Firms including EC Harris and Mace cut jobs or relocate personnel as region ‘goes southwards’

The extent of the downturn in Dubai’s construction market became clear this week as it emerged some of the biggest UK consultants in the emirate are shedding staff.

EC Harris, which employs about 200 people in the region and has a joint venture with developer Sama Dubai, said it had moved about 15% of its Dubai staff to Abu Dhabi and made “selective cuts”.

Mark Prior, the firm’s regional managing director, said: “The market, particularly in Dubai, has gone southwards rapidly.

Abu Dhabi is slowing down, but not so much.” He added that the firm was building up its disputes and project recovery business in the region.

Mace is thought to be axing about 60 of its 450 jobs in the UAE, although it would not confirm the number. A spokesperson said: “Like everyone else in the Middle East we have had to make some cost savings.”

It also emerged that Ian McGauley, Dubai operations director for Bovis Lend Lease, has been transferred to Sydney.

The news comes after the region’s major developers, including Nakheel and Damac, announced sweeping jobs cuts. Many projects, including the Trump Tower and Arabian Canal, have been put on hold, scaled back or cancelled.

One consultant said: “Dubai could end up with a lot of half-completed buildings. This is what happens when you have an economy that’s based on an artificially-created environment.”

Meanwhile, consultant Currie & Brown has closed three offices and axed jobs in the UK as part of a major restructure. The £63m-turnover firm has said that between 15 and 20 UK staff (4%) are to lose their jobs and about 10 more will be relocated.

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