New players to fill metro void

20 March 2014

With the region’s metro boom gathering pace, competition for resources is also mounting

With the region’s metro boom gathering pace, competition for resources is also mounting

As Qatar Railways Company selects a contracting consortium for the construction of the underground sections of Doha Metro’s Gold Line, it finally feels like the Gulf’s metro boom is well under way.

Valued at about $10bn, the overall Doha scheme is also one of the largest in the region and, together with the $22bn-plus Riyadh Metro project, the two schemes will be a considerable drain on the region’s resources over the coming five to seven years.

With a combined value of more than $30bn, they will require sophisticated rail systems and building services along with vast quantities of other basic building commodities, such as steel and cement.

Up to 100,000 labourers will be used to put it all together, and those components will have been designed by thousands of engineers and technical staff.

At the top end of the supply chain, consultants have already started to complain that they are overstretched. As engineering and project management firms staff up on metro projects in Riyadh and Doha, they are bidding for more metro work in Mecca, Medina and Jeddah, and are waiting for tenders in Abu Dhabi.

Privately, consultants are voicing concern that any future schemes will have to settle for second-rate teams as firms have committed their best people to earlier projects. Some are even suggesting that projects such as the Abu Dhabi Metro scheme should be postponed until the best people become available again.

Sitting on the sidelines watching regional competitors develop their own metro will not be an option for Abu Dhabi or any other city, so the more likely scenario is that new players will come into the region to fill the skills void. For those firms, the region’s metro boom could just be about to start.

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