Qatar remains the most expensive country to build in the Middle East, according to a new study.
The 2013 International Construction Costs Report, released yesterday by global built asset consultancy EC Harris, found that relative construction costs across the globe had been affected by substantial fluctuations in currency throughout the year.
The annual study benchmarks building costs in 47 countries.
With Gulf currencies closely tracking the US dollar, the impact of these fluctuations on Gulf countries has been limited. Qatar and the UAE remain in the top 20 most expensive locations to build, and with inflation running at around 5% a year, Saudi Arabia has continued to move up the cost curve.
Globally, Hong Kong is the most expensive country to build, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Macau, Australia, Japan, France, Singapore and Belgium.
Qatar is the 15th most expensive country to build, the UAE is the 20th and Saudi Arabia the 21st.
Nick Smith, head of cost and commercial, Middle East at EC Harris, said: “Qatar’s construction market is relatively small and historically has been associated with a steady rate of development, but all of this is about to change with a set of major programmes linked to the 2030 National Vision and the FIFA 2022 World Cup. This investment programme includes major elements of social infrastructure, transport and energy infrastructure to support population growth and economic diversification.
“In previous reports, we have warned of the risk of high rates of inflation resulting from a peak of workload in Qatar from 2016 onwards. These programmes have got off to a slow start, so as yet there is little price escalation in the system. This could change as programme procurement accelerates unless steps are taken to further build industry capacity in local and regional markets.”
Saudi Arabia is in the midst of the delivery of large social infrastructure and economic diversification programmes, including the construction of six new economic cities. The youthful demographic, the size of the country and the prospect of continuing population growth means transport, housing, education and health are a priority, which will drive continuing growth in construction markets.
The UAE has been under a cloud since the crash in 2008, but with GDP growth of over 4% recorded in 2012, the corner may have been turned. Highlights in the current construction market include major transport infrastructure schemes including the Abu Dhabi light rail, the recommencement of a number of stalled residential schemes and the commencement of work on major cultural projects
previously cancelled in 2008.
According to Smith, this year there is a more broadly based recovery in the Gulf markets, with a general shift to increased spending on social infrastructure in the wake of the Arab Spring and positive signs emerging that the construction markets in the UAE are set for recovery.
“Preparations for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 are the most obvious manifestation of accelerated growth, but sustained growth is also expected in Saudi Arabia, which is in the midst of a large social investment programme including the building of six new economic cities.
“The emerging recovery in the UAE is particularly significant. The UAE is one of the Gulf’s larger construction markets and the pipeline of projects is increasingly strong. However, if the UAE does stage a recovery, it will be competing with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar for resources.”
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