Middle East Dredging shifts to Abu Dhabi amid Dubai slowdown

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PROJECT BIDS: Middle East Dredging Co, a Belgian-Qatar joint venture, is bidding on two new oil and gas projects in Abu Dhabi. (Getty Images)

PROJECT BIDS: Middle East Dredging Co, a Belgian-Qatar joint venture, is bidding on two new oil and gas projects in Abu Dhabi. (Getty Images)

Middle East Dredging Co, a Belgian-Qatari joint venture, is bidding on two new oil and gas projects in Abu Dhabi as it shifts away from a softening market in neighboring Dubai, senior executives said.

The dredging and port construction company is helping to expand the Ruwais Refinery in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE and home to 90 percent of the country’s oil reserves.

Middle East Dredging is currently bidding for an additional two “big sized projects,” in Abu Dhabi, said Alain Bernard, chief executive officer of the venture’s Belgian parent, Dredging, Environmental & Marine Engineering.

In an interview, Bernard said: “They’ve got a lot of oil, so it’s a moment to invest."

Middle East Dredging, whose Qatari parent is United Development Co, is also seeking opportunities in energy rich Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The venture, formed in 2004, began operating in Qatar and diversified into the UAE.

The company participated in a 600 million euro ($800 million) development at Port Rashid in Dubai until the financial crisis forced the emirate’s government to suspend the project in 2008.

While visiting Abu Dhabi from his company's headquarters in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, Bernard said: “That’s why we went to find a job in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere."

The Abu Dhabi government and the UAE central bank together provided $20 billion in support funds for Dubai after the emirate announced plans last year to restructure debts of the Dubai World group.

Middle East Dredging has worked also on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island development and the new Khalifa Port Industrial Zone.

The venture expects to post revenue of 1.2 billion riyals ($330 million) this year, said Frank Elskens, area director of its Belgian parent, which itself is owned jointly by Ackermans & van Haaren and Cie d’Entreprises.

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