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Sat 20 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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Whistle while you work

CW learns that, despite the downturn, there are plenty of construction job opportunities on the horizon in Kuwait City.

Whistle while you work
Whistle while you work
The US$950 million Al Hamra Tower under construction in Kuwait.

CW learns that, despite the downturn, there are plenty of construction job opportunities on the horizon in Kuwait City.

For construction companies looking for work in the GCC, Kuwait is definitely worth a visit, the simple reason being that the country is set to adopt a US $100 billion (KD30 billion) plan to develop mega projects, mainly in the capital, over the next four years.

The plan was authorised by the Kuwait government in Parliament in February and is set to boost the non-oil private sector economy and support the construction industry.

The funding is expected to be used to develop the new Silk City business hub (Madinat Al Hareer) at an estimated cost of $77 billion, as well as the upgrade of the country’s energy grid and the construction of a 25 km container harbour.

It will finance a railway and a metro system, and there will be additional spending on infrastructure.

The $7 billion Kuwait Metro is currently under concept stage and invitations to bid for the main construction contract are expected to be released in 2011, with work set to start in Q3 of the same year.

A consortium led by Dashti, along with members of Spain’s Ingenieria & Consultoria de Transporte, and the local Kuwait United Development Group carried out the feasibility study. The entire project is expected to be complete by 2016. But what’s under construction right now? Well, there is the United Tower, a mixed used building, which is will stand at 60 floors once complete.

“Now with the inclusion of the United Tower skyscraper, Kuwait City has indeed become home to numerous commercial and residential towers,” said United Towers Holding Company chairman and managing director Ahmad Saud Al Sumait, when he unveiled the project.

“United Tower is the first building of its kind, designed to sustain the country’s economic progress,” he continued, adding that the tower would add “a specific aesthetic and architectural element to the Kuwaiti Capital.”

For United Towers Holding Company, the project also marked their first venture into development and it has added the 18-storey Al Shaheed Tower and 22-storey City Tower – both office premises – to its portfolio since work began on United Tower back in 2005.

The main construction work on United Tower is being carried out by Al Ahmadiah Company and the senior project director for United Real Estate Company, Ali Saleh, claims that the tower will be built “based on modern specifications and world-class smart technologies”.

Originally due for completion in 2010, the schedule has been pushed back, with delivery now expected in 2011. Upon completion, the $240 million tower – spread across 98,000m2 – will feature high-tech office facilities, residential apartments on the middle storeys, and a high-end mall with luxury retail stores.

Also under construction in Kuwait City is the iconic Al Hamra Tower. Al Hamra Real Estate broke ground on this project back in 2004, and according to the developer, the building is on course to be completed by the last quarter of this year. The Skidmore, Owings and Merrill-designed tower will boast 77 storeys and reach 412m in height, making it Kuwait’s tallest building and also the tallest ‘sculpted’ tower in the world, all at a cost of $950 million.

The US-based Turner Construction leads the development in terms of project management, while Al Jazeera consulting and Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Company are working together as the main contractor.

The tower will include commercial and office space, including a five-storey mall, an IMAX theatre complex and an 11-storey carpark, all spread over a footprint of 18,000 m2.

So, apart from the obvious continuation of work, why should companies do business in Kuwait City?

“Kuwait’s market is emerging and there are many attractive investment opportunities in most of the industry sectors,” states Kuwait-based Aknan Global director of real estate and investments Fawaz Al Najadah.

“Foreign companies are looking to access the market and the Kuwaiti companies are growing exponentially. When compared to Dubai or Doha you can obviously note that Kuwait markets are more stable in the economic crisis.”

And, Bader Al Adsani, property development manager of
Salhia Real Estate

, the developer of Arraya Office Tower II in Kuwait, agrees: “Like every other country in the Gulf, Kuwait has been affected significantly due to the banking crises. However it has been holding up better than [other] major cities.”

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