Real World Sourcing with Tejari hits Dubai and Abu Dhabi

What did we learn from my recent trip to the United Arab Emirates to deliver two briefing sessions, apart from the fact that 40C is really too hot for humans to operate effectively, or at all in my case?  As well as a session in Dubai, I had my first trip to Abu Dhabi. But other than complimenting the excellent Westin Hotel that we used for the Tejari-supported Real World Sourcing briefing session, and the observation that it doesn't have as many tall buildings as Dubai, I can't bring you any great insight into the place. Oh yes, it’s hot. Really hot. (That is the sort of stunning insight you get from Spend Matters. I thank you).

However, what was notable was the level of discussion and debate during our session. It’s easy to think that places like Abu Dhabi are looking to raise their procurement standards to “our” western level, but speaking honestly, the output from the 'table discussions' and the debates we got into were comfortably as insightful and challenging as the equivalent in the UK or indeed Dubai.

One big difference compared to the UK though is the industry focus. Not surprising of course, but delegates from construction and capital intensive industries dominate, unlike the equivalent sessions in the UK (there is a fair representation from the government sector in all countries, however).

Some of the critical issues for attendees are therefore related as you might expect to those industries and the sort of procurement they are undertaking. “Mega-contracts” was an expression used to describe the huge programmes some of our delegates work on, whether that is new oil and gas facilities, power stations, new airports or huge property developments. One observation - huge projects don’t go through years of planning permission battles, so the pace just seems incredible. I hadn’t even realised that a second huge airport,  Al Maktoum International Airport, has been built in Dubai and will in the not too distant future be the largest in the world, they reckon. Built over about two years – and no endless debates and public arguments, as in the case of just a single new runway for Heathrow! Mind you, there aren't too may folks under the desert flight path.

Now I’m not saying Dubai should be a model for every country, but this focus on major projects led understandably to good discussions during our sessions in terms of prime contractors and how they manage their own supply chains. The topic in Abu Dhabi was Benchmarking the Procurement Function, in Dubai Evaluating Bids and Tenders, but on both occasions we got into some of those wider supply chain management questions. For instance, how might those issues be incorporated into the supplier evaluation process? How do you assess the supplier when they won’t be personally delivering much of the actual work involved?

It’s a great question – I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but looking into my Arabian Nights crystal ball, as well as some very tall buildings, camels, and a shimmering heat haze over the desert, I see a series around managing Primes coming shortly here.

And you can download the slides from both of our Emirates session here – thanks again to Tejari, and to CIPS MENA who also supported the events.

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