Reasons to be cheerful
There are more reasons to be upbeat rather than fearful about the region's construction market
In this week’s issue, there is a survey (see p.10) which suggests that expectation levels about the prospects for the construction market in 2015 have waned since last year.
Construction Week has also been conducting a poll on its website which, at the time of going to print, was showing that approximately one-third of respondents expected business to be “about the same” or even slightly worse in 2015 than it has been in 2014.
There are a number of headwinds in the wider economy that give some cause for concern, from the sharply-dropping oil price and the impact this could have on capital investments by regional governments to the continued uncertainty about growth in Europe, Japan and China and the knock-on effects this could have on the global economy.
However, it’s important to have a sense of perspective. In our website poll, two-thirds still believe they will be busier next year than this.
It may just be because I’ve spent the past couple of weeks sifting through some great projects and nominations on our awards shortlists and reviewing the judges’ comments (full coverage of the 2014 event will be in our final edition of the year next week),
But I can’t help placing myself in the optimists’ camp. For instance, for a recent feature on our website, Construction Week’s editorial team picked its top 10 projects of the year. Where else in the world would you get three top projects of such sheer scale and variety as Arabtec’s $40bn initiative to build 1mn houses in Egypt, the deal between Arabtec and Aabar Investments to build 37 towers with a value of $6.1bn and the hugely ambitious, $6.8bn Mall of the World scheme (pictured, right) from Dubai Holding?
Of course, you don’t have to go back too far to see that equally ambitious projects were previously announced but never came to fruition. In Dubai, for instance, you can look at Nakheel’s back catalogue to see schemes like Nakheel Waterfront and Palm Jebel Ali and see that glitzy project launches don’t necessarily convert into opportunities for contractors.
Although I don’t wish to utter those immortal words that this time things are different, I will say that plans seem more robust than in the past.
Our top three may be huge projects, but all of them are phased and broken into smaller chunks, which means that they can be advanced more quickly.
In Egypt, for instance, Arabtec’s board recently indicated that work will start within the next fortnight. Dubai Holding, too, has said it intends to bring the first phase of Mall of the World to tender during the first quarter of 2015.
And with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy not too far behind on its pledge to complete designs and tender for the first five stadiums by the end of 2014, there should be plenty of opportunities over the next 12 months that are there for the taking.