The news that Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has retendered the second phase of its multibillion-dollar security network programme and is expected to award contracts for the fourth phase imminently, will provide welcome news for the construction sector.

In 2011, the Interior Ministry emerged as one of the kingdom’s main construction clients, awarding more than $2bn-worth of contracts and receiving bids for a further $10bn-plus of construction and infrastructure schemes. The ministry’s King Abdullah Project (KAP) security network scheme is one of the most ambitious construction programmes in Saudi Arabia, involving building, training and living facilities for civil service staff at about 50 locations throughout the country. The ministry is also pressing ahead with medical cities and other major schemes.

Despite the release of tenders and the promise of big deals, contractors were left disappointed in 2012 as the ministry was unable to award the contracts. For the fourth phase, the awards will come almost one year after prices were submitted. For the third phase, it was more than a year before the contractor was selected. Similar delays were seen across all the Interior Ministry’s projects, including the Security Forces Medical Cities planned in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The delay in awarding work has been attributed to a range of different factors.

Nonetheless, the ministry has made a positive start to 2013. In January, it approved the main contract award for its Security Forces Medical City in Riyadh and the progress with the security network programme has raised hopes that more work will be tendered and awarded this year. The kingdom’s construction sector will hope that 2013 is the year that the Interior Ministry finally delivers on its planned projects.