DUBAI Feb 1 Dubai builder Arabtec has secured a 20 billion dirham ($5.5 billion) contract from Abu Dhabi state fund Aabar to build as many as 37 major buildings across the United Arab Emirates, two sources aware of the matter said.
Arabtec has won a series of contracts in Abu Dhabi, including high-profile projects such as the development of Abu Dhabi's main airport and the Louvre museum there, after Aabar began building a major stake in the firm in 2012.
The latest contract is one of the largest construction deals awarded to any builder in the UAE since the real estate markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which crashed during the global financial crisis, began recovering about 18 months ago.
Aabar plans to build 12 mixed-use towers and 14 residential towers in Abu Dhabi, plus six furnished hotel apartment buildings and four hotels in Dubai, one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the matter is not yet public. All the projects are expected to be completed before 2020, when Dubai will host the World Expo.
Arabtec is expected to announce the contract win imminently, the source said. Arabtec declined to comment, while Aabar could not be reached for comment outside business hours in Abu Dhabi.
Aabar, which also owns stakes in companies such as commodities trader Glencore and Italian bank UniCredit , now holds about 22 percent of Arabtec, and its influence on the firm has resulted in a management shake-up and aggressive expansion under new chief executive Hasan Abdullah Ismaik.
Property prices in Dubai slumped by over 50 percent in 2008-2010, but developers have announced a string of new projects over the past year as they look to take advantage of a trade and tourism boom. ($1 = 3.6730 UAE dirhams) (Editing by Andrew Torchia)