Solutions for the UAE Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry to mandate Building Information Modeling (BIM)

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
For decades the construction industry has been challenged to improve its efficiency, therefore several attempts have been recorded proposing different initiatives. At the moment Building Information Modeling (BIM) is rapidly growing worldwide as a viable tool for this purpose. However, BIM is rarely used in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry despite the potential benefits of BIM to the industry. The purpose of this study is to propose solutions to assist the UAE AEC industry to mandate BIM. Therefore, to identify the factors that influence the mandate of BIM, the research involved extensive literatures studies that lead to the conceptual model. The conceptual model involved four recognized factors that influence the implementation of BIM in the UAE AEC industry; these factors are the perceived benefits of BIM, the challenges and obstacles that hinder to implementation of BIM, the driving forces imposing the use of BIM and the readiness for organizations and the AEC industry to mandate BIM. In order to collect the data, the research adopted combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Initially data was collected from BIM users and non-users via structured questionnaire survey that is distributed by mail to 362 organizations in UAE. These organizations were randomly selected from the Emirati Society of Engineers (ESE) and the Dubai Municipality directory. Then further qualitative approach via three case studies provided better understanding for the aforementioned four contributing factors for the mandate of BIM in UAE AEC industry. Interviews with carefully selected AEC industry professionals through face-to-face open-ended discussion have enabled proposing a set of practical solutions to swiftly mandate BIM in the UAE AEC industry. The study findings indicate that, there is a moderate understanding for the essence of BIM in the UAE AEC industry, especially for the local developers, public authorities and small and medium size organizations. That means raising the awareness of BIM in the UAE AEC industry especially for the decision makers is the clue to motivate all the AEC players to mandate BIM. Moreover, the AEC players should recognize the challenges they may face during the switch to implement BIM. The study revealed that the most critical challenges that hinder the implementation of BIM are “lack of management commitment to implement BIM” and “the resistance to change, and clinging to the old ways of working”. Moreover, the UAE AEC industry nature to mandate BIM is promising, because majority of the big companies in building sector are international companies with excellent experience of BIM. Therefore, bringing their global experience of BIM into the UAE will assist in transferring and sharing BIM knowledge from these international organizations to the local organizations. That will significantly assist the smooth transition to implement BIM and will shorten the duration to mandate BIM in UAE. Moreover, the UAE government can play a great and active role to introduce appropriate execution plans to implement BIM stipulating a timeframe to mandate BIM as a compulsory requirement in the AEC industry. In addition to including BIM in the AEC undergraduate and post graduates’ syllabuses to introduce to the UAE AEC industry a new generation with full awareness of BIM.
UAE architecture, Building Information Modeling (BIM), construction industry, United Arab Emirates (UAE)