How do you see the UK-UAE business relationship developing further?

BRIKHO: We are very positive about what we can achieve with this relationship. Together with my Co-Chair Nasser Alsowaidi, we are giving the opportunity for business leaders from each side to sit together, debate the issues and shape the future in many different sectors. Some of the sectors we are discussing are energy, defense, healthcare, and education. As we all know, if you work on a relationship and develop a good relationship, that will help to develop trade.

In a world where the race to the bottom is still very much a reality, in what ways do you see the UK maintaining its competitiveness?

BRIKHO: This is actually quite a difficult question because it covers a number of topics. But one of the main things that comes to mind is the skill base. It is very key to develop the right skill base and if you are not able to do so you will not be able to win a lot of jobs and you will not be able to position yourself in the global market. As we know, one of the other things that is most important is innovation. The UK is renowned for its technical innovation. There is a big expertise base there whether it has been in the energy sector, the automotive sector, or others. When you look at the energy sector and think about the UK shelf, and how much business has actually been done there and the relationships that have been established there, there are more than 4,000 companies involved in the supply chain. All of that gives us a leading edge and we are now able to use that edge in other parts of the world. That is not so different from what we do at AMEC. We have been developing skills in the UK shelf and today we are employing that knowledge in the USA, Canada, Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

We also need to look at what we can provide in terms of job creation. Recently, AMEC has recruited 7,000 people, 3,000 of which were recruited in the UK. We are able to do this because of our AMEC Academy, which is a  graduate program that we have. This enables us to attract and develop the best of the best and in doing so, we are able to deliver on our aspirations of being able to build the best army of engineers, project managers and scientists in the world. So you have a skill base, a good innovative position, and a very good possibility for recruitment. I think these are some of the most important issues to keep the effectiveness of the country and by doing so you are able to compete on a worldwide basis.

How has the financial crisis impacted the way global energy markets are perceived?

BRIKHO: The world population is moving from 7bn people today to 9bn people in the next decade. If you read  the IEA report, it will tell you that the level of investment year on year on a CAPEX basis has been increasing by 12%. This means that by 2035, we will need 47% more energy than is produced today. That is what is actually creating the demand. The demand is not coming from Europe or the US because many of these places are self-sustained, as the US will be with shale gas. The most demand is coming from Asia and that is what is driving the markets. Although there is a great deal of uncertainty in the world, the oil business, the oil sector and the gas business will continue to thrive.

How has the slowdown affected the types of service that are most in demand?

BRIKHO: We continue to be very alert on what is happening out there and what the uncertainties in the US, and uncertainties in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world are. But we are very confident that, in the end, the markets will be strong because we see our investors continuing their investment. We see investment in these activities growing by 10% to 15% on a yearly basis on our end markets and that is going to support that.

What are AMEC’s growth and development plans?

BRIKHO: From 2006 to 2010 AMEC has improved its margin dramatically. The journey that we have embarked on, which we refer to as Vision 2015, is about how we will be able to grow the business multiple times over our past growth. The way we have defined that is that we would like to make more investment in our people, more investment in our customer relationships, more investment on our geographic footprint, and also on our skills on a worldwide basis. We have already identified that Australasia, the Middle East, and Latin America are very crucial for us and for the growth of AMEC because they have a totally different pace of growth than the rest of the OECD countries we have traditionally been working in in the past. So this represents a great opportunity. It is great to be in Qatar, this is the world capital of gas. This is going to be a good business for these guys and it represents good value for us too.