x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Drake & Scull moving workers to Abu Dhabi as projects increase

The Dubai-listed Drake & Scull International is moving hundreds of jobs from Dubai to Abu Dhabi to cope with the increase in work the company has won in the UAE capital.

Drake & Scull last month won a contract to build a twin-tower residential and commercial development in Jeddah. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National
Drake & Scull last month won a contract to build a twin-tower residential and commercial development in Jeddah. Rich-Joseph Facun / The National

Drake & Scull International is moving hundreds of jobs from Dubai, where the company is listed, to Abu Dhabi to cope with the increase in projects it has won in the capital.

At a presentation to investors at the Dubai Financial Market yesterday the company said it was in the process of moving "up to a thousand" employees between the emirates due to the shift.

DSI said its workload in Abu Dhabi had increased from 12.2 per cent of its projects in 2011 to 14.3 per cent, while in Dubai it had fallen from 10.8 per cent in 2011 to 6.9 per cent in 2012.

"At one point we used to be 7,000 people in the UAE, 4,000 in Dubai and 3,000 in Abu Dhabi," Zeina Tabari,the chief corporate affairs officer, told investors. "Today I would say we have around 1,500 in Dubai and around 6,000 in Abu Dhabi as we are growing our backlog in Abu Dhabi and moving our staff. Other people are being moved to Saudi Arabia and Qatar to cope with the growth strategy we currently have," she said.

The news follows a similar strategy by Dubai's largest construction company Arabtec, which said in February that it had moved significant numbers of staff from Dubai to the capital after Aabar Investments, a firm backed by the Abu Dhabi Government, increased its stake in Arabtec.

The DSI action also comes amid an increase in the level of cooperation between three of the UAE's biggest contractors; DSI, Arabtec and the interiors contractor Depa.

Last year Arabtec took a stake in Depa and rumours have increasingly been circulating that Arabtec could take a stake in DSI. Last month Khaldoun Tabari, the vice chairman and chief executive of DSI, took a seat on the Depa board on behalf of Arabtec. When asked whether DSI had been approached by Arabtec with a view to a takeover, Mr Tabari said he could not comment.

"I really can't answer that," he told investors. "Will there never be this possibility? All companies have possibilities. Are there discussions today? No."

Mr Tabari revealed that he personally owned a large stake in Depa which he said was "probably worth around 10 per cent" of the company. "Our relationship with Arabtec comes from respect, and from understanding," he added. "We are blessed with a fantastic board which offers guidance. Depa needed that and I was requested to join the board on behalf of Arabtec and I did."

He said DSI was considering listing on the Saudi Arabian bourse. Work in Saudi Arabia accounted for 45.8 per cent of DSI's business in 2012.

Mr Tabari also said that he was considering buying the rights to manufacture petrochemical products in the country, which he said offered "huge potential". "I cannot say yes or no but I like the idea."

He added that he agreed with recently implemented Saudi Arabian measures aimed at increasing the number of nationals in the workforce.

"I would like to see the UAE do the same as Saudi Arabia," he said. "Why do you have nationals in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai not working when foreigners are working? You first have to cater to your own workforce."

 

lbarnard@thenational.ae