Saudi Arabia and UAE drive GCC construction activity

31 January 2019
Closing date for entries to the MEED Projects Awards 2019 in association with Mashreq is nearly upon us, so it is a good time to look at trends highlighted by this year’s awards

Construction was hit harder than any other sector by the 2014-16 oil price crash and subsequent fiscal adjustment policies in the Middle East and North Africa region. This led to a slowdown in project spending.

Annual awards for building and real estate projects fell to $37bn in 2018, down from $66bn the previous year.

Despite this, construction remains the biggest sector by project value, making up 46 per cent of the total value of projects that are planned or under construction in the region.

With $864bn of projects, Saudi Arabia is the biggest construction market in the region. The UAE is second with $575.9bn of projects.

During the period of low oil prices, construction projects in ring-fenced sectors such as social housing, education and healthcare were more likely to see progress.

The 10 biggest building and real estate projects completed in the GCC in 2018
ProjectProject sponsorCountryValue ($m)
Education City: Research Institute Sidra medical and research centreQFQatar2,700
Sharma complex: package 1PIFSaudi Arabia2,400
Dubai theme park: phase 1Dubai Parks & ResortsUAE1,700
Riyadh information technology and communications complexRaidahSaudi Arabia1,680
The AvenuesMabaneeKuwait1,500
Al-Jahra HospitalAmiri DiwanKuwait1,280
Ezdan OasisEzdan/Sak HoldingQatar1,237
Al-MarkazWaha LandUAE1,089
Yas Island: Warner Brothers theme parkMiral Asset ManagementUAE1,000
Louvre Abu Dhabi museumTDIC/Agence France-MuseumsUAE1,000

The largest project to be completed in the 2017-18 period was Qatar Foundation’s $2.7bn Sidra Medicine healthcare and research centre.

The second-biggest project was the first package of the Sharma complex, located on Saudi Arabia's northern Red Sea coast and developed by the Public Investment Fund, with a budget of $2.4bn.

The biggest project in Kuwait to be completed during the period was The Avenues, the country’s largest shopping mall.

With a budget of $1.5bn, the development is spread over 382,000 square metres of land. It includes more than 800 shops, more than 10,000 parking spaces and 150 restaurants.

  • The MEED Projects Awards 2019 in association with Mashreq recognises the best projects in the GCC. Reflecting the latest market trends, this year’s awards feature 17 different categories for entries. If you have been involved in a project completed in 2017 or 2018 that you believe deserves to be recognised, you can submit your entry at: MEED Projects Awards 2019.

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