The year 2020 will be remembered as a unique period in history for both the facilities management (FM) sector and the world around us - a time when companies were forced to adapt to a ‘new normal’ and develop fresh approaches to unforeseen challenges. Undoubtedly, the global pandemic placed hygiene and sanitation firmly in the spotlight, ensuring that the services delivered by the industry were held to higher standards than ever before.
One organization that succeeded in turning the challenges of COVID-19 into opportunities was Imdaad, which, under the guidance of visionary Group CEO, Jamal Lootah, displayed remarkable agility in the face of the fast-moving situation. According to Mr. Lootah, Imdaad’s commitmentto innovation and passion for delivering world-class solutions ensured the company was well prepared to excel in this new reality: “In many ways, the pandemic simply accelerated what we have always been doing; continuing to build on our flexible approach to adapt and rapidly respond to the evolving needs of our clients and the community,” he says.
A safe pair of hands
This determination to remain ahead of the curve helped to propel the group towards one of its most successful years to date. Take Isnaad for example - a subsidiary of Imdaad that provides a comprehensive range of soft FM, specialized cleaning services, and manpower supply. Despite challenging market conditions, the company achieved growth of 70%, a client retention rate of 90%, and a customer satisfaction rate of 99%. The group reported similarly positive outcomes across its nine business units during 2020, in addition to securing a number of prestigious new contracts in various sectors.
Imdaad’s stellar reputation in the industry has been built over many years, so perhaps it is natural that clients would turn to a trusted and dependable provider during this time of crisis. This seems especially true in areas such as disinfection, where safety and reliability are paramount. From the outset, the company embarked on a comprehensive training program designed to ensure that all of its team members were properly briefed on the enhanced safety and sanitation protocols necessitated by the pandemic. It also introduced several new products and solutions in response to the surge in demand for disinfection services and a strong desire to protect its team members, clients and the wider community.
Protecting the nation
In March 2020, Imdaad’s Environmental Solutions division launched a range of specialized disinfection and cleaning packages. The delivery of the new service offering was supported by the deployment of ultra-low volume cold fogging equipment capable of covering large public spaces effectively and efficiently. The company also introduced a unique nano-treatment solution that delivers a monomolecular layer of an antimicrobial agent. The resulting coating creates a layer that remains active for up to 30 days and kills any viral or bacterial microorganism that come to rest on the surface. A single monthly application can replace hourly chemical applications using regular disinfectants and the process has been proven effective against more than 90 types of bacteria, fungi, mold, yeast, spores, and viruses – including COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Imdaad’s subsidiary, Vision Safety contributed to the fight against the virus with the roll-out of a state-of-the-art disinfection tunnel. The fully automatic ViroSheild by Vision Safety sprays users with a fine mist as they walk through it and has been successfully adapted for a wide variety of use cases including malls, hospitals, construction sites, labor accommodation, and residential areas.
It was this proactive approach that helped Imdaad secure a leading role in supporting the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic; the company was among the first approved and listed with Dubai municipality to assist in the UAE’s National Disinfection Program, confirming its readiness to quickly adapt to new scenarios. This contribution is something that Mr. Lootah considers among the Group’s biggest achievements to date: “We are extremely grateful to have been in a position to extend a hand in this way, and I am immensely proud of our frontline staff’s heroic efforts in service to the nation,” he says. “It’s a great honor to play even a small part in turning the tide, and we will continue to do everything in our power to help the government overcome the challenges of the pandemic.”
Building on a legacy of excellence
In addition to contributing to the safety of the UAE community, Imdaad continues to go from strength-to-strength on the business front. During the past 12 months, the company secured a three-year contract to provide specialized cleaning services for the Palm Jumeirah Monorail. The unique project encompasses sophisticated cleaning and disinfection operations for the trains, train stations, and façades of the UAE’s only monorail, with the goal of creating world-class experiences for visitors to the iconic man-made island. Following a period of consistently solid performance, Imdaad’s Facilities Management Services division has emerged as the preferred service provider for the UAE banking sector, as well as almost all of the country’s major seaports. Other noteworthy contract wins during 2020 included an agreement to deliver a range of soft FM services at The Galleries, a 20,000 sq. m. mixed-use development in Jebel Ali, together with a major new contract with a (confidential) client in Abu Dhabi. Imdaad also further strengthened its presence in the UAE capital with the opening of a new office, and has continued to expand its footprint in the Northern Emirates with the award of a number of new contracts.
Commenting on the Group’s success in the face of adversity, Mr. Lootah says: “Imdaad’s leading position in the region’s FM sector has been achieved through a continual commitment to developing our capabilities to offer a full spectrum of services. This brings added value to our customers by ensuring they can source all the solutions they require from a single – and dependable – source. This, coupled with our agility and expertise, has enabled us to emerge from the pandemic on a stronger footing than ever.”
Innovating the future of FM
In addition to its 360-degree approach to FM, innovation has also played an important part in developing Imdaad’s strong brand loyalty – a factor that became vitally important when fresh ideas were needed to tackle the new challenges of COVID-19. A prime example is Imdaad’s adoption of an advanced smartphone-based solution that offers real-time tracking of operational data. The moment a work order is generated, the system locates the nearest technician and assigns the job, enabling the company to allocate resources more efficiently and ensure the rapid response times required during this time of crisis.
February 2020 marked the official inauguration of FARZ, Imdaad’s state-of-the-art Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Jebel Ali. The facility is one of the largest of its kind in the region, and has the capacity to process 1,200 tons of municipal, commercial, and industrial waste per day – equivalent to approximately 13% of the total waste generated daily in Dubai.
Imdaad also launched an innovative Indoor Smart Anti-Pandemic Patrol Robot (AIMBOT), which can detect body temperatures, identify and communicate with people not wearing masks, and disinfect its surroundings as it moves through an area. Monitored and controlled from a central operations center, a fleet of AIMBOTs can effectively cover a large facility to ensure maximum safety and protection for all those who enter, as well as providing a surveillance trigger for human intervention where necessary.
Maintaining the human touch
Despite these fascinating breakthroughs, the FM industry remains a fundamentally humancentered domain. Long recognized for its rigorous approach to the safety and wellbeing of its team members, Imdaad has gone to extraordinary lengths to look after its staff during the pandemic. As part of its strategy to safeguard the continuity of vital operations in the event of any positive cases emerging, the Group quickly allocated personnel into batches and made every effort to minimize interactions between critical teams. Regular disinfection was carried out at all staff accommodation facilities, and psychological support was extended to those who were not able to travel home to be with their loved ones during this time of uncertainty.
Extensive COVID-19 awareness and prevention training has been conducted over the past year to ensure that team members remain fully updated on the latest safety information, with more than 2,300 sessions completed since the start of the pandemic at 110 locations. In addition, around 1,500 staff have benefitted from driving safety and accident prevention campaigns. As a result, Imdaad has managed to maintain a flawless safety record with no major nonconformities recorded by clients, external auditors or government authorities. The company was also praised for its response to the pandemic by both Dubai Healthcare Authority and Dubai Municipality following joint inspections at its Manzeli accommodation facility.
In keeping with its commitment to staff welfare, Imdaad has been quick to get on board with the UAE’s vaccination program and demonstrated its industry leadership by teaming up with the government to arrange a series of special vaccination sessions. Conducted at the company’s accommodation facilities, the procedure includes a rigorous health assessment, COVID-19 swab test, and postvaccination observation. Each team member also receives a thorough consultation and support throughout the process in case they may have any questions or concerns.
Preparing for a brighter tomorrow
The vaccination drive is just one example of what makes Imdaad such a forward-thinking organization, and reflects the general sense of positivity and desire to help the nation move forward from the pandemic that exists throughout the company. So, what does the future hold for the FM sector and Imdaad in particular?
Mr. Lootah, who was among the first in line to receive the vaccine, strikes an optimistic tone: “We are seeing encouraging signs of improvement both in the region and around the world. As the government’s vaccination drive continues to make an impact I am confident that the green shoots of recovery will soon take root and flourish. I am extremely grateful to be surrounded by an exceptional team whose expertise and organizational agility have enabled us to successfully adapt, and am looking forward to working together to embrace the many exciting opportunities that lie ahead for Imdaad, the UAE, and its people.”