Industry Dialogue: M.J. Mohamed Iqbal
Toshiba executive talks big projects from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh.
ELEVATOR WORLD had the opportunity to speak with M.J. Mohamed Iqbal (MI), its longtime correspondent and Middle East managing director and CEO of Toshiba Elevator, about projects in, and the future for, the region.
EW: How is business for Toshiba Elevator Middle East in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)?
MI: Our business, at present, is stable and growing. We have in hand some good milestone projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, and are entering Qatar and expecting some good orders to establish our operations. We have recently been able to secure some very important projects, such as Rosemont Hotel, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid City Development Villa Phase II and Mansion Phase I.
EW: In which sectors and countries is demand for Toshiba’s products highest?
MI: We concentrate on high- and medium-rise projects, but at the same time, we also target high-end low-rise developments. Overall, we have been able to secure projects in all three sectors — that is, high-, medium- and low-rise developments — in our operating region. We are currently operating in the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Azerbaijan, and expect to venture into other Middle Eastern countries in the coming years. The U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia are major operating regions in terms of volume and projects for Toshiba.
EW: How would you assess the current demand for elevators in the GCC?
MI: The current level is slightly low due to a slump in oil prices, but we are very optimistic in this market and expect it to pick up in the coming years. The Dubai construction sector is very active though very cautious. The Abu Dhabi market is slow, compared to that of Dubai. Saudi projects are also moving slowly, though the pilgrimage to Mecca is very vibrant and active, so many high-story buildings are being built to support it.
EW: What are some of the major GCC projects Toshiba has won recently?
MI: We have been able secure some milestone projects in the last two years, and some of these are nearing completion. These include high-rise hotel and residential towers, luxury villas and shopping-mall projects:
- DAMAC Towers by Paramount in Dubai: 34 units with a 6-mps maximum speed and 72 maximum stops
- DAMAC Heights in Dubai: 12 units with a 5-mps maximum and 91 maximum stops
- Rosemont Hotel in Dubai: 26 units with a 6-mps maximum speed and 54 maximum stops
- Mohammed Bin Rashid City’s Phase II Villa and Mansions in Dubai: 72 units, including machine-room-less elevators with two to three stops
- Jabel Omer Development, Phase IV in Mecca: 109 units with a 6-mps maximum speed and 30 maximum stops
- Sherafi Mega City in Jeddah: 100 units with a 2-mps maximum speed and 23 maximum stops
- DAMAC Dar Al Riyadh (Twin Towers) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: 11 units with a 5-mps maximum speed
- Horizon Tower in Abu Dhabi: 13 units with a 4-mps maximum speed and 60 maximum stops
- Saraya Towers in Abu Dhabi: 11 units with a 3.5-mps maximum speed and 49 maximum stops
EW: Do you foresee any major technological trends within the GCC’s elevator market during the next five years?
MI: The U.A.E. is a very vibrant country and trendsetter in construction projects. As such an important part of a tall building, vertical transportation is always evolving according to market innovations and trends. Every competitor is constantly trying to improve and innovate its products by adopting the state-of-the-art technologies, and Toshiba is also very much in line with the market requirements in its efforts and to keep innovating and listening to our customers.
Today, everyone has much concern about environmental impacts. The market is moving toward a green revolution, and every elevator manufacturer is pointing its new products in this direction.
EW: How are Toshiba’s elevator technologies suited to the changing requirements of the GCC market?
MI: To keep up with the changing trends and to go green, Toshiba has already introduced green elevators with features such as high-performance gearless traction machines, roller guide shoes, the reduction or elimination to lubricate, maintenance-free buffers, the elimination of harmful chemicals, Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive compliance, and the use of LED lighting and recyclable packaging materials, etc.