City & Corporate: Leading firms fight for UAE brief

Property development - Middle East company to choose from Porter Novelli or GolinHarris for global work.

Porter Novelli and GolinHarris are understood to be locked in a two-way tussle to win a six-figure corporate brief for one of the biggest property developers in the Middle East.

Orascom Development Holding AG develops integrated towns, primarily in Egypt and the Middle East, offering hotels, private villas and apartments, leisure facilities and supporting infrastructure.

The firm is keen to be perceived as a more global entity and is looking for agency support to help manage its corporate reputation and media relations in key jurisdictions.

The precise nature of the brief is yet to be determined, with the successful agency expected to play a significant part in helping the firm shape the scope of the account.

However, it is thought the account will entail working on the ground in about ten jurisdictions across the Middle East, Europe and Africa, limiting the successful agency to a small list of firms with a truly multi-national footprint.

Orascom is believed to have reviewed credentials from a variety of agencies and whittled them down to two - Porter Novelli and GolinHarris. Both pitch teams are being led out of their respective London offices. The two-way pitch in Cairo will take place in the first week of May.

One source with knowledge of the process said: 'They are relatively new to PR and, although the basic service level they require is relatively straight-forward, they will look for agency help on formulating a comms plan.'

In recent years the company has expanded its operations internationally, broadening its development scope to cover seven countries across three continents.

It is now active in Egypt, Oman, Jordan, the UAE, Switzerland, Mauritius and Morocco, with plans to enter more countries.

The Middle East's property and construction industry has taken a hit in recent times as a slump in real estate prices has drastically slowed the booming market in Dubai.

While Dubai's property market, which recently appointed Finsbury to help manage its media relations, continues to struggle, Egypt has yet to see a slump.

GDP growth in the country is expect to remain at between six and seven per cent (compared with 0.5 per cent in the UAE) and its government has announced a stimulus package of £1.84bn, of which 70 per cent is earmarked for building and infrastructure during the year.

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