Mott MacDonald is planning to reduce the number of offices it has in Abu Dhabi from three to two because there is not enough work to go round.

Ian Clarke, its Middle East managing director, hinted that staff numbers could shrink.

“You’ll probably see consolidation in our offices in Abu Dhabi,” he said this week.

“We’ll have to match staff levels to workload. There’s not a lot of margin at the moment for sitting out the difficulties with under-utilised staff.”

A spokesperson for Mott MacDonald said that there would be no reduction in staff numbers

“We are seeking to consolidate our offices in Abu Dhabi reducing these from three to two. However this does not mean a reduction in staff numbers - in fact, we have taken on more space in one of our three current locations there and expect our overall staff numbers in Abu Dhabi and in the UAE generally to show a modest increase next year, some sectors obviously being stronger than others,” they said.

Clarke said Saudi Arabia and Iraq were high-priority markets, as was Qatar, where he expected the office to double in capacity.

Meanwhile, the UK ambassador to the UAE told delegates that a stronger emphasis on good relations with the UAE by the coalition government could help British companies.