The New Dubai?
NO LONGEr an economic pariah, Libya is
transforming itself into the latest project hotspot.
“It’s absolutely the boom country at the
moment,” richard Barber, supervisor at Han-miParsons, a South Korea-based construction
management company, told the Associated Press.
With no debt and a $70 billion sovereign
wealth fund—thanks to the largest proven oil
reserves on the continent—the North African
country is investing in its economic and social
Libya is “really trying to become, for lack of
a better term, a new Dubai,” Carlos Caceres, a
deputy senior regional manager for U.S. engineering firm AECOM, told the Associated Press.
The country plans to spend $500 billion over
the next decade on an array of
projects to improve housing,
hotels, hospitals, education
facilities, ports, airports and
security. Libya is also keenly
aware of the need to address
its still-limited infrastructure.
Plans are in the works for high-
speed railways and first-class
roads along the Mediterranean
coast, connecting the capi-
tal with Egypt and Tunisia,
according to libyaonline.com.
Housing is fast emerging
as one of the hottest sectors.
AECOM, for example, is
overseeing an $80 billion-plus program in Tripoli and
Benghazi, the nation’s two
largest cities. Projects include
constructing 160,000 housing
units and laying new sewage
and electrical pipes.
Libya’s economy is
8. 4 percent
The amount of
Libya in 2005
The amount of
Libya in 2008
Source: International Monetary
Fund and the United Nations
Turkey’s EMSAS Con-
struction is building the Bab
Tripoli complex, a $1.3 bil-
lion luxury high-rise on the
road to Tripoli’s airport. The
finished project will contain 2,000 apartments,
a hospital and a mall—complete with a bowling
alley and ice-skating rink.
And it looks like Abu Dhabi won’t be the
only one with a carbon-neutral city. Plans for the
ultra-sustainable Shahat Garden City in the Green
Mountain region of eastern Libya are in full
swing. Managed by U.K. firm Edward Cullinan
Architects, the community will create homes for
60,000 people over a 3,707-acre ( 1,500-hectare)
site, plus schools, a university and a botanical gar-
den. Because the location is near the UNESCO
World Heritage site of the ancient city of Cyrene,
project planners are working to accommodate the
area’s rich archaeology and unique biodiversity.
The master plan strives for low-carbon living
through walkable neighborhoods, shaded streets,
natural-cooling and low-energy buildings, wind
farms and solar power fields.
It’s no secret that Libya’s economy struggled
under strict sanctions by the United States
and other countries, due mostly to longtime
leader Muammar el-Qaddhafi’s alleged terrorist ties and the country’s weapons of mass
destruction program. But in 1999, Col. el-Qaddhafi surrendered two suspects wanted for
the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over
Scotland and later compensated the families
of the 270 victims.
The move was a powerful first step for Libya’s
return to the international community. In 2004,
the United States removed all remaining sanctions, Libya dismantled its nuclear program, and
companies jumped at the opportunity to have a
crack at the long-dormant market.
While other countries falter, Libya’s GDP is
projected to grow by 8. 4 percent in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund. Foreign
direct investment into the country quadrupled
from $1 billion in 2005 to $4.1 billion in 2008,
according to the United Nations.
Still, the Libyan landscape can present challenges—both literally and figuratively. The country’s ancient capital city of Tripoli, for example,
has coastal and desert features, points out Eric
Butterworth, vice president and managing director
of U.K. project management, Hill International,
So when the global construction giant
started working on a project to manage the