Australian contractors claims $2.5tr worth of projects in the Gulf will mean continuing opportunities

Australia's biggest contractor Leighton has said the downturn in Dubai is not a barometer for its business in the Gulf region.

The firm carries out work in the area in a joint venture with Al Habtoor and has been hit in recent months by Dubai developer Nakheel's decision to suspend a number of projects it is working on.

But the company said: “The pipeline of new projects has seen a significant reduction over the last six months but there is still some US$2.5tr worth of projects in planning across the Gulf Co-operative Council. Even if some more of these projects are delayed or cancelled the region is expected to provide a good level of opportunities over the next few years.”

It added that China was expected to see a more substantial growth which would see oil prices rebound and added that oil-producing states in the UAE along with Qatar would benefit as a result.

Leighton made the comments after making a AUS $239m (£109m) writedown in profits for the half year to December 2008. The company wrote down investments in a number of its toll road operations in its native Australia.

As a result, pre-tax profit slumped by 54%to AUS$147.7m (£67.2m). Revenue in the first half was up 37% to AUS$6.6bn (£3bn).