The Contractors and Consultants Classification, and Engineers Registration Bureau in Abu Dhabi has recently organized two workshops in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in the presence of over 150 participants in the former and 120 in the latter. The participants represented unclassified contracting firms and consultancy firms in the Eastern Region that met to discuss the impacts of applying the obligatory classification system before the deadline set on 21 November 2012. In his inaugural address of the two workshops, Mr. Ahmed AbdulRahman Al Burkani, Director of the Contractors and Consultants Classification, and the Engineers Registration Bureau, said the objective of those two workshops is to make clear and explain the advantages of the systems in use, on the one hand, and hold discussions to exchange opinions and viewpoints with relevant authorities and companies that are yet to be classified. Al Burkani emphasized that the systems that are currently in use have contributed to reorganizing and restructuring the work of contactors and consultants in line with the progress achieved in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, especially the highly significant construction sector that makes a significant a contribution to the increase of GDP rate in Abu Dhabi. He indicated that updating the classification systems aims to reflect the keenness exhibited by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Abu Dhabi to promote and enforce all the systems and laws that seek alignment with Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. Among the Vision's major objectives is to promote the performance levels and determine the requirements of the next period in which Abu Dhabi is expected to witness a great boost and advancement in different Regions and cities of Abu Dhabi.
Al Burkani indicated that the advancement and large construction expansions witnessed by Abu Dhabi is an evidence of the promotion and growth of the construction and real-estate sector, something that prompted the Contractor Classification Bureau to organize such a workshop with the objective of keeping pace with such an advancement, on the one hand, and meeting with contractors, consultants and engineers to listen to their needs and comments about the current classification systems in use, on the other hand.
Engineer Ahmed Al Burkani indicated that now that the deadline set for contracting companies and engineering consulting firms on the 21st of November 2012 is imminent, the Classification Bureau is reiterating its keenness on facilitate the process for all companies and firms operating in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain to be classified by easing procedures and removing the obstacles hindering their classification. He stressed that organizing these workshops and meeting with such a large number of contracting companies and consultants reflect the Classification Bureau's keenness to highlight all problematical issues that could represent an obstacle hindering their classification process, aiming to offer advices that help towards these companies' success and for their operations to expand and grow in the future. Nearly 1250 consulting firms are registered in DED in Abu Dhabi. Of this number, 1066 firms are based in Abu Dhabi, 159 in Al Ain and 25 in the Western Region. The total number of firms registered in Abu Dhabi is 749. Of this number, 666 firms are located in Abu Dhabi, 124 in Al Ain and 4 in the Western Region. The total number of engineering firms classified according to the new systems in Abu Dhabi amounts to 100. Of this number 80 firms are located in Abu Dhabi, 19 in the Eastern Region and one office in the Western Region. According to recent statistics, the total number of classified and unclassified construction companies in Abu Dhabi amounted to 11,449 companies. Of this number, 6686 companies are located in Abu Dhabi, 2522 in Al Ain and 2241 in the Western Region. In the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the total number of classified companies amounted to 2659 companies. Of this number, 1890 companies are located in the city of Abu Dhabi, 736 in Al Ain and 33 in the Western Region. The total number of unclassified companies in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi amounted to 8,790. Of this number, 4796 companies are located in Abu Dhabi, 1786 in Al Ain and 2208 in the Western Region.
The officials at the Contractors and Consultants Bureau are reported to have responded to the questions raised by the participants in the two workshops. After the end of the presentation, they made on the necessity of embarking on registering for the classification process.
In reply to a question whether the certified engineer must be a holder of B.Sc. in civil engineering or architecture when applying to the classification system, the officials at the Classification Bureau said that the engineer's specialty shall be certified according to the required discipline. In case the engineering firm in question is interested in hiring an architect, both as a designer and supervisor, then the firm must have a civil engineer for supervision and an architect for designing.
Responding to a question as to whether it is possible for two companies who signed an agreement to form a consortium to benefit from the expertise of the two companies' personnel in such a classification, the officials at the Classification Bureau answered that in case the company applying for classification incorporates nominal partners with disparate rates for each partner, then the company's portfolio and the quality-related certifications, security and safety certificate could be certified and acknowledged provided that the company's financial situation, a list of the engineers and accountants are provided. However, in case two companies with different trade licenses signed a contract to form a consortium - not to enter into partnership – then none of the classification requirements would not be met and the company in question would not be classified.
In reply to a question raised by one of the participants about the process of registering engineers in the Engineers Register, the officials at the Classification Process said that the Bureau is currently establishing a separate department for registering engineers, thus engineers now cannot be registered in the Engineers Register. However, until the department is active, engineers will be registered according to the degrees they hold and their expertise.
In reply to a question as to the situation in case an Emirati partner in the construction firm is an engineer, then can the firm be acknowledged and certified, the officials at the Classification Bureau answered that the firm can be certified if the engineer meets all classification conditions in terms of his experience and specialized academic degree that suit the required classification. Yet, if the owner possesses more than one contracting firm or consultancy firm, then he will be certified for only one firm or firm.
Responding to a question raised by one of the participants as to whether it is possible for a consulting firm that is registered under one category to partake in projects with a cost less than the estimate value of each category, the officials at the Classification Bureau answered that according to the consulting firms' classification system issued by DED in Abu Dhabi, for government and semi-government projects, a classified consultant may lodge the tenders only within the limits of the estimate value of the category under which he is classified. As for the private projects, the project's owner is free to state as a condition or not the estimate value determined by the classification system.
Responding to a question whether it is possible for a third-category contractor to lodge tenders of forth, fifth or sixth category projects, the officials at the Classification Bureau answered that, according to the Contracting Companies Classification System issued by DED in Abu Dhabi, a classified contractor may lodge tenders within the limits of the permissible value of his category or the less category in order to open the way for other companies to lodge tenders in equal footing for all contractors.
Responding to another question as to the situation in case the contractor is interested in having his firm classified in Al Ain, whilst its headquarter is based in another Emirate. In this situation, the question raised is: Is the company required to transfer the custodianship of all its required engineers and accountants to the company based in Al Ain? Can the experience of the mother company in Al Ain be exploited in the classification of the company in Al Ain? The officials from the Classification Bureau answered that the expertise of the mother company could be exploited in another Emirate and that engineers and accountants under the mother company's custodianship could be accepted in the initial classification process. This shall be made possible provided that a written commitment is presented to stipulate that the custodianship of at least one engineer shall be transferred to the company's branch in Al Ain, given that all engineers in the company are under the custodianship of the company based in Abu Dhabi whenever any amendment is considered.
Asked whither all the said activities stipulated in the contractor's trade license must be classified, the officials at the Classification Bureau answered that a contractor and consultant must be classified in all the activities stipulated by the trade license that matches that activities classified by the Contractors and Consultants Classification, and Engineers Registration Bureau. The number of activities classified by the Bureau is 25 activities for contractors and 85 for consultants.
Responding to a question about the mother company's budget, the officials at the Bureau answered that only a statement of the company's branch within the UAE, not the mother company outside the UAE, must be presented.
Speaking of the situation in case contractors or consultants failed to meet all terms and conditions of classification prior to 21 November 2012, the officials at the Classification Bureau said that after the said deadline, the trade license of those who failed to be classified shall be suspended and will not be renewed.