By Shane McGinley
Dubai’s Drake & Scull International confirms staff evacuated, work suspended
Qatari Diar, the property arm of the Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, has halted work on a project in Cairo and evacuated its staff as protests in the Egyptian capital continue into a second week.
The Nile Corniche Project, a mixed-use luxury development on the banks of the river, has been shut down for safety reasons due to its proximity to anti-government riots, said Drake & Scull International, the Dubai firm contracted to the development.
“It is too soon to say delayed but it is definitely stopped,” Khaldoun Tabari, CEO of DSI told Arabian Business. “There is no real communication right now… We are optimistic and we don’t think it will be a long term thing.”
Crowds of demonstrators flooded into the development area last week forcing DSI to evacuate its staff. Protesters remain camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square as they fight to oust president Mubarak.
“People started coming around, we are very close there on the Nile… We had to evacuate people, like everybody else did and we are waiting,” Tabari said.
Tabari said he believed it could be at least another week before work can restart on the project.
“I hope things will clear up. Things do not look very good yesterday from what we saw last night. We thought it was going to be a couple days, then it was five, six days and it might be another week, we don’t know yet,” he said.
The Nile Corniche Project is DSI’s first in Egypt and is valued at $126m.
Planned as the location for Qatari Diar’s regional offices, the project was originally scheduled for completion in 2014.
Drake & Scull said it had an order backlog valued at AED5.5bn ($1.49bn) as of September with an additional AED800m ($217.81m) worth of contracts made in the last quarter of 2010.