MEED: Why did the government create Musanada?
Mohamed Rashid Khalifa al-Fahed al-Mehairi: In the past there was a restructuring committee within the Abu Dhabi government. At that time there was a very simple government structure and the municipality ran most of the government’s affairs. The government wanted to expand and become more specialised, so it established Musanada in 2007.
The restructuring committee had an initiative called shared services, which was a recommendation that came from an international consultant. They examined the top five governments in the world and found they had shared services.
When shared services were introduced in Abu Dhabi, they decided to go with specific areas. So, in 2007, they focused on project management, facilities management, information technology, infrastructure and logistics, plus the support of the government.
A benchmark study found that the top-tier governments used the shared services concept. It was new, and is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa. It exists in Europe and North America, and in some locations in the Far East, such as Singapore.
What are the advantages of shared services?
It keeps the focus of the entities on their core business, so all their budgets can be dedicated to core functions rather than support functions. Also, you can pool resources and expertise, which means it is more efficient and more effective. You can also engage better with the private sector and, of course, you have better economies of scale and better management of manpower.
What were the first projects Musanada worked on?
In 2007, there was a lot of expectation, so there were lots of challenges. It was the good times and everything was so ambitious. There were many challenges in the portfolio we had for project management, and there was a lot to do. We had some other shared services, but the main focus was new projects. It was a challenging period because we had a lot of projects to close out, and it was a peak period for construction so it was difficult.
Project management remains the biggest portfolio we have and, so far, there are more than AED30bn of schemes, from feasibility to construction.
How large is the workforce at Musanada?
We use a hybrid model. Project requirements fluctuate. Our total number of employees is 150, but we engage with third parties and we have a lot of partnerships with the private sector.
What will Musanada’s priorities be in the future?
We will have lots of total communities coming, as opposed to just housing. They will be integrated communities that are self-sustaining, with their own services from schools to mosques and clinics. I think this has to be addressed to make it more attractive for people; they don’t want just a home; they want a life.
Where will these housing projects be built?
We need to schedule work in the emirate’s three administrative areas: Abu Dhabi city, the Western Region and the Eastern Region. We need to create more jobs there, and we will address that challenge with our business partners. We need to support the local economies.
Have you any other new initiatives planned?
We are developing e-tendering [electronic tendering] and people are really satisfied with this, especially in the private sector. Some resist technology and prefer old-fashioned ways, but technology plays a huge role in our lives now and we have to reflect that with the way we operate.