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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 December 2018

Turner & Townsend reports strong Middle East growth

Diversification creating opportunities in manufacturing, says regional head

Alan Talabani, managing director, Middle East, Turner & Townsend
Alan Talabani, managing director, Middle East, Turner & Townsend

Construction consultancy Turner & Townsend posted higher revenue growth in the Middle East region than in its global operations in its previous financial year, thanks to the growing strength of the area's construction market.

The UK-based cost and project management consultancy said revenue increased 20 per cent to £491 million (Dh2.35 billion) and net profit also rose 22 per cent to £ 36.2 in the financial year that ended April 30 despite what it described as a “backdrop of volatile global market conditions”.

The Middle East business outperformed with revenue revenue rising 42 per cent to £45.6m. The company also said profit in the region increased by 24 per cent, but did not give a profit figure.

Alan Talabani, the new Middle East managing director for Turner & Townsend, said: “These outstanding results reflect the strength of the market in the Middle East. Key projects such as Expo 2020 in Dubai are energising the real estate and infrastructure markets and the overall push to diversify economies away from a carbon base has enabled us to broaden our own project portfolio into new areas, including manufacturing.”

The company said that it won a number of new projects during the year, including new property work with retail and leisure clients such as Dubai’s Atlantis Hotel and Galleries Lafayette in Doha. It is also continuing to advise Dubai Airports on the expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai.

Mr Talabani’s promotion to regional managing director, from UAE country manager, was announced last month following the retirement of former regional head Mike Collings. Mr Talabani has worked in the region for eight years and for the business for 20 years.

Speaking to The National following his appointment, he said that Turner & Townsend finally expects to open an office in Saudi Arabia soon.

“We’re finalising our registration,” Mr Talabani said. “While we’ve been saying this for quite a while, we feel that we’re very close now.

“It’s the biggest market in the GCC and if we want to be a serious player here, we need to be in the biggest market."

Mr Talabani said that the firm, which currently employs about 350 people in the region and almost 4,700 people worldwide, is likely to employ more people across the region by the end of its current budget year than it did last year, thanks to anticipated growth in Saudi Arabia.

"It's mainly driven by our clients," he said.

“They want to do business in different areas and we want to go and help them. There have been many instances where we have helped clients remotely in Saudi Arabia and we are now at a point where there have been a few that we have been unable to help, because we haven’t been established there.”

A report published yesterdayby BMI Research stated that the GCC states were continuing to outperform the rest of the Middle East and North Africa region, filling the top six spots in its Risk/Reward Index for the area.

Saudi Arabia was considered to be the second-best market in terms of potential opportunities thanks to its “scale and long-term growth prospects”.

However, it also warned that the ongoing dispute between Qatar and several of its Arabian Gulf neighbours put this competitive advantage at risk.

“While we still expect an agreement to eventually be reached – most likely via US mediation – Qatari and Saudi signals of unwillingness to compromise on key issues thus far suggest that the negotiation process could take several months longer than expected,” the report said.