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Mideast construction sector 'looks good' says UK builder

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.

Source: Arabian Business