This month we would like to introduce you to Boudewijn Bartholomeeusen, our leading man at Besix (Six Construct) in Dubai and the Director of their engineering department. Besix is building the Belgian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, so needless to say, we rely on them a great deal. It's time you got to know them.
Operating in the Middle East since 1966, Six Construct is a subsidiary of BESIX Group, the largest Belgian construction company, and has been a driving force in the development of the Arabian Peninsula, particularly in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Six Construct designs and builds the most complex projects, comprising buildings and skyscrapers, marine-related projects, infrastructures, waste and water treatment installations, sports and leisure facilities. The company stands out by having an in-house Engineering department, with state-of-the-art expertise in diverse fields enabling it to carry out unique projects, particularly in terms of technical and environmental aspects.
In the United Arab Emirates, Six Construct has notably participated to the construction of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, the Dubai Tram, the Emirates Palace, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the Dubai Water Canal, the Ferrari World theme park as well as major terminals and port facilities.
In addition to construction, Six Construct and BESIX operate and maintain projects through public-private partnership, including water treatment and waste-to-resource facilities in multiple emirates.
The company currently employs a workforce of over 8,000 in the Middle East. Six Construct believes integrity, quality, safety, sustainability and timely delivery, as the key factors to its success. Providing a consistent framework of continued excellence, the company remains a leader in the Middle East construction industry.
A talk with Boudewijn Bartholomeeusen.
Most of you probably know the Netflix series “Better Call Saul”. At the Belgian Pavilion, that would be “Better call Boudewijn”! Boudewijn Bartholomeeussen is our point of contact for all construction-related matters and we are in constant consultation with him.
Let’s find out who he is.
Boudewijn: In 2002 I finished my engineering studies and signed my contract with Besix. They are my first and only employer. My first project was in Libya. This was followed by many years of projects in the Middle East (Qatar, UAE etc.), before returning to Europe some 12 years ago.
Since 2016, I am back in UAE, together with my wife and 3 children. We have 6-year-old twins and a 9-year-old daughter. We are happy here because Dubai offers quite a comfortable living.
The climate is, for a big part of the year, very agreeable and permits lots of fun outdoor activities, sports and family-time in open-air. Next to the UAE’s natural resources, such as the beauty of the desert and the Arabian Gulf, there is a range of attractions to enjoy. Waterparks, resorts, state of the art sporting facilities, amusement parks... you name it.
The expat-community is diverse. We meet up with friends from all over the world. This is fun and educational. There are so many different ways of doing things, and we all learn from each other. That is certainly an enrichment to our lives.
More than 15 years with Besix. What keeps you together?
Boudewijn: Working for Besix remains very challenging, even after more than 15 years. It is quite exciting to move from one project to another, from one country to another. Each market has its specific requirements, each project has pros and cons. I have never had a dull moment in my career.
I have had the opportunity to work in different fields, from work on-site to engineering-management. Each project brings a new experience and new responsibilities. The work is diverse and ever-evolving.
Although Besix is a big company, the mentality in the firm is one of short communication-lines and intense teamwork. We all keep exchanging experience, new techniques and opinions amongst our team. We are close and have warm and friendly relationships.
For me, one of the main assets in my job is the possibility to keep on learning. It's a wonderful thing, to get to learn, understand and implement new technologies and innovative methods. It keeps me sharp and motivated. We are now focusing a lot on 3D-printing and it is impressive how this is evolving and bringing new possibilities to the construction industry.
Which project are you most proud of?
Boudewijn: That's a tough question. Each project has its specifics. Size of the building/project does not always reflect the complexity of the work. And each project is as important as the other.
I particularly enjoy working on projects that focus on sustainability. It feels good to know that your work is contributing to a better world.
One ongoing project that is quite impressive is the construction of the Sindagha bridge. The 295-metre bridge will rise 15.5 m above the Dubai Creek, which allows the passage of various types of boats, and consists of six lanes in each direction in addition to a pedestrian crossing.
Its iconic design features an architectural arch shaped in the form of the mathematical symbol for infinity. The top of the infinity arch rises 42 m, and approximately 2,400 tons of steel will be used in the construction of the bridge.
Shindagha is one of the oldest areas of Dubai and was home to the late Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai from 1912-1958. The Shindagha Bridge will be the third major bridge crossing over the creek that we have successfully built in the UAE, and we are very proud as a company to be contributing to shaping the history of Dubai and the UAE.
You hold an important place in the UAE market and were, and still are, involved in many extra-ordinary projects. Emirates Towers, Burj Khalifa and Royal Atlantis are already on your list of achievements. Why did you want to build the 1500 sqm Belgian Pavilion?
Boudewijn: We have two mother markets, Belgium and UAE. The design and certain techniques of the Belgian Pavilion are innovative and challenging, and that is what we desire to excel in. How could we not want to be the constructor of the Belgian Pavilion? We truly wanted to be part of this project. And as I said, size and complexity do not go hand in hand. Working with new materials such as the wooden louvres is quite challenging.
We are happy that we can be part of this wonderful event. Even though Covid-19 has made everything more complicated than expected, this will be a tremendous event, I am sure!