The Middle East and Africa construction event, The Big 5, which is being held 25-28 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre unveiled a first-of-its-kind research report titled The Voice of the Construction Industry Report.

This is the first report to investigate the full spectrum of the construction industry through the eyes of its senior leadership, elucidating key issues by business type, seniority, company turnover, and region.

The report, which sheds light on research conducted by GRS Research & Strategy Middle East in conjunction with The Big 5, includes insights from 5,951 senior construction industry professionals from 136 countries on the trends and outlook of the construction sector in the GCC, Middle East, and Africa.

The report highlights analyses of the global construction market, emerging industry trends, opportunities and challenges facing industry stakeholders, as well as insights on how industry leaders are planning to capitalise on the construction opportunities in the Middle East and around the world.

Top trends identified in all aspects of the construction industry boiled down to prefabrication and modular construction, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

Advanced software, building information modelling (BIM), and digitalisation are identified as the top three disrupters of the sector. These are closely followed by the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart technology, and 3D printing.

The research also focused on nine key markets, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Of the GCC countries, respondents stated there the most investment opportunities would be found in the United Arab Emirates (56%), followed by Saudi Arabia (44.4%). In line with these findings, 36% of those interviewed said their businesses would enter the UAE within the next 12 months, either directly or through a joint venture.

Respondents comprise of service providers (30.8%) – including engineering firms, consulting firms, project management firms, architectural firms, and design firms – as well as contractors (26.6%); manufacturers and technology providers (14.7%); distributors (9.4%); real estate developers (5.2%); and government representatives (4.9%).

According to Andrea Piccin, partner and general manager at GRS Research & Strategy, the findings represent good news for the UAE and the wider Middle East region: “Economic growth is seen as a key factor generating business opportunities in the GCC. This is undoubtedly piquing the interest of international companies, which are now looking to expand in the Middle East for the first time.”

“Also, the increase in tourism, particularly in the UAE, is a major driver for business growth and one that many construction companies have already capitalised upon,” Piccin added. “These trends reflect the UAE and Saudi governments’ recent focus on the development of smart and sustainable cities. According to the results, it is anticipated during the next 12 months governments from these two countries will place even greater emphasis in these key areas providing an additional boost for the industry.”

Commenting on the report, senior vice president of dmg events, Ben Greenish, said: “The responses come from professionals in sectors including manufacturing and distribution through to developers, contractors, engineers, architects and consultants, with each being segmented by business type, seniority, geographic location, and company turnover, allowing for a detailed analysis of the issues influencing each sector and how they are shaping the industry.”