The GCC civil construction market has returned to growth with a total $59bn in contracts awarded last year, a level not seen since 2008, according to MEED Insight’s GCC Construction Report 2014.

Historically, MEED Insight says the civil construction market has been the largest sector in the GCC projects, driven mainly by booming economies and populations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. “These markets are investing billions of dollars to create new or upgrade existing infrastructure,” says Ed James, the Head of MEED Insight, the strategic consultancy arm of the MEED business.

Other key factors which have driven this growth include high oil prices and strong population growth. “None of these drivers is expected to change dramatically in the medium term,” continues James.

Excluding schemes on hold or cancelled, the report estimates the current value of live civil construction projects to be just over $1.3trillion, with $935bn in execution including long-term megaprojects, $81bn out to tender, $211bn in design phases and $136bn under study.

“While new contract awards are a big boost to the economy, completed projects are the ones that ultimately the most significant impact on regional economies,” says Becky Crayman, Head of Awards, MEED, organisers of the annual MEED Quality Awards for Projects, in association with Mashreq, which has been recognising completed projects throughout the region for the past four years.

Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest civil construction market by value of work under way, with $81bn in contracts under construction. The UAE has $66bn worth and Qatar $32bn. Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain remain small civil construction markets in comparison to their GCC neighbours. Both Kuwait and Oman have the potential, however, to increase the value of construction deals by harnessing their private sectors. There are indicators that both could become major markets if they adopt the right policies and strategies.

For its 2014 edition, the awards programme will once again recognise quality projects across several categories, including Oil & Gas Project of the Year, Industrial Project of the Year, Power and Water Desalination Project of the Year, Water Reuse Project of the Year, Leisure and Tourism Project of the Year, Transport Project of the Year, Social Project of the Year, Building Project of the Year, Sustainable Project of the Year and Award for Innovation. Projects completed between January 2012 and December 2013 are eligible to join the programme, with deadline for submission of entries set on January 31, 2014.

As in the past years, competition has been tough with mega projects throughout the GCC vying for the prestige and honour of being named the best of the best in the region. Some of the past winners of the sought after MEED Quality Project of the Year award include Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (2011 winner), the worlds’ tallest building, Qatar’s Pearl GTL project (2012), and Concourse A – Dubai International Airport (2013). 

“The completed projects have a special significance – they are the foundation on which Gulf economies are building progressive and sustainable societies for current and future generations to enjoy. For this reason, we look at each project not just from an economic perspective, but also in terms of how they have ingeniously used innovative technologies, incorporated vital ecological measures, and generated local employment, among other important factors,” adds Crayman.

The MEED Quality Awards for Projects, in association with Mashreq is the only awards programme in the GCC that evaluates the outcome of the construction process, rather than the process itself. It is judged by an independent jury panel consisting of respected authorities in the projects industry who will determine the winners at the national and regional level of the competition.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2014, MEED Insight forecasts an increase in the region’s overall projects market, with significant country variation. “The margin between Saudi Arabia and the UAE is expected to narrow as contract awards in the kingdom slow while those in the federation quicken on the back of a revitalised Dubai real estate sector and the emirate’s preparations for the 2020 Expo. The overall forecast for the year is for $68bn worth of civil construction contract awards,” ends James. 

About MEED Quality Awards for Projects, in association with Mashreq

Now in its fourth year, MEED, the leading supplier of business intelligence in the Middle East, will celebrate the amazing success of the projects sector in the GCC at the 2014 MEED Quality Awards for Projects, in association with Mashreq. The awards aim to raise standards through benchmarking best practice specified in the project brief and excellence provided in the project delivery. Winning an award will send a message to the market that quality is essential in all parts of the project management process; from design planning to engineering and construction. The 5 criteria are economic and environmental impact as well as engineering, design and construction challenges.

About Mashreq:

Mashreq is one of the UAE’s leading National Financial institutions and the second oldest. Founded in 1967 as Bank of Oman, the bank has played a pioneering role in the industry, particularly in retail banking. Among its many firsts, it was the first to launch such products as travellers’ cheques, credit cards and ATMs.

Mashreq has received numerous international awards reflecting the bank’s successful record, such as Best Regional Retail Bank by The Banker ME Industry Awards 2012, Best Branch Design Award & Best Islamic Investment Fund Award for Mashreq Al Islami Income Fund from Banker Middle East Product Awards 2012, Dubai Human Development Appreciation Award 2012 for its efforts towards the Development of the Emiratisation initiative.

As a leading financial Institution in the UAE, Mashreq aims to be world class in every facet of its business; including its social responsibility to the community it serves. Towards this goal the bank pays particular attention to recruiting, training, developing and retaining UAE National employees.

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