Middle East UAE Aldar Properties
Construction Company Adopts Unified Communications for Anywhere Access
Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Aldar Properties provides master planning for many of Abu Dhabi's strategic sites and implements phased development projects for residential, commercial, cultural, and public venues. The company’s projects include Yas Island, which will feature a world-class motor sports racetrack, signature hotels, theme parks, golf courses, and malls to attract international tourism. Even with such large-scale projects, Aldar ensures that its developments add value and are economically and environmentally sustainable in order to facilitate the economic and social development of Abu Dhabi.

At any given time, Aldar has up to 25 large-scale construction projects across Abu Dhabi. Providing oversight for such projects requires a reliable communications solution. Employees were relying mostly on mobile and desk phones to communicate with one another, but the service was not consistent across multiple telephone systems and the costs were high. The company had deployed Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 email messaging and collaboration software as its messaging solution, and it had set up another third-party video-conferencing solution at fixed locations in offices across the city. Employees were not using instant messaging, and they had no access to presence information for their colleagues.

In property development, employees may work at several different sites within the course of a day, only coming into the headquarters or branch office every couple of days to check voice mail or meet with team members. With a booming population and construction all over the city, employees were spending much of their time battling traffic, trying to get from one development site to another. Aldar realized it needed a communications solution that would help its employees communicate more effectively from remote locations, and also help them be productive and stay in touch when they were in transit.


Aldar decided to deploy a Unified Communications Solution from Microsoft. Aldar believed that this solution, built around Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2, could help unify the team and make it easier for them to communicate with one another about project status and risk. IT also decided to upgrade to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 as its messaging solution, to take advantage of enhanced mobile capabilities and improved ease of use.

Aldar started its deployment with a pilot of Office Communications Server 2007 R2 in the spring of 2009. By April of 2010, it had deployed the full solution to 400 employees it had identified as the most technologically savvy, who could act as evangelists for the adoption. Another 500 employees will have access to full Office Communications Server capabilities, including voice, after Aldar completes its move to its new headquarters sometime in the late summer of 2010. In fact, the company plans to use Office Communications Server as its primary telephony system at the new office. Only a few people will continue to use desk phones.

Employees are already using the presence and instant messaging capabilities to get questions answered and issues resolved quickly. With group chat, they can have a running conversation about development projects that people can join and leave as necessary, and a record is available for all team members to review. They can also click to call team members across a project site or across the city.

For video conferences, employees no longer have to travel to an office or reserve a conference room. Instead, they are using the video conferencing capability in Office Communications Server, along with desktop sharing to review schedules, blueprints, and other important project content. The IT team is also using desktop sharing and group chat to resolve employees’ computer problems.

The upgrade to Exchange Server 2010 also provided more capabilities to make communication easier for remote employees. With Exchange Unified Messaging, employees can manage their voice mail through the Microsoft Office Outlook messaging and collaboration client. They can view messages directly in their inboxes, and they can respond to messages through email or, because of the integration with Office Communications Server, view a caller’s presence information and return the call immediately with one click.

Aldar plans to continue deploying unified communications capabilities to employees through 2010.


By deploying Office Communications Server 2007 R2 as part of a unified communications solution, Aldar can provide a more flexible work environment for its employees, which also helps them increase their productivity.

Anywhere Access Provides Unity

With projects spread across Abu Dhabi, employees needed a more efficient and effective way to communicate. As long as employees have access to an Internet connection, they can click to call any of their available colleagues, answer voice mail and email, review and contribute to a group chat, or even hold a video conference on the fly. “With Office Communications Server on your laptop and a camera and a mike in your bag, you can hold a conference immediately from any location,” says Dr. Zuhair Lardhi, IT Director at ALDAR Properties PJSC.

“Office Communications Server has enabled us to unify the whole team. Everyone is more mobile, more flexible, and more available when you need them,” Lardhi continues. “The Microsoft Unified Communications solution helped us aggregate our technology in the best possible way.”

Improved Productivity

With the Microsoft Unified Communications solution in place, people do not have to worry about commuting from site to site or coming into the office to be productive. “We have a lot of traffic problems around our headquarters,” Lardhi continues, “but with Office Communications Server, we have no need to travel at all.” Time employees would spend commuting and looking for a place to park they can now spend tracking project information, holding meetings, or working to resolve issues.

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