WSP’s chief executive has described the construction market in Dubai as a “car crash”

Speaking after the group announced healthy results for the year ended 31 December 2008, Chris Cole said the market in the region had not recovered since it froze in November last year.

He said: “We called the problem before anyone else in December. It can only get better in Dubai, but it won’t go back to its former glory.”

Despite the gloomy scenario, Cole said the fact the emirate had raised $10bn (£7bn) through a bond issue last month from the United Arab Emirates central bank in Abu Dhabi was a step in the right direction.

He said: “It’s important for Dubai that Abu Dhabi steps in when the chips are down.”

Turnover in 2008 at WSP rose 36%, from £556.5m to £755.2m. Excluding acquisitions, growth was 21% (£100m). Pre-tax profit was up 37% from £37.9m to £52.1m.

The group produced a chart of which market sectors were doing well in different parts of the world and which were struggling (see graph below).

The contribution of the public sector to the company’s turnover rose from 45% to 51% in 2008. WSP ended the year with an order book of £1.1bn, up from £900m in 2007.

David Turner, its chairman, said: “The group’s momentum, together with our overall order book and secure bank facilities provide a solid platform for the group’s trading outlook.”