Davis Langdon's Middle East head sees much potential in the region and reckons 'what's happening in Dubai will be beneficial in the long term'

Derek Johnson
Derek Johnson

How long has Davis Langdon been in the Middle East?

We have been there since 1948 when we set up a headquarters in Tehran. We went out with BP after the end of the Second World War. We then moved to Aden and our main office is now in Dubai. Being there for 60 years has taught us that it's an ever-changing place.

You're in Lebanon as well?

We've been in it since 1994 and it's an interesting market. We are the only British consultant there and we've survived civil wars and the Israeli attacks two years ago. One of the bridges we helped build got destroyed in the shelling. In terms of work, we are doing some stuff for HSBC. We tend to use Lebanon as a proving ground for our engineers. We get a lot of well-adjusted engineers from there who we use across the Middle East.

You originally set up in Tehran. Are you still in Iran?

Not at the moment. It's a country of enormous potential but with the angst they have with the US, it's not a place for us at the moment. The Foreign Office says is a key determinant for us and if their advice is don't go, then we won't.

Presumably Iraq is off the agenda, then?

Yes, we've got no plans to go there.

Your biggest office is in Dubai. Is the market crashing?

I think what's happening in Dubai will be beneficial in the long term. We've also got offices in Bahrain, Qatar and Abu Dhabi. Those three areas are the ones we see with the most growth at the moment. Qatar has got 200 years of gas left and 200 million barrels of oil. Abu Dhabi's growth has been very considered. Bahrain has in excess of 400 banks so is the financial centre of the UAE. There is a lot of potential there.

Which others markets are you targeting?

Saudi Arabia is a very big market and they're looking for more involvement from outside the country. Our Lebanon office tends to do quite a bit of work with Saudi.