The UK construction industry is set for an investment boost from the Middle East as a result of Dubai’s debt crisis, say insiders.
Last week, state-owned group Dubai World, which includes property subsidiary Nakheel, announced it wanted to freeze debt repayments until at least March 2010, causing panic in the international markets.
However, leading industry figures think Dubai World’s problems could see the flow of investment into the UK from the Middle East increase.
‘Potentially [this crisis] will strengthen investment,’ said David Rees, group managing director of Warwick Avenue Investments (WAI), a London-based investment company that is hunting for stalled UK schemes to ‘kickstart’ with foreign cash. ‘There are wealthy clients in the Middle East who invested a lot of money in the region. Now they are looking west and in particular, to London.’
Earlier this month, after purchasing the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, Chelsea Barracks developer Qatari Diar announced it aims to spend at least £2 billion more in the UK.
Peter Morrison, chief executive of architectural giant RMJM, believes investors are eyeing up other opportunities because Dubai is now seen as high risk.
‘Both London and New York are looking like more attractive options,’ Morrison said. ‘The money is still in the market, it is just going elsewhere.’
Former RIBA president Jack Pringle of Pringle Brandon agreed, saying that Middle Eastern investment into London had overtaken big-money purchases by Russians