UK Construction Industry Looks to Iraq

The Financial Times reports that Iraq is an increasingly popular destination for British construction firms, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting a rise in GDP of 6.75 per cent during 2011.

A project manager at one construction company bidding for work in Baghdad, says: “For the very bravehearted among us there is a huge opportunity there, but the totality of destruction in parts of the country makes planning any rebuild far from straightforward.”

The University of Salford is setting up a built environment research centre in Basra to establish building and civil engineering practices tailored to the country’s needs.

Professor Mustafa Alshawi, the Associate Dean at Salford’s College of Science & Technology, says: “Iraq has some very specific needs in its built environment sector, and there are some areas where it lacks expertise and a critical mass. By opening this new centre we will be able to train more researchers and provide staff and students with new skills and ways of working.”

“Iraq is certainly one of the next big places for the industry,” says John Barrow, a senior principal at Populous, the UK practice behind Wembley, the O2 Arena and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Populous is in advanced bidding talks to secure the design contract for a 100,000-seater stadium in central Baghdad and is eyeing work on five other stadiums across the country.

Rider Levett Bucknall, a UK construction consultancy, has been in talks with former military personnel about providing security assistance for projects in the region.

“Part of the job of project management is going to be the provision of security on developments,” says Lance Taylor, chief executive of RLB. “There is a real risk in doing work there and if you are going to manage construction projects you need to man up and make sure the security is tight.”

(Source: Financial Times)

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