Years of war and insurgency in Iraq have left the country's infrastructure in ruins. But rebuilding all the destroyed bridges, the miles of road pockmarked by explosions and the scores of dilapidated hospitals, schools and houses is proving a boon to architects and engineering companies from the region.
Dewan Architects and Engineers, one of the largest such companies in the UAE, has discovered a rich seam of contracts in Iraq. This new avenue is particularly welcome as much of its work in Dubai has dried up following the property market downturn in the emirate. Dewan established itself in the UAE, setting up offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the 1980s. Landmark projects the company has worked on in the UAE include the Ibn Battuta Mall and the Yas Hotel.
In more recent years Dewan has branched out into Baghdad and Najaf in Iraq. The company also has a presence in Saudi Arabia. "A lot of our revenue is coming in from Iraq right now, specifically in the last six months," said Ammar al Assam, a partner and the executive director of Dewan Architects and Engineers. "Obviously, when the economic situation worsened globally it affected us and in 2009 we went back to levels of 2007. Things have stabilised now. Whatever projects stopped, stopped, and the payments that didn't come through have been written off," he said, adding that most of the cancelled projects and non-payments originated in Dubai.