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Huge Possibilities for Gulf Construction Sector

Middle East : 16 April 2011

The construction sector in the Middle East is full of potential and primed for sustained growth, according to experts in the industry. This growth will occur even through the recent political turmoil and despite a lack of healthy and stable business plans.

The largest opportunities are in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while India is also viewed as a market primed for growth. Considerable potential exists in Fujairah and Ajman, both emirates of the UAE, and in Kuwait, according to a white paper created by experts and released in a recent round table meeting. Industry experts and delegates of the Middle Eastern nations attended the discussion that occurred as a lead up to the CityBuild Construction Summit 2011 scheduled for next week. Business reporter Kevin Brass of The National moderated the talks.

Entitled “Rebuilding the Middle East,” this white paper examines the challenging conditions and opportunities within the construction sector in the Mideast after the political unrest and economic crisis. The report expects the healthcare and infrastructure industries to present prospects for profitable business enterprises, as will the energy sector.

Informa Exhibitions published the white paper as well as organizing CityBuild Abu Dhabi, the leading event for products related to the construction sector. Informa’s report supports the urgent need to bring more nationals into the construction sector.

The fact that the construction sector needs to reduce its dependence on the expat workforce is highlighted in the report. It also notes that the industry needs to search out new markets into order to secure business, as opposed to relying too heavily on familiar markets.

The industry experts sitting on this panel insisted that businesses working within the Middle East’s higher risk markets face the danger of collapsing under the pressure of financial crisis, civil unrest and the results of natural disasters, unless they work on the development of strong and stable plans for business continuity.

Many big companies are missing a framework for business continuity, according to panelist and Abu Dhabi’s GM of BSI, Ahmed Alkhatib. BSI is a firm specializing in standards and management systems certification and assessment. Even those that have a continuity plan do not have a genuine, practiced framework for that business continuity.

The Gulf Ambassador at the CIBO (Chartered Institute of Building), Stephen Lines, issued a warning that a “knee jerk” response to the political unrest was unwise. Lines added that construction firms operating in the region did not have healthy recovery strategies and need to create contingency plans based on the geography if they are to survive.

The white paper acknowledges that there is currently a fear of shrinking opportunities for construction firms in the Middle East with more nations becoming closed to businesses, while at the same time pointing out the mass of opportunities for this industry.

Lines noted that Saudi Arabia especially presents a large, booming market and is not expected to experience any major political upheavals.

MENEA director for the RICS (or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), Jim Drysdale, also weighed in on the report pointing to the $12 billion marked for infrastructure spending in Qatar well before the nation won the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

Although nations like Libya, Egypt and Bahrain will require a recovery period, Lines stood firm in his opinion that the global community cannot afford to stand by while Libya remains tumultuous for too long. Libya lands at sixth place in terms of the largest reserves of oil in the world.

He noted that the current oil prices are evidence. Not recommending that the global community impose too many demands on Libya, Lines did suggest that the world be involved in developing the resources as well as the future of the nation.

Paul Holdsworth, Staff Writer, Gulf Jobs Market News
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