GCC construction market buoyant, reports Pinsent Masons

gcc constructionCompanies in the GCC’s construction sector are expecting to receive more orders in 2019, as compared to 2018, according to Pinsent Mason’s GCC Construction Survey

Around 58 per cent of respondents have experienced an increase in their order books so far in 2019.

According to the annual survey, Saudi Arabia is the leading market to deliver growth in 2019, with 55 per cent of respondents expecting the country to provide the most opportunity over the next 12 months, compared to 29 per cent in 2018.

Presented to industry professionals at Pinsent Masons’ Annual Construction and Engineering Law Conference, the report provides a snapshot of opinion from the GCC construction sector, where the majority of the companies are involved in projects with a value between US$27.22mn US$136.12mn.

The sector continues to face major challenges around liquidity and payment issues, with the majority of respondents (81 per cent) highlighting this as a major short-term disruptor in the sector. More than 80 per cent of companies believe that there is not enough investment allocated to training and developing professionals in the GCC construction sector.

Mark Raymont, head of the Middle East construction disputes at Pinsent Masons, said, “The outlook of the GCC’s construction sector remains continuously optimistic, despite the hit taken by the three-year oil price slum.”

He continued, “Whilst challenges remain in this region we anticipate an increase in infrastructure projects, particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

Notwithstanding concerns regarding financing and market liquidity, the findings revealed that almost 40 per cent of those surveyed across the GCC do not anticipate being involved in public-private partnerships (PPPs) this year, despite the fact that these partnerships are a means of attracting more inward investment.

When asked if they intended to expand their reach and pursue operations in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 60 per cent of respondents said this was not a consideration. More than 65 per cent of respondents have not used and are not planning on using the new technology and construction court in DIFC Courts, even though almost 60 per cent of companies have been involved in mediation or other alternative forms of dispute resolution in the past 12 months.

Respondents felt positive in terms of the objectives of their company and the regional construction industry as a whole. More than 60 per cent acknowledged that the construction industry is doing enough to improve health and safety practices in the region.

The UAE continues to rank first when it comes to ease of doing business. A majority of 96 per cent of respondents said that the UAE is leading among the GCC countries in ease of doing business. Oman followed in second place at 47 per cent. Around 64 per cent see Dubai as the most appropriate venue for regional dispute resolution with Saudi Arabia coming in second at 43 per cent.

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