The unavoidable rise of Turkish contractors abroad
A while ago, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said international contractor services of Turkish contractors were about to break a new record and that in the first seven months of this year, 140 projects undertaken were worth $13.5 billion.
Consequently, at the end of 2012, the sum of international contracting projects would easily reach $20 billion.
Among the top 225 contracting firms of the world listed by Engineering News Report Magazine a while ago, there are 33 Turkish firms.
In my international trips, I always make an effort to see buildings built by Turkish contractors.
While I was in Qatar for a few days for the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), I did not need to make any effort because both the Qatar National Conference Center (QNNC), where the WISE summit was held, and the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), a must-see for everyone who visits Qatar, were built by a Turkish firm, Baytur.
The Qatar National Conference Center where I spent a full three days, known for its giant steel tree columns, was built by the Qatar Foundation, headed by Sheikha Mozah.
I communicated with engineer Argun Yum, who has been heading the Baytur teams that erected both MIA and QNCC projects, after I returned from Qatar.
As Yum has told me, building Japanese architect Arata Isozaki’s project has not been very easy.
Yum said they had difficulty placing the special steel tree columns, each of which are 250 meters, during the construction of the QNNC, which was completed with 5,000 workers from several nations. While the construction was ongoing, one of world’s leading architects, Cesar Pelli, came and visited the site, Yum said.
The steel trees at the QNNC structure are also present in the logo of the Qatar Foundation and represent the “sidra” tree that has a special place in the lives of Qataris.
With the spider shaped “Maman” sculpture by famous sculptor Louise Budgeoise on its second floor, with its 2,400-person auditorium and with its Swarovski chandeliers, QNNC, no doubt, is one of Qatar’s most prestigious buildings and there is a Turkish contracting firm Baytur behind it.
The same goes for the Museum of Islamic Art.
The project of American-Chinese architect I.M. Pei, who placed a glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris years ago, is, in a word, breathtaking.
It has been built on the shore, so it embraces the water, is over-illuminated and its halls are spacious and comfortable, to rival all the museums in the world.
The MIA, said to have cost $300 million, is at the same time a museum which accommodates the highest number of pieces.
Yum, who has witnessed the building of both the QNNC and the MIA from beginning till the end, told me, “Both projects were difficult, ambitious but just as rewarding from the professional point of view.”
I also need to say that on Pearl Island, which I was not able to visit in Qatar, many Turkish contracting firms have undertaken several projects.
The target that the Turkish Contractors Union has set for the year 2015 for international projects is $50 billion.
It is quite clear; I believe that this target will be met.