Saudi Arabia's leading construction contracting companies are unenthusiastic over the possibility of sending their teams to carry out projects for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip.
The companies will not be able to make a big profit from the reconstruction project, as Saudi King Abdullah has pledged $1 billion in aid to the Palestinians.
At this stage, the Saudi companies' fear revolves around the security issue. Beyond the sporadic firing incidents, the relations between Saudi Arabia and the Hamas
organization are tense due to Riyadh's uncompromising support for Egypt's stance during the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Abdullah al-Amar, chairman of the Saudi national contractors committee and a member of the kingdom's chamber of commerce and industry, explained that the security factor existed in every region in the world, not just in the Gaza Strip, but stressed that the Saudi contractors feel that Gaza is not safe enough at the moment.
"The necessary measures must be taken to ensure safety. The country will not let any contractor or merchant leave for the Gaza Strip if it fails to guarantee his safety," al-Amar was quoted as saying.
Another member of the committee, Muhammad al-Atas, added that the Gazan companies cannot carry out all the rebuilding projects needed in the Strip these days by themselves and will need the Saudi contractors' help.
According to al-Atas, there is problem financing the projects in the Strip, and on the Egyptian side of al-Arish there are companies offering supply services to contracting companies wishing to operate in Gaza.
Al-Atas stressed, however, that the Saudi companies were concerned about the political-security situation in the Strip. "It's dangerous going to areas where there is no political authority and where the security situation is shaky," he said.
Doron Peskin is head of research at Info-Prod Research (Middle East) Ltd.