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Deal timing pays big for O'Rourke

CONTRACTS - DUBAI

LAING O'Rourke has won a £120 million contract to build Dubai's Old Town after seeing off competition from rival contractor Al Basti & Muktha.

The firm and local partner Al Naboodah will work for property firm Emaar on the scheme, part of the Down Town Dubai development, which will include the world's tallest tower. Emaar claims it will be the most prestigious square kilometre on earth.

Project sources say the work has been let as a lump sum fixed price contract and will start next month, with a construction period of two years.

The award comes at a crucial time for the contractor as it begins to wind down on the expansion of Dubai International Airport and hands over to Al Habtoor Murray & Roberts for the fit-out phase of the work.

The timing means Al Naboodah Laing will be able to switch resources between the two projects seamlessly.

Like the airport project, the contractor will be engaged mainly with structural work, so many of the site personnel currently working at the airport will be able to switch to the new job.

A source close to the contractor said:'The timing and the nature of the project are ideal. A significant element of the resources at the airport will be moved to this new project.'

Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke is also understood to be tendering for the main construction package on the Ritz Carlton Hotel planned for the Dubai International Finance Centre.

And the firm is aiming to win some of the hotel construction packages to be released as part of the Burj Dubai project, which includes the Old Town.

The Old Town project was launched by Emaar last September and it will include a 245-bed five-star hotel, a two-storey 18,000 sq m shopping mall, two 12-storey office blocks and 390 luxury apartments.

There will be parking for up to 2,000 cars.

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