The MEED Top 100 Projects Index hit its highest level in five quarters at the end of 2013, reaching almost $277bn.

Quarter-on-quarter gains were modest, at 0.4 per cent, with just two new entries to the table. However, with more than $600bn-worth of contracts in the planning phases in 2014, MEED expects activity to rise, in a continuing sign of improving conditions in the region.

Value of Middle East Top 100 Projects under way, by quarter
Quarter Value ($m)
Q4 2013 276,996
Q3 2013 275,722
Q2 2013 262,705
Q1 2013 271,693
Q4 2012 274,993

Looking only at deals likely to appear in future quarters of the MEED 100 biggest projects (typically those worth $1.5bn or above), there is potential for $350bn-worth of awards to be made this year. However, as in previous years, that number will dwarf the value finally made. Last year, roughly $58bn of awards were large enough to be included in the Top 100.

Transport dominates

Transport, predominantly rail, was the story of 2013, particularly in the second half, following the award of the main contracts for the Riyadh Metro. About $22.5bn-worth of deals pushed the transport sector into the top spot among other sectors in the Top 100 index; in the fourth quarter, the industry was worth $80.6bn. Other major rail schemes in the index include Saudi Railways Organisation’s Haramain High-Speed Rail Network, worth $13.7bn, and $6.2bn of deals awarded for the Doha Metro in Qatar.

Contract awards for the Doha Metro have been slower than expected, but another major award is expected in 2014 that will be large enough to feature in a future Top 100 index. This is the tunnelling works for the Gold Line, valued at about $3bn. The award is expected in the first quarter.

Much of the attention on transport infrastructure awards has focused on the GCC, but Algeria was also active in 2013, with deals to improve its road and rail networks. Over the final two quarters of 2013, the country awarded a $2bn contract for a major road running from Jijel to El-Eulma, as well as continued work on the cross-country East-West Motorway. Contracts were also issued for phases 1 and 2 of the Oued Tlelat-Akid Abbes high-speed rail electrification project, worth $3.5bn. This scheme involves the upgrade and electrification of the existing 198-kilometre line.

As with the Top 100 Index in the previous quarter, the transport sector was followed by construction ($52.8bn) and gas ($52bn).

Top 100 projects by sector, Q4 2013

By value, almost half the construction deals in the index are in Saudi Arabia, including phase 2 of the Saudi National Guard’s housing development. New to the Top 100 projects, phase 2 of the contract covers the building of 11,250 villas for military personnel across eight locations. Phase 1, which also features in the Top 100, involves 17,000 villas to be built across 11 locations.

The second new project in this quarter’s Top 100 list is the Sohar refinery expansion in Oman. The $2.1bn scheme is set to increase the refinery’s capacity from 116,000 barrels a day (b/d) to 187,000 b/d once completed.

There are several other refinery construction deals due to be awarded in the first half of 2014. These include contracts for two refineries in Kuwait, as part of its Clean Fuels Project (the upgrade and expansion of the Mina Abdullah and Mina al-Ahmadi refineries), along with new facilities in Kirkuk and Karbala in Iraq, and phase 1 of the Fujairah refinery in the UAE.

However, with Kuwait’s reputation for sluggish project sign-offs and the combination of continuing tensions and an April national election in Iraq, it is possible these awards could be delayed. The Clean Fuels Project has been at the planning stage since 2007, but signs are positive. Bids for the scheme were submitted last December and awards are due in the first quarter of this year.

Top 100 projects by country, Q4 2013

For countries in the MEED Top 100 index, the top three remain unchanged, with Saudi Arabia at $103.4bn, Iran at $62.5bn and the UAE at $42.3bn. Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest projects market, with more than $130bn of awards planned in 2014. Of those, about $89bn are valued at above $1.5bn, and could feature in the Top 100 index. Awards expected to be made in the kingdom include phase 1 of the Mecca Metro (worth $7bn) and phase 1 of King Abdullah City for Atomic & Renewable Energy’s Renewable Energy Programme (worth $8.4bn).

Dubai hype

In the UAE, Dubai’s winning bid in November to host the World Expo 2020 was swiftly followed by hype around the emirate’s resurgent construction sector. Many of the project plans were already in place prior to the win, although roughly $7bn of direct infrastructure investment is earmarked for the Expo preparations.

But, just as the award of the 2022 Fifa World Cup to Qatar was followed by a period of planning rather than awards, so it will be for Dubai in 2014. There are about $21bn of major awards planned for this year in the emirate, of which about $6.5bn are likely to appear in the Top 100 index. These include awards for District One at the Mohammed bin Rashid City ($3bn) and villas at Nakheel’s Al-Furjan development ($2bn).

Overall, MEED expects to see the value of the Top 100 index continue to grow in 2014. As highlighted, an active market in Saudi Arabia will push up the value of the index as awards are made. Transport will continue to be a dominant sector in the rankings, although if plans for refineries come to fruition, the value of contracts in the oil sector in the MEED Top 100 could grow in late 2014 as well.

Top 100 Projects data tables and dashboards



About the MEED 100 Projects Index

The quarterly index tracks the value of the 100 biggest contracts in the Middle East that feature in the main Top 100 Projects table. To calculate the figure on a comparable basis, MEED adds up the value of only the first 100 projects each quarter.

Often there are more than 100 projects in the table, due to the number of schemes with the same value. MEED tracks projects over their development lifecycle, and sometimes the value of a project is adjusted as costs or development phases become clearer.

If a change occurs, we will similarly adjust the value of previous quarters’ index if the project had featured. This is done to ensure that the values quarter on quarter can be compared.

The Top 100 Projects additionally uses MEED Projects as a source.