As much as US$100 billion (Dh367bn) a year needs to be invested in infrastructure to sustain the region's growth rates and boost its economic competitiveness, says the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) chief economist.
In order to stimulate infrastructure development, the private sector needed to play a bigger role in supplying funds across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA), said Nasser Saidi.
"Well developed infrastructure is a long lasting contributor to a transformation of economies and societies, to the upward shift in productivity and in productivity growth," he said.
"Infrastructure investment can be the key to inclusive development, bringing together economic geography and social geography by transforming regions that are less developed."
As much as US$2.9 trillion of projects are planned or underway in the GCC as the region ploughs some of its windfalls from oil revenues into building schools, hospitals, roads and bridges. India has close to $500 billion in planned infrastructure development for the five years until next year.
But infrastructure spending is lagging in the remainder of the region.
The Arab Spring highlighted the need for massive infrastructure investment to achieve more inclusive growth and job creation, said Dr Saidi as the DIFC yesterday launched research about the economic benefits of infrastructure upgrades.