The Gulf’s construction clients are struggling to make up their minds. Governments may be busy issuing tenders for new projects, but few awards are following once bids come in.
For contractors, this presents serious problems, as they do not know if or when they will get any new work.
In Abu Dhabi, for instance, the first tenders have been issued for the MGM development at Mina Zayed, and contractors have been told to submit bids in May for a new 60,000-seat stadium in the Capital City area. But at the same time, the tender for Tawam hospital has been cancelled and contractors and consultants have been waiting for months for awards on a sewage tunnel programme and a metro system.
In Doha, contractors are preparing or submitting bids for the Qatar Bahrain Causeway, a major new port and a 510-metre-tall tower. But the countries’ wealthiest client, Qatar Petroleum, has cancelled a tender for an office complex at Ras Laffan for what it describes as “budgetary reasons”.
Similarly, in Kuwait contractors are tendering for major projects, such as the Subiya Causeway and the development of Bubiyan port, but the government recently postponed the award of a contract to build ancillary buildings at the country’s international airport.
In such a situation, where there is no consistency in approach from clients, it is difficult for construction companies to plan ahead.
But even so, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are in a better position than Dubai, where no large projects are being tendered and no major contracts are likely to be awarded at all this year.
Whatever their current difficulties, contractors should beware that the situation could still be far worse.