Leighton takes first ME contract

Hong Kong-based contractor will build an equestrian centre in Qatar as part of the Education Village development

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By  Tim Wood Published  June 24, 2006

Leighton Holdings has won its first major building contract in the Middle East — a US $407 million (QR1.5 billion) equestrian centre in Qatar. Hong Kong-based Leighton Asia (Southern) is due to start work on the Al Shaqab Equestrian Academy by the end of the month. Work on the equestrian centre, part of the Qatar Education Village, will include a horse breeding centre and hospital, indoor and outdoor arenas, stables, a members’ clubhouse, staff accommodation, entertainment facilities and a museum. The contract win takes Leighton Asia (Southern)’s work in hand to over $900 million. Leighton Asia (Southern) managing director, David Savage, said: “We recognised the potential of the Gulf region some time ago and established an office in Dubai in 2004 from which to investigate opportunities in the region.” The company has spent most of the time since then getting to know the various markets. “We’ve been prepared to be patient and we’ve been quite selective in the projects we pursue,” he added. Leighton tendered for a couple of projects last year, and did preliminary work on a giant water park, Atlantis, on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. But it was unsuccessful in securing the pre-construction contract, which went to a British firm Laing O’Rouke after the developer changed the scope of the Atlantis hotel and water-park project. Savage said that Leighton was pursing several other buildings and civil engineering projects in the region adding that the company hoped to announce another new contract in the near future. Once completed in December 2008, the academy will form part of Qatar Foundation’s Education City, a 2,500-acre campus on the outskirts of the capital Doha, which houses some of the world’s leading universities and educational institutions.

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