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Top UAE university launches tender to house students

Khalifa University
The PPP tender will deliver the expansion of student accommodation at Khalifa University
  • Bids open to build Khalifa University campus accommodation
  • UAE chooses public private partnerships to develop infrastructure 

Companies have been invited to bid for a new public private partnership tender to deliver the accommodation and associated facilities for 3,250 students in Abu Dhabi.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio), in collaboration with Khalifa University, launched the tender as part of a framework for expanding the role of the private sector in delivering public sector infrastructure and services.

Khalifa University is top ranked in the UAE and 181st worldwide, according to the QS World University Rankings 2023

The PPP project is a key part of the university’s 10-year strategic growth plan to enhance its estate and provide a vibrant on-campus student living experience.

The award comes as experts expect governments in the GCC to turn increasingly to PPP to deliver key social infrastructure projects.

This is encouraging firms such as Australian giant Plenary Group to expand in the region as it bids on projects in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Northern Emirates and Bahrain. 

Dr Ebrahim Al Hajri, Khalifa University’s senior vice president for support services, said: “These projects will help bring students and researchers closer to our campuses, which would enhance student life and experience at KU.”

Adio is the central Abu Dhabi government authority with responsibility for projects delivered through Abu Dhabi’s PPP framework. 

Last year saw several major PPP projects successfully tendered in Abu Dhabi, including Zayed City Schools and phase 2 of the energy efficient road lighting LED project.

Abdulla Abdul Aziz AlShamsi, acting director general of Adio, said: “Abu Dhabi’s commitment to increase private sector participation in strategic infrastructure projects continues to create significant new opportunities for companies.

“The Khalifa University Accommodation tender represents the next step in the government’s strategy to build efficient and effective commercial partnerships that deliver sustainable, long-term value for all parties.”

The tender covers the main and Sas Al Nakhl campuses, and includes the design, build, finance, maintenance and transfer of accommodation across the two locations. 

The project will be carried out by a special purpose vehicle which is 100 percent owned by the successful bidder. Potential bidders can submit expressions of interest by January 23.

Last month, Plenary Group announced an expansion in the UAE as its chairman John O’Rourke described the region as “maturing as a hub for PPPs”.

Its chief investment officer Paul Crowe said: “We are encouraged by the pipeline of likely infrastructure projects across the Middle East.

“We are investing and building a team locally in the UAE and the next 12 months will see us focus on social infrastructure including education and health, and transport infrastructure including rail and road.” 

According to regional tracker Meed Projects, more than $50 billion of social infrastructure work is under construction in the GCC, while another $70 billion is in various stages of planning. 

Of the total, nearly $71 billion is located in Saudi Arabia, followed by Kuwait ($33 billion), Qatar ($5.7 billion), UAE ($4.7 billion), Oman ($3.7 billion) and Bahrain ($3.1 billion).