A fresh wave of infrastructure spending has cemented the GCC’s position as one of the most exciting markets for the world’s biggest construction firms, with Saudi Arabia offering the most opportunities.
That was the key message after two of the region’s most exciting new industry events, Middle East Concrete and PMV Live, broke fresh ground on Thursday, September 16, by hosting the Construction Leaders Roundtable in Dubai, a unique forum that assembled leading industry figures to debate the pressing issues facing the sector.
The roundtable, in association with The Big 5, comprised six experts, including executives from Doka Gulf, Lafarge, MAN Truck, Ritchie Brothers, Manitowoc Cranes and ADC Consulting, who offered their unique insights on sustainability, emerging markets, upcoming projects across the region and opportunities for growth to an audience of trade, business and international media.
Stephen White, the moderator of the panel and the editor of PMV magazine, said: “The message was clear, in terms of construction, the GCC is only just getting started. Saudi Arabia is firmly on the map as a major construction destination, and the pipeline of projects in Qatar looks fantastic as it prepares to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022."
“In terms of the UAE, Abu Dhabi is thriving and we're seeing Dubai establishing itself as a regional hub in terms of technology, machinery and know-how. Indeed, Dubai’s rapid growth over the past decade will be the inspiration and template for many other projects across the region for years to come."
Peter Vogel, the General Manager of leading formwork supplier, Doka, offered an optimistic perspective on the strength of the industry since the crisis. He commented: “The market has now stabilized and we are seeing growth across the region. We expect continued growth across 2012 and 2013, which will likely be echoed across the industry.”
Ahmed Azzam, Project Manager of ADC Construction, representing the buying side of the industry, echoed that optimism: "Dubai is still considered the dream for other cities, including Jeddah and Doha. The last two years we have put our eyes on Qatar and Saudi Arabia. There is also potential in Iraq,” he said.
With a third of a trillion dollars earmarked for infrastructure spending over the next five years, Saudi Arabia, dominated a lot of the conversation. Asked for his top three Gulf destinations, David Semple, Vice President of Sales for Manitowoc Cranes, joked: “Number one is Saudi Arabia, then it’s Saudi Arabia, then Saudi Arabia,” explaining: “clearly for products like ours – tower crane products – the biggest projects in the world are in Saudi Arabia”.
With regards to the future of infrastructure across the region, David Van Graan, Vice President of Sales for MAN Trucks agreed, stating: “We are at the dawn of the era of infrastructure development.”
Arif Kalam, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at France-based Lafarge, said the industry needs to do more to adopt sustainable business practices, adding: “It’s absolutely a conscious effort for each company to cut energy costs where they can, if they can do it and sustain themselves and it saves the bottom line, and it all saves a lot of money, it’s a good business practice.
“You have to really think beyond today. We can’t consume as much as we’re consuming, and that’s a global issue, and I think the green trend is there,” he said.
Steven Barritt, Regional Manager of heavy machinery suppliers Ritchie Brothers commented on changing buying habits across the region and the subsequent impact this has had on business. He explained: “In the Middle East, this is our biggest year. People are changing their buying habits. People are realising that rather than have the equipment parts, they are saying: ‘let’s move it on; let’s buy equipment when we need it’. Every day it sits there and costs them money. It’s not cost effective for diesel machines to sit there. It’s just depreciating. Now they’re changing their habits. Machinery is going far further than it used to.”
Nathan Waugh, Middle East Concrete Exhibition Manager at dmg :: events, commented on the significance of the event. He said: “A forum such as this is somewhat unique to our industry; it isn’t often you have the opportunity to assemble such an influential group of the region’s biggest players in one place.
“This event has been an excellent opportunity to set the stage as we prepare for the MEC and PMV Live events at the Big 5 next month. Located in Dubai, these events are perfectly placed to attract not only local visitors, but many more from across the whole GCC region”
MEC and PMV Live, co-located with The Big 5 will take place at the World Trade Centre in Dubai from November 21 to November 24.