ETA M&E still dominates MEP contracting


By Gerhard Hope

The ETA M&E division, the electro-mechanical arm of the ETA Ascon Star group, is “still number one” in the MEP sector despite the downturn, says ETA M&E director K.M. Jegabber.

The division has won the Contractor of the Year category at the MEP awards for the past three years. It employs 16,000 and has an order book of AED2 billion.

In terms of current projects, ETA has been on-site at Concourse 3 of Dubai International for a year now. It is also gearing up for completion of the Dubai Metro’s Green Line, and is continuing with work at the Burj Khalifa apartments. “Currently we are still number one because of the nature and size of our projects,” says Jegabber.

The division was established in 1976 in Deira, with three people. As an indication of the size of the ETA Ascon Star group, it employs 75 000 people, or 1.5%, of the UAE’s total population.

“When we started [the M&E division], it was in a rented apartment in Nasser Square, Deira. It 1976 the market was very small compared to what it is now. Ground plus seven storeys used to be the biggest project, with three to four being standard. At that stage we also focused exclusively on Bur Dubai and Deira,” says Jegabber.

“In terms of the larger group structure, the electro-mechanical division, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi combined, comprises one third of the total group. It is the biggest division, with the highest turnover.”

Jegabber says the secret to the division’s success is that it offers “a single-point solution” that combines the traditional MEP scope of works with more specialised services such as tunnel ventilation for the Dubai Metro.

“I would say that, other than civils and elevators, which is another one of our divisions, we carry out complete building activities,” says Jegabber. He adds that ETA has been at the forefront of all major trends in the local construction industry, from being “the first contracting company to be awarded ISO here” to embracing the latest green building trends.

“If a new development comes along, ETA likes to get in there first and ensure it has all the necessary equipment and expertise in place so it is in a prime position to land major projects. We stay ahead, and then other people follow.”