the oil and gas field together with major infrastructure.”
One of the high-profile projects that UCC has been involved with is the Mall of Qatar, which is a challenging design and build of a 550,000m2 project, which engaged every facet of the group’s capabilities, and is on schedule for opening in autumn 2016. “In addition to the mall, an adjacent five-star hotel is also under construction by ourselves and is scheduled for completion at the same time. The surrounding infrastructure, including highways and metro links, are also well advanced by the Public Works Authority and we look forward together to making this new iconic designation available for the local population later in 2016,” says Al Khayyat.
The company is also bidding to work on the stadiums required for the 2022 World Cup, as Al Khayyat explains: “There are many projects to be completed in line with the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and the national vision requirements. We are confident that UCC will undertake its share of these projects, and consider that having now established the company’s reputation, we can build on it to ensure further compliance with our motto and vision. As we have seen in other Gulf Countries, the current investment into the country will not only provide opportunities for construction, there will be multiple growth in all sectors which will be a very positive environment for Qatar and its people.
With regard to stadium projects, UCC are actively participating in the tenders for all stadium projects. UCC is, together with BAM, a specialist stadium contractor. We are confident and are looking forward to our participation in the stadium delivery.”
Other clients UCC is working with include the Public Works Authority (ASHGHAL), Lusail Real Estate and Development Company, Manateq (Economic Free Zones), Qatar Development Bank, Aspire Zone, Qatar University, Qatar Foundation and several private sectors projects.
UCC’s motto ‘We Build Trust’ and this is at the forefront of its relationship with clients. Al Khayyat says: “Our objective is to ensure we give our clients the product they require, on time, safely and to the highest possible standards. The Sheraton Project is a perfect example of this trust, where the client had just seven months before a key event was planned and awarded us the contract to completely renovate the hotel, the convention center and all its external surrounding, including all MEP systems, in just seven months on a design build basis. The project was handed over complete, tested, commissioned and fully operational ahead of time.
One of the keys to UCC’s success is its approach to the training and development of its employees. Al Khayyat says keeping top quality staff is a priority: “Rapid growth coupled with market fluctuations can create an environment where it is challenging to attract and retain the required calibre of staff, however as a group of companies, we continually benchmark ourselves against the market and consider that we do remain as an employer of choice within the construction sector. Of course in turn, all employees are expected to perform to meet our expectations.”
The company has a dedicated section within its Human Resources department. “This coordinates both internal and external training across all designations, utilising our Oracle HCM and Taleo capability as a base for this development. Training is also cascaded down to the skilled workforce, where internal trainers routinely take in teams of skilled workers for enhanced skill training in our purpose built skilled workforce training centers,” says Al Khayyat.
The Oracle HCM and Taleo platforms that Al Khayyat mentions are part of its use of technology across the business. “We have procured a comprehensive ERP application via Oracle, and its implementation was undertaken by Oracle Consultancy Services, to ensure that we get the maximum out of the available applications. The modules cover all core business functions such as finance, procurement, human resources (HCM and Taleo), payroll, projects, time attendance and project planning and costing. The HR modules cover all aspects of HR from recruitment allocation, employee relations and employee self service. In addition, we have invested in a fleet management PMV software, again with Oracle, which is tailor-made to control our PMV activities, which involves the allocation of some 2,000 items across our projects.” In addition, UCC uses iris scanners to monitor time attendance of its staff, by quickly and accurately registering each worker at the start and end of the day.
UCC has a centralised procurement chain and has structured its procurement team so that there are dedicated personnel for each specialised field. “Certain procurement officers just cover hard finishings such as marbles and ceramics, others FFE items. Each is positioned within the department to ensure the company benefits from their expertise and the employee benefits by continuous improvement of his specialist knowledge and in-depth database,” says Al Khayyat.
All of these elements together help to set UCC apart from its peers, thanks to its ability to successfully perform and deliver a wide range of diverse projects on a design build turnkey basis. Al Khayyat says: “UCC has achieved this by employing experienced professional staff at all levels, by building up a substantial inhouse work force of skilled workers, and by developing an extensive procurement chain in the local and international markets.”