A decade in the Middle East: Ian Gow.


A decade in the sun.

This month marks a decade of our firm working in the Middle East. We’re celebrating this milestone with a range of unique events and anniversary activities.

In celebration of the official anniversary month, Andrew Morris and Ian Gow, two of our partners who have helped shape our success in the region, share their personal stories.

Name: Ian Gow
Job title: Partner
Office: Abu Dhabi and now Bristol
Time spent working in the Middle East: 9 years

How did you come to work in the Middle East?

I joined Hoare Lea in 2003 and, after spending the first five years of my career based in our Bristol office, I was asked if I would be interested in supporting Andy Morris in setting up the new office in Abu Dhabi. Having always wanted to work overseas this was a no-brainer for me!

What has made you stay working for Hoare Lea in the Middle East!

The simple answer to this is people. Having been part of the initial set up, I was (and still am) very passionate about making it a success, and in my view the success we have had to-date has come about because of our people. Having this fantastic asset has enabled us to build the strong relationships we have with our clients and fellow professionals in the region. Working in the Middle East has provided me with the opportunity to meet and work alongside some truly great people from a wide range of backgrounds.

What was your experience of moving over like?

I had only been married for three weeks before I jumped on a plane to Dubai – and it was three months later before my wife joined me permanently in the Middle East. The tipping point was Andy saying to me ‘’do you realise you have spent more time with me than your wife?” I think at that point she was on the next plane! We have since been blessed with four children. Our first two were born in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and I think they have both benefited from starting their lives in a multicultural country that has so much to offer.

What’s been your proudest moment so far?

I returned to the UK last year and I have so many fond memories looking back at the time I spent in the UAE; from our first employee, to the opening of our office, and winning our first project. But, I think the moment that stands out to me most was working on the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium; it was one of our first major projects in the region where I have made some lifelong friends and it really helped put us on the map.

Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium

What would you say to someone considering a secondment or move to one of our Middle East offices?

Do it; you will not regret it. Working on major and iconic projects with some of the best designers and engineers in the region provides a great opportunity for career progression.

What has been your most challenging project?

Dubai Expo is probably one of the most challenging projects I have led in terms of scale and speed of construction. At times during the project we had more than 100 engineers and specialist groups working on it, across many different offices.

Dubai Expo

Dubai Expo 2020

What do you believe makes our Middle East team so effective?

As a firm we now have significant experience in the region, this allows us to work on any project no matter what sector or size. We are able to bring best practice and innovative solutions to problem-solving, utilising knowledge gained from our 150-year heritage, the wider organisation, and our local presence.

Anything else you’d like to share…

I have learnt many lessons from my time in the Middle East, both from a professional and personal experience, my top three tips from personal experience would be:

  1. There are lots of speed cameras even in the desert, so watch out!
  2. Don’t be fooled by the cold-water tap, it can often be hotter than the hot tap
  3. When swimming in the YAS Marina triathlon try not to think about what might be in the water from the previous F1 Event…