South Korea’s Samsung Engineering has closed its Dubai office as work slows down in the cash-strapped emirate, the company has confirmed.

Samsung closed its main Dubai office, in the Barsha district of the city, on 31 January, according to a Samsung spokeswoman.

Most of the staff and resources which were based in Dubai have now been moved to Samsung’s Abu Dhabi office, where the company believes it is more likely to find work, the executive says.

“Our Dubai offices has been closed and we are focusing more on Abu Dhabi as we see more growth coming from that emirate,” says the spokeswoman.

“It is dead in Dubai, that’s why they are leaving,” says a source close to the company.

Samsung will maintain a presence in Dubai through its local partner, adds a senior executive at the company.

Samsung Engineering focuses on the construction of major oil and gas processing plants such as refineries and liquefied natural gas units; industrial projects such as power plants and steel mills; and water, wastewater and sewage treatment plants including desalination facilities.

The company’s primary focus in Dubai was on water and wastewater treatment facilities, according to contractors with ties to the company.

Projects of this kind have slowed down since the financial crisis of 2008-2009 hit real estate developments in the emirate.

Samsung was working on a sewage treatment project at local real estate developer Nakheel’s International City project in 2009, but the scheme was subsequently cancelled, leaving the contractor with no significant industrial jobs in the emirate.

Samsung was also prequalified to bid on a deal to build water and wastewater facilities at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone, but this project was also put on hold in 2009.

Samsung’s departure from the emirate may be the first of many, say contractors, as firms move their focus from Dubai’s once-booming real estate market to more sustainable markets such as Abu Dhabi and Qatar.