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Sat 3 Dec 2005 04:00 AM

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Kerzner ditches Leighton on Palm Atlantis project

Hospitality group sends Leighton packing and signs up Al Naboodah Laing O’Rourke.

Contractor Leighton has been ditched by Kerzner International on the US $1.2 billion Atlantis project on the Palm Jumeirah.

The Australian contractor had signed a pre-construction agreement with the hospitality group to build two hotels on the massive offshore island development in Dubai.

But now Kerzner has decided to award the $600 million package to Al Naboodah Laing O’Rourke instead.

The contractor will also oversee the construction management of the rest of the project, which includes building the largest ever water theme park in the Middle East.

“Leighton fulfilled an agreement and they did a good job; it was just that in the long-term, they didn’t fit into the overall scheme of what we’re trying to achieve,” said Kerzner International president Jim Boocher.

“A pre-construction agreement was also signed with Al Naboodah Laing O’ Rourke, who will now do the building work on the hotels and later, manage the construction for the rest of the project.”

The contract is made up of two hotel buildings of 23 and 18 storeys, together accommodating 2000 rooms, as well as facilities for conferences.

Other contract packages for the water theme park, which is modelled on a similar project undertaken by Kerzner International in the Bahamas, are yet to be finalised.

Boocher added that for a project of this scale, it was important to involve the right people from the very start.

“We’re in the process of putting the upper tier project management system in place and will be looking for a number of contractors, but the packages aren’t ready to be tendered and awarded,” he said.

“There is so much detail in the building structure that it won’t be entirely straightforward. We want to make sure that contractors really understand what needs to be done.”

The project is a joint venture between Kerzner International and Istithmar PJSC, a subsidiary of Dubai Government’s Port, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

The water theme park, which will have the capacity to welcome 6000 guests per day, is expected to feature unique water attractions, including one of the world’s largest marine habitats, a snorkel trail and other marine-based attractions.

The resort is expected to be ready for opening by late 2008.

Leighton declined to comment.

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