By BUSINESS TIMES
WCT Bhd (9679), Malaysia’s biggest construction and property development group, aims to secure RM1 billion worth of new projects in Malaysia and the Middle East this year.
WCT regional general manager for the Middle East Elina Abdul Aziz said the group was tendering for projects in Abu Dhabi and Oman.
The group, with RM2.6 billion order book as at December 31 2008, is now positioning itself in three major markets – Malaysia, Vietnam and Middle East.
“In spite of the slowdown in Middle East markets, there are still opportunities in countries such as Oman and Bahrain.
“Major cities such as Dubai where development has reached its height could be experiencing some slowdown,” she said during the Malaysia Services Exhibition 2009 which ended in Dubai recently.
Elina said it was crucial for WCT to position itself and strengthen its foothold in the Middle East market in view of more opportunities when the economy recovers.
She said the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 circuit, one of the iconic projects in Middle East, will be the platform for WCT to expand further in the region.
“The circuit will be completed in August in time for the race in November,” she said.
The project, costing 3.3 billion dirham (100 dirham = RM102.10) is reputed to be the world’s most modern and finest F1 circuit, with a 50,000 spectator capacity.
WCT has also secured the 235 million dirham Yas Marina Royal Yacht Club located adjacent to the F1 circuit to host the Royal family of Abu Dhabi and VIP visitors for the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.
“We entered the Middle East construction market in 2002. The Bahrain Formula One circuit project, which we completed at a record time of 16 months, provided us the platform to penetrate into the Middle East market,” she said.
WCT’s current projects in the Middle East include the 1.6 billion dirham Bahrain City Centre, the country’s largest leisure and entertainment hub, 43km 800 million dirham West Dukhan Highway in Qatar and infrastructure work at the New Doha International Airport.
Elina said while the economic climate and financial situation have become more challenging now due to low demand for construction projects owing to the global economic downturn, WCT is confident of weathering the economic crisis.
She said infrastructure projects are still in demand in the Middle East region though the clients may be more selective.
“The projects we are doing are not affected by the economic downturn and clients are keen to go ahead with the projects.
“The Middle East market looks promising now while in the next three years Vietnam will be an attractive market,” she said.
In Vietnam, WCT is focusing on the Platinum Plaza project, set to be the country’s largest leisure and entertainment centre, she said.
The project will be completed in 2014.
In Malaysia, Elina said WCT was busy with several projects – the office and commercial buildings in Putrajaya due for completion in 2010 and Paradigm Petaling Jaya Grade A offices and shopping mall, Malaysia’s most modern commercial development.
The Paradigm, to be completed in 2014, has a gross development value of RM1.4 billion, she said.
Other ongoing projects in Malaysia are civil work at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport in Sabah and Bakun hydroelectric dam in Sarawak.