Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Engineering group Louis Berger plans to double staff in Arabian Gulf

Louis Berger intends to bid for stadium construction contracts in advance of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
Louis Berger, the American engineering firm which is developing New York's World Trade Center, is set to double its GCC staff over the next year as regional growth in infrastructure spending creates opportunities for the construction industry.

The company plans to add from 700 to 1,000 staff to its Middle East office, on top of its current total of 1,000.

Infrastructure spending is on the increase across the GCC, with spending on major projects in the UAE set to rise in the run-up to Dubai's Expo 2020.

"With the Expo, there's more activity, and because of demographics in Saudi Arabia . which is a buoyant market . [there's] a significant growth curve right now," said Thomas Topolski, the managing director of Louis Berger for the Middle East and North Africa.

"From 2008 the market in the UAE had been a little bit slower, and we were seeing a bit of a slowdown - but we're optimistic about the UAE market."

"We established our Mena HQ on Reem Island, we believe in the market, and we're here to stay - better days are ahead."

Mr Topolski also said that Louis Berger intended to bid for stadium construction contracts in advance of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Qatar is scheduled to spend an estimated US$150 billion on infrastructure projects up to 2017, according to its government. Spending on air-conditioned stadiums will top $48bn, Arabian Business reported.

Concerning the controversy in Qatar about workers' conditions, Mr Topolski said: "We take health and safety at our [construction projects] very seriously. Our objective is zero harm and we try ensure that all of our employees every night are able to go home."

In the region, Louis Berger is already leading engineering projects for the Qatar Foundation, including the Qatar Foundation National Library, and the Qatar Foundation headquarters building.

The company is bidding to construct metro projects in Mecca, Medina, and Jeddah, as well as highway projects across Saudi Arabia.

Mr Topolski said Louis Berger hopes to win contracts in the region for "all aspects of the water industry and waste water, as well as buildings, housing, schools and hospitals".

And as it wins contracts, Mr Topolski does not expect hiring staff to be a problem.

"The Gulf is one of the easiest places to recruit people to come to because quality of life is so high," he said.

He also said Louis Berger would be willing to act as a strategic partner to local construction companies such as Arabtec.

"There's a market for every type of company [in the UAE]," he said. We could provide design services for [companies like Arabtec]. We look at our competitors, and determine where we can form strategic alliances."

Arabtec declined to comment.

abouyamourn@thenational.ae

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Updated: February 23, 2014 04:00 AM

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