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Hill’s Ahlam Alkiyumi Reaches New Heights

1. What is your current project and tell us more about it?

I am transitioning to an upcoming entertainment project in Oman recently awarded to Hill. The project consists of a theme park and water park, and Hill will be leading the construction supervision. The park will be a one-of-a-kind leisure and entertainment destination in Oman once complete in 2024.

2. What are your unique contributions to your work/project?

Working as an architect for Hill on the prestigious, multi-billion-dollar development the of Muscat and Salalah International Airport in Oman was a personal success and was the key experience in preparing me to excel on any project. Personally, it was also a unique experience as only a few females worked full-time on site.

One remarkable moment for me was when I had to climb the steepest roof on the Muscat international Airport to witness an important water-hose test on one of the skylights. The roof workers told me that I was the first female ever to ride-over that roof, where even other men could not go. I was scared at the beginning, but the feeling of achievement that I was able to do this important test made it all worth it.

3. Share with us your love of the built environment.

The beauty of each project is to sink into all the details. When you are working in the construction field, there is no greater beauty than to see the static lines you draw on your paper turn into reality. Each stage of construction, from concept design up to project handover, is special. For me, a building is like a baby where each stage of construction has its own unique smell, sound, feel, touch, and more. You get attached to your buildings and you feel like any problem that you face is like an illness you need to cure. When you handover your building, the most beautiful scene is seeing the happiness and smiles on people’s faces when they tour the building and compliment its beauty.

4. How did you come to work in the construction industry?

From an early age, I loved everything related to buildings and homes. I used to collect left over construction waste from different sites like interlocks, wood, and stone, and turn them into a play home. I loved to wander into houses under construction to see how they looked from the inside-out. And then at school I learned the love of writing and design. By the time I graduated, I had a passion for both engineering and design. Subsequently, I found out that the most suitable specialization to fit my passion was to study for a Bachelor of Engineering in Architectural Engineering from one of the most outstanding universities in Oman, the Sultan Qaboos University. That launched my journey onto the construction path. I always wanted to work in a top international organization to reach the highest professional levels and to build my own knowledge and experience—and here I am working in a strong, American construction management organization.

5. What are the challenges and benefits of working in the construction industry?

A challenge we might face as ladies is balancing our daily life obligations and cultural standards with the work environment. This is especially true when talking about construction, which is dominated by men, especially in the Middle East. However, in my country Oman, we were really blessed by the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who praised all the Omani women who worked with their male counterparts to build this beautiful country and recognized their contributions by having a special day for Omani women. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarek has continued this vision.

Another challenge is to grow as a leader. Previously, we hardly found any women in leading positions in construction, but I no longer think is a major issue. Zaha Hadid was one of few examples of a leading female architect, but she showed that anything is possible and developed her own unique style of architecture.

Being part of a construction team means you will always experience challenges on new projects, and this is part of what I enjoy about the work. It defines you differently and escalates your skills. I am really blessed to be working in an international organization with nearly 25 years of success in the Middle East. Hill is known for project management and has helped me grow my knowledge and skills.

6. How do you think other women can be involved in the industry?

With all the technologies available now, I do not see anything to stop a woman from following her dreams and pursuing a career in construction. First, define your field of interest, get the right education, and then visualize yourself where and how you want to be in the future. Study each step to achieve your goal and never pass up an opportunity to be involved in any challenge. Join construction groups and societies and seek out the knowledge to stay up to date to what is new or trending. Lastly, offer to take on greater responsibilities at your work and be proud to be part of the team.