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Commerce, AIA Plan November Trade Mission to Mideast

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The Commerce Dept. is seeking applications from U.S. design firms for a planned mid-November trade mission to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which will focus on the potentially large opportunities for buildings projects in those countries.

Commerce says a maximum of 20 firms can take part in the visit to Doha, Qatar, scheduled for Nov. 17-19. As many as 10 also can go to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where a visit is slated for Nov. 16-17.

Applications are due by Sept. 15.

Firms can send more than one representative, says Jessica Salmoiraghi, director of federal relations and counsel at the American Institute of Architects, which is providing support for the trade mission.

The new trade mission will focus on buildings, in sectors such as hospitals, airports, hospitality, sports and entertainment and education.

Commerce will hold a free Webinar on Aug. 20 at 12 noon EST outlining the trade mission. To register for the Webinar, click on this link.

The November trip follows a Commerce Dept. trade mission to the Middle East in March that had a broader infrastructure and energy focus and included stops in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker led that mission.

Salmoiraghi said that the March trade trip was so well received that the prospect of a follow-on mission sparked excitement.

AIA’s Middle East chapter contacted the organization’s headquarters to try to get a new trade trip launched to the region, says Salmoiraghi.

The potential markets are huge. According to the Commerce Dept., Qatar plans to spend more then $250 billion on infrastructure over five years. Some of the work stems from soccer’s 2022 World Cup, to be held there.

Major projects in Qatar include a planned second phase for a new Doha airport, a new seaport, highway work, subway and light-rail lines and nine to 12 new stadiums, plus hospitals, schools and commercial and hospitality-related buildings.

Saudi Arabia now has an estimated $960 billion in projects planned or underway, Commerce says, including more than $700 billion in megaprojects. Architectural and engineering services totaled an estimated $2 billion in 2013. Work includes 500,000 residential units and multi-use complexes. About 300 upscale hotels also are foreseen over five to 10 years.


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