The road to smart city

 

The Capital Smart City near Islamabad is the country's first smart city.
The Capital Smart City near Islamabad is the country's first smart city.

The HRL Group is a pioneer for developing the first smart city in Pakistan. Managing Director Jahanzeb Rafiq takes Khaleej Times through the remarkable achievements within the country and outside. Excerpts from an interview:

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Published: Sun 22 Mar 2020, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 23 Mar 2020, 1:00 AM

Please share the highlights of your business and career?
It has been a challenging journey since the beginning of the company in 1963 until today. Having started as a small family business, Habib Rafiq Private Limited, famously known as HRL, is among the top construction/engineering groups in Pakistan.
Delivery capability, combined with a sector-focused approach, has allowed HRL to provide innovative and industry-leading project management, design and construction services driven by detailed sector knowledge and experience.
I recently assumed my role in the family business after completing my formal education in London. Self-motivated to perform beyond expectations, I intend to scale new heights and yet remain focused on achieving long term steady growth, while transcending industry standards in safety, efficiency and quality.

What are the key highlights of your group's success?
HRL has been working with both government and private entities in the field of power generation for over four decades. It has played a vital role in the construction and setting-up of thermal powerhouses across the country through which more than 70 per cent of the nation's electricity requirement is met.
The group has also achieved tremendous success in the areas of real estate and infrastructure development. So far, HRL has completed infrastructure work on various real estate developments and housing schemes in different parts of the country spanning over 12,000 acres.
HRL also has to its credit the construction of the tallest building in Karachi, apart from developing the state-of-the-art international airport in Multan and the construction of numerous motorways and road networks that stretch more than 10,000 miles across the country.

Do you have a presence abroad?
HRL has completed many large-scale projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. The group has offices in the Middle East as well as one that recently opened in London to facilitate its overseas clients in the UK, Europe and North America as they continuously invest in the real estate projects launched by the group in Lahore and Islamabad.

Tell us about your company's real estate portfolio?
Realising the growing demand in the housing sector in Pakistan, HRL launched its first real-estate development brand by the name of 'Royal Orchard' in 2015. The first project was successfully completed in Multan and soon thereafter similar projects were launched in Sahiwal and Sargodha.

You are developing the first smart city in Pakistan. Can you share details?
We are working diligently with utmost dedication on the development of the most prestigious real-estate megaproject launched near Islamabad by the name of Capital Smart City, the first-of-its-kind in the country.
Surbana Jurong of Singapore has designed the master plan and many other world-class companies are working together to ensure the project meets the international standards of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) that enhance the quality and performance of urban services such as energy, transportation and utilities in order to reduce resource consumption, wastage and overall costs.

What are the key features of this city?
Being truly the first smart city of Pakistan, Capital Smart City is located on the eastern route of CPEC, a 10-minute drive from the new Islamabad International Airport and about 30 odd minutes away from Rawalpindi and Islamabad. With a dedicated interchange on the motorway (M2) and an 18-lane (400 feet wide) main boulevard running through it, Capital Smart City shall provide technologically advanced urban services at reduced costs, smart management systems, quality lifestyle, mobility, housing, as well as a smart economy.
To mention a few, the project shall also have facilities such as five-star hotels, theme parks, resorts, health and education districts, hospitality areas, retail and expo centres, cricket and football stadiums, lakes, an 18-hole golf course and the largest air-conditioned mosque in the country.

How does a smart city differentiate from other housing projects?
A smart city is a framework, predominantly composed of ICT to develop, deploy and promote sustainable development practices to address growing urbanisation challenges. Cloud-based IoT applications receive, analyse and manage data in real-time to help the city's administration and its citizens to make better decisions that improve quality of life; whereas other housing projects do not offer such technology driven features.

Being trendsetters in the construction and real estate industry of Pakistan, what is your forecast about the future of real estate growth and development in the country?
Pakistan is a dynamic country. With the recent socio-economic and political changes, the real-estate sector is emerging as one of the fastest growing industry. With a demand of over a million houses per annum, the potential of growth is inconceivable. Backed by Prime Minister Imran Khan's passion to provide housing for all, it is the right time for both local and international companies to invest in the sector.

What is your vision about the future of your business and how would you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Being a market leader, we need to continue to work hard, adapt and incorporate changes due to the rapid advancement in technology, improve productivity, be more competitive and establish new partnerships.
We have recently taken the initiative to introduce a world-class education system in Pakistan for which we are in talks with some of the leading educational institutions in the UAE. I remain steadfast in my belief that all future projects undertaken by the group shall significantly contribute to the economic growth of the country and its people.

March 23 is Pakistan's Resolution Day. What are your views about this historical day?
March 23, 1940, is a significant date in the history of Pakistan. The day celebrates the adoption of the Pakistan Resolution that called for establishing an independent state for the Muslims of the sub-continent. We remain grateful and indebted to our nation's founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah for leading the independence movement that resulted in the creation of Pakistan.


It is a 10-minute drive away from the new Islamabad International Airport and has a dedicated interchange urbanisation
It is a 10-minute drive away from the new Islamabad International Airport and has a dedicated interchange urbanisation
HRL has been working with both government and private entities in the field of power generation for over four decades
HRL has been working with both government and private entities in the field of power generation for over four decades
Jahanzeb Rafiq, Managing Director of HRL Group
Jahanzeb Rafiq, Managing Director of HRL Group

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