Le Beck International (Le Beck), a specialist security and risk management consultancy in Bahrain, says security of mega city and infrastructure projects is critical to their attractiveness and to providing ‘peace of mind’.
Speaking to Gulf Construction, Anthony Tesar, CEO of Le Beck International, says: “When looking at this region specifically, there are huge investments taking place in new mega-city developments in order to house the fast expanding population and attract foreign investment. It is essential that these cities are considered secure and safe by the people and companies they want to attract or who are already living and operating out of these facilities.”
He says there is a huge reputational risk that should also be considered and if people and organisations do not get the feeling the environment is safe and secure, they will consider alternatives in an ever-increasing list of choices and options that they have.
“Demonstrating from the outset that security is a major consideration and communicating the same, is critical to the attractiveness of the project and to providing peace of mind,” he adds.
Commenting on the security risks that mega-city projects and infrastructure can be exposed to, Tesar says most mega-city projects are considered symbolic and are sanctioned and driven from the very top which attracts a great deal of attention. This attention can be considered positive as well as negative: Positive in that it elevates a country’s attractiveness to foreign investors and also enhances diversification efforts and negative because symbolic projects of this scale become targets.
“The other major consideration,” he adds, “is the mixed use of these projects, where retail, residential, commercial and government facilities all share the same footprint. They all require a different mindset when considering security and their proximity to each other is also a major consideration.”
Adding safety and security planning as a key vertical to the design and construction mix from the initial design phases is critical for projects of this scale, he adds.
Other security risks include project delays resulting from a lack of coordination between contractors and vendors as well as gaps in the scope of work and contracts.
Le Beck’s areas of expertise focus on mega-city projects, as well as the financial and critical infrastructure sector. It offers a combination of services that centre on security risk and threat assessments, master security plans, security system design, peer reviews of security design, project management of the tender, implementation and testing and commissioning process.
The specialist security and risk management consultancy offers turnkey solutions, aligned to the operational needs of individual clients, that are cost efficient through value engineering considerations.
“With every solution, we strive to equip our clients with the essential knowledge, tools and holistic security and safety plans to help them identify and mitigate any potential risks to their business operation,” says Tesar.
Specifically related to construction, Le Beck provides vendor management solutions to ensure the timely completion of the projects on hand.
“The ideal scenario is for us to get involved from the initial phases to provide the right security framework for contractors, assist with vetting vendors and also review and advise on contract and scope of work clarity,” he says.
“If involved from an early stage, we can help the relevant parties to better understand their needs and broaden their requirements. We can then establish a much clearer security footprint from the start and from there we can help the developer, and those purchasing/leasing space in the project, to better understand and prepare for the longer term security needs.”
He says one of the areas the firm usually gets called in for is to develop the security masterplan for mega-city projects to support the overall project masterplan and concept.
About the demand for security and risk management in the region, Tesar says: “This region has always been prone to volatility and with the passing of time it has become increasingly aware of the significance and necessity of implementing effective security systems and procedures across crucial sectors such as financial, critical infrastructure and mega-city projects. These are the main investment arteries of the Arab world and their safety and security is paramount to business continuity.
“Since coming to the region in 2004, we have seen a surge in demand for our services, and the requests are becoming more sophisticated. Now, with the current economic climate, we are seeing a more price-conscious segment emerge and our role as ‘advisers’ is to ensure our clients do not spend a penny more than they need to in establishing the ideal security concept to meet their business objectives.”
Tesar continues: “With the current global events unfolding, the associated risks for this part of the world will continue to prevail in the foreseeable future. These risks are multidimensional with external, as well as internal factors that need to be assessed and considered. Whilst there are many providers of security systems, there are very few that understand the intricacies of the region and its vulnerabilities and how the myriad of systems available can be best utilised to maximise the security and minimise the costs involved.”
Le Beck has been actively involved with many projects in Saudi Arabia, such as King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (Kaust) in Jeddah, from 2007-08; King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh where it will begin its work shortly; and Al Rajhi Bank head office, data centre, cash centre and operations centre in Riyadh (ongoing) with whom Le Beck has been working since 2016.
Tesar says the security requirements vary since every project is different. “These projects range in size and monetary value from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. Security consultancy is usually less than one per cent of the overall project value. We ensure to keep costs to a minimum through value engineering considerations.”
Le Beck is headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, with two operating offices in Saudi Arabia and a dedicated presence in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region since 2004. It has for years worked alongside architects, developers, contractors and project managers in the region. The company develops integrated safety and security structures and strategies tailored to meet the complex needs of the sustainable cities of the future.
Le Beck recently received the official seal of approval from the High Commission of Industrial Security (HCIS) in Saudi Arabia under its registered partners Security Solutions Consulting Office for Security (SSOCS).
Tesar says as per the directives set by the HCIS, all companies in the critical infrastructure sector are required to undertake all their security consultancy requirements by engaging with external specialists listed under the High Commission. Le Beck, through SSOCS, is one of the very few security consultancies in Saudi Arabia to be recently added to that list following a rigorous application and screening process. This marks a significant achievement for the company which has worked closely with many dynamic players from the region’s critical infrastructure, financial and mega city sectors.
The HCIS is the ultimate body responsible for providing strategic supervision and oversight of 12 main sectors in Saudi Arabia that fall under the critical infrastructure umbrella, including petroleum, electricity, gas, petrochemicals, industrial services, manufacturing and communications, among others.