Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Meeting the Middle East Region in Abu Dhabi/Dubai

Last night I passed through Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on other business and dropped in on a meeting of the Middle East Region of Engineers Ireland together with the Irish Business Network (IBN) (

I was very happy to meet the Engineers Ireland Region Chairman Tom
Riordan and Region PRO David McKenna at the event. Tom is Arabtec
Professor of Civil Engineering at Dubai Higher Colleges of Technology.
David is employed as a Senior Engineer in Abu Dhabi Municipality.

We discussed the unique challenges which the farthest off Region of
Engineers Ireland encounters in providing CPD and other services to
their Members and their absolute need to network with other Irish and
professional organisations in UAE.  The Irish Business Network (IBN) is
such a local network in Dubai/Abu Dhabi and draws on all professional
and business members across the UAE.

I was also privileged to meet the Irish Ambassador to the United Arab
Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar - His Excellency Ciaran Madden and the Middle
East Regional Director of Enterprise Ireland Jim Mongey at the event.
Both of them are very committed to assisting Irish citizens and
businesses to prosper in their newly adopted country.

Pictured at the Irish Business Network event P J Rudden President of Engineers Ireland, Irish Ambassador to UAE Ciaran Madden and Professor Tom Riordan, Chairman of the Middle East Region of Engineers Ireland.

We all know that Irish Engineers and indeed Irish consultancy companies
and contractors see the Middle East (mostly UAE Saudi Arabia Oman and
Qatar) as their export market of choice.

Therefore it was a proportionate response that in Autumn 2009, as the
Irish construction industry severely contracted, that the Council of
Engineers Ireland approved the setting up of the Middle East Region -
the first outside of Ireland since the Great Britian Region was set up
during the last bad recession in the late 1980s when most Irish
engineering graduates went to the UK.

The bulk of engineering endeavour in UAE has in recent years moved from
Dubai to Abu Dhabi and most Irish engineers in the UAE are now employed
in Abu Dhabi where development is proceeding, though at a slower pace
than heretofore. The City has many challenges not least its car
overdependence (due to low fuel prices) and lack of adequate parking
facilities. There is however a new Metro under construction which should
help to relieve traffic congestion.

Yet we should not forget the huge architectural and engineering heritage
that Dubai has created over the past 10 to 15 years for future
generations.  I was delighted at the IBN in Dubai to meet Gerry O'Leary,
the acclaimed Irish industrial/aerial photographer, and am happy to show
here some of Gerry's photographs depicting the sheer scale and beauty of
the buildings that Dubai has produced over the past 10 years including
the Burq Dubai which is currently the tallest building in the world at
828 metres. A truly amazing engineering feat! I can recall being here
18 months ago as the final floors of the building were being constructed
and to see the gigantic cranes high up looking like mere tiny specks in
a sometimes misty blue sky.

As I stared at the 'gleaming spires' of Dubai I was reminded also of the
unsustainable property and construction bubble at home that eventually
caused a lot of engineers, architects and other professionals to find a
new temporary home at least in the Emirates. I referred to these Members
and their families in my inaugural speech in May (my first blog here in
'archive'). I found last night that many of them remembered that they
had not been forgotten by Engineers Ireland. We will continue to support
the Middle East Region in the years ahead as it grows and prospers.

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