Country Director - Oman
From working on Europe's tallest building to its busiest airport, Naveed Haque had already shown himself to be one of Mace's brightest stars, even before making the move to the Sultanate of Oman in 2008. Now the Country Director for various locations, Naveed continues to deliver high-quality - and often record-breaking - projects for our clients, spearheading major transformation across the Middle East.
- How did you get in to what you do?
My grandfather was an architect and as a child I really enjoyed looking at the building designs that he'd had a hand in creating. My interest in construction grew from there and after school I completed a National Diploma in construction and surveying, followed by a degree in construction management. I started working for a large contractor where I began at the bottom and worked my way up to become a senior site manager. After that I worked for a high-end residential developer, then moved into fit out before I joined Mace. I worked on The Shard, then out at Heathrow, before then moving to the Middle East.
- What kinds of projects have you been involved while working in the Middle East?
My first project was working on the redevelopment of one of Oman's biggest banks. Since then I’ve been part of a number of key, challenging and complex projects that I’m really proud of.
The first is the world’s largest mirrored building, the awe-inspiring Maraya concert hall in Saudi Arabia's north-west area of Al Ula. We transformed the entire site - from a barren desert to a record-breaking structure, with all associated infrastructure - within just 12 months.
Another project I’m particularly proud of is the iconic Oman Cultural Complex, one of the biggest cultural projects in the region, with 3 key buildings all under one roof – the National Archives, the National Theatre and the National Library.
I've also had the opportunity to work on the glamourous Ritz Carlton (Fari Islands), a 5-star resort on a remote Island in the Indian Ocean. All very different but equally rewarding experiences!
- What advice would you give to someone looking to do what you do?
Start from scratch and work your way up - experience counts for everything in what we do. Be sure to build key relationships along your way, and to gain the trust of your colleagues, clients and peers.
I’d also advise gaining some experience working overseas. Whether it's the Middle East like me or somewhere else entirely, it really opens your eyes and changes your perspective. Internationally, you realise how much you have to share and how much more you can learn. Working in a multicultural society with people with different backgrounds has a lot of benefits - we learn from them and vice versa.
- What trends in construction are you seeing in the Middle East at the moment?
I see a really interesting contrast between modern design elements and traditional Arabic elements in new buildings. The designs are very modern, but they all have the 'Arabic touch'. The facades of building often still look quite traditional with lots of arches, domes and mushrabiyas, but that's coupled with high-spec, high-tech and highly advanced capabilities and finishes underneath. I'm sure that melding of cultures within the construction of buildings will continue to develop - it's something I find really fascinating.
Lately, we’re also seeing the emergence of artificial intelligence. As we enter this next frontier of construction technology, it’s crucial for both those entering the industry and those already within it to understand how AI can offer us unique solutions – to advance not only the performance of our industry but its productivity too.
- What might someone be surprised to know about you?
When I came to the Middle East from the UK, everyone assumed that I'd only be able to speak English. But thanks to my heritage, I actually speak several languages and that's something that always surprises people. I speak Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, some Arabic and Swahili as well as speaking English. It's a great advantage as I'm able to communicate with the workforce at all levels so easily.
- What are you passionate about outside of work?
I'm a big cricket fan, I used to play but now I mostly just follow it and try to get to games in Dubai whenever I can. I'm also a keen follower of architectural and construction trends. I like to keep up to date with what's going on from a construction design and delivery perspective, not least because our clients see us as the experts and expect us to know and bring value to them with innovative ideas!
“Working in a multicultural society with people from different backgrounds has a lot of benefits - we learn from them and vice versa.”