x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Work restarts on building Dh1.9bn Jebel Ali convention centre

Construction work is set to restart on a Dh1.9 billion convention centre development in Jebel Ali that was stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Construction work is set to restart on a Dh1.9 billion convention centre development in Jebel Ali that was stalled following the global financial crisis.

It comes amid improving property sentiment and hopes of a successful bid to host the Expo 2020 earmarked for a nearby site.

Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) said yesterday it had won a Dh275 million order to build the next phase of the Jafza One convention centre complex.

“This sends out the right message,” said Mario Volpi, the managing director of Prestige Real Estate. “With the Expo, all that area would be completely redeveloped.”

The joint venture contractor made the disclosure in a regulatory filing to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Several Dubai construction projects delayed in the aftermath of the financial crisis are being restarted as confidence returns to the property market and property prices climb.

The Jebel Ali Free Zone is also benefiting from growth in trade and logistics. More than 150 companies have set up in the business park this year, bringing the total number operating there to 7,000.

Dubai is one of four cities competing to host the Expo 2020.

The Jebel Ali Free Zone is located close to the proposed Expo site and could emerge as a big winner from a successful Dubai bid.

“With more than 200 nationalities calling Dubai home, it is the most eligible venue for such a significant event,” Ibrahim Al Janahi, deputy chief executive of Economic Zones World, said last month.

The HLG contract covers the interior fit-out of one of the twin commercial towers on the site.

The contractor first started work on the convention centre site in 2007, when the property market was booming. The development also comprised a hotel and associated exhibition and recreation facilities.

Now HLG hopes to “reach an agreement regarding completion of the remaining elements of the convention centre later this year”, said Jose Antonio Lopez-Monis, the chief executive of HLG.

The planned convention centre in Jebel Ali could provide an alternative venue for event organisers currently using the vast Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, home to shows such as The Big 5 construction exhibition and next week’s Cityscape event.

scronin@thenational.ae