Real estate still a driving force for change in the GCC

Realty schemes continue to dominate the Gulf’s projects sector

Despite the impact of the global financial crisis, real estate continues to dominate the GCC projects sector, having nine out of the top 10 projects in the GCC by budget value.

In total, 49 of the top 100 biggest projects in the region are in the real estate sector, with their combined project budget value of $761bn accounting for some 61 per cent of the total value of the GCC’s 100 biggest projects.

At $93bn, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Economic City claims the top spot as the region’s biggest project. The megaproject is typical of the big real estate visions that feature on the list and which will be providing design and construction opportunities for years to come.       

Despite having the region’s biggest project, Saudi Arabia is second to the UAE in terms of the total value of real estate projects on MEED Projects’ Top 100 list.

The combined value of UAE real estate projects is $370bn, almost 30 per cent of the value of the list. Saudi Arabia’s $241bn worth of real estate projects represents about 19 per cent of the value of the GCC.

Rail leads the way in transport projects for the GCC

Railway schemes behind a boom in transport infrastructure projects

Transport projects present some of the best opportunities for regional and international companies as governments invest heavily in providing strategic freight corridors to improve communications across the region. And also move to reduce congestion on the region’s road networks.

The combined value of transport projects in the Top 100 list is about $163.9bn, about 13 per cent of the total value of the Top 100 list.

Focus on petrochemicals in the GCC

Oil & gas projects are a priority for the region’s governments

While oil & gas production accounts for more than 60 per cent of economic output in the GCC, the relatively low position – third – of oil & gas projects on the Top 100 list, highlights the focus now placed on economic diversification in the region.

With a combined total of $131bn, oil & gas projects have an 11 per cent share of the GCC’s 100 biggest projects. New refinery projects account for some $60bn or 46 per cent of the total, with gas developments worth $43bn, or 33 per cent.

Power projects pick of the GCC crop

GCC utilities provide some of the region’s best project opportunities

Although they represent some of the biggest capital expenditure schemes in the GCC, the region’s power and water projects are relatively underrepresented among the region’s 100 biggest projects.

With only seven projects on the list, worth a combined value of $57.5bn, power & water projects represent less than 5 per cent of the total value of projects. The standout scheme, in terms of budget size, is Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s $20bn nuclear power plant in Abu Dhabi (Rank 13).

The standalone nature of power & water schemes means their size pales in comparison to the region’s real estate and transport megaproject visions. But in terms of generating real work, the utilities sector is set to continue providing the best major project business opportunities in the region for developers, engineers, contractors and suppliers, as governments continue their drive to meet the climbing demand for electricity and water from the region’s rapidly expanding economies.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE on top

The two countries are the region’s biggest project sponsors

As the GCC’s two biggest economies, it is no surprise the UAE and Saudi Arabia hold the lion’s share of the region’s biggest projects. The combined total value of projects in the two countries is about $911bn, some 74 per cent of the value of the 100 biggest projects in the region.