Facilities Management Middle East


UAE-based facilities management firm Operon plans to acquire property management firms and focus more on FM in healthcare


Operon, a UAE-based facilities management company which began operations in 2007, is focused on commercial buildings and residentia­l properties, with its main client being Al Wasl Group. “We've been focused on managing one or two clients primarily, but we’ve grown over the past 15 years. Today, we are the single largest facilities management company employed by Al Wasl Group,” says Syahruniza­m Samsudin, managing director/ chief executive officer of Malaysiahe­adquartere­d UEM Edgenta. Operon, a subsidiary of UEM Edgenta, has about 250 people in the UAE with multi-racial, multi-cultural background­s.

Samsudin explains: “Operon is really our anchor in Dubai, and we intend to grow further from here with the rest of Dubai, the other Emirates, and the Middle East, but it’s part of a larger group. I represent UEM Edgenta. We manage assets across commercial buildings, highways, and hospitals. We differenti­ate ourselves by three things. One is that we’re very focused on deployment of technology. We have our own software as a service (SaaS) platform called Edgenta NXT which runs facilities management online software for commercial buildings, hospitals as well as for other related services. Second is we differenti­ate ourselves based on Environmen­tal, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards and energy efficiency. We look into helping clients manage their carbon footprint, manage their energy bills, and optimise the equipment in the building, be it the use of HVAC, lifts etc. Our job is to continuous­ly optimise and use IoT technologi­es and our technology platform to make things run better. And third, we pride ourselves with high quality engineerin­g capabiliti­es. I have my own project management and engineerin­g team that advices on the various countries we operate in such as Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Dubai, Saudi, and India. We get to share our knowledge in asset management and FM, and hopefully, we are able to do more within that space here in Dubai.”


Talking about some of the challenges for the FM market in the UAE region, Samsudin says that there is a “capability gap”. He adds: “Although all FM companies claim that they have the right resources and skillset, what they lack is having a good blend of engineerin­g skills and practical cost optimisati­on knowledge. Because at the end of the day, clients want to save money. They want to make it more cost effective. So you can’t do that without good engineerin­g. At the same time, we cannot continue to reduce the cost of certain items, like cleaning, down to the point where it’s not feasible. So I think we are educating the client on this. We want to use technology so we can help clients get better savings and we can get more margins.

The second challenge is not including FM during constructi­on stages. “I think if you have architects, civil engineers, then you need to have facilities managers [involved during the constructi­on stage]. I think Dubai is already starting to do this to some extent.”


The different entities of UEM Edgenta focuses on different types of assets. But primarily in all other markets the focus is on FM in healthcare, which will be a priority in Dubai in the future.

Samsudin says: “I think the first priority is to equip Operon with healthcare-related FM operations and biomedical and mechanical capabiliti­es, to help run non-clinical operations as well as clinical operations in the future.

“Our second priority is to establish Operon as an integrated facilities management (IFM) company. As an IFM firm, it means that Operon has to look and feel like its Malaysia-based parent company. I think we need to cover a lot of new integrated FM space.”

Talking specifical­ly about the UAE FM market, Samsudin says that post Covid, UAE drove the growth of FM through various developmen­t projects. Citing Dubai Expo 2020 as an example, he says: “You have a multibilli­on dollar Expo event that hosted more than 100 countries. And those buildings are state-of-the-art. The pavilions require maintenanc­e, and it's not just about cleaning them but clients were also looking at the use of energy, water and waste. Dubai is leading the space in many facets. I think the most important facet is that they are actually spending a lot of money attracting people back into the capital from expatriate­s to businessme­n. So if we look at Dubai as an FM market, it’s probably the most important [market] followed by Saudi Arabia.”

The second reason why Dubai leads in the FM market is it is “becoming the centre of tech”. Operon signed up with two Dubai tech companies: one is Disrupt-X, where Operon is integratin­g Disrupt-X’s IoT technology with its own platform Edgenta NXT. The other company is called Byte Blanket, which is a Dubai-based firm originally from


India, which has a technology called Enter Bubble Technology. Samsudin explains: “Enter Bubble technology is really the ability to take data from our platform through IoT and turn it into micro services for tenants. So what we want to develop is a fully immersive online tenant experience for commercial residentia­l property. The idea is to bring a lot more integratio­n into building management and not just looking in terms of hard- and soft surfaces.”

Operon is also looking at acquiring property management firms [in UAE] where it can complement the latter in terms of managing assets using its system. He concludes: “The property management firms can continue with their facilities managers, while we help with the property and asset management in a way that is more holistic.”

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 ?? ?? Syahruniza­m Samsudin, managing director/ chief executive offi cer of UEM Edgenta.
Syahruniza­m Samsudin, managing director/ chief executive offi cer of UEM Edgenta.

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