The award of the main construction contract on the SR2bn ($533m) King Abdullah Sports Stadium in Jeddah is the latest evidence that Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with its ambitious infrastructure programme.

Saudi Arabia by far has been the region’s busiest construction market in 2011, already having awarded $19.1bn-worth of construction deals. The kingdom even continued to tender and award contracts during the normally quiet Ramadan period.

Despite the King Abdullah Sports City project being downsized from its original plans, the development has already made better progress than the last big stadium project that was tendered in the region.

In October 2010, Abu Dhabi government put a proposed 65,000-seat stadium project on hold after it had received bids from contractors earlier in the year.

Saudi Arabia’s resolve to push ahead with the project shows that it is committed to developing all aspects of its infrastructure. The award of the contract to Belgium’s Six Construct shows that there are plenty of opportunities for international contractors in the kingdom’s construction sector. Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a difficult market for international contractors to penetrate, but if foreign firms are able to form partnerships and bring in expertise in certain areas they will have ample opportunities to win work.

The stadium project also provides a taster of what it is to come for the region’s projects sector in the coming years, with nine new stadiums planned in Qatar as part of its preparations to host the football World Cup in 2022.

With other countries such as Kuwait also planning stadium projects, the sporting sector will play an increasingly bigger role in the region’s projects sector in the next decade.

The sporting sector will play an increasingly bigger role in the region’s projects sector in the next decade