Irish-owned engineering firm wins €60m contract in UAE

Kelly Steel Engineering look to Ireland to hire 70 staff for new airport baggage facility

Irish-owned Kelly Steel Engineering has won a €16 million contract to build a new baggage handling facility at Abu Dhabi airport.

Around 70 new employees, many of them Irish, will be recruited to work on the build, including welders, fabricators, engineers and project managers.

The new Midfield Terminal will be one of the largest in the world, with a total floor area bigger than the Pentagon. It will facilitate Etihad Airways and its partner airlines, with a capacity to cater for 40 million passengers a year.

The new baggage handling facility will weigh 3,500 tonnes. The firm have doubled the size of its production facility to include a 1.6 acre workshop to accommodate this project, one of their biggest to date.


Work is due to begin on site and be completed by April 2016.

Out of the company's 230 current employees, 18 Irish are Irish, making it the largest Irish-born private sector workforce in the United Arab Emirates.

The company's managing director John O'Kelly, who emigrated from Co Carlow in 1982, said Kelly Steel was keen to give young Irish people a start in their careers in the Middle East.

“There’s been a huge influx of Irish people here in the past five years and we’re very well thought of by the government, the authorities and employers,” he said.

The firm has developed links with University College Dublin and Dublin City University to provide graduate and internship opportunities for Irish students on projects in Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi, he said.

“I understand what it’s like to be isolated from family and immersed in a very different culture and environment at a young age. It’s a very different way of life out here but people are very secular, tolerant and welcoming.”

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny, founding editor of Irish Times Abroad, a section for Irish-connected people around the world, is Editor of the Irish Times Magazine