Planned transport infrastructure projects across the Middle East region will require massive investments in information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, particularly those related to physical and cyber security.

Some $247bn of airport, seaport, railway and urban metro schemes are planned across the six GCC states, with nearly $100bn planned elsewhere, including in Iran, the Levant and North Africa, according to regional projects tracker MEED Projects.

In the GCC, rail, metro, light rail transit and tram projects account for more than three quarters of the overall planned budget. Airports account for approximately 28 per cent, and the remainder is for seaports.

Rail and port projects require significant investments in ICT systems, not only to monitor security and transport or cargo schedules, but to introduce greater operational efficiencies and possibly create new revenue streams through smart applications that could be made available to the public.

Securing the ports of entries as well as the public transport systems has also become a core component of the GCC states’ national security strategy, especially in light of the terror attacks in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in recent months.

The Muscat and Salalah airports, for instance, recently signed up France’s Thales for its integrated security solutions and systems, including data centre infrastructure, with the contract valued at an estimated $220m.

In August, Kuwait awarded a $4.3bn contract for the construction of Terminal 2 at the Kuwait International airport (KIA), which it hopes to become operational in 2020. It is also prequalifying contractors for the auxiliary terminal to supplement the first terminal’s capacity until Terminal 2 is completed.

In Saudi Arabia, a new international airport is planned in Taif while a further two-phased $20bn expansion is planned for the King Abdullah International airport in Mecca over the next 10 years. In the UAE, the largest single project, the $32bn Al-Maktoum International airport, is also scheduled for completion by 2025.

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