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Is the GCC's construction pool skilled to build waste infrastructure?

Spending on waste infrastructure is steadily rising in the Gulf, but can the region’s current construction talent pool meet the demands of this new investment climate?

COMMENT, Projects, Construction, Gcc, Waste infrastructure

So far, 2018 has been an exciting year for the Middle East’s construction community, as was evidenced by the diversified investments announced in the region.

For instance, at the end of January, Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector signed an agreement to establish a $1bn (SAR3.8bn) infrastructure fund targeting Africa.

A similar amount was set aside by Oman’s State General Reserve Fund, which was reported to be in talks with international banks and potential investors for the financing of a $1bn (OMR385m) infrastructure fund.

Unsurprisingly, however, much of the regional construction activity recorded in the past month has been from the UAE. On 30 January, Dubai Municipality announced it would shortly commence construction on a $680.7m (AED2.5bn) waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in the emirate. It was also announced last month that funding commitments had been secured for Sharjah Multi-Fuel Waste-to-Energy Facility, a project being developed in a joint venture between Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Sharjah’s Bee’ah.

These investments, which are likely worth billions of dollars, shed light on a sector that has gained traction in the GCC, and particularly in the UAE, in recent years. Waste management, it seems, is now one of the hottest long-term investments in the Gulf.

While waste management projects are not a new category in the GCC, developments that feature advanced technologies and expertise are starting to become the focus of significant attention in the region. For instance, at the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January, the Centre of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi (Tadweer) signed five new contracts worth almost $45m (AED165m). These projects are expected to improve waste management practices in the UAE capital, which generated 11 million tonnes of waste in 2017, and where 30% of total waste is typically recycled.

While the bulk of regional waste infrastructure investments are being made in the UAE, other GCC states are not far behind. In October 2017, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced that it would launch the Saudi Recycling Company (SRC) to support and operate domestic recycling projects. PIF also revealed SRC would create “alliances with private-sector companies” to achieve high service standards.

Total waste generated in the GCC is likely to increase from 94 million tonnes in 2015 to 120 million tonnes by 2020, according to a study released by Frost & Sullivan in August 2016. Within this context, it is easy to see why SRC will – and, as of November 2017, Oman’s Be’ah had already begun to – privatise the traditionally state-held waste management segment.

This changed investment atmosphere will provide new opportunities, both for private-sector construction and waste companies, and for professionals in those fields. Considering the focus of GCC governments on international technologies and practices, it is likely that demand for foreign expertise will escalate in the region. It is to meet this growing demand for skilled talent that, starting today, Construction Week will curate careers and human resources-focussed information across its print and digital portals.

Each week, CW’s print, digital, and social media channels will highlight details of the top jobs available in the Middle East and North Africa region for employers and job-seekers. To check out this week’s top job, recruiter insights, appointment updates, and top job-hunting tips, check out the new Careers section on page 18 of Construction Week #685 (3 February, 2018). The Construction Week team looks forward to your feedback on its latest offering. 

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