Transportation and other markets in the emirate countries of the Middle East continue to offer lucrative opportunities for U.S. engineering firms. Qatar leaders on April 6 signed contracts with these firms worth billions of dollars during a Manhattan conference that drew top government and business officials.
Parsons Transportation Group will provide design work for two new highways that together are projected to cost more than $1 billion, and is teamed with AECOM on construction management for a $3.5-billion, 30-km light rail network. Jeffrey Squires, Parsons executive vice president, says Qatar's 2022 hosting of the FIFA World Cup is spurring infrastructure development. “This is all part of the FIFA bid and vision,” he says.
Qatar Airways signed an agreement with Boeing Co. for seven aircraft worth $1.3 billion. Qatar investors are working with U.S. firm Hines Group on a $700-million, 2.5-million-sq-ft real estate project in Washington, D.C., called CityCenter DC.
At the New York City forum, Qatar's Prime Minster Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani said he “expects the U.S. will remain our most important partner” as the country plans $27 billion worth of development.
“We are the single largest investor in Qatar with 120 companies on the ground,” added U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These are not just big deals but good deals. They will keep Qatar on the path to democratic development and create American jobs.”
There is concern about whether Americans will be willing to relocate to Qatar. But Squires notes that Parsons has had a long-standing presence in the region and focuses on training local talent.
Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer at Exxon Mobil Corp., said that “few nations offer a more dynamic business environment. Qatar has sound, stable-market-oriented opportunities.” Exxon Mobil has $16 billion invested in Qatar energy projects.