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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Teesside bids for Gulf state cash
Middlehaven development plan
Champagne glass-shaped buildings are planned for Middlehaven
An ambitious attempt is being made to attract Middle East millions to help redevelop parts of Teesside.

Directors of Dubai-based property firm Emaar are in the area at the invitation of Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon.

It is hoped the company, which is currently building the world's tallest skyscraper, will plough cash into the regeneration of the Tees Valley.

Two areas for possible investment are the Middlehaven and St Hilda's districts of Middlesbrough.

Ambitious plans have already been unveiled for Middlehaven, including futuristic designs, for homes, offices and leisure facilities.

Emaar's economic director, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, was flying into Teesside on Thursday and due to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair during his visit.

He joins a five-strong executive team, which arrived on Teesside on Wednesday for a fact-finding mission to look at possible investment locations.

'Dominant player'

Part of the tour was by helicopter, which took in most of the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire moors.

Emaar, which has assets of almost 4.5bn, is responsible for developing a string of so-called "planned communities" across Dubai over the past 30 years.

Neil Etherington, strategic investment and marketing director for the Tees Valley Regeneration, said: "Property developers are cagey individuals. But this visit has been very positive and they appear very enthusiastic.

"They are very keen to start doing things outside Dubai, where they are the dominant player.

"Mr Alabbar will be seeing some sites, but is also meeting the Prime Minister at some point.

"We are talking about a world scale developer here and we are not in the business of turning good prospects away.

Mr Mallon said of the visit: "This sends a clear message that Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley is open for business and there is no limit to our ambition."

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