North Africa must be on the radar, say experts

Roundtable

The growing opportunities in the wider MENA region were highlighted during the recent Middle East Architect roundtable discussion.

Architect Steven Miller, regional director for Perkins Eastman, said: “I’m willing to bet that every firm that counts, that’s sitting in the UAE, is looking at all of the MENA region.

“We’re doing five monster projects in Morocco. I am going out of my mind, I am so busy. I’m sharing that western part of the MENA region directly with my counterpart in New York.  It’s too much.”

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He also pointed towards the opportunities in Egypt and Libya. Regarding the latter, he added: “I have to say, that between the French and the Americans, I’ve never seen governments be so proactive in getting professional into Libya. They are getting visas and everything.”

Nigel Craddock, design manager for architecture firm Stride Treglown, added:  “I lived in Libya for six months, for a posting with the Qatar government. Libya has got a lot of potential.”

Phil Dalglish, director for engineering giant Buro Happold, noted that his firm is dealing with North Africa via Europe rather than the Middle East. He added: “Is there legitimacy in basing yourself in the Middle East and spring-boarding to these countries in North Africa.”

Miller replied: “The legitimacy comes about by a similar culture and the language. Other than that there is none. When I’m in Morocco I feel that I’m closer to France than Dubai. All our drawing have to be in Arabic and French.”

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