Thousands of new tower blocks and villas were launched in the GCC during the 2003-08 real-estate boom. These developments are now moving to the operation phase, driving demand for facilities management services.

But the sector is beset with challenges. The UAE market is saturated, with close to 100 facilities management firms, and regulation is lacking. Rather than industry-wide benchmarks, the onus is on the client to set standards. In the current climate, the emphasis is firmly on cost-efficiencies, rather than quality management, and inevitably, corners are being cut.

With many more properties about to become available, the value of the regional facilities management market is set to almost double to $8bn over the next couple of years.

The UAE accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the sector, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar are now attracting the attention of facilities management firms. Developers would do well to learn the lessons from the UAE.

Sub-standard facilities management has consequences. In addition to potentially endangering lives, inadequate upkeep of a building is detrimental to the asset value, as facilities fall into disrepair far quicker. Many completed projects in Dubai are already counting this cost.

Efforts are now under way to raise awareness of the importance of facilities management in the region through a newly formed industry association, but it will also require tougher regulation and standardisation to be successful.