Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed once again tops regional rich list.
United Kingdom-based project and design consultancy WS Atkins confirmed that it has laid-off 100 staff across the Middle East because of slowing economic growth in the region.
“We have been continually assessing the regional market carefully over the last few months and have seen an ongoing slowdown in awards of new projects across the property and infrastructure sectors,” an Atkins spokesperson told Gulf Business in a statement.
“Unfortunately, due to these worsening economic conditions, in recent weeks we have taken the difficult decision to make almost 100 people redundant in our Middle East property and infrastructure teams.
“We only ever take such actions after very careful consideration to support the best long term interests of the business, our clients and future work, while positioning us for continued growth when the market improves.”
The company, which has been operating in the region for more than 40 years, has 11 offices across the Middle East, with a presence in each Gulf country. Some of the projects it is currently working on include the Port Sultan Qaboos redevelopment in Oman and the Riyadh and Doha metro lines.
The spokesperson added: “We will seek to redeploy as many people as possible to other roles. Our Middle East business will continue to focus on our core transport infrastructure and property markets, with over 2,000 people operating successfully in the region.”
Other international project consultancies are also reported to have reduced headcount as the Middle East – specifically the Gulf Cooperation Council – has been hit hard by the recent drop in oil prices.
With oil revenues down, several GCC states have slashed spending, which in turn has impacted infrastructure growth.
In a recent report property consultancy JLL said: “As governments become more cautious about their finances, there is a likelihood of cuts in infrastructure spending.
“While many of the already announced projects are likely to proceed, they may be scaled back or rescheduled over an extended time frame, with future projects being curtailed. This will inevitably have a knock on effect on local real estate markets.”
Specifically in Dubai, the real estate market slumped last year with sales prices down 10-15 per cent. Experts further predict that the market will continue to face a slowdown this year.
According to reports, several broker agents in the emirate also cut jobs last year as the industry contracted.
Built as an observation tower, the new project will be linked to the central island district of the upcoming Dubai Creek Harbour development with a 4.5 km boardwalk offering retail, dining, and leisure and entertainment options.
Sheikh Mohammed said the new tower would emerge as another landmark tourist attraction in the UAE.
He described it as an “architectural wonder that will be as great as Burj Khalifa and Eiffel Tower.”
Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar thanked Sheikh Mohammed for his confidence in the company’s projects.
He said the new tower would prove to be a cultural and tourist icon with its unique design and engineering.
Alabbar added that construction of the tower will begin in a few months’ time and that its height will only be disclosed once the tower is officially open.
(Main pic courtesy: Dubai Media Office on Twitter)