United Arab Emirates - Country Commercial Guide
Design and Construction

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-07-26


There are many opportunities for U.S. exporters in the design and construction sectors in the UAE.

The UAE government focuses on investment in energy and infrastructure including transportation, utilities, decarbonization, renewable and nuclear energy generation, and resolving ongoing water scarcity. The significant commitment and resources of the government leads to many projects and opportunities for construction and engineering companies in the UAE. Recent major projects announced include the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s (ADNOC) Al-Nouf seawater treatment plant, Dubai Municipality’s plan to build a strategic sewerage tunnel, and other construction projects like the redevelopment of Mina Rashid in Dubai, and the Dubai International Financial Centre Expansion 2.0.

The UAE’s construction sector is expected to see a solid recovery in the next five years, with construction industry value growing between 3.7-4.7% according to experts. Growth will be driven by the country’s development agenda focused on growing the country’s industrial, transportation, and energy infrastructure. As part of the Projects of the 50 initiative, the UAE government announced plans to implement a series of projects aimed at accelerating the UAE’s economic development to transform the country into a comprehensive hub for all sectors, aiming to attract $149.8 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the next nine years.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Utilities and Energy Projects

The utilities energy infrastructure sector is expected to expand over the next decade to boost electricity generation capacity to meet growing demand, increase the UAE’s water security, and to diversify the economy away from oil. Growth in energy and utilities infrastructure will be driven by the expansion of water and renewable energy capacity over the coming years, in line with pressing water scarcity of the UAE and the government’s low carbon energy agenda. In 2021, ADNOC announced the development of a large-scale seawater treatment and transmission pipeline project in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. This $2.5 billion project is part of Project Wave and aimed to replace the current aquifer water injection systems used to maintain reservoir pressure at onshore oil fields in Abu Dhabi.

Transportation and Road Infrastructure Projects

Transportation and road infrastructure development continues to be key to the UAE to meet the needs of the growing population and increasing number of cars. This is in line with the government’s plans to expand urbanism and tourism in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The UAE has a sizable transportation and road infrastructure projects pipeline, including the $11 billion Etihad rail project, the $5.9 billion proposed hyperloop project between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the $2.7 billion Sheikh Zayed double-deck road project, and more. The increasing demand for urban transport and government aims to bolster tourism and broaden transportation infrastructure will also drive rail and road development across the country.

Real Estate Sector

The UAE’s real estate market witnessed a surge of prices in the first quarter of 2022 attributed to the government’s ease of COVID restrictions on travel, tourism and other economic activities, the positive impact of the Expo Dubai World’s Fair on the real estate and tourism sectors, and the return of international travel to normal levels. Prices in some sectors of Dubai’s property market have increased as much as 56% over the last year, fueling interest in new construction. Dubai’s largest property developers have launched new construction projects within the last few months, all of which reportedly sold out immediately. March, April and May 2022 saw the highest levels of real estate transactions for those months in over a decade. Average rents in Dubai have also increased an average of 19% over the last year.


A wave of private sector projects, combined with high levels of government spending and investment plans, is bringing renewed optimism to the market. Despite the fierce competition from local developers, U.S. companies are market leaders in the design and construction field in the UAE.

Local developers are increasingly seeking efficiency and digitally integrated processes in projects planning, staffing, monitoring, and delivery. American companies offering innovative digital technology solutions will find increased opportunities.

Recent trends indicate growing demand for technologies such as:

  • Building Information Modeling (BIM).
  • Augmented Reality (A/R).
  • Advanced Construction Wearables & Exoskeletons.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) data applications.
  • Drones in construction fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID).
  • 360° video capturing technologies.
  • 3D printing and scanning technology – to include 3D construction.

Trade Shows and Exhibitions 

The Big 5 Show

December 5-8, 2022

Dubai, UAE