Regional News


December 2011

Saudis award $48bn contracts
SAUDI ARABIA awarded contracts worth SR179.5 billion ($48 billion) in the first nine months of this year compared with SR106.8 billion ($28.43 billion) over the same period last year, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) reported.

The value of contracts awarded during the third quarter reached SR95.1 billion ($25.36 billion), the NCB said, showing that the government continues to place 'an overwhelming emphasis on capital expenditures to meet its commitment to improve the kingdom’s physical and social infrastructure capabilities'.

The awarded contracts during Q3 outpaced the value of contracts during the first two quarters combined, which were valued at SR84.2 billion ($22.45 billion), the Jeddah-based bank added.

NCB said it expects the value of awarded contracts to continue its push into the fourth quarter with several power contracts anticipated to be awarded during Q4 by Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) in excess of SR10 billion ($2.66 billion).


Autodesk seminar held
PROMEDIA, a subsidiary of Omnix International, a leading building information modelling (BIM) provider, last month hosted a seminar entitled Autodesk Live Event 2011 at the Marriott in Qatar.

The event was held in a bid to increase awareness on the immense potential of utilising BIM software and solutions, and to boost Promedia’s market share within Qatar’s construction industry.

Some $700 billion worth of new investment projects are expected in Qatar by 2020, and around $86 billion alone will be spent on infrastructure projects.

Qatar-based companies are expected to gain from the key and essential data produced by Autodesk BIM, further helping realise real business results like quality, efficiency, productivity and sustainability, it said.


Bab Al Bahrain to be restored
A BAHRAIN landmark that’s nearly 70 years old is to be given a facelift as Manama gears to be named the Cultural Capital of the Arab World 2012.

Bab Al Bahrain will undergo a 10-month-long renovation as part of the Culture Ministry’s initiative called Invest In Culture. The project is being sponsored by American Express Middle East, Culture Minister Sheikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa said.

Work will commence this month (December) and include the construction of two pedestrian archways on either side of the building leading into the suq. This is in addition to the renovation of the old post office, the police station and the memorial office of late Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, all of which are located within Bab Al Bahrain.

The ministry intends to make the landmark a lively urban space with live music over weekends, Sheikha Mai added.


Port tender ‘to be issued soon’
A TENDER to augment facilities at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port (KBSP) in Bahrain is expected to be issued this month following a delay due to 'refining and modifications' in the design of certain buildings, including the car park area, said a senior official.

General Organisation of Seaports (GOP) director-general Hassan Al Majed said the tender for the project is now expected to be issued in December.

The tender was earlier expected to close in September and was due to be awarded in November.

The new facilities will include a 4,000-vehicle parking area, a number of warehouses, two office buildings and other utilities like petrol stations and banks.

Al Majed said a 41,817-sq-m service area for importing and exporting cars was also being developed.

The area will provide all tenants and companies operating with a comprehensive and supportive business environment. Located on land adjacent to the port entrance, the service area will offer 6,500 sq m of office space to accommodate more than 105 offices, in addition to retail and office space on the ground floor.


Wrightstyle clads Beirut shops
UK steel glazing specialist Wrightstyle is helping complete the $160-million redevelopment of Solidere’s Beirut Souks in Lebanon, one of the most significant regeneration projects in the Middle East.

The Devizes-based firm has supplied some 1,300 sq m of large-span curtain-walling as well as a large number of thermally-broken window assemblies.

The project has created Lebanon’s largest shopping area, with more than 200 retail outlets as well as leisure, entertainment and other public spaces, bringing back to life an area of the city that had been badly scarred by the country’s civil war.

The new shops are a low-rise complex of buildings, together having 163,010 sq m of floor space and 17,307 sq m of pedestrian areas that closely follow the ancient Greek street grid. The Beirut Souks partially opened in October and final completion is scheduled this month.


Danube to open new showrooms
DANUBE Building Materials is planning to open two more showrooms in Oman before the end of the year to further leverage its broad portfolio of building materials across the sultanate’s $7 billion worth of major projects in infrastructure, power, ports, road development and other major projects.

Danube opened its first B2B building materials showroom in Salalah last August, which was also the company’s 31st showroom in the world and its third in Oman. The new retail facility, located in the heart of Salalah, measures 60,000 sq ft in area and features key products like wood, steel, ceramic tiles, flooring, electrical, hardware materials and sanitary ware.


UL backs Thomas Bell-Wright
UAE-BASED building assembly testing laboratory Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants said it has been qualified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as a subcontractor laboratory for fire testing of fire-rated doors and dampers according to UL standards.

'Manufacturers seeking UL approval for such products can now have the testing performed locally in Dubai, instead of sending them to UL’s Illinois testing facility or another UL subcontractor abroad. Certification based on testing is a requirement for obtaining product approval from the Civil Defence in the UAE and other jurisdictions,' said Tom Bell-Wright, founder and CEO of the company. 'We are glad now to be able to provide local support for those that require UL certification.'

Established in the US in 1894, UL is a global independent safety science company. Globally, manufacturers now produce over 66,000 different UL-certified products and the UL symbol appears on more than 20 billion products.


L&T eyes Mideast projects
LARSEN and Toubro (L&T), India’s biggest engineering conglomerate, expects to garner more revenues from the Middle East, Far East and Africa as it looks to beat a domestic slowdown, the firm’s chief financial officer said.

L&T plans to increase its revenue share from overseas projects to 15 to 20 per cent from 10 to 12 per cent currently, R Shankar Raman said at last month’s India Investment Summit in Mumbai, India.

Larsen, which builds ships, nuclear power plant machinery and parts for India’s space programme, cut its order growth guidance for the current fiscal year by a third to five per cent last month, blaming slowing investments and rising competition.


Housing demand to skyrocket
BAHRAIN will need close to a quarter of a million homes by 2030 to satisfy demand, according to the country’s Economic Development Board (EDB).

Total Bahraini housing demand, assuming it is equal to the number of Bahraini households, is projected to grow from 124,065 units last year to 173,069 units in 2020 and 225,137 units in 2030, the EDB said in its latest economic quarterly report.

'Given a moderate rate of deterioration of the existing housing stock – assuming 50 per cent of existing houses will need to be replaced over the next 20 years – Bahrain will need to build 40,000 homes to satisfy current unmet demand, and 65,817 by 2020 and 77,288 by 2030,' it said.

It said non-Bahraini housing demand is also expected to increase from an estimated 61,117 units today to 90,467 in 2020 and 121,581 in 2030.

Total demand is expected to increase to 263,536 units in 2020 and 346,718 units in 2030 from a current stock of 145,181.


SGB deputy chairman Yahia Binladin (left) with GIB’s CEO Dr Yahya Alyahya at the signing ceremony in Bahrain.

SBG wins $2.2bn facility
bahrain-based Gulf International Bank (GIB) has signed a SR8.5-billion ($2.2-billion) facility for Saudi Binladin Group (SBG) to finance the expansion and development of King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

SBG last year won a contract worth SR27.1 billion ($7.22 billion) to expand the airport. GIB was initially mandated to arrange a syndicated facility worth SR6 billion ($1.59 billion) for SBG, which subsequently was raised to SR8.5 billion to accommodate additional financing requirements.


Saudi Arabia builds 33 hospitals
SAUDI ARABIA is currently building 33 new hospitals including five 500-bed facilities, which will be ready in two years, the local Arab News quoted Health Minister Dr Abdullah Al Rabeeah as saying.

The 500-bed hospitals are located in East Riyadh, North Jeddah, Makkah, Baljurashi and Tabuk. The other hospitals, with capacities ranging from 200 to 300 beds, are being established in South Riyadh, Jazan, Hafr Al Batin and Abha.

The Health Ministry is currently implementing 195 projects including specialised hospitals and health centres, and has so far launched 800 of 1,414 planned primary healthcare centres across the kingdom.

Al Rabeeah also disclosed plans to set up advanced intensive care units (ICUs) in different regions at a total cost of SR500 million ($133 million).


Turkey plans $400bn urban renewal
TURKEY plans to undertake a major urban renewal project in the wake of two earthquakes that struck its eastern province of Van within less than a month of each other, killing about 650 people.

As most buildings in Turkey are not strong enough to withstand a powerful earthquake, the ministry plans to demolish all at-risk buildings, once a draft law is adopted. Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar said the cost of the planned urban renewal could be as high as $400 billion, adding that as many as 14,000 buildings in Istanbul could be brought down in the first phase of the project.

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