Editor's Letter: Why KSA’s gigaprojects matter more than ever?

Further pressure is expected to mount on Saudi Arabia’s gigaprojects to deliver on its high expectations

Construction Week editor Ashley Williams
ITP Media Group
Construction Week editor Ashley Williams

The COVID-19 pandemic and the plunge in oil prices are causing economic turmoil in the region, and amongst other sectors, the construction industry has bear the brunt.

The UAE has arguably suffered most from the outbreak, with temporary discounts on projects being installed, more frequent delays expected to infuse disputes in contracts and now, the looming confirmation of the postponement from Expo.

But what does the future hold for one of the other key GCC markets such as Saudi Arabia?

The US-Saudi Arabian Business Council (USSABC) told Construction Week a few weeks back that the two biggest challenges facing Saudi Arabia’s built environment are disruptions in the supply chain and the limited mobility of people.

But for the meantime, it seems that it is business as usual for some of the Public Investment Fund’s developments.

Qiddiya confirmed that it has taken all necessary health and safety preventive measures in compliance with the Saudi Ministry of Health’s regulations to continue construction within a safe environment on site.

Meanwhile, The Red Sea Development Company is also continuing ground development work on its Coastal Village project.

As construction workers seem to remain committed, the optimism amongst the Saudis also seems to be high.

In a study conducted by global firm APCO Worldwide, Saudi Arabia citizens have expressed confidence that the kingdom will recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic more quickly than other countries in the region.

The research showed that more than 4 in 5 (81%) of Saudi Arabian citizens are confident that the kingdom will recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic more quickly than other countries in the region.

A majority of respondents (76%) also indicated they believed the economic changes and reforms within the kingdom in recent years have put the country in a better position to recover quickly to the widespread impact of COVID-19 than other nations in the region.

Actions taken by the government include closing malls, implementing curfews to limit gatherings and introducing a $34.4bn stimulus package to support the national economy.

A recent Royal Decree by King Salman also announced an additional $2.4bn is already available to pay part of the wages of private-sector workers to deter companies from laying off staff during the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia is putting in the right measures to ensure the future of its sector, but it’s up to the gigaprojects to deliver on its high promises.

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Construction Week - Issue 765
Jun 29, 2020