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Sat 5 Jul 2008 04:00 AM

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Dubai giants expand to other fledgling markets

Construction giants in Dubai are bidding to channel their profits from the regional boom into specific international markets, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Construction giants in Dubai are bidding to channel their profits from the regional boom into specific international markets, including Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The move would signal a long-term broadening of interests beyond the traditional markets within the UAE.

Al-Habtoor Leighton, one of the region's biggest contractors, is aiming to expand across the Middle East and North Africa, while giant master-developer Nakheel has stated its focus on Eastern Europe and China.

"We are pursuing some work in Kuwait, and we are looking at growing alongside partners in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Libya and Morocco," said Al-Habtoor Leighton managing director David Savage. "Those areas are growing, are easy to access and we have existing relationships with other people there."

Nakheel has its sights set further afield.

"Two areas that we are looking at entering are Eastern Europe and China," CEO Chris O'Donnell said. "We are doing the preliminary investigation work on those two areas."

The developer is focusing on these regions due to the current boom in resources.

"A large number of these countries have access to oil and gas which then drives GDP growth," O'Donnell said. "With GDP growth comes wealth, and with wealth, comes the need for more retail outlets, more office space, and more residential buildings. We think they will be the growing economies over the next 10 or 15 years, so now is the time to get a foothold in those places."

But O'Donnell expressed regret at delays over China: "It's been booming for a while and we do not yet know if we are entering that market a little too late."

Over the past year Nakheel has accelerated its international expansion, gaining a presence in the UK, US, Australia and Singapore.

A broadening of interests on a global scale would see the Dubai based construction giants protected, should the regional construction bubble threaten to burst.

The growth in both markets is highlighted by upcoming global sporting events. China has been preparing for this year's Olympic Games for a decade, while Poland and the Ukraine are currently constructing facilities for the 2012 European Championships, the continent's biggest football tournament.

Over the past year Nakheel has accelerated its international expansion, gaining a presence in the UK, US, Australia and Singapore.

A broadening of interests on a global scale would see the Dubai based construction giants protected, should the regional construction bubble threaten to burst.

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