Murray & Roberts Cut 28% of Mideast Jobs as Qatar Orders Stall

Murray & Roberts Holdings Ltd., builder of Dubai’s sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, has cut more than a quarter of its workforce in the Middle East on slower-than-expected tenders for work in Qatar.

South Africa’s second-largest construction company dismissed about 28 percent of its employees in the region “to resize ourselves to market conditions,” Johan Fourie, the builder’s human resources director, said today by telephone. About 200 employees remain, he said.

Contracts for work in Qatar, which is hosting soccer’s World Cup in 2022, haven’t been tendered as expected, Fourie said. The Persian Gulf state plans to build nine stadiums, hotels, a railway and other infrastructure to host the tournament.

Construction declined in the United Arab Emirates, Murray & Roberts’ Middle East base, after about $757 billion of projects were delayed or aborted following the collapse of property prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Citigroup said in an Oct. 16 report. The total was more than Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar combined, the bank said.

“The company is actively pursuing tender opportunities within the Middle East and we are confident about the industry’s future in the region,” Fourie said.

Murray & Roberts and joint-venture partner Al Habtoor Leighton Group built the Sorbonne University campus in Abu Dhabi and the St. Regis Hotel and Residences on Saadiyat Island. The contractor also worked on the 3 billion-dirham ($817 million) Zayed University campus in Abu Dhabi and a 2.2 billion-dirham Abu Dhabi hospital project.

Qatar promised FIFA, soccer’s governing body, that it would more than double hotel and apartment rooms to 84,000 and build a $25 billion rail and metro network. Murray & Roberts constructed some of the stadiums for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and was part of the group that built Africa’s first rapid rail in Johannesburg ahead of the tournament.

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