With more than $2.1 trillion worth of projects under development, the demand for construction resources today is unrecognisable from just five years ago, when there was less than $500bn worth of projects in the pipeline.
The knock-on effect has been a step change in construction costs.
Cement and steel prices were the first to jump, and there has since been a steady procession of cost increases across every link in the supply chain.
Labour costs are one of the last to move, but have crept up by 67 per cent over the past three years. Unlike other items such as materials and equipment, direct demand is not the cause of labour cost hikes.
Salaries have increased by 20 per cent as contractors respond to inflation and currency depreciation, but the real increases have come from accommodation costs, which have tripled in the booming real estate markets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Like all real estate in the emirates, there is simply not enough capacity in the labour camps to satisfy demand.
The result is that rents have rocketed, and land in zones where labour camps can be built is now prohibitively expensive.
Contractors want the government to act.
They say they need more areas to be allocated for labour camps so they are not held to ransom by landlords and landowners, and can control their costs.
They say the government should be sympathetic to these calls because if costs continue to rise unchecked, they will ultimately threaten the viability of projects – many of which are government backed in the first place.
It is also a humanitarian issue. Expensive accommodation means more men are being crammed into rooms, and as camps overload, basic services such as sewage struggle to cope.
Government intervention will not solve all these problems, but it will give contractors the chance to curb costs and provide better living conditions for their workers.