Local contracting companies dominated the GCC projects market in 2013, picking up 62 per cent of the $88bn-worth of contracts awarded across all industry sectors.

In percentage terms, those based in Kuwait and Bahrain performed best, achieving market shares of 95 per cent and 86 per cent respectively. Within the GCC, Oman was the only state to award more contracts to international firms than local companies.

Local contractors also performed well in Saudi Arabia, the GCC’s largest projects market, winning $26.4bn, or 59 per cent, of the $44.7bn-worth of contracts awarded in the kingdom. In the UAE, the GCC’s second-largest market, local firms performed even better, winning 72 per cent, or $14.9bn, of the $18.9bn-worth of projects awarded.

Saudi Arabia’s projects market was dominated by the local firms Saudi Binladin Group and ABV Rock, which combined won 18 percent of contracts awarded in 2013.

Saudi projects market

Saudi Binladin Group won $4.5bn of construction deals, including a $3.5bn contract from the Finance Ministry for the Abraj Kudai mixed-use project in Mecca. The firm beat nearest rival El-Seif Engineering & Contracting for the megaproject, which involves construction of two 45-storey towers beneath a huge dome, with a further 10 towers of 30 storeys surrounding the central block. The contractor also secured a $1bn deal to build the King Abdulla bin Abdulaziz Project (KAP) 3 security compound for the Interior Ministry.

Saudi Binladin is the most active firm in the kingdom’s projects market, currently contracted for $19.7bn of work, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects. This amounts to 16 per cent of the $119.7bn construction and infrastructure projects currently under way.

In Riyadh, ABV Rock won a $3.5bn deal from the Interior Ministry to build the medical and residential buildings for the Riyadh Security Forces Medical Complex, as part of KAP 3.

“With major construction projects planned… the prospect of more awards for international contractors is growing”

While local contractors continued to perform well in Saudi Arabia this year, there were plenty of opportunities for international contractors in the kingdom’s transport sector. In late July, the Arriyadh Development Authority awarded turnkey deals for the delivery of six metro lines in the Saudi capital. The lines were split into five major design and build packages, with lines 1 and 2 as one package, and the other lines each as single packages.

Spanish firm FCC Construccion heads up the consortium known as FAST, while US firm Bechtel leads the BACS consortium. Italian firm Ansaldo STS is the leader of the Arriyadh New Mobility group. The BACS consortium picked up lines 1 and 2, worth $9.45bn, while the FAST consortium won lines 4, 5 and 6, valued at $7.82bn. Arriyadh New Mobility secured Line 3 for $5.94bn.

International contractors also won a slew of major contracts for the multibillion-dollar Doha Metro project in Qatar.

Design and construction contracts totalling QR30bn ($8.2bn) were awarded for the scheme this year. The estimated QR8bn Red Line South underground sections construction package was secured by a consortium of the local/French QDVC, South Korea’s GS Engineering & Construction Corporation, and the local Darwish Engineering.

The team of Austria’s Porr, Saudi Binladin and the local HBK Contracting Company won the estimated QR8bn contract to build the underground sections for the Green Line, while South Korea’s Samsung C&T, Spain’s OHL and the local Qatar Building Company won an estimated QR4bn contract to build the two major stations at Msheireb and Education City.

Qatar Rail also awarded an estimated QR8bn contract to a consortium of Italy’s Impregilo, South Korea’s SK Engineering & Construction and the local Galfar al-Misnad Engineering & Contracting for the construction of the Red Line North underground sections.

Dubai construction

Similar to Saudi Arabia, the UAE’s construction market was led by two local firms, Arabtec and Delta Emirates Contracting. Arabtec was awarded eight contracts worth a total of $1.4bn in the UAE in 2013, including a joint venture with Spain’s Constructora San Jose and Oger Abu Dhabi to build the long-delayed Louvre Abu Dhabi museum on Saadiyat Island.

The winning consortium saw off competition from two other shortlisted firms, the local/Belgian Six Construct Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia’s El-Seif Engineering & Contracting.

In Dubai, Delta Emirates Contracting secured 10 contracts worth a total of $937m to build towers for Tanmiyat at the local developer’s Living Legends project in Dubailand.

While the GCC projects market was characterised by the dominance of local firms in 2013, the rail projects awarded in Saudi Arabia and Qatar have shown that international firms can enjoy success in the region. With major construction projects planned in these countries this year, the prospect of more awards for international contractors is growing.

Key fact

Saudi Binladin is the most active firm in Saudi Arabia’s projects market, currently contracted for $19.7bn of work

Source: MEED Projects