The news that Kuwait has started construction work on the long-awaited Subiya Causeway project and is expected to close the financing for the its first independent water and power project (IWPP) imminently may be evidence that the countrys projects market is finally ready to capitalise on its potential.
Following more than two decades of underinvestment in its infrastructure after the Iraqi invasion, Kuwait has been left behind by most of its GCC neighbours, despite its vast oil wealth. While the potential of the country has never been in doubt, the inability of government clients and parliament to push ahead with key megaprojects has left many in the regions projects sector disillusioned.
However, the Subiya Causeway and the Al-Zour North IWPP have both been seen as key pathfinder projects to kickstart Kuwaits development programme. The $2.6bn Subiya Causeway, first tendered in 2006, is not just a major project in its own right, but its execution will enable development on the Subiya promontory, which is where the $95bn Silk City real estate development had previously been planned.
The Al-Zour North IWPP is not only Kuwaits first private power plant, but also its first public-private partnership (PPP) project, and its success is viewed as vital for future PPP schemes.
Progress has been slow and a handful of schemes planned to be developed under the PPP model have been scrapped. While the procurement of the Al-Zour North IWPP has faced a number of delays, once closed it will provide a template to enable the successful execution of other major infrastructure schemes.
MEEDs Kuwait Projects Conference 2013 heard about billions of dollars-worth of new megaprojects planned in all sectors, from the energy sector through to transport and real estate schemes. Everyone with an interest in Kuwaits development and projects market will hope that 2014 is the year it finally delivers on its promises.