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Thu 28 Jan 2010 02:45 PM

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Mideast construction sector 'looks good' says UK builder

Balfour Beatty COO says regional sector 'isn't dead'; still winning work in Dubai.

Mideast construction sector 'looks good' says UK builder
CONSTRUCTION SECTOR: Balfour Beatty said the Middle East construction industry still looked good in the medium term. (Getty Images)

The construction sector in the Middle East “looks good in the medium term”, an executive from the construction firm who built the Dubai Mall said in an interview printed in the UK.

“The Middle East isn’t dead,” Andrew McNaughton, chief operating officer of Balfour Beatty, said in an interview in Building, a UK trade magazine for the construction sector.

“We’re still winning work in Dubai and the wider region looks good in the medium term,” McNaughton said in a feature which looked at the 2010 prospects for the UK’s largest construction firms.

Balfour Beatty is one of the biggest contractors in the UK and has worked on projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5, the British Museum and the Arsenal Emirates Stadium. It is currently ranked the 19th biggest contractor in the world.

In 2004, in partnership with Al Ghandi and Dubai Transport Company (Dutco), it was awarded a $650m contract by Emaar Properties to build the Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping mall.

“Dubai clearly has issues, but in terms of energy-backed states, Qatar and Oman still need to invest in infrastructure, and Saudi Arabia has huge potential, although it’s probably a few years away from being a big market for contractors,” Andy Brown, an analyst with stockbroker Panmure Gordon, also said in the same article.

On Sunday, Chesterton, the international property agency, predicted that the UAE will make a "strong comeback", saying improving economic indicators has increased investor confidence but that more needed to be done to make mortgages more accessible. Robin Teh, director, valuations and research, said the arrival of several investment funds targeting distressed sales, especially in Dubai, was a sign that the country's real estate market was bottoming out.

However, in November, research firm Proleads said some 1,845 projects worth a combined $657bn were still active in the UAE.

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Hal-Luke Savas 10 years ago

Whilst the spirit and intent of the report/statements above may reflect the current view, I can safely say that those days of glory for foreign contractors working in the Middle East are not going to come back as there are emerging local contractors who could do the job just as well; possibly cheaper! It would therefore be prudent to view the Middle East opportunities for foreign contractors through Joint Ventures that would allow skills and technology transfer in a conspicious way. A good example of that is whilst 30 years ago there were very few local contractors who could build well whereas same contractors are now building world class buildings. They have learnt well and fast!!. Another good example is that whilst 30 years ago jokes about humble European plumbers being appointed Water Company Chiefs were abundant, now some of the low performing Europeans/Americans are sticking out like a sore thumb. In short, genuine opportunities in Middle East are only available to genuine companies who are prepared to bring in new skills and technology to Middle East and Middle East is prepered to pay them well. For others... 30 years of local presence tells me that I will not bet my tuppence on them! Good luck to all. Hal-Luke Savas MBA FCIM MBIFM ICIOB affCIBSE

Omar 10 years ago

Precisely!Could not be any better of what you said!Enough baseless negative speculations and enough crazy positive hallucinations. AB needs well-balanced logical professional opinions such as yours.