While the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) projects market has long been dominated by the sort of ambitious schemes that are only brought about by both serious capital and resolute political will, 2017 saw a seismic shift in the scale and scope of projects being envisioned.
|Scroll down for a list of the region's top 100 projects|
The debut of the $500bn Neom masterplan in late October represents something of a paradigm shift for the region. If successful, the vast undertaking will become the new benchmark.
With backing from the government and the Public Investment Fund (PIF), this flagship development of the ascendant Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud is set to envelop 26,500 square kilometres of land along 468km of coastline along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. It will also cross into Jordan and Egypt connect Saudi Arabia and Egypt with a causeway across the Red Sea.
By 2030, Neom’s contribution to the kingdom’s economy is expected to be at least $100bn. If these projections are correct, and the scheme is successful, this would make it a significant contributor to the country’s post-oil future.
Neom’s first tangible development is the appointment of the UK’s Buro Happold as the programme manager. The construction of its first phase is scheduled to be completed by 2025.
Another demonstration of the dynamism of the region’s projects landscape was a last-minute spike in the value of contract awards in December 2017, brought about by a deal between Egypt and Russia for the construction of the $21bn El-Dabaa plant, Egypt’s first nuclear energy project. The project is part of a wider atomic vogue sweeping the Middle East – with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Jordan all now advancing along the path towards the roll-out of nuclear power.
The award of the El-Dabaa facility more than doubled the value of Egypt’s 2017 contract awards to $38.5bn, placing it just behind the UAE, at $46.8bn, and far ahead of Saudi Arabia, at $25.2bn.
Neither is this Egypt’s only project of note. On the contrary, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi is proving himself to be a megaproject enthusiast. Egypt has its own mixed-use urban megaproject, The Capital Cairo, with a development cost of $45bn, and is expected to issue the first contracts for the Golden Triangle, a $29bn mineral resources masterplan, in 2018.
In the UAE, the $55bn Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) City being developed by the local Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding includes at least one sub-project that merits the title of megaproject in its own right: the $17.7bn Dubai Creek Harbour (DCH), which covers 6 square kilometres in the Ras al-Khor area.
The largest element of the overarching MBR masterplan, DCH is being managed by US-based Hill International, and includes plans for the world’s tallest man-made structure: the Santiago Calatrava-designed Tower at Dubai Creek Harbour.
The masterplan’s retail district is meanwhile tipped to become the world’s largest shopping mall, with a total built-up area of about 3 million square metres, including 1.7 million sq m of retail. Emaar’s Dubai Mall, by contrast, has a total area of 1.1 million sq m.
The $5bn main contract is currently out to tender. The contract award was originally scheduled for September 2018, but Emaar extended the bid submission deadline from 17 December 2017 to 26 April 2018, which could postpone the award.
Other massive mixed-use projects include the $55bn Dubai South development, which encompasses the development of Al-Maktoum International airport by Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects, as well as the masterplans for the $40bn Capital District, the $37bn Yas Island, the $37bn Al-Reem island and the $27bn Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.
A range of special economic zones also pepper the roster of the region’s top projects, including four schemes valued at $30bn: Oman’s Special Economic Zone at Duqm (SEZAD), Iran’s Chabahar Port development, and Saudi Arabia’s Jizan City and Jeddah Economic City.
Jeddah also lays claim to two important strategic transport infrastructure schemes that make the upper echelons of the list: the $30.4bn public transportation programme, which includes the Jeddah Metro, alongside a bus, tram and water taxi network; and the $28bn King Abdulaziz International airport.
While Saudi Arabia’s $4.8bn Red Sea tourism project does not make the Top 100 megaprojects list in terms of spending, it represents a significant strategic development for the kingdom that could well yield significant indirect economic benefits by driving the kingdom’s tourism sector forward.
Further afield, the estimated $66bn renewable energy scheme by Algeria’s state-owned Sonelgaz looks set for its next phase after the EU agreed to fund the project in March 2017.
There is significantly more doubt as to whether phase 13 of the $91bn South Pars gas field development will move ahead, as US President Donald Trump’s decision not to ratify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action raises the spectre of renewed sanctions.
The story across the region, however, is one of renewed vigour in the projects pipeline, bold visions, and the determination to push through ambitious infrastructure schemes in spite of adverse conditions.
Biggest megaprojects in the Middle East
|Rank||Project||Project owner||Country||Status||Value ($m)||Award||End|
|1||Neom||Public Investment Fund||Saudi Arabia||Study||500,000||2019||2030|
|2||Iraq housing programme||Ministry of Construction & Housing||Iraq||Execution||200,000||2005||2025|
|4||King Abdullah Economic City||Emaar, The Economic City||Saudi Arabia||Execution||93,000||2008||2034|
|5||South Pars gas field development||Pars Oil & Gas Company||Iran||Execution||91,000||1999||2023|
|6||Nuclear power reactor||King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy||Saudi Arabia||Feed||70,000||2019||2040|
|7||Saudi housing project||Housing Ministry||Saudi Arabia||Execution||68,000||2011||2031|
|8||Renewable energy development programme||Sonelgaz||Algeria||Execution||66,000||2013||2030|
|9||Mohammed bin Rashid City||Dubai Holding/Emaar Properties||UAE||Execution||55,000||2014||2035|
|9||Dubai South: mixed-use development (Al-Maktoum airport phase 2)||Dubai South||UAE||Execution||55,000||2006||2040|
|11||Lusail development||Lusail Real Estate Development Company||Qatar||Execution||45,000||2008||2022|
|11||The Capital Cairo||Administrative Capital for Urban Development||Egypt||Execution||45,000||2016||2028|
|13||Barakah nuclear power plant||Barakah One Company||UAE||Execution||40,000||2009||2020|
|13||Qatar integrated rail project||Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail)||Qatar||Execution||40,000||2011||2026|
|13||Capital District||Abu Dhabi General Services (Musanada)||UAE||Execution||40,000||2010||2030|
|16||Al-Reem Island||Bunya Enterprises||UAE||Execution||37,000||2006||2023|
|16||Yas Island development||Aldar Properties||UAE||Execution||37,000||2006||2030|
|19||Jeddah public transportation programme||Jeddah Metro Company||Saudi Arabia||Bid evaluation||30,400||2018||2023|
|20||Cap Djinet 2015 industrial port complex masterplan||Cevital||Algeria||Execution||30,000||2011||2018|
|20||Duqm Special Economic Zone||Special Economic Zone Authority at Duqm||Oman||Execution||30,000||2012||2023|
|20||Renewable energy programme||Renewable Energy Project Development Office||Saudi Arabia||Bid evaluation||30,000||2017||2024|
|20||Chabahar port development||Government of India/Government of Iran||Iran||Execution||30,000||2011||2026|
|20||Business Bay||Dubai Properties||UAE||Execution||30,000||2006||2030|
|20||Jeddah Economic City||Jeddah Economic City||Saudi Arabia||Execution||30,000||2011||2031|
|20||Jizan City for Basic Industries & Conversion||Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon)||Saudi Arabia||Execution||30,000||2009||2034|
|27||Golden Triangle Mining & Urban Development||Ministry of Trade & Industry||Egypt||Design||29,000||2018||2047|
|28||King Abdulaziz International airport in Jeddah||General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca)||Saudi Arabia||Execution||28,000||2006||2035|
|29||Iraq strategic crude export pipeline||Oil Ministry||Iraq||Execution||27,500||2017||2022|
|30||Saadiyat Island||Tourism Development & Investment Company||UAE||Execution||27,000||2006||2030|
|31||High-Speed Railway Network: eastern route||Ministry of Transport||Iraq||Study||23,357||2018||2025|
|32||Riyadh Light Rail Transit (Riyadh Metro)||Arriyadh Development Authority||Saudi Arabia||Execution||23,000||2013||2019|
|33||Masdar City||Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar)||UAE||Execution||22,000||2008||2022|
|34||El-Dabaa nuclear power plant||Egyptian Electricity Holding company||Egypt||Execution||21,000||2017||2029|
|36||Expressway programme||Public Works Authority (Ashghal)||Qatar||Execution||20,000||2003||2020|
|36||Duqm New Town||Duqm Development Company||Oman||Execution||20,000||2010||2022|
|36||Dahiyat Alfursan||Housing Ministry||Saudi Arabia||Study||20,000||2019||2025|
|36||Yanbu oil-to-chemicals complex||Saudi Aramco/Saudi Basic Industries Corporation||Saudi Arabia||Study||20,000||2020||2025|
|36||Zubair field development||Eni/Oxy/Korea Gas Corporation/Missan Oil Company||Iraq||Execution||20,000||2012||2028|
|36||Downtown Dubai||Emaar Properties||UAE||Execution||20,000||2004||2030|
|36||Cairo Metro network||National Authority for Tunnels||Egypt||Execution||20,000||2006||2032|
|36||Haramin Access Project (Mecca Gate)||Al-Shamiyah Urban Development||Saudi Arabia||Execution||20,000||2013||2034|
|36||Heart of Jeddah development||Jeddah Development & Urban Regeneration Company||Saudi Arabia||PQ||20,000||2018||2034|
|45||Tehran Metro||Tehran Urban & Suburban Railway Company||Iran||Execution||19,855||2004||2023|
|46||Downtown Jebel Ali||Limitless||UAE||Execution||19,000||2006||2019|
|47||Iran Gas Trunkline||Iran Gas Engineering & Development Company||Iran||Execution||17,863||2004||2021|
|48||South gas utilisation project||Basrah Gas Company||Iraq||Execution||17,200||2014||2019|
|49||New Refinery Project||Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company||Kuwait||Execution||17,000||2014||2019|
|49||Mecca Public Transportation Programme||Mecca Mass Rail Transit Company||Saudi Arabia||Execution||17,000||2017||2030|
|51||Clean Fuels Project||Kuwait National Petroleum Company||Kuwait||Execution||16,285||2012||2022|
|52||Upper Zakum full field development||Adnoc Offshore||UAE||Execution||16,180||2009||2020|
|53||Block 61 development||BP||Oman||Execution||16,000||2014||2020|
|53||North Pars gas field development||Pars Oil & Gas Company||Iran||Study||16,000||2019||2023|
|55||Oman national railway||Oman Rail||Oman||Design||15,600||2018||2024|
|56||Hamad International airport||Hamad International Airport Steering Committee||Qatar||Execution||15,500||2002||2020|
|57||Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi||Abu Dhabi Ports Company||UAE||Execution||15,455||2007||2030|
|58||Al-Raha Beach development||Aldar Properties||UAE||Execution||15,000||2010||2020|
|58||Hail and Ghasha sour gas development||Adnoc Sour Gas||UAE||Study||15,000||2019||2022|
|58||Meydan City||Meydan Group||UAE||Execution||15,000||2007||2035|
|61||Local Roads & Drainage Programme||Public Works Authority (Ashghal)||Qatar||Execution||14,600||2012||2022|
|62||Dubai Metro||Roads & Transport Authority||UAE||Execution||14,352||2005||2035|
|64||Riyadh Dammam high-speed rail||Saudi Railways Organisation||Saudi Arabia||Study||14,000||2019||2023|
|64||Pilgrim City (mixed-use development in Medina)||Dar al-Hijrah Company||Saudi Arabia||Execution||14,000||2014||2024|
|64||Al-Negila nuclear power plant||Egyptian Electricity Holding company||Egypt||Study||14,000||2024||2026|
|64||Al-Khiran City||Public Authority for Housing Welfare||Kuwait||Study||14,000||2022||2035|
|64||Cairo Airport City||Egyptian Holding Company for Airports & Air Navigation||Egypt||Design||14,000||2019||2050|
|69||High-Speed Railway Network: western route||Ministry of Transport||Iraq||Study||13,800||2018||2035|
|70||Haramain High-Speed Rail Network||Saudi Railways Organisation||Saudi Arabia||Execution||13,743||2009||2019|
|71||Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum solar park||Dubai Electricity & Water Authority||UAE||Execution||13,613||2012||2030|
|72||Arabian Bays (Al-Jadaf area redevelopment: culture village)||Dubai Holding||UAE||Execution||13,500||2005||2030|
|74||Dubai Marina||Emaar Properties||UAE||Execution||12,300||2003||2025|
|75||New Suez Canal||Suez Canal Authority||Egypt||Execution||12,000||2014||2020|
|75||West Nile Delta: North Alexandria concession phase 1||BP/RWE DEA||Egypt||Execution||12,000||2016||2020|
|75||Nasiriyah integrated project||Ministry of Oil||Iraq||PQ||12,000||2018||2023|
|78||Bul Hanine field redevelopment||Qatar Petroleum||Qatar||Execution||11,000||2015||2021|
|79||GCC water inter-connectivity||GCC||Saudi Arabia||Study||10,500||2018||2021|
|80||Barzan gas development||RasGas Company||Qatar||Execution||10,300||2011||2023|
|81||Salamat field||Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources||Egypt||Study||10,200||2019||2023|
|82||Alexandria-Aswan high-speed railway line||Ministry of Transport||Egypt||Study||10,160||2018||2024|
|83||Masjed-e Soleiman fertiliser complex||MIS Petrochemical Company||Iran||Execution||10,000||2011||2019|
|83||Halfaya project surface facility||PetroChina/South Oil Company/Petronas/Total||Iraq||Execution||10,000||2011||2020|
|83||Red Sea-Dead Sea water conveyance||Jordan Red Sea Project Company||Jordan||PQ||10,000||2018||2021|
|83||Bab sour gas project||Abu Dhabi National Oil Company||UAE||Study||10,000||2018||2021|
|83||New Bahrain International airport||Bahrain Airport Company||Bahrain||Study||10,000||2019||2022|
|83||Khuzestan Energy Park||Khuzestan Regional Electricity Company||Iran||Study||10,000||2019||2023|
|83||Housing complex in Bismayah||National Investment Commission||Iraq||Execution||10,000||2015||2024|
|83||Barwa al-Khor development||Barwa Real Estate Company||Qatar||Execution||10,000||2013||2025|
|83||6,000MW coal fuel power plant||Egyptian Electricity Holding company||Egypt||Bid evaluation||10,000||2018||2025|
|83||Amra nuclear power plant||Jordan Atomic Energy Commission||Jordan||Study||10,000||2018||2025|
|83||Kuwait National Rail Road||Kuwait Authority For Partnership Projects||Kuwait||Study||10,000||2019||2026|
|83||Roua al-Madinah||Public Investment Fund||Saudi Arabia||Study||10,000||2018||2027|
|83||Roua al-Haram||Public Investment Fund||Saudi Arabia||Study||10,000||2018||2029|
|83||Gulf Of Suez Special Economic Zone||Sezone/Main Development Company||Egypt||Execution||10,000||2012||2040|
|98||Abu Dhabi airport expansion||Abu Dhabi Airports Company||UAE||Execution||9,400||2006||2022|
|99||Rabigh: Phase 2||PetroRabigh||Saudi Arabia||Execution||9,398||2012||2019|
|100||Hamad port||New Port Project||Qatar||Execution||9,362||2011||2025|
|Feed=Front-end engineering and design; PQ=Prequalification. Source: MEED Projects|
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