• Atkins’ Middle East operations performed strongly during the year ended 31 March
  • UK consultant has mobilised on large scale infrastructure projects
  • Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the key markets

The Middle East operations of UK-based consultant Atkins performed strongly during the year ended 31 March 2015 as it began to mobilise on large-scale infrastructure projects in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

For 2015, revenues from the Middle East were £216.7m ($335m) up 28.7 per cent on the £168.4m from 2014. Operating profit was £22.5m up 56.3 per cent on £14.4m in 2014, while margins were up 1.8 percentage points to 10.4 per cent.

Margins were maintained despite the oil price slump in the second half of 2014. “Clients are always looking for a bargain, so we have to look for ways to offer clients value, and that is why it is very important for us to stay focused on the right projects with the right clients,” said Simon Moon, CEO of Atkins Middle East, speaking to MEED on 11 June. “That is how we have managed to maintain margins.”

Atkins’ main projects include Riyadh Metro, Doha Metro Red Line South and Doha Metro Gold Line, advising the Qatari Government on infrastructure planning and design projects to meet its National Vision 2030 and a variety of property schemes in UAE.

Going forward those markets are expected to continue to drive Atkins’ regional business in the future, although the nature of the markets may change, notably in Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia has changed for two reasons. The first is the leadership change. The second is external factors: the oil price and security on the kingdom’s northern and southern borders,” said Moon. “There is a clear intent from the leadership to invest housing, healthcare, education and security, as well as the economic cities to promote further diversification. There is a clear need and they have the reserves to do it.”

For the UAE, the outlook is mixed but broadly positive, as even though property prices in Dubai have softened in the first half of 2015, there is still an expectation that new projects will move ahead. “The UAE is a mixed bag. Abu Dhabi is slow, and although there are some interesting developments, it is not like Dubai. In Dubai we are working on projects that are not directly Expo driven, but related to Expo, but we are bidding for some projects that are direct Expo projects,” said Moon.

For Qatar, Atkins expects its business to remain robust, despite renewed speculation that it may lose football’s 2022 World Cup following a US-led investigation into corruption at Fifa. “The programmes we are involved in are long term, we have avoided the single event schemes,” said Moon.

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