Government spending on transport projects pushed the MEED Top 100 Middle East Projects quarterly index up by 5 per cent in the third quarter, as major contracts were signed on the Riyadh and Doha metro schemes.

At $275.7bn, the Top 100 index, a measure of the largest schemes currently under development, is now at its highest point for more than a year, mirroring the wider recovery in the regional projects market.

Riyadh Metro

The single largest contract under execution in the Middle East is lines 1 and 2 on the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia.

The estimated $9.5bn deal was awarded in July to the BACS consortium, which is made up of US construction and engineering firm Bechtel, the local Almabani General Contractors, Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC), Germany’s Siemens and US-based technology provider Aecom. The scheme’s entry into the Top 100 table pushed the $9bn package on phases 19-21 of the South Pars gas field development in Iran into second place.

Following the award of $22.5bn-worth of contracts for the Riyadh Metro in July, Arriyadh Development Authority is now the second-largest client in the Top 100, in terms of projects in execution, after Pars Oil & Gas Company, the owner of Iran’s giant gas field.

The contract awards on the Riyadh metro scheme also mean transport has become the dominant industry in the Top 100 index, with $81.9bn-worth of projects under way, overtaking gas schemes that had hitherto led the ranking. This is a 53 per cent increase in value on the previous quarter. In addition, the contract awards have extended Saudi Arabia’s lead over Iran, with the highest value of projects under way.

In a sign of current projects trends in the region, rail developments now account for three of the five biggest schemes under way in the Middle East and for more than $53bn of the total transport awards listed in the Top 100. Qatar has awarded about $8.2bn on the Doha Metro this year.

Rail dominates

Transport, and in particular rail, will continue to feature heavily in the Top 100 over the coming few years, as countries upgrade or build new infrastructure.

There are about $290bn-worth of transport infrastructure projects planned in the Middle East, of which about $115bn-worth are rail schemes of a value that could see them appear in the Top 100 list (those of $1.5bn or higher). The schemes include:

  • Jeddah Metro: Orange and Blue lines (estimated to cost $10bn; main contract award expected in July 2014), and Green Line (estimated to cost $1.9bn; contract award expected in early 2015);
  • Oman National Railway: phase 1 (estimated to cost $7bn; contract award expected in 2014);
  • Etihad Railway in the UAE: phase 2 (estimated to cost $3bn across six subpackages; contract award expected before the end of 2013). 

There are more than $260bn-worth of project awards expected to be made during the coming two quarters in the Middle East.

Of this figure, about $100bn are of a value that means they are likely to feature in future MEED Top 100 Middle East Projects quarterly reports. Subtract the $54bn-worth of schemes due to finish over the same timeframe, and by the second quarter of 2014, if all anticipated awards have been made, the index could be worth $300bn.

Key fact

Transport is the dominant industry in the Top 100, with $81.9bn of projects under way

Source: MEED

For the full report on the Top 100 Middle East Projects under way, along with interactive data tables, visit