The man that Dubai developer Majid Al Futtaim poached from Hammerson is tapping UK expertise to get a £1bn-plus Middle East shopping centre programme off the ground

Jon Emery, senior vice president of project management and construction at MAF, said the company was talking to a number of UK firms, including consultants Waterman, Cyril Sweett and Gardiner & Theobald, and contractor Laing O’Rourke, which carries out Middle Eastern work with Abu Dhabi firm Aldar.

MAF already works with WSP and EC Harris, and has worked in the past with Carillion, which has a tie-up with a local firm called Al Futtaim.

Emery left his post as head of development at Hammerson last October, after nearly 20 years at the firm, to join the MAF board. His move triggered a series of departures from UK companies, including British Land and Sir Robert McAlpine, to MAF and about a dozen UK staff now work at the developer’s headquarters.

Emery said: “I think the presence of myself and the team has increased the credibility of the project management process for some British firms.”

MAF will spend 3bn dirhams (£600m) this year on the plan. Between early 2011 and 2015 it plans to build a series of regional shopping centres worth more than £1bn in Abu Dhabi, Doha in Qatar, Damascus and Cairo. Apart from nearly 5 million ft2 of retail space, the developments will include office and hotel space.

Emery said: “The market is tough, but we are moving forward to start these in the belief that we will deliver. All normal prerequisites on jobs like this, such as signing tenants, are still there.”

He expects to make the first appointments by early summer. Benoy is the architect on the Abu Dhabi scheme.

Who Emery has worked with

Sir Robert McAlpine, Bovis Lend Lease, Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke

QSs and project managers
Davis Langdon, Cyril Sweett, Gardiner & Theobald, Second London Wall and more recently EC Harris and Gleeds

Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Arup, Building Design Partnership, Foreign Office Architects, Foster + Partners, Future Systems, Gollifer Langston, Hawkins\Brown, O’Donnell + Tuomey, Pick Everard and Stiff + Trevillion Architects

Sustainability specialists
Arup, Atelier Ten, Building Design Partnership, Cyril Sweett, Battle McCarthy