Oman emerges as a growing opportunity, while Qatar falls short of expectations
Multinationals should reconfigure their market approach and allocation of resources across the GCC region, as markets experience a change in project momentum. New initiatives in 2024 are aimed at increasing private sector investment and driving project activity in Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Diligent engagement is necessary to capture opportunities, including effectively aligning products and services to stakeholders’ long-term goals and budgeting needs. However, multinationals will need robust mitigation plans as risks linger; elevated interest rates, fiscal pressures, and fragile confidence are all risks to monitor.
- Qatar: Project growth in Qatar has slowed considerably following the World Cup. Multinationals are shifting focus from the market as a source of opportunity, with high operational costs and bureaucratic hurdles reducing appetite for new business. Despite this, the energy (LNG) and infrastructure sectors are seeing some growth. The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and the Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) have announced plans to launch 116 public tenders in 2024, with a combined value of around US$ 16.2 billion. This will cover sectors such as infrastructure, water, and sewage. Alongside this, Qatar has signed several long-term LNG contracts as part of its North Field expansion project.
- Oman: The country is of increasing importance to multinationals as investments in construction increase and the government prioritizes FDI and project growth. The government will set up a OMR 2 billion (US$ 5.2 billion) investment fund, called the Oman Future Fund, which aims to bolster the country’s economic activity and encourage private sector participation in investment projects. Notable sectors that will receive investments include tourism, manufacturing, and construction.
- Kuwait: Project activity has rebounded gradually following a sluggish 2022. Top sectors include water, power, and energy. Kuwait plans to launch a new sovereign investment fund, named the Ciyada Development Fund, to develop mega projects and bring foreign direct investment into the private sector. The fund lays out a four-year program that includes 107 major projects covering economic, social, entertainment, and human capital areas, scheduled to be completed by 2027.
- Bahrain: Project activity has seen steady growth, in line with Bahrain’s Economic Recovery Plan. The government launched the Golden License in April 2023, which will provide major incentives to foreign and local businesses with large-scale investment projects in the country. Notable sectors include logistics, manufacturing, financial services, and tourism.
Qatar will see a slight pickup in project activity in 2024 after this year’s slowdown. In the long run, expansions in LNG production and exports will translate into higher government spending, with priority areas such as infrastructure and IT services. Oman’s improving debt dynamics will continue to improve the government’s fiscal capabilities, allowing for spending to increase in 2024, with sectors such as tourism and water management receiving notable investments. Project acceleration will likely be gradual in Kuwait, but the launch of the new investment fund marks an important step to boost the country’s otherwise sluggish private sector. Bahrain will continue to be an attractive market for FDI, driving economic growth in sectors such as hospitality, construction, and manufacturing.
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