Abu Dhabi: A total of $44 billion worth of projects were awarded in the UAE in 2013, with more than 60 per cent of the awards in the construction sector, according to MEED Projects, an online business development and market analysis tool.
"Not only is this a 37 per cent increase on the 2012 awards, but over $10 billion worth of projects have resumed construction activity during 2013," said Julian Herbert, director of MEED Projects, during the company's first quarter briefing.
He added that the UAE was second to Saudi Arabia's $66 billion.
The oil sector was the second most active sector with just over 21 per cent ($9 billion) of awards, followed by the transport sector with eight per cent ($3.5 billion).
As for 2014, the total value of project awards in the UAE will be just shy of $50 billion, which is 10 per cent higher than 2013. Some of the major awards expected during this year include District One at Mohammad Bin Rashid City; Meraas' Dubai Theme Park; and IPIC's Fujairah Refinery Phase one.
"This is the highest since 2008. We estimate that around $17 billion worth of projects have come back to life since the start of 2012, and a big chunk of that happened last year. The economy appears to be in good health…so projects that went on hold in 2009 are now coming back to life," Herbert told Gulf News.
Discussing the economic state in the UAE, he said that the country has been in recovery mode for over a year, and that the Expo 2020 was a symptom of recovery rather than the cause.
Looking ahead into the next few years, Herbert estimated that construction will continue to be a huge sector in the UAE.
"We estimate that buildings will represent something like two-thirds of the value of all projects in the UAE until 2020. The reason it can be funded is that the economy is in good shape, investors are allowed to borrow again, and there's liquidity in the market," he said.
Comparing the first quarter of 2014 against the same quarter in 2013, the total value of contracts was just over $700 million higher than the first quarter of 2013. In both years, the construction sector saw most of the awards with 64 per cent in 2013 compared to 68 per cent in 2014.
Major contracts already awarded during the first quarter of this year include the Address Residence Fountain Views at Down Town Dubai for around $1 billion; Zakum Oil Lines Replacements phase one for $885m; Tasameem Real Estate's Mixed Use Development on Al Reem Island for $705 million; and Iris Mist at Dubai Maritime City of $500 million, among others.