Prosper Meets - Rashid Khawaja DIT UAE Sector Lead for Construction and Water  


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“Many companies ask me what the biggest opportunities are in the UAE and how they can win business here, says Rashid, “My advice is always to make use of the great resources available to exporters, from your International Trade Advisor, UK Export Finance, the local DIT team in the UAE, or of course the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, all of whom can tremendously contribute to your success.”


One recent example of excellent collaboration began with UKEF extending financing for the Marsa Al Arab project in Dubai.


“Marsa Al Arab is a $1.7 billion project catering to tourists in Dubai and will be built on two islands on both sides of the Burj Al Arab hotel,” continued Rashid, “One island is devoted to entertainment venues and family tourism featuring Wild Wadi Waterpark and Marine Park, while the other island is a dedicated luxury resort.

“The island located on the left of Burj Al Arab will offer 140 luxurious villas including a private yacht marina, yacht club, gourmet restaurants, helipad, convention centre, hotels and shopping outlets spread across 20,000 square metres.”

The DIT UAE Team has worked closely with Al Shafar General Contracting Company (ASGC), a Dubai-based contractor who is leading on the design and build contract, alongside Atkins who are the design engineers. 

The project is UKEF-backed and ASGC are looking to ensure that at least 30% of the suppliers on the project are British. 

“Over the past months we have been working closely with ASGC’s procurement team and helping them develop a database of UK supply chain companies,” Rashid said, “The DIT team based at the Black Country Chamber have been most helpful in matching relevant supply chain companies with various packages of the project for which ASGC are extremely grateful. 


"Together, we have been able to feed in over 200 UK SMEs for the project. MEP design work for the project is not finished yet which means that several packages have yet to come out and ASGC has ensured that they are keen to reach out to more UK companies.

“The next phase of sifting companies and matching technical and commercial credentials is currently underway.  We expect to see the placement of orders on compliant UK companies commencing soon, which will lead to many UK companies winning business, rare welcome news in the current COVID environment.”

Rashid concluded, “We continue to share the news with the wider DIT network as a case study, highlighting the great potential to be replicated in other export markets where UKEF-backed projects, similar to Marsa Al Arab, can unlock significant business opportunities for UK supply chain. 


“The Black Country team have been instrumental in much of this success and I very much look forward to working with more companies from the region and continuing to build on this.”