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IFC supports MAN Enterprise Group to expand in MENA, enhance gender inclusion, and promote sustainable growth amid regional challenges. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

IFC, part of the World Bank Group, granted a US$15mn loan to MAN Enterprise Group, an engineering, procurement, and construction Group to expand in MENA & Europe, fostering green growth and gender inclusion in Lebanon's challenging economy

The loan will help the group grow its operations across the Middle East and Africa, supporting private sector development and job creation.

It will also assist the group in initiating new projects to establish its presence in different countries, enhancing its internal capacity for climate-friendly technologies, and improving its gender inclusion practices.

The conflict in the Middle East has been impacting countries in the region, including Lebanon, a nation that has already faced several economic challenges in recent years. Unemployment, especially among Lebanese youth and women, is a significant issue. According to estimates by the International Labour Organization, nearly half of Lebanon's youth are unemployed (47.8%), with women facing even greater difficulty finding jobs.

"IFC's support is not only a vote of confidence in our Group but also in Lebanon's private sector potential as a growth engine," said Patrick Abi Nader, CEO of MAN Enterprise. "Apart from the financing, we will collaborate with IFC to integrate climate-friendly practices into our operations and address gender disparities in our workforce to unlock a more diverse talent pool critical to our success."

The construction industry is a major global driver of employment, contributing 13% of total employment in the Middle East and North Africa region in 2020. In addition to its investment, IFC will partner with MAN Holding in Lebanon to enhance gender inclusion by offering childcare solutions for working parents. This initiative aims to attract and retain women in the workforce, boosting their participation in economic recovery efforts. This effort is part of the Care Arabia program, a regional initiative led by the World Bank Group through IFC.

"Despite Lebanon's challenging environment, IFC has been selectively identifying opportunities to support the Lebanese private sector through South-South investments, preserving jobs and aiding the economy during a critical period," said Ashruf Megahed, regional industry head of manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services for the Middle East, Central Asia, and Türkiye. "Investing in a local market leader like MAN Enterprise will enable the company to access corporate capital complementary to traditional financing, enhance sustainable and inclusive practices, and strengthen resilience against economic downturns."

IFC's financing aligns with the World Bank Group's strategies for the Middle East and Africa, aiming to foster job creation through accelerated private sector growth, competitiveness, and sustainable green development.

For over five decades, IFC has been a steadfast partner in Lebanon, supporting the country's private sector with investments and guidance across various sectors including finance, manufacturing, construction, retail, and ICT. These efforts aim to enhance competitiveness and create more employment opportunities, particularly for women, youth, and vulnerable communities. Since 2005, IFC has invested over US$920mn in Lebanese firms, deploying US$603mn from its own funds and mobilising US$317mn from other partners, leading to the creation and preservation of more than 40,000 jobs, with over 7,000 held by women.

WakeCap leads construction tech with IoT, AI, and digital tools, enhancing site safety and efficiency through strategic global partnerships. (Image source: Wakecap)

WakeCap, a leader in smart solutions for construction site management, shares key trends shaping the future of construction technology in the region. These innovations enhance site safety and efficiency, leading to cost savings and improved project execution

Enhanced collaboration through IoT:

The rise of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies is promoting increased collaboration within construction sites. Real-time insights into worker activity and equipment usage are now possible, allowing project managers to make data-driven decisions that improve site safety, streamline workflows, and optimize project execution. Strategic partnerships are expanding the range of IoT solutions available, making cutting-edge tools globally accessible. WakeCap is at the forefront of these strategic partnerships, harnessing the latest technologies through collaborations with companies such as EarthCam, the leading provider of construction camera solutions in the US; Novade, a global leader in cloud-based field management software based in Singapore; and OpenSpace, a US-based leader in reality capture and AI-powered analytics. Recently, WakeCap acquired Crews by Core, marking one of the first acquisitions of a Silicon Valley tech startup by a Saudi company. Crews by Core is an AI-powered field scheduling platform for the construction industry, and this strategic move allows WakeCap to create a comprehensive suite of hardware and software tools to enhance job site safety, productivity, and profitability. In Saudi Arabia, where the company is headquartered, WakeCap is leveraging its industry expertise to drive opportunities across construction technology.

Digital passport systems:

To streamline site access and maintain up-to-date worker training records, digital passport systems are increasingly being introduced across the region. These digital IDs ensure compliance with safety protocols, offering an efficient and secure method to manage personnel on construction sites. This is particularly crucial in regions with large-scale sites, such as the UAE, where there is a significant workforce on site, and in Saudi Arabia's gigaprojects.

Digitisation of toolbox meetings:

Traditional ‘toolbox meetings’, essential for daily briefings on work plans and safety issues, have been digitised. This modern approach reduces wasted time and promotes a consistent and informed approach to maintaining site safety, making the process more efficient and effective.

Advanced vehicle tracking:

Moving beyond traditional speed cameras, new vehicle tracking technologies offer 100% monitoring of vehicles across construction sites. These systems have significantly reduced overspeeding violations by providing continuous tracking rather than point-based speed detection, enhancing overall site safety.

AI and video analytics for smarter monitoring:

AI-powered analytics and video AI are revolutionising project management and monitoring. These technologies offer enhanced visibility into construction progress and detect safety hazards in real-time. Automation of safety monitoring tasks reduces the need for manual inspections, improves site safety, and boosts productivity. Partnerships with companies specialising in AI and video analytics are equipping construction firms with tools for smarter, safer, and more efficient operations.

Dr Hassan Albalawi, founder and CEO of WakeCap, emphasised, “These trends showcase the dynamic evolution of construction technology in the Middle East, driven by a commitment to innovation, safety, and efficiency. As the industry continues to adopt these advanced solutions, the future of construction looks brighter and more promising than ever.”

WakeCap provides real-time insights into worker activity and equipment usage through its smart hard hat solution. These data are designed to help project owners make informed decisions to enhance site safety, streamline workflows, and optimise project execution. To complement its own IoT solutions, WakeCap has been forging strategic partnerships with international firms to expand its suite and make cutting-edge technologies available worldwide accessible to Saudi and beyond.

Al Laith partners with Pilosio to introduce FlyDeck, revolutionising Middle East construction with innovative suspended access solutions. (Image source: Al Laith)

Al Laith, a prominent provider of project solutions and services in the Middle East, has announced a strategic alliance with Pilosio to introduce the innovative FlyDeck system to the region

This collaboration marks the inaugural deployment of FlyDeck in the area, signifying a significant advancement in the construction industry.

Known for its legacy of innovation and commitment to excellence, Al Laith is partnering with Pilosio to lead the adoption of FlyDeck technology in the Middle East. The alliance aims to enhance construction practices across the region and is poised to play a crucial role in key construction projects.

With a robust 30-year history of success in the Middle East, Al Laith brings extensive expertise in construction and engineering to this groundbreaking initiative. “We are delighted that a global leader like Pilosio which is well known for their cutting-edge innovation for access solutions, has chosen Al Laith to bring its industry-leading suspended access solution, FlyDeck to market. This partnership allows us to bring a new way of access into the market, which saves our clients critical time on projects, ” commented Jason English, CEO at Al Laith Group.

Key highlights of the collaboration:

Innovative construction solutions: Pilosio’s FlyDeck System is a revolutionary suspended access system designed for its adaptability and speed.

Technical excellence: Al Laith's extensive experience and technical prowess in construction and engineering will synergise seamlessly with Pilosio's FlyDeck innovative solution. The collaboration leverages the strengths of both companies to achieve unparalleled technical excellence.

Commitment to sustainability: Both Al Laith and Pilosio share a commitment to sustainability. The collaboration will incorporate environmentally friendly practices in the construction process, aligning with global standards for green building initiatives.

Al Laith is excited about the partnership with Pilosio, representing a significant milestone in the regional construction and industrial access industry. This partnership brings together two industry leaders. Al Laith is proud to be part of this transformative partnership and looks forward to the successful execution of several projects.

Nereo Parisotto, chairman of Pilosio Group, emphasised their commitment to developing a suspended access system that excels in safety, lightweight construction, ease of assembly, and environmental sustainability. "It is with great pride that we see Al Laith, a renowned company in the Middle East, recognising these core values inherent in our FlyDeck system from the outset. The partnership for this project and beyond reflects a shared dedication to excellence, innovation and mutual goals."

The UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit, to take place in London on 24 June, will showcase bilaterial partnership opportunities on sustainable city development and green technologies while discussing the growing green infrastructure financing market

The Saudi British Joint Business Council (SBJBC) in partnership with the City of London Corporation (COLC) is hosting the summit at Plaisterers’ Hall in London on 24 June, which will bring together around 250 Saudi and UK industry and financial sector leaders with leading giga project representatives to discuss urbanisation and sustainable city development and financing, including the scaling up of green technologies and renewable energy solutions.

Attended by a high-level Saudi delegation led by the Saudi Ministry of Investment and the Federation of Saudi Chambers, the event builds on previous SBJBC and COLC events, and an already strong UK/Saudi public and private dialogue on clean energy development and decarbonisation. It also follows the UK’s recent successful Great Futures event in Riyadh and growing involvement by UK companies in Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives currently transforming economic sectors, and giga project development.

The event, supported by lead sponsors NEOM and SAB (Saudi Awwal Bank), will address the importance of UK-Saudi collaboration in sustainable infrastructure development and advancing the green transition through panels on bridging the investment gap; how smart urban planning can help to build resilient and liveable communities; and the scaling up of green technology and renewable energy initiatives.

The Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli said, “I’m delighted to host this crucial summit. Sustainable infrastructure around the world is essential to tackling climate change, boosting economic development, and ensuring access to vital provisions such as transport, energy, and water. This summit offers an excellent platform to adopt and share knowledge gained from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 sustainable development plans. Saudi Arabia is investing more in infrastructure than any other country in the Middle East region, including in 14 new giga-projects. This investment, combined with the City of London’s expertise and leadership in sustainable finance, can set a global template for sustainable development.”

Further details of the Forum are available here

Volvo CE's latest electric wheel loader. (Image source: Volvo CE)

Volvo Construction Equipment has recently completed successful trials of the L120 Electric wheel loader in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), partnering with dealer FAMCO and key customer ALAS Emirates Ready Mix.

This event marks Volvo CE's first foray into electric construction equipment testing in the UAE, indicating a significant move towards sustainable construction practices.

The L120 Electric wheel loader, a 20-tonne machine, is built on the same platform as its conventional counterpart, delivering equivalent performance but with the added benefits of zero emissions, near-silent operation, and enhanced operator comfort. The loader is equipped with 282 kWh batteries, allowing eight hours of operation in light to medium duty applications, including work in indoor and noise-sensitive environments. This electric model embodies a shift towards reducing the carbon footprint and noise pollution typically associated with diesel-powered construction equipment.

During the trials, conducted at an ALAS Emirates Ready Mix facility in Abu Dhabi, the L120 Electric demonstrated high performance and reliability, loading materials efficiently with minimal noise and vibration. This contributed to a more comfortable and productive work environment for operators, as noted by ALAS production manager Elie Touma. Touma emphasised the loader’s quick response times and the role of reduced emissions in aligning with corporate and environmental responsibilities.

Volvo L120H Electric wheel loader shines in UAE tests 01 747x399 1

The wheel loader is optimised for the region's climate. 

Volvo CE evaluated the electric loader's performance under the UAE's unique climatic and operational conditions, confirming its suitability and meeting high customer expectations in the region.

Volvo CE's transition to electric equipment aligns with the broader goals of the Volvo Group, which aims to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its value chain by 2040—a decade ahead of targets set by the Science Based Targets initiative. This commitment reflects Volvo’s dedication to environmental care and its leadership in driving industry transformation towards sustainable practices.

Ilkay Fidan, Volvo CE's commercial manager for the Middle East, remarked on the strategic importance of testing in the UAE, a mature market with significant potential for electromobility. The positive outcomes from the trials strengthen Volvo’s confidence in rolling out electric models more broadly in the Middle East. 

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