Beirut played host to the fifth staging of the international Future Concrete conference organised by Advanced Construction and Technology Services (ACTS), a leading consulting organisation in the field of construction materials and geotechnical engineering, in cooperation with American Concrete Institute (ACI) Lebanon Chapter. Held at Le Royal Hotel Dyabeh, Lebanon, the event focused on key issues in the construction industry, highlighted by expert discussions from a stellar line up of international speakers and industry titans.
Dr. Bilal Hamad, Mayor of Beirut, delivered the keynote speech titled ‘Beirut Disaster Risk Resilience’. Dr. Hamad, an ACI Fellow, is distinguished for his broad experience in the design, supervision, and construction of reinforced concrete structures in Lebanon, Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria.
Future Concrete Lebanon 2014 tackled key issues affecting the concrete and construction industry, and offered high-quality discussions on trends and developments to address the challenges affecting the local industry and key regional markets. The highly anticipated capability building event was held as part of ACTS’ continuing commitment and support to the Lebanese Concrete Society, in which ACTS exerts every effort to help raise the expertise and professionalism in the local construction industry. ACTS has been successfully organising Future Concrete in the Middle East for the past four years, attracting industry professionals and experts across the region.
Lebanese construction statistics registered moderate growth in the first quarter of the year, despite continuing unrest in the region. Building permits and cement deliveries, both considered as leading indicators of construction activity, picked up from January to March, revealing the demand trends in the real estate sector. Construction permits rose by 19 per cent compared to the same months last year, while cement deliveries, the coincident indicator of building activity, grew by 7.4 per cent from last year, or a total of 1,210 thousand tons in January-March 2014 as against last year’s 1,127 thousand tons.
Experts predict that potential developments and reconstruction in the region would provide viable opportunities in the construction, infrastructure and real estate industries in Lebanon and the neighboring countries. Lebanon is being provided with international funding for infrastructure developments needed to accommodate the massive influx of refugees to the country from Syria. The United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia also issued a forecast that when reconstruction in Syria begins, their demand for cement will be at around some 30 million tons per year, which is a very substantial rise in demand that will benefit the Lebanese construction materials industry.
Khaled Awad, Chairman of ACTS, said, “The cornerstone of every international Future Concrete conference is the invaluable educational experience for every attendee. We make it a point that our conference presentations, expert discussions, and even sharing best practices amongst peers, take learning to the next level. In such a dynamic industry like building and construction, it is imperative that players have the tools, strategy and knowledge to turn challenges into opportunities. These have always been readily available in Future Concrete conferences. We are undeniably proud that we are raising the bar on professionalism and expertise within the industry.”
Future Concrete Lebanon 2014 featured an impressive line-up of speakers composed of experts from around the world. Among them were: Professor Nadim Wehbe, Department Head at South Dakota State University, USA; Professor Wassim Ghannoum from the University of Texas at Austin, USA; Eng. Youssef Azzam, President of Safe Building Alliance (SBA), Lebanon; Dr. Abdullah Daou, Chairman of Beirut International – Marine and Commerce; Dr. Nada Chami, Specification Manager at Sodamco-Weber, Middle East; and, Dr. Hekmat Zerbe, University of Balamand, Lebanon. Included in the key topics that were discussed were: Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings; Impact Resistance of Concrete; Advanced Materials for Quality Construction; Building Law, Safety Regulations and Enforcement; and, How to Survive the Construction Economic Downfall in Lebanon.
Another highlight of the one-day conference was the announcement of the winning team from the student competition called ‘ACI Egg Protection Device’, which engaged university students in a unique and practical concrete project. Balamand University was proclaimed as the first-placed team whose members earned a trip to the United States of America to attend the ACI 2014 Fall Convention.
The event was supported by Safe Building Alliance, Sodamco-Weber, Cimenterie Nationale, ARACO Ready Mix Concrete, and Ciment de Sibline.
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