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Dubai's Desert Group eyes Saudi Arabia contracts, Neom City work

Saudi Arabia is "definitely our next frontier", CEO Michael Mascarenhas says

Michael Mascarenhas, chief executive officer of Desert Group [image: Desert Group].
Michael Mascarenhas, chief executive officer of Desert Group [image: Desert Group].

Dubai-based landscape design and maintenance firm Desert Group sees Saudi Arabia as its “next frontier”, particularly in light of the kingdom’s planned $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom City megaproject.

“I think we have been very UAE-centric,” Michael Mascarenhas, chief executive officer at Desert Group, told Construction Week. “We are in Bahrain too, but Saudi Arabia is definitely our next frontier. We would like to take our capabilities of nursery golf course construction, landscaping, and maintenance services to this region.”

Desert Group is already a stable name in the UAE, designing and landscaping green and water assets across  the country, while also growing its own biological assets in its own through its range of nurseries.

READ: Saudi Arabia to build new $500bn megacity on Red Sea coast

With its project portfolio including work for top names such as Dubai World Trade Centre, Emaar, Nakheel and Jumeirah International, the firm has its eyes firmly on Saudi as a “frontier we would like to penetrate and conquer”, as Mascarenhas explained.

“When you travel to Riyadh or Jeddah for example, I think some are unpleasantly surprised by the lack of greenery there. It is no fault of theirs; it is just that the expertise didn't exist there. But we are able to do that and do it well.”

While noting that “there will be a few challenges” when moving into Saudi as a new market, he added that the range of services that Desert provides would be the key to its success.

READ: First contracts awarded for Saudi's $500bn Neom city

He added: “Look at what's happening in terms of budgetary outlays for projects such as Neom City. We want to be part of that, and we are already speaking to many people there who want our services. We've just got to fashion out our way of operating there.”

His comments came just days after a global advisory board was announced for Neom, bringing together international experts from the design, planning, and construction industries.

Initial names in the board include Lord Norman Forster, founder and executive chairman of global architectural design firm Fosters + Partners.

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Construction Week - Issue 745
Jun 30, 2019