UAE BIM Association to provide a community service

Updated: Oct 26, 2019

UAE BIM Association founder Ahmed Abou Alfa explains the rationale behind the creation of the non-profit organization.

According to McKinsey Global Institute’s industry digitalization index: “The construction industry is among the least digitized”.

Across the Middle East, especially here in the UAE, we never had any association that supported or empowered digital construction – until now.

The idea of a non-profit is very challenging and the ability to define and measure its value difficult to obtain (Brown, 2015).

However, here our passion comes into effect and makes the idea of the UAE BIM Association (UBA) a tangible one.

The idea of the UAE BIM Association was discussed on many occasions and at many events prior to its formation.

We recently published an executive business plan which addresses our mission, message, objectives, and main goals, and emphasizes how BIM, VDC, and digital construction are – and will become even greater – pillars for a sustainable and smart built environment.

Some 93% of construction industry players agree that digitalisation will affect just about every process in the sector (Roland Berger, 2016).

In light of this, the UAE BIM Association carries a remit to raise awareness levels of the technology within the corridors of the construction industry, focussing on best practice, new methods of working, and procedures in the field of digital transformation for professionals and their firms.

Some countries around the world have established BIM associations and/or BIM arms of established institutes to serve construction digital transformation and create guidelines and standards that can be followed in BIM implementation.

Now that service is being mirrored here in the UAE.

In addition to external research, UBA has conducted a market analysis of BIM maturity levels among construction professionals and firms’ representatives.

The results reflected many misunderstandings and myths about BIM methodologies and its implementation.

One key finding was that many construction professionals thought that by either mastering BIM tools or being certified from a professional software body, they are now fully capable to implement BIM and can act as BIM managers.

UBA doesn’t deny the fact that the first step towards successful BIM implementation is mastering BIM tools.

UBA’s research team communicated with different bodies and people of varying ages, experiences, and fields to gain a tangible set of results, with more than 3,000 individuals surveyed. We used this data to establish a firm set of messages.

UBA’s primary objective is to act as the common platform to empower construction industry professionals and inspire firms to a better understanding of how digital transformation, BIM, and VDC can be harnessed to create a sustainable and more smartly built environment.

During its formation, it was very hard to create a clear roadmap and goals we wanted to achieve for the UAE via the UBA; but practical inputs and experience were a must to be in with a chance of hitting targets and key objectives.

UBA’s other goals include hosting key activities to ensure that its message is well received, understood, and spread among junior engineers and students during the formative stage of their development.

This will allow the UBA to begin supporting construction professionals during their digital transformation journey.

The UBA is also planning to participate in the wider lobbying and call for digital transformation for the construction industry here in the UAE and across the rest of the Middle East, and proudly so as the first organization of its kind in the region.

Specific plans include awareness sessions and events; deployment of BIM and VDC methodologies and best practices in UAE universities; free on site and online courses for junior engineers and graduates; and regular contact with the industry to foster a more general understanding of the technological advances available to professionals.

UBA’s message concludes with a set of objectives and goals that will be achieved through a staged timeline, depending on the level of maturity in the UAE construction market. For best results, objectives have been created for the short, intermediate and long-term.

However, this digital revolution cannot be achieved by just one entity.

As mentioned by Deloitte in a report back in 2017: “Governments will need to be at the forefront of these changes”.

Promoting innovative ideas, creating UAE BIM mandates and standards in line with international frameworks, and regulating best practices and guidelines that will be used and implemented by industry bodies is key to the aforementioned government input.

In line with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s guidance: “We are making Dubai the happiest city on earth by embracing technology innovation, making Dubai a more seamless, safe efficient and personalized city experience for all residents and visitors,” (Smart Dubai Office, 2019).

Dubai plans to be the first Smart City globally, and UAE BIM Association has taken shape over a long period of preparation to assist in this wider goal.

The UAE has always been a country that embraces new innovations, breakthroughs and ideas, particularly with the fast track of life and digital transformation, which is occurring in all industries and sectors.

However, construction has a tendency to lag behind other industries, and that is part of the reason why the UBA has stepped into the fore.

As stated by the UAE’s Prime Minister’s Office: “The National Innovation Strategy aims to take innovation in the UAE to new heights, where a culture of innovation is embedded among individuals, companies and governments.

“It primarily focuses on identified priority sectors that will drive future innovation.”

UBA intends to be part of that journey, and with just cause.

The UAE is one of the most mature and up to date countries in the world when it comes to using new technologies, and analysis shows that the digital market could add up to $95billion per year to the Middle East’s annual GDP by 2020 (Digital McKinsey).

References: BizFilings, n.d. A Guide to Starting and Running a Nonprofit Organization. s.l.:s.n. Brinckmann, J., Dew, N., Read, S. & Mayer-Haug, K., 2019. Of those who plan: A meta-analysis of the relationship between human capital and business planning. Long Range Planning, 52(2), pp. 173-188. Brindle, A., 2015. Google’s Aaron Brindle talks Blue Jays [Interview] (14 October 2015). Brown, W. A., 2015. Strategic Management in Nonprofit Organization. s.l.: https://doi.org/10.3727/152599501108751434. Digital McKinsey, 2016. Digital Middle East: Transforming the region into a leading digital economy.. s.l.:McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, 2016. The digital future of construction. s.l.:s.n. Morakanyane R Grace, AA & O’Reilly, P, 2017. Conceptualizing Digital Transformation in Business Organizations: A Systematic Review of Literature. Bled, s.n. Roland Berger, 2016. Digitization in the construction industry. s.l.:s.n. Smart Dubai Office, 2019. Smart Dubai 2021. [Online] Available at: 2021.smartdubai.ae.



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