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UAE tops region in terms of construction value

By Robert Ditcham - Gulf News

Dubai: Despite being dwarfed by its neighbours, the UAE's breathtaking rate of development has seen it account for a third of the $1 trillion total construction value of projects in the GCC, Iran and Iraq.

The country is the region's top spender on construction projects with $294 billion worth of building work announced so far - more than Bahrain, Qatar and Oman combined.

Kuwait takes second place with construction projects announced totalling $211 billion, narrowly beating Saudi Arabia with $201billion.

According to the company organising the Big 5 trade fair, the rapid growth in construction spending (estimated in the UAE at 11 per cent per year on average over the last decade) is sustainable, but the UAE's domination of the market is not guaranteed.

"The UAE is clearly the major player in the GCC but what is exciting companies is the huge activity in the other Gulf states, many of which are selling land to foreigners and attracting more and more tourists," said Bernard Walsh, managing director of dmg world media Dubai, organisers of next week's Big 5 exhibition.

Held at Dubai Exhibition Centre from Sunday, the five-day Big 5 exhibition attracts global companies in the building and construction sector, as well as air conditioning and refrigeration, cleaning and maintenance, glass and metal, bathrooms and ceramics, marble and machinery and water technology and the environment.

Walsh admitted companies' interest in the GCC would dip if development slows, but referred to reports that Dubai's rulers consider only 10 per cent of planned overall development complete so far.

"There is still a huge amount of work required and for the foreseeable future there is no sign of a slowdown. Once the majority of construction is complete, refurbishment and renovation is still required - it's not just new build which attracts companies," he said.

Organisers are expecting 43,000 visitors, compared to 38,535 in 2005. According to Walsh, hundreds of companies were turned away through lack of available space.

Italian minister of trade Emma Bonino will be among the visitors at the show. Total Italian exports to the UAE in 2005 reached 2.5 billion euros ($3.15 billion), up more than 20 per cent on 2004. Trade in the first half of this year reached 1.5 billion euros - a staggering 35.7% increase on the same period in 2005.



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