Why Invest

A Gateway to the GCC
  • A significant global market

    The GCC is an important global market, six economies and 36 million consumers with a GDP of around $1.5tn that places it alongside the world’s top 10 economies.
  • Major investment – with private sector playing an increasingly important role

    More than $2tn worth of active projects are in the pipeline across the GCC, according to MEED Projects data – with the private sector increasingly involved through use of structures such as PPP.
  • Major reforms – opening the region to the private sector and foreign investors

    The region is responding to the challenge created by low oil prices through reforms designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of public finances and move away from a dependency on oil as a driver of economic growth.
  • Focused on technology-driven growth

    Potential to leap-frog other markets in technology-driven growth due to lack of legacy issues and support behind development. For example, organisations in the Middle East and Africa are projected to invest $7bn in Internet of Things by the end of the year.
  • Greater economic integration of the GCC – moving towards one market

    Intra-GCC trade has grown 15% per year over the past decade and increasing connectivity within the GCC supported by ongoing investment in infrastructure and increasing coordination of economic policy and alignment of rules and procedures.
The GCC Market
    in 2017
    in 2020
Global Oil Reserves
Global Gas Reserves
Global Oil Supply
GCC is home to some of the wealthiest countries in the world
GCC is the centre of global energy
GCC is the logistics, business and travel hub for Asia, Africa and Europe
GCC is home of some of the world’s biggest investment funds
GCC is home to the holiest sites in Islam
MEED GCC Projects Market Outlook Report 2018

The Middle East market is full of opportunity and complexity. Between countries as well as between sectors the outlook varies greatly. In infrastructure, UAE leads the way – with Abu Dhabi in particular launching several high profile projects. In Saudi Arabia, the gap to be filled is larger and the Kingdom is wooing global investors and partners.

And although the region’s renewable energy output is forecasted to triple by 2035, new oil and gas projects continue to come online as Gulf economies power towards a low-carbon future.

As countries across the Middle East look towards increasingly diversified sources of growth, the need for high quality business intelligence is more pressing than ever. Explaining these changing trends and contexts, MEED’s upcoming GCC Projects Outlook 2018 report highlights the markets and projects that present the best growth opportunity.

Using data from more than 15,000 live projects on the MEED Projects database, this data-focused report provides quantitative analysis and critical data to help you make key business decisions and inform your strategy.


There is clear interest among investors in the exciting opportunities opening up in the GCC as a consequence of this rapid economic transformation. Bahrain aims to support investors through a cohesive, responsive ‘#TeamBahrain’ approach that brings together key players across government and the private sector to unlock the opportunities in the region.

  • The Bahraini government takes a ‘one team’ approach in supporting the growth of new and established investors - responding quickly and in a manner coordinated across government to address issues and enable businesses to open up opportunities.
  • 2017 was a record year in terms of EDB-led inward investment – including major investments from companies such as AWS - with investment driven by opportunities created by the #TeamBahrain cross-government approach to reform.
  • Bahrain has allowed 100% foreign ownership for most activities, and is the only GCC state to permit freedom across all sectors and in which the entire country is effectively a free zone.
  • Bahrain has reduced minimum capital requirements, which resulted in lower costs and made it easier to set-up and operate businesses.
  • Bahrain also implemented a number of reforms to support technology-led growth, such as a range of measures to support SMEs, a regulatory sandbox and other measures to develop a regional fintech hub and a cloud first policy to move government data to the cloud.
  • Oil & gas
  • Power & water
  • Manufacturing
  • Transport & public works
  • Real estate, tourism & housing
Oil & gas

Home to more than 40 per cent of global crude oil reserves and over 20 per cent of global gas deposits, the GCC sits at the centre of world energy. The GCC leads the world in oil and gas investment projects and the recent discoveries of major new oil and gas fields in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Ras al-Khaimah highlight the abundant investment opportunities that exist in GCC oil and gas.

  • In 2017, the GCC saw contracts signed on almost $70bn worth of new oil and gas investment projects. And there is a pipeline of about $388bn planned oil, gas and petrochemicals projects.
  • Over $389bn worth of oil, gas and petrochemicals projects are planned across the Mena region Saudi Arabia and the UAE have the biggest pipeline of oil and gas projects, with $61bn and $53bn of planned projects respectively.
  • The GCC plans to add 2m b/d of refining capacity by 2022 to generate more value from its crude oil.
  • The flotation in December 2017 of 10 per cent of the fuel distribution arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), and the planned sale of up to five per cent of Saudi Aramco in the second half of 2018 represent further new opportunities for investors to be involved in GCC oil and gas.
  • The Aramco listing is set to be the biggest IPO in history and could raise up to $100bn for the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which it will invest in strategic projects.
  • Saudi Aramco has announced plans to invest $414bn over the coming decade increase output and others are following. After completing a major restructuring, Adnoc is driving investments in upstream and downstream capacity in oil and gas.
  • Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest oil producers with output of 9.9m barrels of oil a day (b/d) and capacity for 12.5m b/d.
  • The UAE is producing about 2.9m b/d and has a capacity of about 5m b/d.
  • The need to meet rising local and international energy demand has driven investment in GCC oil and gas projects in recent years, with over $357bn of major contracts awarded from 2011 to 2017.
  • The timing could not be better. The oil production cap agreed between Opec and non-Opec oil producers until the end of 2018 has transformed the outlook for global energy, and with world demand picking up, oil prices are set to climb.
  • The Bahrain Petroleum Company, Bapco, is undergoing a modernization programme sponsored by its largest investment ever, $5 billion, to increase refinery competitiveness, improve energy efficiency and meet environmental standards.
  • Bahraini banks have invested a total of $515 million in exploring deep petroleum gas zones in the Bahrain Oil Field and the Banagas gas company’s 600 million square feet gas-field.
Power & water
Transport & public works
Real estate, tourism & housing

Oil & gas
  • Bapco Modernization Program (BMP)

    A US$ 5 billion mix of green field and brown fields units (expansion/revamp) for Bapco’s Sitra refinery

  • Aromatics Petchem Complex

    A joint Kuwaiti and Bahraini effort for the construction of a high value-added aromatics refinery

Renewable & Power
  • Solar PhotoVoltaic IPP

    100MW PV solar project supported by a government offtake guarantee

  • Wind Power Farm IPP Projects

    Wind Power Farms to support Bahrain’s ambitious renewable energy strategy

  • Rooftop Solar PV Projects

    Tender-based Feed-in Tariff projects to support Bahrain’s ambitious renewable energy strategy

Real estate & Tourism
  • Bilaj Al Jazayer

    Flagship tourism project at the heart of Al Jazayer Beach, a top recreational site

  • Fairmont Hotel

    100MW PV solar project supported by a government offtake guarantee

  • Hawar Island: Phase I

    Eco-tourism project aimed at transforming the country’s second largest island into a world-class natural location

Transport & public works
  • Bahrain Logistics Zone 2

    Development opportunity geared at private partners interested in constructing and leasing slots to potential logistics and retail companies

  • King Hamad Causeway

    25-30 year BOT for a cross-border off shore bridge between KOB and KSA

  • Bahrain Light Rail

    25-30 year BOT for a 30km 21 stations light rail train system in Bahrain

  • Bahrain Northern Link Road (BNLR)

    PPP opportunity in order to develop a high-speed road connecting flagship projects in the Northern part of Bahrain under a DB or a DBOT scheme

  • Muharraq Sewage Treatment Plant

    Investment in a top-of-the-art plant alongside major international developers