With a GDP of $104 billion, a growing economy and a lengthy coastline along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco is fast becoming a success story for Hill International’s North Africa operations. While work is now underway to provide project management services on the $805 million new container terminal for APM Terminals at MedPort Tangier, on the Maghreb coast to the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltor, Hill is also working diligently on the Attijariwafa Bank mixed-use development in the Casablanca Finance City. The 67-month contract – that was awarded last year – is valued at nearly $2.13 million for the company and entails providing its specialist services for a 27-storey high-rise that includes office, housing and service buildings, with a total built-up area of 588,785 square feet. “At 100 meters, the facility will be iconic and have a significant impact on the landscape of the Casablanca Finance City,” said Waleed Abdel Fattah, Hill’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director for North Africa. “The finance city is a hub for several local, regional and international institutions and ‘Borj Attijari’ or the new high rise will stand out amongst the new projects being built there.”
The client is Morocco’s leading Attijariwafa Bank, which is the third largest in Africa and maintains offices in London, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Shanghai, The Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Ghana, Mauritaniaand Mali. The bank has been listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange since 1943. “This is a prestigious client for us and we have put together experts from multiple nationalities for the mega project. Our role also includes design management,” Abdel Fattah said, noting the project is still at the design phase with onsite construction including piling work to start later this year. An international bidding process was conducted last September to select the design consultant for the bank tower and the target will be to make it a landmark development in Morocco, he said. The project is not likely to face any major challenges, Abdel Fattah said, adding with several new projects being mounted on the drawing board in Morocco now availability of labor is not an issue. “But it [Morocco] is a Francophone nation and there is a necessity to have a significant French element in terms of the main contractors and the project managers from our side,” he said. Given its vast experience globally of successfully delivering projects with various geographical footprints and the reputation that Hill has established with projects like the Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, the One World Trade Center in New York and the UN Headquarters building in Geneva, the company is aware that each project has its own unique requirements and offers a unique approach to each challenge, Abdel Fattah pointed out.
Other Morocco projects
Besides the new container terminal and the Attijariwafa Bank tower, Hill has in its portfolio other projects in Morocco too. In March 2016, the company received a contract from an affiliate of Wessal Capital to provide PM services for first-phase of the Wessal Bouregreg development in Rabat. The $900 million mixed-use development will feature a 4,200-unit residential facility, a 5,000 sq meter (54,000 sq feet) shopping mall, 104,600 square meter (1.1 million square feet) of commercial office space, public parks, plazas and a waterfront promenade. “The Wessal Bouregreg development will provide important residential, commercial and cultural amenities to Rabat and we look forward to successfully completing this important project,” said Abdel Fattah. Hill International’s expertise was also boosted last year when it was awarded a quantity surveying and cost management services contract for the Al Houara Coastal Resort Project in Tangier that will be spread over 234 hectares on the oceanfront. The development will be a mixed-use golf and beach resort that includes two hotels of 300 and 150 keys each, serviced apartments, beach villas, apartments and clubhouse, an 18-hole PGA golf course, country club, golf view villas and apartments, retail facilities, a resort spa and various water sport and family amenities. Rabat is also home to another project for Hill – the new marina – where the company is providing PM services. The development includes the construction of a marina for yachts, a five-star and a four-star hotel and shopping malls.
“North Africa is a strategic part of Hill’s global portfolio and we are on an expansion mode, with Morocco being a key element of that,” Abdel Fattah said. Evidence of that will start in 2019 with Hill completing work on the new APM terminal with a nameplate annual capacity to handle of 5 million TEUs of throughput. Three years later, the company would also have completed the Attijariwafa Bank tower building and the other projects, resulting in Hill leaving a permanent impression in that North African nation.