Major projects a glittering ICT prize in the GCC

Orange Business Services’ VP for EEMEA Lionel Reina explains why major infrastructure projects still offer some of the biggest ICT prizes in the region

Tags: IT spendingOrange Business ServicesSaudi ArabiaUnited Arab Emirates
  • E-Mail
Major projects a glittering ICT prize in the GCC The GCC market is still characterised by large scale infrastructure projects, says Reina. (ITP images)
By  Lionel Reina Published  September 16, 2010

Orange Business Services’ VP for EEMEA Lionel Reina explains why major infrastructure projects still offer some of the biggest ICT prizes in the region for many international players, despite the combined impacts of the global economic crisis, high profile project cancellations and postponements.

Just how big is the market for major projects?

Published sources estimate the current scale of planned or committed investment in major projects in the GCC at around $2.29 trillion, despite projects being put on hold, cancelled – or even completed.

The current investment is continuing to fuel regional demand for products and services from large international firms, as well as for thousands of specialized suppliers of equipment and services – including ICT - and international suppliers are recognizing the advantages of having a commercial presence locally to service a still-active market in the search for growth.

What is driving the major projects?

Bain & Company, the management consultants, suggests that major infrastructure projects are rooted in strong fundamental needs. As long as the price of oil is above $60 per barrel, GCC governments will continue to invest substantially in large infrastructure projects because of acute short term needs and the continued growth of populations, longer term.

For those who know the region, it’ll come as no surprise that, with Dubai firmly at its centre, it continues to attract international business. For example, the French Business Council (Dubai & Northern Emirates) recorded almost 50% growth in the number of member companies over the last two years and many of these are the larger French enterprises, attracted by the prospect of these major prizes. And in the second quarter of 2010, the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) recorded a +40% increase in company registrations, compared to Q2 2009.

Dubai’s traditional role and position as a commercial gateway to the Middle East and beyond helps it maintain its unique position. That’s a powerful asset because the overall vision of the region (collectively, those visionary economic plans that many countries or Emirates prepare) is still intact – granted, the time horizons may have receded into the future a little, but the view is still appealing and backed up by the evidence on the ground – with the rolling completion of Dubai Metro and Burj Khalifa, for example.

Where are these major projects coming from?

Perhaps surprisingly, real estate continues to be the main focus of regional investment. It’s a sector that Orange Business Services knows very well, with our involvement in several ‘smart city’ developments across the region, with a special emphasis on projects in Saudi Arabia where the vision is fast becoming reality.

Orange Business Services is already managing the Smart City operations for more than 193 million people around the world and it is this expertise which is helping to drive the development of these cities of the future in the region.

The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has started work on a project of unprecedented scale to develop the Kingdom’s four Economic Cities, at a cost of over $60 billion, with an expected contribution of over $150 billion annually to the economy, whilst generating more than one million jobs, and housing between four and five million residents by 2020.

This is the unique opportunity of the region – major investments into greenfield sites/projects, with an increasing emphasis on ‘Green’/sustainability, whereby solutions are delivered to cities through ubiquitous IP-based infrastructure and connectivity, backed by innovative related ICT services, including voice solutions, business and on-demand connectivity, public Wi-Fi and state-of-the-art security.

These new cities demand state-of-the-art ICT infrastructure and services in return for multiple benefits which can have a positive impact in areas like economic growth, socio-economic development, eco-efficiency, public sector initiatives and environmental policy. This approach delivers (amongst other benefits) home automation, entertainment and energy management in the home; collaborative tools and unified communications to business; connected hospitals and home hospitals for healthcare; and eLearning and remote teaching in education.

It’s a blue print for harmonious future living built on an ICT environment and smart networks, based on IP infrastructure, connectivity and innovative ICT solutions.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code