Saudi Arabia slows down as GCC project awards increase by 77.8%

$200 billion-worth rail sector driving growth in the GCC

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Infrastructure project awards worth $86 billion are expected across the GCC in 2014, up 77.8% over 2013.

Projects worth $15.18 billion will be awarded in the UAE, almost five times the 2013 contracts, as per a recently released report by Ventures Onsite. Oman infrastructure awards are expected to reach $7.4 billion, up $5.5 billion on 2013.

Saudi Arabia’s forecast award of $29.34 billion – the highest in the region – represents a decrease year on year. However, last year’s total awards of $33.6 billion included the $22.5 billion-worth Riyadh Metro project. Construction work has also slowed down in Saudi Arabia due to the impact of Nitaqat parameters on foreign employee allowances and lack of labourers.

Bahrain, which awarded contracts worth $382 million last year, is expected to award $3.4 billion this year.

Qatar is expected to award projects worth $26.2 billion as compared with its 2013 figure of $9.4 billion. This is likely a result of the infrastructure preparation Qatar is undertaking in anticipation of the Fifa World Cup 2022 and to fulfill its Vision 2030 objectives. Major projects taking place in Qatar include the construction of sports stadiums, metro networks and hospitality units.

Infrastructure projects comprise 16% of the total construction value of projects in the GCC. The region’s rail sector is worth $200 billion, with the six member states cooperating on the unified GCC rail project. “Existing roads are already over capacity, to the point where congestion is having an impact on the local economy and quality of life for residents,” said Dr. Ghassan Ziadat, director of planning and infrastructure for Atkins.

Furthermore, the rail network is also expected to improve employment opportunities and enhance the environment of the GCC.

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