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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Al Futtaim Carillion wins Dh2.2bn Dubai Expo 2020 contract to build event’s Theme Districts

The contractor will move onto the site to begin work later this month.
The Expo 2020 site's Themed Districts – and the buildings within them – will have a floor area of 220,000 square metres. Courtesy Expo 2020.
The Expo 2020 site's Themed Districts – and the buildings within them – will have a floor area of 220,000 square metres. Courtesy Expo 2020.

Al Futtaim Carillion (AFC) has won a Dh2.2 billion contract to build the three main Theme Districts at the Dubai Expo 2020 site.

The contract – one of the main packages to be awarded at the site – is to erect the Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability districts that will not only house the UAE’s three main pavilions but also a total of about 136 pavilions that will be used by participating countries, non-governmental organisations and commercial partners.

The districts – and the buildings within them – will have a floor area of 220,000 square ­metres.

Edmund Mahabir, the managing director of AFC, said that the company had already begun mobilising with a view to starting on site as quickly as possible.

He said the firm was “excited to be starting work before the end of March”.

“Al Futtaim Carillion has been operating as a Dubai-based joint venture since 1972,” he said.

“We are very proud to be able to play a role in the construction of the site for Expo 2020 Dubai, a venue that will play an important role in the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the UAE.”

The company won a competitive tender for which 35 contractors from around the world pre-qualified.

Ahmed Al Khatib, the vice president for real estate at Expo 2020, said the award of the Theme Districts contract was an exciting step forwards for Expo 2020, which on January 30 announced plans to award Dh11bn worth of construction contracts this year, plus a further Dh360m worth of commercial deals.

“With the Theme Districts construction award, we are starting the main phase of buildings and construction,” said Mr Al Khatib.

“All excavation works for the Theme District basements have been completed and are ready for the appointed contractor to begin construction.”

AFC is a joint venture between the UAE’s Al Futtaim Group and the UK contractor Carillion, which yesterday published full-year financials for 2016.

Its Middle East construction services business, which consists of AFC and a joint venture in Oman, reported an 11 per cent increase in revenue to £668.3m (Dh3bn), although it said this was largely because of a favourable swing in exchange rates.

Richard Howson, the chief executive, said that contract awards had been “slow” in the region last year and are expected to be again this year.

He said the company was “focused primarily on winning contracts with the support of UK Export Finance” in the region – a UK export credit agency that offers loans to entities looking to build projects on the basis that a certain percentage of the value is spent with UK firms.

In a conference call to investors, Mr Howson said that “Dubai is the one bright spot in the Gulf, where investment to support Expo 2020 continues to gather pace, and Al Futtaim Carillion is in a good position to win its fair share of this work”.

A note on the UAE’s economy published on Wednesday by BMI Research forecast a “significant recovery in growth in 2017 and 2018”, driven mainly by the non-oil sector.

“Preparations for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai will act as a catalyst for growth in the emirate’s construction industry, with new projects set for approval and construction at ongoing or stalled projects likely to be expedited,” it said.

“Our infrastructure team expects around US$6.9bn to be earmarked for projects around the event.”

mfahy@thenational.ae

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