Many real estate schemes are nearing completion, and increasing costs are reducing the number of projects being launched.

Instead, it is public service infrastructure that is now on the region’s ‘most wanted’ list. Multi-billion-dollar transport projects such as the Saudi Landbridge rail scheme, the Dubai metro and a raft of new airports and roads are all critical to the region’s economic development.

Embarrassing incidents, such as Dubai’s failure to deal with its lack of sewage treatment capacity and blackouts elsewhere because of a lack of electricity generation capacity, highlight the need for investment in public services.

The need to boost new industries is also stimulating the market.

Critical to all of this is the availability of gas feedstock to fuel power supply.

Demand for gas in Saudi Arabia alone is set to triple by 2030. Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are all investing heavily in this area, but new capacity is not forecast to rise significantly until Aramco’s Karan field comes on line in 2010. Qatar’s moratorium on development of its giant North field is expected to stretch until 2012.

Investment in gas exploration and production is being accelerated, and it needs to be. If the region fails to meet its own demands, it will undermine its hopes for wider industrial growth.