Dubai World, the conglomerate owned by the government of the Gulf emirate, today asked creditors for a six-month “standstill” and an extension of maturities on its debt.

The group includes Nakheel, a developer that is responsible for some of Dubai’s most ambitious land reclamation projects and has $4bn in outstanding Islamic debt falling due next month. It also includes DP World, the owner of the former P&O ports operator.

Dubai’s supreme fiscal committee also hired Aidan Birkett from Deloitte to restructure Dubai World. “The Dubai Financial Support Fund, working with the chief restructuring officer, will start to assess and evaluate the extent of the restructuring required,” it said. “As a first step, Dubai World intends to ask all providers of financing to Dubai World and Nakheel to ‘standstill’ and extend maturities until at least May 30, 2010.”

Ratings agencies estimate that Dubai and companies it owns have $80bn in outstanding debt. The emirate, one of seven which together form the UAE, is struggling with a deep property slump.