UAE projects market and outlook
The UAE has more than $650bn of projects planned or underway, making it the second largest projects market in the region after Saudi Arabia. Of this, about $141.6bn of projects are currently in execution, with a pipeline of about $513bn of projects in planning or pre-execution. Perhaps the only thing the UAE lacks is new construction projects, which, for many years, were the country’s hallmark. Also, the downward slide in the real estate sector has been a disaster for many of the country’s largest contractors.
In terms of future projects, the construction sector is the largest, with about $365bn-worth of projects in the tender, design or study phase. This is followed by the oil and gas sector, which has more than $60bn-worth of contracts in various stages of pre-execution.
Furthermore, Dubai’s recently announced $7bn public private partnership (PPP) programme, including healthcare and education schemes, is another sign of emerging new business opportunities for contractors.
With the launch of Expo 2020 Dubai on 1 October 2021, the UAE has finally delivered on a soft power project eight years in the making. At a time of global uncertainty, it is a visible symbol of the brand that Dubai has built up over the decades as the home of big projects and even bigger dreams.
However, the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the UAE has created more difficulties for the organisers. As the latest wave of Covid-19 (Omicron variant) threatens to dampen Expo 2020’s ambitious plans, which once involved drawing in crowds of 25 million visitors, extending the Expo beyond 31 March 2022 may appear to be a practical solution for Dubai but may increase overall operational expenses.