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Half-time: Middle East construction's H1 2018 review

Halfway through 2018, the Middle East construction sector’s report card suggests bright prospects lie ahead for the industry

The Middle East's construction companies have recorded milestones on major schemes such as Expo 2020 Dubai and the 1km Jeddah Tower in H1 2018 [representational image].
The Middle East's construction companies have recorded milestones on major schemes such as Expo 2020 Dubai and the 1km Jeddah Tower in H1 2018 [representational image].

This year, 30 June is an important date for the Construction Week team. For one, it marks the last day of what has been a truly exciting half-year for the regional construction sector. Moreover, 30 June is also when the 2018 Construction Week Power 100 will be revealed. Perhaps, it is fitting that our annual ranking of the Middle East’s most influential construction professionals will be publicised on the same day that many, if not most regional leaders will be reviewing their report cards for H1 2018.

There’s no denying that the first six months of this year were filled with both macro- and micro-level achievements across the regional construction landscape. H1 2018 has witnessed Expo 2020 Dubai’s site rapidly grow and take shape in the UAE; steady progress on the billion-dollar candidate to be the world’s next tallest building, the Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia; and the launch of a modern, future-oriented aviation hub in Oman’s capital city, Muscat.

Major headway is also being made on two airport projects in Kuwait, and the Government Action Plan to provide 25,000 social housing units is also marching on in Bahrain.

But 2018 has been no ordinary year so far, as the newness of H1’s construction investments proves. The UAE has been the home of two major hyperloop schemes and numerous diversified energy programmes – most notable of which is Abu Dhabi’s Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant – this year. Meanwhile, Saudi’s massive Qiddiya entertainment city, alongside Neom, looks set to become a trailblazing development not only within the kingdom, but all of the Middle East.

READ: Are contractors ready to build Saudi Arabia’s future infrastructure?

These megaprojects are not only defining what the regional skyline might look like in the next decade – they’re also influencing how the Middle East’s construction leaders build the future.

Those weary of the Middle Eastern construction sector’s reticence to change have had less to bemoan this year. Thanks to public-sector investments towards innovation and ‘smart’ cities, technology is rapidly taking over established processes and products across the region. Building information modelling’s (BIM) implementation is a staple part of most construction programmes in the Middle East, and indeed, tech adoption is no longer a rarity in the regional sector.

Regional leaders, especially contractors, also appear to be more diligent in terms of finance management. From using cash management software to drafting tighter and clearer contracts, the Middle East’s builders have been wise voices of financial judiciousness in 2018.

There is no doubt that these trends will result in long-term gains for the industry, especially as it builds in anticipation of Expo 2020 Dubai and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programmes. H1 2018 has been an exceptional time for the Middle East’s construction sector – regional leaders must now make sure they carry this momentum into the second half of the year.

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Construction Week - Issue 763
May 04, 2020