UK QS and project manager Baker Wilkins has secured commissions on two new commercial projects in Iraq and is planning to re-enter its dormant office in Baghdad next month.
The 140-strong firm, which has operated in the Middle East for 30 years but left Iraq in 1987, said it was working on commercial schemes for businesses looking to set up new headquarters in the country.

Partner Tim Siddons declined to name the clients, but said the firm was already working on designs for the schemes at its London office.

Siddons said the firm had kept in touch with old Iraqi contacts during the its time out of the country, and had quickly remobilised once Saddam Hussein's regime fell.

He said: "We have had eight meetings in the past week with various parties about going to Iraq. We are not waiting for a British government push [into Iraq] – we are going for it on our own."

The new work came as British experts predicted that UK companies could be squeezed out of the post-war reconstruction market in Iraq by firms in the Middle East.

We are not waiting for a British push into Iraq – we are going for it alone

Tim Siddons, Baker Wilkins

Sir Nigel Thompson, deputy chairman of Arup and head of reconstruction taskforces to Kosovo and Serbia, said he had his doubts about the long-term prospects for British companies in the region.

He said: "When it comes to major projects like government buildings and repairs to roads and bridges, American companies are likely to subcontract to Iraqi firms used to working in those conditions."

He added: "There will also be a contingent of Turkish, Palestinian and Kuwaiti companies lining up for work that will be cheaper than many UK companies."

But, despite this, Thompson said that UK companies had a good chance of securing subcontracting work in the initial period.