Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project – A Landmark Healthcare Mega Project in the Middle East. By Mohamed Khalifa Hassan PMP, PgMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, MCTS
Named after the late Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah a landmark hospital construction project, is underway in the State of Kuwait. In a region which boasts of many record-setting structures including Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world), the Kuwaiti government is keen to optimize the utility and lustre of its development projects. It is actively investing in projects aimed at developing world class facilities which maximize welfare services, both for its rapidly growing population as well as visitors. Once in service, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital will be the largest, most modern and well equipped healthcare facility in the Middle East.
In this article, I am providing excerpts of an interview with Muhammad A. B. Ilyas who is Director of Technical Presentations and Site Visits at the Arabian Gulf Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI) in Kuwait. He recently led a delegation of PMI members who visited the under construction hospital to learn about salient features of the project and discuss challenges as well as opportunities being encountered by the project management team.
Muhammad A. B. Ilyas, Director of Technical Presentations and Site Visits
at the Arabian Gulf Chapter of Project Management Institute (PMI)
Question: Please tell us a little bit about the visit to Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project. Why was this project chosen for a visit?
This visit was arranged by the Arabian Gulf Chapter of Project Management Institute. Such visits allow our members to interact with project management teams on large scale projects and learn from their experience. We believed that since this project is unique in many respects, it would provide a good opportunity to exchange ideas and enhance the knowledge of project management practitioners.
Question: Please tell us the salient features of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project.
Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project was initiated in December 2009 and is expected to be completed by December 2013. Once in service, the hospital will be the largest healthcare facility in the Middle East. The hospital will span an area of 225,000 square meters and have a capacity of 1,168 beds. Only five other hospital buildings around the globe have a higher capacity. The hospital will be serviced by 50 ambulances and two helipads. It will have parking space for 4,000 cars as well as housing facilities for physicians and nursing staff. The cost of construction is US $ 1 Billion making it a high value project.
Question: Please describe the project organization? Is it typical of projects of similar nature and scale?
Like most mega projects in the public sector, the project sponsor is Kuwait’s Ministry of Public Works (MPW). A consultancy firm, Gulf Consultants (GC), are performing the role of PMC. Arab Contractors (AC), a company based in Egypt, is the prime contractor responsible for the construction. Ali Nadoom, the Project Manager, is an official of the MPW. The arrangement is typical of public sector projects in Kuwait.
Question: What is the biggest challenge faced so far? How has it been resolved?
This project, being unique in many respects, had its share of challenges. The biggest challenge, however, was unstable labour supply. AC initially relied on locally available labour to avoid expatriation of their own labour force in large numbers. This arrangement didn’t go very well due to high demand and low supply of labour. The market conditions encouraged labour shift from one project to the other on the slightest increment in compensation. This led to several delays forcing AC to rely on expatriation of its own labour from Egypt. Once the labour supply was stabilized, the project was fast tracked to meet the schedule baseline.
Question: How would you describe the project management approach being followed at this project?
Ali Nadoom is a remarkable project manager who has relied on non-traditional methods to manage the project. He has spent a lot of effort in establishing comradeship between MPW, GC and AC. The project site has a purpose built Diwaniya (a hall for informal discussions) which has been successfully employed for conflict resolution, trainings, team building activities and casual interaction among project team members. A lot of time and effort has been spent on maintaining public interest in the project. Lectures and seminars have been held in collaboration with several universities and consultants. Students from universities and medical colleges are encouraged to visit the site and interact with the stakeholders while work is in progress. A club for school children has also been established which aims to keep them involved with a project which has great national and regional significance. The project site is open to the public who are welcomed and briefed on the progress if they wish so.
Mr Ali Nadoom, Project Manager
© 2012 allPM.com
Mohammed Khalifa Hassan (PMP, PgMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, MCTS) is a project management consultant with more than 18 years of experience in IT and business management. He has actively managed and supported projects in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. He has also trained more than 2000 professionals to project management methodologies. Mohamed is PMI-Project Management Global Sustainability Community of Practice Counsel Manager.