Dubai will accept the UK government’s offer of up to $2bn of export credit guarantees for work on airport projects in the emirate.

“We will accept it,” says a Dubai source close to the deal. “We have not yet decided what projects it will be used on, but we are working on it.”

The offer has been made by UK Export Finance to Dubai Airports Engineering Projects (DAEP), and is available for upcoming airport schemes.

MEED reported earlier in September that the UK had made an offer and that UK-based firms are eyeing work to capitalise on the funding guarantees. According to a UK-based source close to the deal, DAEP will be able to determine what projects the funding guarantees are used for.

World’s busiest airports*
Airport Passengers (million)
Atlanta, US 38.35
Beijing, China 34.38
Dubai, UAE 29.61
London Heathrow, UK 28.48
Tokyo Haneda, Japan 28.03
Los Angeles, US 27.81
Chicago, US 26.75
Hong Kong, China 25.46
Dallas/Fort Worth, US 25.29
Paris Charles De Gaulle, France 24.92
*=Jan-May. Source: Airports Council International

The UK-based source added that the offer will include a certain percentage of goods or services being supplied by UK-based companies. For previous export credit deals offered by the UK in Dubai, this figure has been about 25 per cent, but for this deal the percentage is understood to be higher, given the specialist equipment and services that are required on airport projects, such as loading machines and scanners.

For the construction work, a group of main contractors are now looking at how to use the funding offer to secure work. UK-based main contractors that work in Dubai include Carillion, Kier, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, and Interserve. Balfour Beatty and Laing O’Rourke have both worked at Dubai International airport.

For consultants, UK firms are already consulting with DAEP on upcoming schemes including the new terminal for flag carrier Emirates airline, which will be built at Maktoum International airport in the Jebel Ali area. The concept for the new terminal has been completed by a team of Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah and France’s ADPI.

The $32bn development of Al-Maktoum International airport was recently endorsed by the emirate’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. When completed, the airport will be able to handle 200 million passengers a year, making it the largest airport in the world.

It will be built in two phases. The first phase includes two satellite buildings with a collective capacity of 120 million passengers a year, and capable of accommodating 100 A380 aircraft at any one time. It will take between six and eight years to complete. The entire development will cover an area of 56 square kilometres.

The development will provide the necessary facilities to accommodate passenger and cargo growth, and will also allow Emirates to relocate its intercontinental hub operations to the new airport by the mid-2020s.