x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Al Habtoor tempted by Iraq upturn

Al Habtoor Leighton plans to bid for infrastructure projects in Iraq this year as security conditions improve.

Al Habtoor Leighton, a joint venture between Al Habtoor Engineering of Dubai and Australia's Leighton International, plans to bid for infrastructure projects in Iraq this year as security conditions improve. "We are exploring new tenders in infrastructure, buildings and ports," said Abdullah Muwahid, the associate director of Al Habtoor Leighton. "Previously when we went there, the war was bad but now we are looking seriously about opening a branch in Iraq."

The southern city of Basra was one part of the country where the firm was considering bidding for tenders, he said. Within the GCC, the firm was also looking at moving into Oman, he said. The company has already entered the Saudi Arabian market as it expands its presence in the Middle East. A slowdown in the pace of construction as a result of the financial crisis has hit the firm's order book, with as much as Dh12 billion (US$3.26bn) shaved through cancelled contracts in the Emirates.

An improvement in security and a relaxation of government regulations in Iraq is presenting potential opportunities for builders. Uruk Engineering and Contracting won a $84.5 million contract to set up four power generation units in Baghdad in September last year. tarnold@thenational.ae