Raees Ali, Project Manager, Dubai, UAE
From picturesque Kerala, National Geographic a must-see paradise of the world, to fast and furious Dubai, engineering, design and art have always defined Raees.
Amateur fine art photographer, Raees, hails from Kerala, a serene state that lies on the South-Western coast of India. After earning his civil engineering degree and a Master’s in construction management, Raees was drawn to Dubai, the cosmopolitan city that has become synonymous with world firsts.
For professionals like him, Dubai offers an abundance of opportunity, perfect for those with the ambition and drive to forge a successful career, and he moved to the UAE in 2013.
Dubai quickly became Raees’s second home. He connected with the local Keralite community and met people in construction, and it was one of his Kiwi friends at ISG that introduced him to the business in 2016. "Whenever ISG was mentioned, I only heard positive things,” explains Raees. “It’s a global business in a truly local market, so I knew there would be valuable learning opportunities and room for growth.”
Raees joined ISG as a site manager, bringing with him a unique blend of engineering, design and artistic attributes – the exceptional eye for detail, so crucial to his photography, playing a key role in a number of the ISG projects that are shaping the landscape of Dubai.
Raees approaches his engineering work, and the problem solving that comes with it, in logical way. As a passionate fine art photographer in his spare time, he finds that true value stands out when engineering and art are combined. "At the conjunction of engineering and art, masterpieces are created,” says Raees. “Think The Great Pyramid of Giza, Golden Gate Bridge or our very own Burj Khalifa in Dubai; these are all global cultural icons because they balance engineering and art, and form and functionality."
“I grew up building all sorts of things and as far as I can remember, I wanted to be an engineer.”
- Raees Ali, Project Manager
For Raees, art means hitting the road with his DSLR camera to snap fine-art photographs like these, part of a collection named “Base Contrast Resonance” from his solo exhibition in India two years ago. The visuals aim to entice spectators to open their minds and explore creative and imaginative possibilities in their everyday experiences.
Raees applies the same thinking to his daily work, which involves working closely with interior designers, consultants, and supply chain partners to bring places where businesses and people thrive to life. His approach aligns all project stakeholders around finding the best possible construction solutions without compromising the integrity of the design. He often expands norms and boundaries and delivers an inspiring result with every project, adding significant value to ISG’s reputation as a reliable, resourceful, and inventive construction partner.
His engineering skills and artistic eye were both equally important assets when ISG was appointed to fit out a high-end restaurant for a Michelin star chef in Dubai. The sophisticated and intricate design incorporated elements of Michelin-starred Chef Akira’s Korean heritage, with features including his mother’s celebrated artwork, graffiti artwork of flocking Korean cranes, and decorative broken tiles inspired by the Japanese ‘Kintsugi’ technique.
“Whenever ISG was mentioned, I only heard positive things,” explains Raees. “It’s a global business in a truly local market, so I knew there would be valuable learning opportunities and room for growth.”
- Raees Ali, Project Manager
The authenticity of the fit out was of paramount importance to all stakeholders and the project was also complicated because of the live 5-star hotel environment, which triggered highly technical construction challenges.
"The project engaged both the right and left sides of my brain equally and simultaneously,” recalls Raees. “I was always looking for engineering-led solutions, while also reviewing materials, textures and finishes creatively to produce the best outcome from design and durability perspectives.
Raees’ practical creativity, his proactive can-do approach and dream smart attitude – one of ISG’s core values – earned him a promotion to construction manager less than a year after joining the business. He has been involved in the company’s most ambitious projects and continues to view challenging projects as “exactly the kind of projects that he wants to be on,” because they allow him to think boldly and grow professionally.
"I credit ISG’s values and leadership with fostering this extremely supportive work culture,” says Raees. “The entire company acts as one unit, and it is everyone’s job to support the delivery teams. It is embedded in ISG’s DNA, and I really couldn’t ask for more."
Raees is happily settled in Dubai with his wife of three years, a product designer, who shares his appreciation for the arts. "It might be true that opposites attract, but it is the similarities that bind," he concludes.