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Construction awards to hit $194 billion in GCC despite oil price fall, says report

The value of construction contract awards this year in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries could be over $194 billion this year, just $2 billion lower than last year.02 Sep 2015

The construction industry has remained strong despite the fall in oil prices, a report from Ventures Onsite said.

The buildings and infrastructure sectors alone will be worth $141bn in 2015, Venture Onsite said, based on project schedules as of July.

"The numbers were at one stage looking to reach nearly $205bn as per the estimates in Q1 2015, but recent news on the increasing speculation of whether or not Qatar will lose out on the FIFA World Cup 2022 have slowed down some projects in Qatar, which have impacted the numbers," Ventures Online said.

The largest projects awarded to contractors in the first half of 2015 are the Metro system in Qatar and Qatar's Doha Port buildings and infrastructure. A Warner Brothers theme park in the UAE is the third largest project.

Andy White, vice president of dmg events which runs the region's biggest construction event, the Big 5 International Building and Construction Show, told Arabian Business that lower oil prices also mean lower costs for building materials and transport.

"Major infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia and UAE have and will continue to drive diversification, but what we’ve also seen is large-scale investment being sustained across Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain," White told Arabian Business.

"A lot has been said about how oil prices might affect construction markets. But each of the GCC nations has continued to invest heavily in infrastructure, housing, and healthcare," White said.

Kuwait has more than trebled its contract awards this year, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE have made it clear they will continue to invest, he told Arabian Business.

Last week, sources told Bloomberg that the Saudi Arabian government is likely to delay or reduce infrastructure projects due to budget cuts forced by the low price of oil.

However, Middle East infrastructure expert Sachin Kerur of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said at the time: "Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure deficit remains significant, and therefore it is unlikely there will be a cull of key projects. What may well emerge is a solid programme of must-have projects, some of which will be financed by alternatives other than government spend."

Optimism among CFOs in the Middle East, including GCC countries, fell to its lowest level for several years, with only 26% reporting positive prospects for their company, Deloitte said in a recent report, 'Global CFO signals'

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