Heriot-Watt hosts construction trade visit from UAE

A delegation from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is to arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow on a trade visit aimed at identifying opportunities across key challenges facing construction and enable Scottish companies to help develop products of the future.

Heriot-Watt's new Global Research, Innovation and Discovery building, known as the Grid. Picture: Contributed

The group comprises representatives from building firms Al Shafar General Contracting, Alec Construction, Turner Construction, Thornton Tomasetti and Jacobs Construction. They will spend several days exploring opportunities for further collaboration with innovation specialists at Heriot-Watt University.

The latter said it has “deep” roots in Dubai through its campus that has been in the region since 2005, and the delegation will learn more about its new £19 million Global Research, Innovation and Discovery building (known as the Grid), due to open in Edinburgh in the autumn.

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It was also noted that Scotland sends more than £1.8 billion in exports to the Gulf states a year, £1bn of which is to UAE. There are also around 75 current investment projects led by Scottish businesses in the country, representing almost £70m of capital investment.

Mixed-use real estate projects and residential developments form the largest part of this activity and it is intended that the visit will also strengthen relationships around Heriot-Watt University’s Centre of Excellence in Construction, on its Dubai campus.

Gillian Murray, deputy principal (enterprise and business) at Heriot-Watt, which is hosting the tour, said: “Together we hope to identify collaborative, global research and innovation opportunities across key challenges facing the construction sector and support Scottish companies to work together to develop products of the future.“

Delegates will tour a further three Scottish Innovation Centres, at Construction Scotland, Censis and The Data Lab.