x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Joint venture wins St Regis project

Al Habtoor Leighton Group and Murray & Roberts will build the St Regis Hotel and Residences on Saadiyat Island.

ABU DHABI // A joint venture between Al Habtoor Leighton Group and Murray & Roberts has won the contract to build the St Regis Hotel and Residences on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi for the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). The project, which will include a 380-room hotel, 259 apartments and 33 villas, was retendered shortly after the downturn hit the property sector at the end of last year to benefit from cheaper building costs.

Although the value of the contract has not been disclosed, a person close to the deal said it was worth about Dh1.8 billion (US$491 million) compared with Dh2bn originally. The joint venture fended off competition for the project from Alec, a contractor based in Abu Dhabi. Contractors have been focusing on the construction sector in the capital to shield themselves from the slowdown in Dubai. "It was easy to recognise the significance of the Saadiyat Island project, which is primarily what fuelled our interest in the opportunity," said a spokesman for the joint venture. "This award shows the Abu Dhabi market remains buoyant and we are ideally placed to take advantage of the opportunities in this market."

While major developers such as the TDIC have retendered contracts to cut costs, major projects that were announced more than two years ago look set to go ahead. Al Habtoor and Murray & Roberts are also bidding for the main construction contract for The Louvre museum, another TDIC project at Saadiyat Island, which is expected to be awarded shortly. The main contract for The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum on the island is also expected to be awarded this year.

Work on the St Regis Hotel and Residences will begin next month. The project will also feature a retail and entertainment component, a health club and a 1,600-space car park. Al Habtoor and Murray & Roberts, a South African firm, have worked together to build Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah's Al Qasr Hotel and the Shangri-La hotel in Dubai, as well as expansion projects at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports.

The partners lost a Dh2.9bn deal to build Trump International Hotel and Tower when the project was postponed by the developer Nakheel in December. agiuffrida@thenational.ae