Western contractors in Qatar draw up contingency plans for exit

Reports say that contractors could pull out of $200bn construction programme as dispute between GCC neighbours continues

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Western contractors working in Qatar on the execution and delivery of infrastructure projects related to the FIFA World Cup 2022 are drawing up departure plans as fears that the continuing dispute with Doha’s GCC neighbours could delay the country’s $200 billion construction programme.

British media reports have claimed that suppliers and construction firms operating in the Gulf state could look to leave, should the current diplomatic crisis continue. The Telegraph quoted a World Cup supplier, who declined to be named due to client sensitivities, as saying that fresh sanctions could shift the dial in favour of companies leaving.

Qatar is entering into a crucial stage of its construction schedule for the FIFA World Cup, with British and American firms, including architects like Foster + Partners, Zaha Hadid Architects, Arup, CH2M and Aecom all playing leading roles on stadium projects.

FTSE 250-listed contractors, Interserve and Carillion, consultants Turner & Townsend, Gleeds and RLB also have a presence in the country.

“We have a team working on contingency planning,” the source said. “Should further sanctions come in companies will have to reassess their investment and their presence in Qatar. If the risk profile changes we would take evasive action to protect our investments and our people,” he was quoted as saying in the Telegraph report.

Qatar has not confirmed the number of World Cup 2020 stadiums, which it plans to build on a staggered basis over a three-year period from 2018-2021, although it is expected to construct eight, added an Arab News report.

The country however has began cutting some of the peripheral projects for the football tournament as declining gas prices have put pressure on the government budget.

The Telegraph report also quoted another contractor as saying that the row was a ‘difference of principle that was unlikely to go away for months, maybe a year.’

Although the company was not itself working on contingency plans, it added that companies that operated in both Doha and Abu Dhabi would soon have to choose between one or the other.

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