MEED’s 2023 top 10 GCC contractors

28 March 2023

> Improved outlook for the Gulf region’s construction market is not reflected in the 2023 contractor ranking

Nesma & Partners retains its position as the most active GCC contractor, but its total value of work this year is down 22 per cent on 2022

> Part two of this report, Top 10 GCC contractors by country, can be accessed here


 

The GCC’s construction market is back. After enduring half a decade of low oil prices and capital spending cuts, the region is back with a new generation of ambitious projects that are attracting global attention. 

Dubai may have led previous boom periods with its palm-shaped islands and record-breaking towers, but this time it is Saudi Arabia that is taking the lead with 170-kilometre-long mirrored structures, 400-metre-cubed buildings and, if the plans are approved, a 2-kilometre-tall tower that will be more than twice the height of the current world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. 

As the hype builds, the excitement is yet to be reflected in MEED’s contractor ranking for 2023. 

Using data from regional projects tracker MEED Projects, the region’s most active contractor, based on contracts under execution, is Nesma & Partners. While the Saudi firm has retained its position as the most active contractor, its total value of work in 2023 is $5.3bn, down 22 per cent on the $6.8bn of work under execution that it topped the ranking with in 2022.

Further falls

Last year’s second-ranked contractor has fallen even further. Saudi Binladin Group was working on $6.5bn of projects at the execution stage in 2022. In 2023, this has dropped to $4bn, and as the firm’s work on the expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca is completed, it may not figure in the ranking in the future.

Last year’s third-ranked contractor has also slid down the rankings. In 2022, India’s Shapoorji Pallonji was working on $5.6bn of projects at the execution stage. This year it is working on $2.9bn. 

Altogether five of the top 10 contractors in the GCC this year have less work than they did last year. If an average of the top 10 is taken, then the number in 2023 has fallen 18 per cent to $3.6bn from $4.4bn last year. 

The five firms that have grown their totals are newcomers to the top 10 this year, the highest-ranked of which is Turkiye’s Limak. 

The contractor’s main project in the GCC is the new terminal building at Kuwait International airport, and a Turkish firm’s presence at number two may be a sign of things to come. After settling political differences with Saudi Arabia and the UAE in 2022, Turkish companies are expected to play a key role in delivering Saudi Arabia’s growing roster of major projects. 

Riyadh, like Neom, will be an important market for contractors over the coming decade

The other newcomers to the top 10 are three Saudi firms, Alfanar, Almabani and Saudi Baytur; and China Harbour Engineering Construction.

Alfanar’s position in the ranking is mostly due to the contract it won to deliver and operate five clusters of community villages on a public-private partnership basis at Neom. That project shows the scale of the Neom schemes that are moving into construction and signals that firms working on the development will perform well in future rankings.

Almabani has been able to secure major contracts on projects in its domestic market. The most recent is the estimated $1.9bn contract that it won this year to deliver the Zone 6 infrastructure works for the Sports Boulevard project that is being developed by the Royal Commission of Riyadh City. 

Riyadh, like Neom, will be an important market for contractors over the coming decade. The city has plans to double in size and major projects that have been launched so far include King Salman airport, New Murraba, Dirriyah Gate, Prince Mohammed bin Salman Nonprofit City, Sports Boulevard, King Salman Park and Qiddiya Entertainment City. 

China Harbour has built its orderbook with project wins in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and is now the second Chinese firm in the top 10. 

The final newcomer is Saudi Arabian Baytur. While it has historical Turkish links, it has been operating as a wholly-Saudi-owned company since 2016.

A significant trend in the GCC ranking is the meagre showing from western contractors

Ranking departures

The five companies that have left the top 10 this year are Qatar’s Urbacon Trading & Contracting Company, Saudi Arabia’s ABV Rock, Kuwait’s Sayed Hamid Behbehani & Sons, Beijing-based China Railway Construction Company and Kuwait’s Mohammed Abdulmohsin al-Kharafi & Sons.

Urbacon’s departure may be short-lived. The firm has experienced a sharp decline in the total value of its projects at the execution stage this year following the completion of projects in the domestic Qatari market ahead of last year’s World Cup.

As construction activity remains slow in Qatar the firm has begun expanding overseas and this year has secured significant orders from Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven) for the construction of entertainment centres in Saudi Arabia. 

China Railway’s departure may also be temporary. It has completed work on the UAE’s federal Etihad Rail network, which resulted in it dropping out of the top 10 this year. It may return if it is able to secure work on the raft of regional rail projects that are moving towards the construction phase.  

One other significant trend in the GCC ranking is the meagre showing from western contractors. The only western firm in the top 10 this year is Italy’s Webuild, which has $4.5bn of work at the execution stage. 

With most western contractors continuing to exercise caution when approached to bid on projects in the GCC, it is unlikely that this trend will change in the near future.

Looking ahead to next year’s ranking, Nesma will be a strong contender for the top spot again. In February, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) confirmed that it has invested $1.3bn in four local construction companies to support the handling of projects in the kingdom. 

Nesma was one of the firms that the PIF acquired shares in, along with AlBawani Holding Company, Almabani General Contractors Company and El-Seif Engineering Contracting Company.

The PIF said the investment will allow the firms to scale up their capacity, adopt advanced technologies and improve local supply chains. 

At a time when many contractors in the region are still struggling with financial issues, these companies will now be well placed to play a leading role in the rapidly growing Saudi market. As major contract awards are secured over the next year, these firms will likely also be leading the ranking in 2024.

Top 10 GCC contractors by country 


MEED's April 2023 special report on Saudi Arabia includes:

> ECONOMY: Riyadh steps up the Vision 2030 tempo

> CONSTRUCTION: Saudi construction project ramp-up accelerates

> UPSTREAM: Aramco slated to escalate upstream spending

> DOWNSTREAM: Petchems ambitions define Saudi downstream

> POWER: Saudi Arabia reinvigorates power sector

> WATER: Saudi water begins next growth phase

> BANKING: Saudi banks bid to keep ahead of the pack

https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/10708379/main.gif
Colin Foreman
Related Articles
  • Ewec wants carbon-capture readiness for next gas power plant

    17 April 2024

    The request for proposals (RFPs) that will be issued for the next combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant in Abu Dhabi will explicitly require the developers or developer consortiums to accommodate the installation of carbon-capture facilities once they are commercially viable.

    "A key part of the RFP is to make a declaration that this project will be carbon-capture ready … that such facility will be installed as part of the project once carbon-capture solutions become commercially viable," Andy Biffen, executive director of asset development at Emirates Water & Electricity Company (Ewec), told the ongoing World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

    As MEED previously reported, Ewec is considering issuing a tender in the next few weeks for its first gas-fired independent power producer (IPP) project since 2020.

    The greenfield Taweelah C gas-fired IPP is planned to reach commercial operation by 2027, according to a recent Ewec capacity procurement statement.

    "We understand that they might skip the expressions of interest and request for qualifications stage and directly invite qualified developers to bid for the contract," two sources familiar with the project previously told MEED.

    The planned Taweelah C gas-fired IPP is expected to have a power generation capacity of 2,457MW.

    Ewec awarded its last CCGT IPP nearly four years ago. Japan's Marubeni Corporation won the contract to develop the Fujairah F3 IPP in 2020.

    The state utility is considering new gas-fired capacity in light of expiring capacity from several independent water and power producer (IWPP) facilities.

    The plants that will reach the end of their existing contracts during the 2023-29 planning period include:

    •  Shuweihat S1 (1,615MW, 101 million imperial gallons a day (MIGD)): expires in June 2025
    •  Sas Al Nakhl (1,670MW, 95MIGD): expires in July 2027
    •  Taweelah B (2,220MW, 160MIGD): expires in October 2028
    •  Taweelah A1 (1,671MW, 85MIGD): expires in July 2029

    Ewec and the developers and operators of these plants are expected to enter into discussions before the expiry of the contracts to decide whether a contract extension is possible. Unsuccessful negotiations will lead to the dismantling of the assets at the end of the contract period.

    In 2022, MEED reported that Abu Dhabi had wound down the operation of Taweelah A2, the region's first IWPP. The power and water purchase agreement supporting the project expired in September 2021 and was not extended.

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11690735/main2323.gif
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • Flooding puts spotlight on Dubai construction quality

    17 April 2024

    Commentary
    Colin Foreman
    Editor

    The storm that engulfed Dubai on 16 April and the resulting flood damage will raise questions about the quality of construction in the emirate.

    Videos of extensive flood damage to property and infrastructure have been widely shared across social media, and those personally affected have questioned why the damage was so severe.

    There is not one single answer. The storm was said to be the most severe to have hit Dubai for decades, and some have described it as a 100-year storm. One other theory widely circulated during the day about it being caused by cloud seeding has been officially dismissed by the government.

    With such extreme weather, most will accept that some damage is inevitable. The question will be whether elements of the damage could have been prevented, which is where questions over construction quality will emerge.

    The two main concerns will be why buildings are not better waterproofed and infrastructure is not more effectively drained.

    Each flooding incident will have its own specific issues, but the reasons will come from three key areas: design, construction and maintenance. 

    Many projects will not have been designed to cope with such a deluge. Others will have been poorly constructed, allowing water to ingress into properties, and others will have drainage that was poorly maintained and failed when it was most needed.

    Dubai is heavily incentivised to address these concerns. In the past, Dubai has been a transient city with many expatriates living and working in the emirate for only a few years. There has been little collective memory of major weather incidents.

    As the emirate establishes itself as a permanent home for more people, including many property owners, that memory will now remain. Those memories may be painful today, but they will help guard against such severe damage in the future.

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11690636/main.gif
    Colin Foreman
  • Abu Dhabi tenders 1.5GW Khazna solar contract

    17 April 2024

     

    State utility Emirates Water & Electricity Company (Ewec) has issued the request for proposals (RFP) for a contract to develop and operate the UAE capital's fourth utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) project.

    The planned Khazna solar independent power project (IPP), also known as PV4, will have a capacity of 1,500MW.

    It will be located in Khazna, between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and is expected to reach commercial operation by 2027.

    Ewec expects to receive bids for the contract "in the third quarter of 2024".  

    The state utility prequalified nine companies and consortiums as managing members and another 10 that can bid as consortium members.

    Parties or companies that are prequalified as managing members are free to bid either individually or as part of a consortium. These include:

    • Acwa Power (Saudi Arabia)
    • EDF Renewables (France)
    • International Power (Engie, France)
    • Jera Company (Japan)
    • Jinko Power (China)
    • Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kowepo, South Korea)
    • Marubeni Corporation (Japan)
    • Sumitomo Corporation (Japan)
    • TotalEnergies Renewables (France)

    The following companies can bid as part of a consortium with a managing member: 

    • Al Jomaih Energy & Water (Jena, Saudi Arabia)
    • Avaada Energy (India)
    • Buhur for Investment Company (Saudi Arabia)
    • China Machinery Engineering Corporation (China)
    • China Power Engineering Consulting Group International Engineering Corporation (CPECC, China)
    • Kalyon Enerji Yatrimlari (Turkey)
    • Korea Western Power Company (Kowepo, South Korea)
    • Orascom Construction (Egypt)
    • PowerChina International Group
    • SPIC Huanghe Hydropower Development (Spic, China)

    Ewec's PV1, or Noor Abu Dhabi, has a capacity of 935MW and has been operational since 2019.

    PV2, the 1,584MW Al Dhafra solar IPP, was inaugurated in November 2023. 

    Ewec is understood to have recently awarded the contract to develop PV3, the 1,500MW Al Ajban solar IPP, to a team led by French utility developer EDF Renewables and including South Korea's Korea Western Power Company (Kowepo).

    Ewec said solar energy is integral to achieving its target of producing nearly 50% of its electricity from renewable and clean energy sources by 2030.

    This is due to its "low generation cost and its contribution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the electricity generation process".

    Like the first three schemes, Khazna solar PV will involve the development, financing, construction, operation, maintenance and ownership of the plant and associated infrastructure.

    The successful developer or developer consortium will own up to 40% of the entity, while the Abu Dhabi government will retain the remaining equity.

    The developer will enter into a long-term power purchase agreement with Ewec.

    Once fully operational, Khazna solar PV, along with Noor Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra solar PV and Al Ajban solar PV, will raise Ewec's total installed solar PV capacity to 5.5GW and collectively reduce CO2 emissions by more than 8.2 million metric tonnes a year by 2027. 

    UAE-wide target and capacity

    The UAE published its updated national energy strategy in July last year. It includes a plan to triple the nationwide renewable energy capacity to 19GW by 2030.

    The total installed renewable energy capacity of both Ewec and Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) stood at about 5.5GW at the start of 2024.

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11687552/main.jpg
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • Dewa seeks firms for landfill gas energy project

    17 April 2024

    Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (Dewa) has started the process of selecting a developer or developer consortium to build and operate a landfill gas-to-energy project in Al Qusais, in the eastern part of Dubai near the border with Sharjah.

    It has requested expressions of interest from companies, which it expects to receive by 24 April.

    The planned project will be developed on an independent power producer (IPP) basis and will have an estimated electricity generation capacity of 6MW-12MW. 

    Dewa added that the project's precise capacity will depend on generation efficiency.

    Landfill gas extracted from the Al Qusais landfill site will power the generation plant. The gas extraction network is outside the scope of the package and will fall under the responsibility of another government agency, Dubai Municipality.

    Dewa said a guarantee will be provided on minimum gas quantities and quality.

    Dewa will purchase the power generated by the plant from the successful developer or developer consortium under a long-term power purchase agreement.

    Dewa added: "The developer is expected to share ownership of a project company, to be incorporated in accordance with Dubai and UAE laws, with Dubai Green Fund, the first specialised green investment fund in [the Middle East and North Africa], launched under the funding pillar of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050."

    In February, Dewa and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) reached financial close on the 1,800MW sixth phase of the Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.

    The solar photovoltaic IPP project is expected to cost up to AED5.51bn ($1.5bn).

    The state utility does not intend to procure additional natural gas-fired capacity in the future.

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11689874/main.jpg
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • An audience with Diriyah: The $63bn gigaproject opportunity

    16 April 2024

    Register now

    Hear first-hand from Diriyah Company about one of the world's most iconic projects and how your company can participate in its existing and future procurement opportunities.

    This exclusive event will provide a detailed outlook into Diriyah’s development plans and the transformation of ‘The City of Earth’ under the Saudi 2030 Vision.

    Gain key insights into available future procurement opportunities, how to work with Diriyah Company on its extensive project pipeline, and how to register and prequalify to participate in it.

    Agenda:

    1. The Saudi Arabia projects market in context – size, key projects, trends and future outlook

    2. A detailed overview of the Diriyah gigaproject, its masterplan, progress and the more than $10.5bn-worth of construction work awarded to date

    3. Key details of the $50bn+ projects pipeline including specific procurement opportunities, future materials and equipment demand, and how companies can register and help deliver the iconic giga development

    4. An in-depth discussion with Diriyah Company on its requirements, vendor registration and procurement processes, and contracting frameworks

    5. A live Q&A session where you will have the opportunity to ask questions directly to Diriyah Company

    Time: Monday 22 April at 02:00 PM GST

    Hosted by: Edward James, head of content and analysis at MEED

    A well-known and respected thought leader in Mena affairs, Edward James has been with MEED for more than 19 years, working as a researcher, consultant and content director. Today he heads up all content and research produced by the MEED group. His specific areas of expertise are construction, hydrocarbons, power and water, and the petrochemical market. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the Mena projects market.
     

    Speakers:

    Andrew Tonner, chief delivery officer, Diriyah Company

    Andrew Tonner is the chief delivery officer at Diriyah Company, with 35+ years of property development and construction experience.   One of the first arrivals to the Diriyah Project in 2019, Andrew is now into his second spell with the company. He is currently responsible for construction delivery across 4 masterplans with a combined value of c $62 bn covering 75 km2. See more

    Mohamed Thabet, commercial executive director, design and development, Diriyah Company

    Mohamed Thabet serves as the executive director of DevCo's commercial team. With a background in architecture and advanced studies in construction law, Mohamed brings a wealth of experience in managing complex construction contracts. His career spans roles in engineering, management firms and development, providing him with a comprehensive understanding of the construction industry supply chain. See more

    Click here to register

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11687525/main.gif
    MEED Editorial