Douglas to lead Abu Dhabi's new megaport

Former Laing O'Rourke executive moves east to oversee Emirate's port development programme

Tony Douglas, the construction boss who built Heathrow's celebrated Terminal Five, is to oversee the development of what is, in effect, a massive new industrial city near Abu Dhabi.

Mr Douglas starts tomorrow as chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC). The major project is the Khalifa Port, the first phase of which will be built by 2012 for an estimated £4.9bn.

Surrounding the port, huge industrial and residential zones will be developed on a site in excess of 400 sq km. Mr Douglas will manage the construction of an area that is the equivalent of combining Southampton and Portsmouth and all the space between.

Analysts believe that the final price tag of the project could run into the hundreds of billions, and it will be the main economic driver of the fast-expanding country. The site is about halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, its struggling neighbouring Emirate, at Al Taweelah.

The British construction industry has eagerly awaited Mr Douglas's re-emergence after his departure from Laing O'Rourke last year. Mr Douglas was chief operating officer of the UK's biggest privately-owned construction group and was expected to become chief executive.

However, incumbent Ray O'Rourke decided to stay on as the recession started to hit. Mr Douglas, who was previously managing director of Heathrow airport for operator BAA, decided to move on last November.

He is believed to have received a number of approaches in the UK and became a non-executive director at demolition contractor Keltbray in March. The Abu Dhabi job, however, was the most substantial offer, as it will create one of the biggest port developments in the world.

ADPC is developing nine ports, though Khalifa is the major project. Mr Douglas said: "I am particularly excited to be invited to join ADPC at this key stage in the group's development. I am looking forward to the challenge immensely." His chairman, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, said he was "thrilled" by the appointment.

ADPC was established four years ago to restructure Abu Dhabi's commercial ports sector.

Mr Douglas has knowledge of working practices in the United Arab Emirates from his time at Laing O'Rourke. The construction group, which is the UK's third biggest when listed rivals are included, has an annual turnover in the Middle East of more than £800m. Laing O'Rourke started working in the region in 2006. Its major projects in the region include the £950m Atlantis hotel in Dubai which opened in late 2008, and the $14.7bn Al Raha beach development in Abu Dhabi.

Many British construction firms have expanded into the region in recent years to replace the fall in domestic private-sector work. In the UK they have largely relied on the public sector for contracts. However, the recent emergency Budget cuts are likely to hit the sector hard, with the Construction Products Association, an industry body, suggesting that the £107bn industry could lose one-fifth of its revenue.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Guru Careers: Application Support Analyst / 1st Line Support

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence