Small fall in the total value of the Middle Easts biggest projects, but further pressure expected due to fighting in Iraq
The Top 100 projects index saw its first dip for a year, with the value of contracts under execution in the second quarter falling by 1.3 per cent to $281.7bn.
The small drop still leaves the index close to its record high of last quarter, when it hit $285.4bn.
Saudi Arabia continues to be the biggest projects market in the Top 100, at $105.5bn, followed by Iran ($60.1bn) and the UAE ($28.3bn).
Saudi contracts are mainly in transport ($43.5bn in the Top 100), but otherwise spread across a range of sectors. Most of Irans contracts ($32.4bn) are on the South Pars Gas Field Development. However, the current status of these schemes is extremely opaque and there is a likelihood that several may have stalled.
Most of the UAEs active contracts in the Top 100 are based in Abu Dhabi, although the heavily delayed towers project at Dubai Pearl is in the list once again, having been taken out of its on-hold status. As yet, there are no projects focused around Dubai Expo in the Top 100, although few of those proposed will be of a value high enough to be included in the list.
The question for the latest Top 100 index is how much work has stalled due to trouble around the region.
In June, Libyas sole entry slipped from the ranking. The $2.3bn Ghanfuda Housing Complex in Benghazi was placed on hold with no date set for it to be revived, due to continued fighting in the country.
Iraq has seen an additional $10bn-worth of projects added to the Top 100 since the second quarter last year. It now has $24.2bn-worth of contracts in the list. But with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis) overrunning swathes of the north, including Iraqs second city of Mosul, and engaging the Peshmerga in the Kurdistan region, much of the work will be, at least unofficially, on hold. The instaibility in the country casts doubts on the viability of work continuing in the south.
It also means the Haditha-Aqaba oil pipeline project is likely to stall. Budgeted at $11.3bn, the main contract for the pipeline to Jordan was expected to be awarded this year, but that prospect will be distant while Isis controls areas of the country it was due to run through.
By sector, transport continues to dominate, due mainly to some of the rail megaprojects under way in the region. The Riyadh and Doha metros have long featured in the ranking, but should be joined in coming quarters by the main contracts for Lines B and C of Mecca Metro (budgeted at $8bn) in Saudi Arabia and the next phase of the Etihad railway network in the UAE.
Additional major rail projects are expected to be awarded in 2015, including packages for the Abu Dhabi Metro, the Oman national railway, the inter-regional railway in Jordan and the passenger and freight line in the Qatar Integrated Rail Project.
The strengthening projects market in the Middle East was expected to drive the value of the Top 100 projects higher in 2014. However, to date there have been no marquee awards of the sort that added significant value to the index last year, such as the $22.5bn Riyadh Metro, and political instability once again casts a shadow over emerging markets, such as Iraq, where significant projects are likely to stall.
MEEDs Top 100 Projects Index is updated quarterly, and based on data from MEED.com and regional projects market tracker MEED Projects.
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