The Middle East's top construction newsmakers of 2018
Disney World and Saudi Arabia's Neom feature in Construction Week's most-read stories of 2018
As the year draws to an end, Construction Week presents five of the most-read stories of 2018 produced during the last 12 months.
News from Neom, Saudi Binladin Group, and a skyscraper that may overtake Burj Khalifa round up the most popular developments this year.
1. Dubai builder offers US green card for $150m project
Dubai real estate developer Sternon Group is offering a Green Card, which grants permanent US residency, to investors backing its under-construction project near Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
America's Green Card scheme allows investors to gain permanent US residency if they invest a minimum of $500,000.
The $150m (AED551) residential project, Fortune Stars, is a three-tower development with 550 apartments. It will be built in three phases.
Construction is set to begin in April 2019 and will take approximately two years to complete.
2. First contracts awarded for Saudi’s $500bn Neom
Saudi Binladin Group was among the list of companies awarded government contracts to kick-off the construction of the $500bn (SAR1.9tn) Neom megaproject in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Building agreements for the construction of an unknown number of palaces within Neom, located along the Red Sea coast, were reportedly awarded during the start of 2018.
Reuters reported the Saudi government awarded contracts for palaces and buildings within Neom’s business zone.
Banks were also reported to have started issuing finance facilities to builders, although these values have yet to be disclosed.
Neom is believed to be one of the largest construction projects in the world, alongside China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
3. Metro construction to begin in Kuwait and Bahrain
In August 2018, reports stated that construction had started on a 111km railway in Kuwait. A start date of Q4 2019 for Bahrain's rail network also surfaced at the time.
Work is believed to have started on Phase 1 of a rail project in Kuwait that will create a line to Nuwaiseeb along the Saudi border, and on another 153km route from Kuwait City to Boubyan Port, an under-construction megaproject in the country.
Meanwhile, Bahrain’s light rail system project is still seeking bidders, meaning its Q4 2019 start date remains tentative.
Bahrain may seek collaboration with the private sector to partially fund the project, which could cost up to $2bn (BHD745.4bn).
4. Oger International acquired by Jordanian investor
French construction giant Oger International revealed earlier this year that it had been taken over by Jordanian Ala Al Khawaja, who acquired the company through AMK Capital Investment.
It was described as a “new chapter” in Oger International's history and came after the business was hit, in 2016, by the defaulting of its biggest shareholder in the Middle East.
This caused Oger International to freeze its debt for 18 months and undergo a major restructure.
5. $1bn Dubai Creek Tower achieves construction milestone
Concrete placement work for Dubai Creek Tower, which is touted to become the tallest skyscraper in the world upon completion, was finished two months ahead of schedule in 2018.
Developed by joint venture of Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding, the tower's concrete placement was announced to have been completed in May 2018.
Up to 16,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, weighing as much as two Eiffel Towers, has been placed for Dubai Creek Tower, the centrepiece of the Dubai Creek Habour megaproject.
The pile cap covers and transfers the load of the building to the foundation barrettes.