US construction delegation targets Gulf goldrush

26 March 2014

The US government has thrown its weight behind American companies who are joining the international rush to win construction and infrastructure work in the Gulf region.

Executives from 21 engineering, architecture and energy firms were chosen from the 80 that applied for a place on the Commerce Department’s trade mission to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar, the region’s three main economies, between 8-14 March.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker led the delegation.

US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker poses with her trade delegates in Qatar at the end of her trade mission to the Gulf (US Department of Commerce)

Kurt Bergman, president of Michael Baker International, told Engineering News-Record that the region was "flush with money coming out of the oil revenues, so it has the ability to dream large. I would definitely say that they have put themselves into a position where they can afford to buy the best, and that’s what they expect. And so they want American companies to participate."

Joseph Burns, a managing principal with multidisciplinary engineer Thornton Tomasetti, said the downturn in the region was over and economic activity "really feels like it’s coming back". The executives commented that the presence of US government officials helped them to hold meetings with decision makers that would ordinarily have taken them 12 months to arrange.

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