01/07/2009 12:00AM

Work halted on new Dubai track

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Major construction of the new, state-of-the-art Maydan Racecourse in Dubai has ground to a halt after the track's developers canceled a $1.3 billion contract with the two construction companies that have been handling the bulk of the work on the project.

Saeed Al Tayer, chairman of the Meydan Development Group, nevertheless expressed confidence that the new track will open as scheduled in time for the 2010 Dubai World Cup.

The Dubai-based firm Arabtec and the Malaysian company WCT Engineering had been sharing equally in the bulk of the construction project, which calls for a grandstand that will include seating for 60,000, 10 restaurants, a hotel, and a museum. A spokesman for Meydan said the contracts had been canceled "because of non-adherence to the agreed schedule for construction."

WCT claims that it has completed almost all of the work it was contracted to do, with just 5 percent of its total work still to be completed, plus 40 percent which is to be subcontracted to other companies.

The cessation of major work on Meydan will not affect the racing season at nearby Nad Al Sheba, where the Dubai World Cup will be run on March 28, immediately after which the track, which opened in 1992, is scheduled to be razed.