As Dubai moves ahead with plans for major new infrastructure projects in the power and transport sectors, it has begun to seek private investment to fund the schemes.

Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has invited firms to express interest in its proposed solar and clean-coal independent power projects, the emirate’s first such schemes, as it seeks to involve the private sector in its utilities sector. With Kuwait having recently signed the final agreements on its maiden independent water and power project, Dubai is the only GCC market not to have utilised the private sector to develop power projects, and Dewa is keen to rectify this by approaching companies for its major generation schemes.

It is not just in the power sector that Dubai is seeking to harness private financing. The Roads & Transport Authority (RTA) recently appointed the UK’s PwC as an external adviser to explore options for funding the extensions of the Red and Green lines of the Dubai Metro. The consultant will study the possibility of raising funding from banks and other private sources to finance the work, and whether the extensions could be structured as a public-private partnership (PPP).

The RTA is also considering using a PPP or build-operate-transfer structure to finance the proposed double-decking of Sheikh Zayed Road. While many in Dubai’s projects sector are sceptical about whether the ambitious road scheme will proceed, it is clear the RTA is keen to begin utilising private financing for major projects.

As Dubai moves ahead with key infrastructure developments in the build-up to the Expo 2020, it will offer opportunities for both contractors and financiers.