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Lebanon remains a market for UK consultants, says former ICE president

UK COMPANIES should not rule out working in Lebanon in the long term, despite the current crisis, leading engineers said this week.

Former ICE president, Arup director Colin Clinton, recently carried out a scoping study of the country with the British Consultants and Contractors Bureau (BCCB) at the request of UK Trade and Industry.

Following the visit at the end of March, Clinton and the BCCB are working on a report to present later this year.

'The fidings of the report won't change. In the medium to long term there are opportunities in real estate development, environmental work and tourism, ' said Clinton.

As NCE went to press two British warships were standing by to carry out what the Foreign Office has warned could be the largest rescue of British nationals since Dunkirk.

The scoping study identifies energy infrastructure, wastewater treatment and lowcost housing as the main areas of investment and opportunity for UK companies in the long term. But with the bombing of infrastructure, such as roads, airports and bridges, cash will first have to be diverted into its repair, said Clinton.

Before this latest conict began Lebanon's construction industry was suffering from a lack of labour and technical expertise, prompting the UK Government to investigate opportunities in the region.

NCE contacted 15 UK-based companies identified in its 2006 Consultants File as having experience in the region, but none said that they were evacuating staff.

'[Lebanon's] Council for Development & Reconstruction had begun forcing investment and Saudi and Kuwaiti investors were buying up real estate, ' said Clinton. 'The energy supply infrastructure is war torn and has not all been replaced since the last conict. There are no railway lines and major highways infrastructure is being replaced.

'If the past is to be believed this won't be a long conict and hopefully the promises of investment will still be there.'

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