A strong performance across various sectors and geographies in 2023 has resulted in a record year for the GCC projects market. By 21 November, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects, 1,268 contracts totalling $178.6bn had been awarded in the region. The total breaks the previous full-year record of $173.5bn set in 2014 with more than a month to spare.
The market was driven by Saudi Arabia’s gigaprojects as they race to turn Vision 2030 into a reality, heavy investment into the oil and gas sector as national oil companies aim to increase their production capacities and upgrade existing infrastructure, continued investment in clean energy projects, and a buoyant property market in Dubai and the rest of the UAE.
It could be an even better year in 2024, as the market expects more of the same, together with contract awards for major new infrastructure projects, such as the Saudi Landbridge rail link, a new Blue Line for the Dubai Metro, and possibly even awards for building nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia.
Although the omens may look good, a repeat of 2023 is not guaranteed. There is the ever-present fear that what goes up also comes down, and while the GCC economies have performed well, countries in North Africa and Levant have endured a difficult year as their economies flounder with rising inflation and high debt levels.
While initial fears of a broader regional dispute have largely subsided, the conflict in Gaza has served as a timely reminder that geopolitics is a risk that can never be discounted in the Middle East.
Internationally, the economic outlook is subdued. This will impact trade and put negative pressure on oil prices, which typically means a slowdown in project spending in key markets, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Finally, the US is heading into a presidential election, and as the campaign unfolds throughout the year it will create opportunities and challenges for the region to navigate in 2024.
Published on 31 December 2023 and distributed to senior decision-makers in the region and around the world, the MEED Yearbook 2024 includes:
The MEED Yearbook 2024 country data files include:
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