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Mon 25 Jan 2010 11:36 AM

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Design giant downsizes in Dubai, eyes GCC projects

Scott Wilson's regional chief says company is refocusing on projects in Abu Dhabi, Qatar.

International design and engineering consultancy Scott Wilson has downsized considerably in Dubai and is refocusing on projects outside the emirate, its regional chief has said.

Eddie Foster, regional director, said althought the company still had an office in Dubai, it would not be working on projects in the emirate as a result of the major construction slowdown in the past year.

Asked by Construction Week Online how the past 12 months has affected Scott Wilson, Foster said: "It’s mainly affected our operations in Dubai...Certainly we’ve had to downsize considerably in Dubai and refocus attention to Abu Dhabi and Qatar. We still intend on doing work from our Dubai office, but not on Dubai projects."

He added that chasing money owed from clients was currently a problem but said the company was not in litigation with anyone in the Gulf region over payments.

"Generally we have projects that have slowed down, we will get the money but it will take longer. In these cases we continue to work but minimise what we do until we get a return. There are a couple of cases where we’ve stopped work pending payment, but we’re still trying to work through it with them," he said.

"It is recognised that the Gulf has been badly hit and so there is a bit of patience from our board."

Foster said the current environment had made the company look even closer at due diligence on projects.

"The problem before was that everyone had a laissez-faire attitude and we were doing so much work that we probably didn’t go as far as we could have. That’s catching up to people now," he added.

Foster also admitted that Scott Wilson had drastically dropped its prices in the tendering process.

"You think you’ve got a job and then they come back and ask you to look at the price and they know, that you know, that there’s a lot of hungry people out there. We have significant experience in some sectors of the market here, so we can ask for a little premium, but certainly our prices are pretty rock bottom at the moment."

With the UAE being particularly badly hit by the slowdown, the company has focused its efforts even more on operations in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar

"We’re chasing a lot of work in Saudi Arabia," he said, adding that Scott Wilson was currently looking to set up a joint venture with a local firm.

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