Jon Emery, former director of Hammerson, who now runs the construction programme of Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim Properties, has called on UK contractors not to shy away from bidding for a new £1bn-plus framework to build 10 large shopping centres in the Middle East.

MAF Properties, the privately owned firm that is the biggest shopping centre developer in the Middle East, is drawing up its first framework for the programme. The initial four schemes in the UAE, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria are worth £715m.

Emery said he was particularly interested in attracting UK contractors and called on them not to be put off by perceived risks or a belief they could not compete with the lower staff costs at firms from other countries.

He said: “I would love to hear from any UK firms interested in talking to us – especially contractors.” Emery said MAF would be a reliable partner that could help firms break into the region and that future developments were likely to be in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

MAF Properties’ parent MAF Group is separate from Al-Futtaim Group, which has a joint venture in the UAE with Carillion Jon Emery and MAF P50 Jon Emery and MAF P50 although both companies are owned by different branches of the same family. The company’s owner Majid Al Futtaim is 205th on Forbes magazine’s list of world billionaires with an estimated personal wealth of $3bn.