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: 2022-01-08


The UAE offers many opportunities for U.S. companies in the design and construction sectors.

The UAE’s construction sector is anticipated to attain moderate post- pandemic growth over the coming years. The UAE government focuses on investment in energy and infrastructure including transportation, utilities, decarbonization, renewable and nuclear energy generation, and resolving the ongoing water scarcity. The significant commitment and resources of the government leads to the development of various mega-project 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 mega construction projects like the redevelopment of Mina Rashid in Dubai, and the Dubai International Financial Centre Expansion 2.0.

Experts anticipate UAE’s construction sector will see a solid recovery in 2021, with construction industry value growing by 5.9%, from a negative 10.4% as delayed and stalled projects during the pandemic resume construction.  The outlook for the residential construction sector remains weak due to the ongoing issue of an oversupply of residential buildings.  Non-residential construction will fare better, given government aims to boost industrial production and expand the vital hydrocarbons sector.

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.  ADNOC announced earlier this year the commencement of a competitive process to evaluate and select a developer to participate in the development of a large-scale seawater treatment and transmission pipeline project in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  This $2.5 billion project is aimed to replace the current aquifer water injection systems used for maintaining 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 car-reliant UAE to meet the needs of the growing population and increasing number of cars.  This comes in line with the government Abu Dhabi Plan Capital 2030 to expand urbanism and tourism in both main Emirates cities. The UAE has a sizable transportation and road infrastructure projects pipeline, including the $11 billion Etihad Rail, 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 outlook of UAE’s residential buildings sector remains weak due to the ongoing issue of an oversupply of residential buildings. Growing concerns about excess supply in Dubai’s residential building sector are expected to have an impact on the construction industry.  Emaar, Dubai’s largest property developer, has halted new construction works, citing both an oversupply of property in the market and a drop in demand from government entities. Emaar has reportedly also suspended high-profile projects including the Dubai Creek Harbour, which was intended to build homes for 200,000 people. Other renowned Emirati developers such as Damac Properties, Meraas Holding and Nakheel have cut back on their construction plans in

order to maintain their price levels. This trend is expected to continue throughout 2021, with property sales and rents in Dubai to remain under downward pressure, with reports of increased flexibility in lease terms.


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 catering for digitized innovative technology solutions will find increased opportunities.

Recent trends indicate a growing demand for technologies such as:

  • Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Augmented Reality (A/R)
  • IoT data applications
  • Drones in construction fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID)
  • 360° video capturing technologies
  • 3D scanning technology
  • 3D Printing

Trade Shows and Exhibitions 

Cityscape Abu Dhabi

Date:  TBC

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

UAE capital’s largest real estate exhibition | Cityscape Abu Dhabi


Cityscape Dubai

Date:  TBC

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Cityscape Global | Real Estate Exhibition & Summit in Dubai


Index Exhibition

Date: 24-26 May, 2022

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

INDEX Dubai | 24 - 26 May 2022 | International Interiors Exhibition (indexexhibition.com)


Light Middle East

Date: 15-17 November, 2022

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Light Middle East | 15 - 17 November 2022 | Dubai (messefrankfurt.com)


The Big 5 Show

Date: 5-8 December 2022

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

The Big 5 - 5 - 8 DECEMBER 2022


Trenchless Middle East

Date: TBD

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Welcome - Trenchless Middle East 2021


Windows Doors and Façade Event

Date: September 2023

Dubai, United Arab Emirates



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