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As The Big 5 rolls back into town, Technical Review takes a look at recent research carried out by Ventures Middle East on the growing amount of investment in infrastructure projects throughout the GCC region
Despite the “weak rhythm” in energy prices, a sound future for the region’s construction industry has been forecast by Abu Dhabi-based business consultancy Ventures Middle East in a report specially commissioned by the organisers of The Big 5 exhibition ahead of this year’s opening in Dubai on 17 November.
According to the report, GCC construction market 2014 – The boom, challenges and future outlook, countries within the GCC are being “perceived by global investors as a safe haven for international investment”.
When combined with a more recent Ventures Middle East report entitled GCC infrastructure market 2014 the results reveal that the good times may be set to return for the region’s construction industry.
Apart from the usual reasons for such confidence, the analysts cite preparations well under way for World Expo 2020 in Dubai and the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
They also cite the general diversification of individual national economies, the construction of facilities for the increasing number of world-scale cultural and entertainment events, the growth of tourism in all its forms including religious, and the rapid expansion of a GCC-wide overland transport network with a particular focus on moving freight.
In a snapshot taken in May 2014, the current construction workload has been summed up by Ventures Onsite Projects’ database as Saudi Arabia accounting for 45 per cent of the total value of projects across the GCC, the UAE responsible for 31 per cent of projects across the community and Qatari projects accounting for 10 per cent of the total value. Together, projects in Bahrain and Kuwait add up to nine per cent.
Grouped together by value, ongoing buildings and infrastructure projects by country are listed as (infrastructure in brackets, all in US$ millions):
• Saudi Arabia: 787,101 (163,402)
• UAE: 621,788 (95,121)
• atar: 138,187 (103,022)
• Kuwait: 70,476 (32,871)
• Oman: 52,411 (32,121)
• Bahrain: 49,798 (14,270)
Aggregated construction contracts awarded by each country last year alone were: KSA – US$77,137mn; UAE – US$40,338mn; Qatar – US$18,022mn; Kuwait – US$11,169mn; Oman – US$10,922mn; and Bahrain – US$3,069mn.
“Contractor awards in the buildings and infrastructure sectors alone was US$119.05bn in 2013 and is anticipated to reach nearly US$134.11bn by 2014,” the mid-year report states. The UAE’s share of buildings and infrastructure-only awards of this amount is expected to reach US$37.8bn this year.
A list of key ‘movers and shakers’ in the period 2015 and beyond was also provided, which includes the preparations for World Expo 2020 in Dubai, the world’s tallest commercial tower in the same city, the revival of Kuwait’s Causeway project connecting Shuwaikh Port to the city, and the finalisation of work on the landmark Kingdom Tower in Jeddah.
“Regional and transportation linkages [are] the key to maximising growth potential of the GCC,” the authors say. But all of this will come at a price, including heavy demand on both building materials and labour.
No such single-sector report would be complete without a “Looking ahead” conclusion, presented in this case as a handy ‘check list for GCC construction market participants' based on simple tick-box questions designed for participants from overseas in particular.
As summarised by Technical Review, these include:
• Are you already licensed to do business here, with identified agents/distributors in place?
• Are your products specified with the professionals – architects and consultants – in the region?
• Is your company/its products and services registered with major government project owners?
• Are you registered with relevant government entities such as the Health Authority and those responsible for updating the Building Code?
• Have you established contacts with local contractors?
• Is your after-sales service and support mechanism in place?
• Do you have a marketing plan that demonstrates and showcases your products at events like The Big 5?
All in all, just what the visitor from overseas to the largest construction event held anywhere in the Middle East needs in the form of a concise background briefing.
The more recent of the two reports from Ventures ME, focusing specifically on rail transport, roads, airports, other ports and Free Trade Zones (FTZs), predicts that more than US$45bn of infrastructure contracts will be awarded by the end of the current year – twice the level of business achieved back in 2012.
The study says that US$97bn worth of rail contracts are already under way as the 2,100+ km GCC rail network aims for completion towards the end of the current decade. Spend on GCC airports over the next five years will approach US$300bn, while investment in seaports will be of the order of US$25bn. Doha’s New Port project, for example, should be completed in 2020, well in time for deliveries associated with the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
A vital part of most GCC countries’ infrastructure development takes place within FTZs, the consultants point out, with the UAE being the best example.
With this in mind, companies set to attend this year’s Big 5 exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre will be looking to benefit from attending the show.