Quantity surveyor Cyril Sweett aims to pick up reconstruction work in Afghanistan by setting up an office in the United Arab Emirates.
The QS is in talks with an unnamed cost consulting practice in the Gulf over a joint venture in anticipation of a deluge of work after the war.

Michael Gibbons, chief executive of Cyril Sweett, said he hoped to establish a base in Dubai early next year. He said: "People in Dubai see that some work will be coming out of events in Afghanistan."

But Gibbons emphasised that the partnership would not simply be pitching for contracts there.

He said: "There are opportunities that will emanate from Dubai. We will work principally in Dubai and the Gulf states." Gibbons added that the bulk of the contracts were expected to be in the health and commercial sectors.

Cyril Sweett directors believe the firm will benefit from Dubai's booming leisure and tourism markets and from construction work in Iraq and Iran.

People in Dubai see that some work will be coming out of events in Afghanistan

Michael Gibbons, chief executive, Cyril Sweett

The Dubai move, part of a five-year international expansion programme, has been helped along by a family link between a Cyril Sweett employee and a leading member of the Gulf-based firm.

The European market remains the QS's priority, however. It held a launch party in Spain last week for a project management joint venture in Madrid, NC Sweett. This joint project has been set up with Soluziona, a division of utilities company Union Fenoza, which employs 8000 people.

Soluziona believes that the QS will offer it expertise that is in short supply in Spain, where the profession remains relatively underdeveloped.

For Cyril Sweett, the venture provides it with the opportunity to work from 21 offices in Spain.