24 October 2008

* Arabtec sees 122% nine-month net increase with Dh49bn order book

Arabtec Holdings yesterday said its order book stands at Dh49 billion and reported a 122 per cent increase in net profit for the first nine months of the year.

"We have a very healthy order book and most of our clients are still pursuing their projects," Ziad Makhzoumi, Arabtec's Chief Financial Officer, told Emirates Business. "And I do not see any reason for it to change."

Makhzoumi said even during the difficult global economic conditions, it is business as usual for Arabtec. "We are on target for the fourth quarter and expect net profit to be close to Dh1bn for the year. We don't see any obvious change in our numbers or in the market itself. There will be some adjustments in the market, but in our case we expect to reach our target."

Arabtec yesterday reported a group profit of Dh761 million for the first three quarters of 2008, compared to Dh343m achieved during the corresponding period in 2007. Revenues for the period increased to Dh6.4bn compared to Dh2.8bn in the first three quarters of 2007, an increase of 129 per cent.

Chief Executive Riad Kamal said in a statement: "The increase in profit is due to the increase in the consolidated revenue and maintaining the net profit percentage. This has resulted from the careful expansion strategy implemented by Arabtec and the selected acquisitions completed, which focused on complementing our expertise.

"Arabtec adopted a strategic plan over the past few years that aimed to diversify our projects portfolio revenue mix without compromising on safety or quality and delivering on schedule."

The current number of joint ventures and subsidiaries within Arabtec Holding total up to 14 and the synergies work well for the group projects portfolio in regional markets.

It is currently focusing on Saudi Arabia as part of its expansion plans in the region. "Saudi Arabia is a growing market and we have to divert our resources to develop it fully. With the present order book and market in Dubai, we would like to also concentrate on the existing work as well," Makhzoumi said. "But there are many good companies there and the market is attractive. It is a matter of priorities and we are looking at the options."

The company has already formed five joint ventures outside of the UAE to facilitate international expansion in Pakistan, Jordan, Qatar and Syria.

"It helps us to get local knowledge and labour costs. Again, we have moved with our clients such as Emaar and their projects into these countries," he added. "In Qatar, we are working on the Al Wahab City in Qatar, which is a major project."

According to Makhzoumi, the major chunk of the company's work is still in Dubai but Abu Dhabi is a fast growing market. Subsidiary Arabtec Construction is currently negotiating with Greece-based Aktor over a contract to design and build a Dh7bn Cleveland clinic in Abu Dhabi.

Arabtec was recently awarded the contract to build the $2.7bn (Dh9.92bn) 400-metre-high Okhta Center for Gazprom Neft in St Petersburg. This has been one of its biggest contracts to date and represents the firm's entry into Russia.

"This is a mixed-use development and Gazprom had invited us to bid and we won," said Makhzoumi.

He said mobilisation is in progress to meet the demands of the project.


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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.