The latest quarter for the MEED Top 100 Projects is now available. Click here to read it.

The MEED Top 100 Middle East Projects quarterly index rose by 5 per cent in the third quarter, its first increase in a year, largely because of governments around the region pushing ahead with multibillion-dollar transport spending programmes. Now at $275.7bn, the Top 100 Index, a measure of the largest projects currently under development, is also at its highest point for more than a year.

Twelve projects are new to this quarter’s Top 100, with 10, worth $23.8bn, being completed and so falling out of the table. The index was pushed higher chiefly because of the $22.5bn Riyadh Metro project in Saudi Arabia. In total, there is $38.8bn-worth of projects in the Top 100 for the first time. 

Value of Middle East Top 100 Projects underway, by quarter
Quarter Value ($m)
Q3 2013 275,722
Q2 2013 262,705
Q1 2013 271,693
Q4 2012 274,993

Within the Top 100, the transport sector leads, with $81.9bn-worth of projects under way. This is a 53 per cent increase in value on the previous quarter and means the value of contract awards across the sector has risen 79.5 per cent since the start of 2013.

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In a sign of current projects trends in the region, rail developments now account for three of the biggest five projects under way in the Top 100 and for more than $53bn of the total transport awards listed.

Two rail projects, in particular, have driven the value of transport awards within the Top 100 – the previously mentioned Riyadh Metro and the $6.2bn of awards made for the Doha Metro in Qatar. Overall, Qatar will spend about $21bn on building the Doha Metro and more awards are due. This includes the $3bn contract for tunnelling works on the Gold line, which is expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

Transport, and in particular rail, will continue to feature heavily in the Top 100 over the coming few years, as countries upgrade or build their infrastructure. In total, there is about $290bn-worth of transport infrastructure projects planned in the Middle East, of which about $115bn-worth are rail schemes of a value that could see them appear in the Top 100 list (those of $1,5bn or higher). This includes:

  • Jeddah Metro, Orange and Blue lines ($10bn; main contract award expected in July 2014) and Green line ($1.9bn; award expected in early 2015)
  • Oman National Railway, phase 1 ($7bn; award expected 2014)
  • Etihad Rail, phase 2 in UAE ($3bn across six sub-packages; award expected before the end of 2013) 

Gas takes second spot by sector (at $56.6bn and mainly due to the South Pars development in Iran’s coastal waters), followed by construction (at $55.3bn).

As the region’s economies improve, real estate schemes are again making headlines, particularly in Dubai. So while construction awards have remained static in 2013, we expect to see their value rise during 2014, as main contracts are awarded. At least $20.7bn-worth of construction projects across the UAE and Saudi Arabia are expected to have been awarded by the end of the first quarter next year.

By country, Saudi Arabia ($101.1bn) continues to be the biggest projects market, followed by Iran ($67.5bn) and the UAE ($44.7bn).

Last year, Saudi Arabia was a disappointment in terms of contract awards, as a number that were expected to be made did not materialise, but in the third quarter the value of projects in the kingdom featuring in the Top 100 rose 35 per cent on the previous quarter.

Transport is the biggest sector by value in Saudi Arabia for the the Top 100 ($46.3bn), pushed up by Riyadh Metro.

In late July, the main contractors for the three packages to build the metro were announced, and sub-contracts will continue to be awarded by each consortium. Tender documentation for early works packages is being prepared for Lines 1 and 2, being built by the Bechtel-led consortium, with the contracts expected to be awarded during the first half of 2014.

Overall, there are about $320bn-worth of projects planned and yet to be awarded in Saudi Arabia, of which about $240bn-worth are of a value that could appear in future Top 100 Projects lists. Contracts close to being awarded include:

MEED has also looked at the order book for contractors featured in the Top 100. The values are estimates, as it is difficult to get exact figures for individual partners when contractors work as a joint venture. However, by order book, Saudi Binladin Group is the most active company in terms of awards in the Top 100, working on approximately $19bn-worth of contracts.

This is more than double the next two contractors, South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction and Iran’s Khatam al-Anbiya, both with about $8.6bn-worth of work in the Top 100.

There are more than $260bn-worth of project awards expected to be made during the coming two quarters in the Middle East. Of that, about $100bn-worth are of a value that means they are likely to feature in future Top 100 Projects reports. Subtract the $54bn-worth of projects due to finish over the same timeframe, and by the second quarter of 2014, if anticipated awards have been made, the index could be about $300bn.

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About the Top 100 Projects index

The quarterly index tracks the value of the 100 biggest contracts in the Middle East that feature in the main Top 100 Projects table. To calculate the figure on a comparable basis, MEED adds up the value of only the first 100 projects each quarter.

Often there are more than 100 projects in the table, due to the number of schemes with the same value. MEED tracks projects over their development lifecycle, and sometimes the value of a project is adjusted as costs or development phases become clearer.

If a change occurs, we will similarly adjust the value of previous quarters’ index if the project had featured. This is done to ensure that the values quarter on quarter can be compared.

The Top 100 Projects additionally uses MEED Projects as a source.