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Tue 4 Jul 2017 09:42 AM

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Western construction firms said to plan Qatar exit strategy

Sources say firms working on World Cup 2022 and other projects are building ‘contingency plans’

Western construction firms said to plan Qatar exit strategy
Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, after it was refurbished ahead of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, ahead of hosting the Qatar Emir Cup Final football match between Al-Sadd and Al-Rayyan. (Photo: KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)\n

Western construction firms are drawing up plans to leave Qatar if the Gulf diplomatic row continues, sources told the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

Unnamed industry sources reported that multinationals working on FIFA World Cup 2022, and other projects across Qatar, were developing plans to downsize their Qatar teams or depart the country altogether, as the feud shows little sign of easing.

The newspaper quoted a source at a World Cup supplier, who declined to be named because of commercial sensitivities, as saying: “We have a team working on contingency planning.

“Should further sanctions come in companies will have to reassess their investment and their presence in Qatar. If the risk profile changes we would take evasive action to protect our investments and our people.”

The Saudi Arabia-led coalition, which also includes the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar last month, closing air, land and sea links and banning Qatari citizens from entering coalition states.

The allies have handed Qatar a list of demands, including that it curtail support for extremist groups in the region including the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran, and warned the restrictions will continue if Qatar does not comply with the demands. On Monday afternoon, Qatar was reported to have handed over its official response.

The oil-rich Gulf state is said to be spending $500m a week on World Cup 2022 projects and although FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he remains “confident the region will return to a normal situation”, construction firms are understood to have taken a hit while the dispute is ongoing.

Blocked trade links across the Gulf have interrupted supplies of building materials and construction and firms are putting in place contingency plans, according to the Telegraph.

Among the British and American companies building World Cup stadium projects, are architects Foster + Partners and Zaha Hadid Architects, engineering firm Arup and US-headquartered consultants CH2M and Aecom.

Meanwhile, FTSE 250 contractors Interserve and Carillion, as well as consultants Turner & Townsend, Gleeds and RLB all have Qatar operations.

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