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Building Opportunities in a $4trillion GCC Construction Sector

Demand and investment in infrastructure construction projects across the GCC continues to show robust growth as regional governments look to diversify economies away from their rich oil and energy sectors.

The Middle East is expected to spend over $4 trillion on infrastructure in the next decade (Emirates 24/7), which means vast and significant opportunities for companies providing construction services, materials, equipment, logistics, man power and consultancy.

In this blog post, we’ve collated a snap shot of each GCC country’s strengths and opportunities in the construction sector, together with an overview of the largest projects currently underway and forecast. A breakdown of projects by sector is also highlighted.

Arabian Gateway, together with keynote industry speakers and construction analysts and market experts from Zawya Thomson Reuters, will be conducting a series of comprehensive workshops during our global gathering to successfully position your company to expand into this lucrative construction market.

With 700 inbound delegates from across the globe, and the backing of Dubai FDI, Arabian Gateway offers extensive opportunities to network and create contacts within the MENA construction sector.

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 UAE Strengths

• Government-supported infrastructure spending in transport and utilities will intensify as a means of diversifying the economy away from oil, in addition to keeping the population quiescent at a time of wider unrest.

• A clear regulatory environment and the governing of private investments in infrastructure create a favourable investment climate.

• State-owned utilities (ADEWA, DEWA) are willing to take on majority equity stakes in projects and provide government guarantees in a bid to attract investors.


UAE construction market by project. Source: Deloitte

UAE Opportunities

• The decline in cement and steel prices in the region reduces the cost of new projects.

• The construction industry remains one of the largest sectors in the UAE, after oil & gas, as the country tries to transform its oil-dependent economy by spending billions of dollars on its infrastructure and tourism sectors.

• Government willingness in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to allow private participation in infrastructure still appears high.

• The UAE is becoming a hub for renewables and green tech, with Masdar spearheading new ventures.


UAE construction by sector. Source: Deloitte

KSA Strengths

• Saudi Arabia has the largest construction sector in the Middle East. Alongside active government spending, efforts are also being made to increase private investment. Government-led activity boosted by oil windfalls is driving demand in the construction industry.

• The Ninth Development Plan for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sets out plans to invest SAR 1,444bn (US$385bn) in social and economic infrastructure between 2010 and 2014.

• The total value of contracts issued in the Kingdom’s construction sector grew by 50% year-on-year in H212 (following a 140% y-o-y increase in awards during 2011).


KSA construction market by project. Source: Deloitte

KSA Opportunities

• The number of ongoing mega-projects means that many multinational firms have a presence in the country.

• Increasing private investment should provide opportunities for large foreign contractors to increase their involvement in the country.

• As other construction industries in the Gulf stagnate, construction companies look to Saudi Arabia for opportunities.

• Saudi Arabia remains a ‘construction safe heaven’ amid both wider political and financial turmoil.


KSA construction projects by sector. Source: Deloitte

Qatar Strengths

• Construction of large-scale transport infrastructure projects is under way – a move that will ease the strain on existing infrastructure.

• A number of international companies operate in the country, which is open to international private sector involvement.


Qatar construction by project. Source: Deloitte

Qatar Opportunities

• Qatar is developing its non-oil sector, thereby supporting infrastructure development.

• Hosting the FIFA 2022 World Cup should yield considerable contracts across the construction and infrastructure sectors.


Qatar construction project by sector. Source: Deloitte

Kuwait Strengths

• With large oil reserves, Kuwait has a significant cushion to weather economic difficulties.

• The country has been generating surpluses for a number of years, meaning it has financing available for large projects.

• USD 12.6bn infrastructure investment will further boost development and growth.

• Tighter integration with neighboring states makes Kuwait a more enticing investment prospect.

• Kuwait has a strong country structure and Kuwaiti firms have considerable infrastructure and construction expertise.


Kuwait construction by project. Source: Deloitte

Kuwait Opportunities

• The tight integration of infrastructure development between Gulf states throughout the GCC provides opportunities for Kuwaiti firms to win contracts in the region.

• The Al-Zour refinery project appears to be back on track, offering opportunities for both energy infrastructure and wider construction projects.

• The government’s continuing support for infrastructure stimulus provides opportunities for developments. Improvements in power and transmission systems are particularly beneficial for sustained growth.


Kuwait construction project by sector. Source: Deloitte

Oman Strengths

• The government’s strategy to diversify away from oil is well under way and is helping to drive infrastructure and tourism development.

• The government is keen to attract the private sector, including foreign companies, and has a strong market orientation.


Oman construction by project. Source: Deloitte

Oman Opportunities

• Growing tourism and transport infrastructure offer opportunities for developers and new business in the country.

• Diversification of the economy will lead to a number of construction contracts and investment into accompanying infrastructure.


Oman construction project by sector. Source: Deloitte

Sources: Deloitte, Meed, Business Monitor International.

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