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Reluctance to work in Saudi costs UK firms

BRITISH ENGINEERING fi rms are losing out on billions of dollars worth of work in Saudi Arabia because they are unwilling to set up bases in the country, Saudi government officials have said.

More than $90bn will be spent on infrastructure in the Middle Eastern country in the next 10 years, said Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority transportation sector director general Dr Abdulaziz Y Al-Babutain.

Al-Babutain was speaking to delegates at a Middle East Economic Digest conference in London.

The investment in infrastructure provides a massive opportunity for British firms, he said.

But companies are missing out on the big jobs because of a lack of local knowledge and a reluctance to set up local offi ces.

'There is lots of opportunity for British firms. But they need good access to local markets.

'Some firms are approaching us that do not have a base in Saudi Arabia. They need to have a base there, ' he said.

Huge forthcoming projects include building the Middle East's first high-speed rail link, and several airport expansions.

Saudi investment authorities are open to public and private sector joint initiatives for the engineering work, Al-Babutain said.

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