The UK is expected to play more of a role in projects in the region after it formed a new body to promote construction opportunities in international markets such as the Gulf, where London is already backing more than $600m of infrastructure schemes.

The UK’s Department for International Trade says it will join with 17 UK firms in a new partnership known as Infrastructure Exports: UK (IE:UK). It aims to bring together companies of all sizes to bid for complex infrastructure projects as a single UK consortium.

The new body will be co-chaired by International Trade Minister Greg Hands and James Wates, chairman of UK contractor Wates Group. Other companies involved in the initiative include Carillion and Mace Group, both of which have a significant presence in the Gulf.

IE:UK will meet three times a year to choose the projects they, as a business, wish to pursue with government support. The body will select UK firms with the right expertise to group together and create winning bids.

The members of IE:UK will be:

  • Co-chair Greg Hands, Minister of State and Minister for London, Department for International Trade
  • Co-chair James Wates, chairman, Wates Group
  • Sir John Armitt, chairman, City and Guilds Group
  • Sir Terry Morgan, chairman, Crossrail
  • Shaun Carter, group development and strategy director, Carillion
  • Andrew McNaughton, chief operating officer, Systra
  • Philip Bouverat, director, JCB
  • Nick Roberts, CEO, UK & Europe, Atkins
  • Martin Bellamy, executive director, BAM Nuttall
  • Mark Holmes, chief operating officer – consultancy, Mace
  • Tracey Smith, CEO, British Expertise International
  • Graham Cartledge, chairman, Benoy
  • James Stewart, chairman, global infrastructure, KPMG
  • Gordon Turley, major projects director, Mott MacDonald
  • Freddie Patterson, business development director, Lagan Construction Group
  • Peter Chamley, global infrastructure lead, Arup
  • Stuart Senior, main board, Gleeds
  • Dean Purvis, director – infrastructure, Turner & Townsend
  • Brian Gallagher, CEO – infrastructure, Department for International Trade

The UK is keen to enhance its construction offering as it estimates that by 2030, global annual construction investment alone is expected to grow by 85 per cent to $15.5 trillion.

The move also comes as the UK’s domestic construction sector cools. The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figures for June show that the UK’s construction industry has slowed down. Output fell from 56 in May to 54.8, with political uncertainty following the general election on 8 June cited as the reason for the weakened performance.