Thanks to the offer of up to $2bn of export credit guarantees, UK firms now have the edge on the biggest airport project in the world.

While all the hype over the past year has been focused on the 2020 World Expo, those in construction know the real prize for construction companies in Dubai is Al-Maktoum International airport. The development is simply the biggest airport project in the world and includes a new Emirates terminal that will have the capacity to handle 120 million-130 million passengers a year – making it the biggest terminal building in the world several times over.

So far there have been few details released on the scheme. The consultancy team of Lebanon’s Dar al-Handasah and France’s ADPI have completed the concept for the development, and having worked on all the recent airport projects in Dubai many expected that trend to continue and the usual suspects from the development of Dubai International airport to take the lion’s share of the work at Maktoum International airport.

The UK has decided to challenge that theory with the offer of export finance. The move is a bold one as offers from other governments in the past have been rejected. Although not confirmed, it is understood that China made a similar offer in the past, but it was ultimately turned down as it was not large enough – some say it was about $500m.

The value of the UK offer far exceeds that and, based on the reaction from decision-makers in Dubai, has been welcomed. Should they choose to accept the offer and use UK funding guarantees UK consultants, contractors and suppliers will be favourites to win work on the biggest airport project in the world.