7 January

Canadian firm to update City of Silk plan

Canadian firm Malone Given Parsons has signed an agreement with Kuwait Municipality to prepare a masterplan to replace previous designs for City of Silk and Bubiyan island developments. Malone Given Parsons will be working with the local Gulf Consult to review and update the previous masterplans for the area, which includes the Subiya promontory, the location of the proposed Silk City and Bubiyan island.

14 January

Following several weeks of mass demonstrations, Tunisia’s President flees to Saudi Arabia, bringing an end to his 23-year rule.

28 January

Firms shortlisted for Saudi aluminium mill

The partners behind the Ras al-Zour aluminium rolling mill project in Saudi Arabia are on the verge of awarding the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to one of three South Korean shortlisted firms. Contracting sources in the kingdom say the Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) and the US’ Alcoa have shortlisted Samsung Engineering, Daelim and Hanwha Engineering & Construction.

11 February

South Sudan government mulls $5bn new capital city

The Government of South Sudan is considering building a new capital city, which could cost at least $5bn. The government has set up a committee to look into moving location from Juba, in the south of the country, to a more central location, according to Finance Minister David Deng.

11 February

Hosni Mubarak, president of Egypt, resigns after 18 days of anti-government protests inspired by the Tunisian uprising. He had been in office since 1981.

18 February

Abu Dhabi signs Shuweihat S3 power project agreements

Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council has signed project agreements for the Shuweihat S3 power project. The agreements, which were signed on 15 February, include a 25-year power-purchase agreement for the emirate’s first independent power project.

18 February

Qatar Airways to launch share sale by 2013

Qatar Airways is now planning to launch its initial public offering (IPO) by 2013, almost a year later than its original plan of listing in early 2012. “We hope that within the next two years we will [launch our] IPO,” says Akbar al-Baker, chief executive officer of Qatar Airways. Al-Baker has previously said that the airline would only go ahead and launch an IPO following three consecutive years of profit. The carrier has now been in profit for two years.

25 February

Riyadh unveils $36bn of state handouts

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud has announced a huge package of support measures estimated to cost SR135bn ($36bn), as he tries to prevent a wave of protest that has spread throughout the Arab world from hitting the GCC’s largest country. The handouts were announced within hours of the king returning to Riyadh after three months abroad for medical treatment.

4 March

Dubai utility to seek power bids in March

Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) will issue the request for expressions of interest in mid-March and release tenders in April for its first private power plant. Dewa could then name a preferred bidder for the scheme by November and reach financial close in early 2012. The utility is asking the Dubai government to provide a guarantee on the project.

25 March

Projects financiers turn to bonds

Several regional projects are expected to launch bond issues later this year in the most promising sign yet that capital market funding could become a viable source of financing projects. Sources in the banking sector say that as many as six project bonds could be launched this year, including the refinancing of the Zayed University and the Dolphin Energy pipeline in the UAE. Other potential project bonds could be issued for Qatar’s Barzan gas project and Saudi Aramco’s Jubail refinery.

25 March

Al-Rajhi launches $3bn steel project

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Steel is planning to develop a $3bn fully integrated steel complex as part of renewed efforts by the kingdom to tackle high unemployment. The lack of jobs has been a key driver behind the youth protest movement that has swept the region since the start of 2011. The steel project, to be developed at the King Abdullah Economic City near Jeddah, has been planned for several years, but has only recently received a gas allocation from the government, that will enable it to go ahead.

22 April

Iraq plans $50bn pipeline programme

Iraq’s Oil Ministry is preparing to launch an estimated $50bn programme to rehabilitate its oil and gas export pipelines, a vital part of integrating Iraq’s oil fields back into global markets. The programme will be tendered in three phases, says a source close to the ministry. The engineering consultancy contract for the first phase of the development is expected to be signed at the end of April or early May. The build, operate and transfer contracts will be tendered in 2012.

29 April

Baghdad postpones fourth oil licensing round to 2012

Iraq has delayed plans for a fourth oil and gas contract licensing round until 25-26 January 2012 from November this year, after unveiling the 12 exploration blocks on offer. Baghdad is offering a total of 80,700 square kilometres for exploration in blocks ranging from 5,500 to 9,000 sq km across the country.

20 May

UAE’s Etisalat drops out of Syrian mobile licence bid

The UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Company (Etisalat) has pulled out of bidding for the third Syrian mobile licence, which is expected to be worth a minimum of $122m. According to sources close to the deal, the telecoms operator is dissatisfied with the 25 per cent revenue share being demanded by Syria’s Communications Ministry. The four other bidders, including Turkey’s Turkcell, Qatar Telecom (Qtel), Saudi Telecoms Company (STC) and France Telecom, are understood to be similarly dissatisfied with the deal.

27 May

Mecca towers to be tendered by year-end

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Manafie Real Estate Company is expected to tender the main construction packages for its $3bn Al-Manafie Towers development by the first quarter of 2012. The excavation contract is expected to be tendered in the next four to six months and tenders for the main construction packages will be issued towards the end of 2011 or in the first quarter of 2012. The scheme will include 12 towers, each with a maximum height of 27 floors.

27 May

Kurdistan plans $10bn roads upgrade

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is drawing up a $10bn roads and highways masterplan as it seeks to rehabilitate its transport links. The plan, called the Kurdistan Region Highways Masterplan, involves renovating all existing roads in the region, as well as building new highways to facilitate access across the region and the rest of Iraq. Beirut-based Dar al-Handasah won the contract to draw up the plan. Part of the financing will be provided by the government, while other funding will be generated from revenues such as road tolls.

3 June

UAE’s Masdar considers tendering Noor 1 solar project as private scheme

Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is considering plans to develop its Noor 1 photovoltaic solar plant as an independent power project (IPP). “Noor 1 will be an IPP like Shams 1, as the IPP model is very effective for these projects,” says Mohamed al-Zaabi, general manager of the local Shams Power Company. However, Masdar power director Frank Wouters says the matter has yet to be decided and approval from Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council for the 100MW project is pending.

17 June

Atkins set to review Qatar’s West Bay people-mover project

The UK’s Atkins is set to carry out a six-week review of Qatar’s QR10bn ($2.7bn) West Bay people-mover project. Qatar Railways Company (QRC) has increased the budget for the project from its initial forecast of QR8bn. Atkins’ study will help advise QRC on whether to develop the people-mover at grade level, elevated or underground. The QRC received bids for the project management consultancy contract for the people-mover on 29 March.

24 June

Kuwait invites contractors for first public-private partnership hospital

Kuwait’s Partnerships Technical Bureau (PTB) has invited companies to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for a project to design, build, finance and maintain the region’s first public-private partnership (PPP) hospital scheme. Local and international firms have been invited to submit an EoI by 18 August for the proposed 500-bed Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital project, which is planned by the PTB and the Health Ministry, will be located on the site of the existing physical medicine and rehabilitation hospital at the Al-Andalus area of Kuwait city.

15 July

Egyptian Refining Company targets end of 2011 for Mostorod refinery financial close

The Egyptian Refining Company (ERC) is targeting the fourth quarter of 2011 for financial close on the $3.8bn Mostorod Refinery project, which has been held up by the political unrest in Cairo. ERC is awaiting final approval from four state-owned firms planning to take an equity stake in the project. The four firms had all the necessary approvals in place to invest in the project before the regime of Hosni Mubarak was toppled in early February. They have since had to approach the transitional government for new approvals for the investments.

22 July

Saudi Aramco-Dow Chemical award first major packages for petrochemicals project

Saudi Aramco and the US’ Dow Chemical will award two major packages at their $18bn petrochemicals joint venture in Jubail to the US’ Fluor and South Korea’s Daelim Industrial. Fluor beat off stiff competition to secure the engineering, procurement, construction and management contract for the utilities and offsites package. The contract is believed to be worth more than $2bn, due to the highly technical nature of the work involved. The exact value of Fluor’s contract is unclear, but it amounts to 5.6 million man hours of work. Daelim saw off a fierce challenge from fellow South Korean firm GS Engineering & Construction to win the contract for the mixed-feed cracker package. The plant will use ethane and naphtha and produce 1.2 million tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene and 400,000 t/y of propylene.

5 August

UAE’s Etihad Rail awards contract for heavy-haul locomotives

US-based Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) has won a contract to design and manufacture seven heavy-haul freight locomotives for the first phase of Etihad Rail’s $11bn UAE rail project. The locomotives are scheduled to be delivered by 2012. The firm will design, manufacture, deliver, test and commission the locomotives.

5 August

Bids in for Amman private power project

Jordan’s National Electric Power Company (Nepco) has received three bids to build the country’s third independent power project (IPP3). The bidders include: Acwa Power (Saudi Arabia)/ Man Diesel & Turbo (Germany); Korea Electric Power Company (South Korea)/Mitsubishi Corporation (Japan); Saudi Oger (Saudi Arabia)/ Korea East-West Power Company (South Korea)/STX (South Korea). The bidders were asked for four alternate sub-proposals. This included a proposal for the base bid at 350MW, an alternative bid at 600MW and proposals for the use of liquid fuel and a combination of liquid fuel and gas.

26 August

International Bank of Qatar sells Islamic banking unit

International Bank of Qatar (IBQ) has sold its Al-Yusr Islamic banking retail operation to the local Barwa Bank, due to new regulations that prohibit conventional banks from operating Islamic banking subsidiaries. The sale covers two branches, automatic teller machines, Al-Yusr employees, retail loan portfolios and customer deposits. Private banking and corporate banking portfolios are not included in the sale. The Islamic banking arms of conventional banks have been thrown into confusion ever since the central bank told them they could no longer offer customers sharia-compliant banking services.

16 September

Saudi Aramco plans to use export refineries for local demand

Most of the gasoline and diesel produced at two new oil refineries being built in Saudi Arabia will be sold domestically, despite being planned as export facilities. The Jubail and Yanbu export refineries will each have a capacity of 400,000 barrels a day (b/d) when completed in 2013 and 2015 respectively, but the offtake of both gasoline and diesel will remain in the kingdom. “Due to a deficit [of gasoline and diesel], oil major [Saudi] Aramco will buy all of the offtake to fuel the ever-growing domestic demand,” says a source familiar with both projects.

16 September

Parsons Brinckerhoff to manage Doha rail scheme

The US’ Parsons Brinckerhoff has been selected as the strategic programme manager for the $35bn Qatar Integrated Rail Programme (QIRP). Qatar Railways Company (QRail) reviewed three bids for the deal in July. The other bidders were US-based Bechtel and Fluor. QRail is planning to develop a number of rail projects in time for 2022, when the country will host the Fifa football World Cup. These projects include the Doha metro, Lusail light-rail transit (LRT), West Bay people-mover, several other people-movers, a freight railway to link the ports along the east coast of Qatar and a high-speed passenger line. Parsons Brinckerhoff will now oversee construction of these projects.

23 September

UAE’s Nakheel sukuk terms spark further sell-off by creditors

Holders of UAE-based Nakheel’s latest sukuk (Islamic bond) issue are selling off the debt after discovering that the security on the deal is land at Dubai Waterfront that has yet to be fully reclaimed. Unlike normal bond issues, the Dubai government-owned property developer only issued the final terms of the deal mid-September, after it had started handing out the bonds. Nakheel also failed to supply an independent assessment of the value of the security that had been promised to creditors.

30 September

Saudi Aramco to release Jizan refinery tender in early 2012

Oil major Saudi Aramco plans to issue the tender for the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the import and export terminal at its planned $7bn Jizan refinery in the first quarter of 2012. The terminal will be built adjacent to the Jizan port development and will be separate from the main port terminal.

20 October

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is captured and killed by rebel forces, following an eight-month-long civil war. Gaddafi had seized power in a coup in 1969.

28 October

Manama to invite airport terminal bids

Bahrain Airport Company (Bac) expects to invite prequalified companies to bid for the expansion of the passenger terminal at Bahrain International airport in the first quarter of 2012. The contract covers the main works of the expansion, including extending and upgrading the terminal building and the construction of new passenger lounges and baggage handling systems. Companies had a deadline of 12 October to submit prequalification documents.

28 October

Doha cancels people-mover contract

Qatar Railways Company (QRail) has cancelled the tender for a project management consultancy contract (PMC) for the QR10bn ($2.7bn) West Bay people-mover project. “[The project is] dead now,” says a Doha-based source. “The original PMC was cancelled last week.” The reason for the cancellation of the PMC is unclear, although the project was thought to have been too expensive to carry out underground. In June, the UK’s Atkins began a six-week review of the West Bay people-mover aimed at advising QRail on whether to develop it at grade-level, elevated or underground. Selected companies have now been asked to redesign the system.

18 November

ExxonMobil raises stakes with oil deals

US oil major ExxonMobil and other international oil companies (IOCs) are signing agreements with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that could put them at odds with the central government in Iraq. On 18 October, ExxonMobil signed a deal for six oil exploration and production blocks with the KRG, making it the first oil major to be awarded blocks in the Kurdish region. The signings were confirmed by Ashti Hawrami, KRG Natural Resources Minister, at a conference in Irbil on 13 November.

18 November

Saudi Arabian utilities authority to raise $1.2bn from local banks to fund plans

Saudi Arabia’s Power & Water Utility Company for Jubail & Yanbu (Marafiq) is in the process of trying to raise SR4.5bn ($1.19bn) from local banks to fund its investment plans. The company has asked banks in Saudi Arabia to give indications by 23 November of how much they can offer the company and at what pricing. The deal has a tenor of 15 years and is the second time that Marafiq has approached local banks for large, long-tenor loans.

23 November

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh signs a deal to step down after 33 years in charge. He will remain nominal head of state until presidential elections are held on 21 February 2012.

2 December

Dubai Financial Market hits lowest level since 2004

Dubai Financial Market (DFM) has suffered one of its worst trading weeks with the index dropping to 1,344.92 points on 27 November, its lowest level since 2004, before rebounding slightly. The Eurozone debt crisis and the continued threat of downgrades of countries and banks in the bloc have affected the DFM, which is more exposed to Western markets than the region’s other bourses. Foreign investors account for about 65 per cent of the DFM’s trading activity, most of which are large regional and international institutional investors.