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Sat 28 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Saudi contractors look to Germany for strength

Local firms hit Bauma to look for joint venture partners in a bid to win projects.

Small and medium-sized contractors in Saudi Arabia are hoping to forge relationships with their German counterparts in a bid to work together on many construction projects that are planned in the kingdom.

Around 19 ‘city' projects are planned, while massive investment is being made in road, rail and water and power plant projects.

Among the ‘city' projects in the pipeline are Emaar's US $26.8 billion (SR100 billion) King Abdullah Economic City, Knowledge Economic City and the King Abdullah Financial District. Several Saudi Arabian construction companies descended on Munich for Bauma, the world's largest building equipment and machinery show, earlier this week in search of potential joint venture partners.

"With 19 new city projects planned, Saudi Arabia needs to cooperate more with international construction companies," said Abdulrahman Saad Alqarni, general manager, Alabawain Manufacturing, Trading and Contracting.

"Coming to a show like this is a good way to enter into joint ventures, especially for small and medium-sized companies."

Alqarni added that 90% of contractors in Saudi Arabia are small and medium-sized.

"The biggest contractor is the Saudi Bin Ladin Group, but they can't handle all of the work alone. They tend to take on more of the technically-based projects, while small and medium-sized companies do the rest."

German companies could bring technical, planning and project management skills to Saudi Arabian projects, according to Alqarni.

"We need to improve our skillset, and the best way to do this is by forming joint ventures. Partnering with German companies and adopting their experience and expertise would help Saudi Arabian companies in the long-term."

Some of the ongoing projects in Saudi Arabia are the expansion of the $1 billion (SR4 billion) King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, the upgrade and expansion of a number of domestic airports, the North South Railway project linking the north and south of the country and the Landbridge project linking the east and the west of it.

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