Thanks to COVID, Middle East’s Conflict-Prone Reputation Extends to Construction Sector

Thanks to COVID, Middle East’s Conflict-Prone Reputation Extends to Construction Sector

In the 2021 Global Constructions Disputes survey, the region leads the world in average value, length of contract disagreement

The Middle East might be the most geopolitically conflict-ridden region but this also extends to the realm of construction. The 2021 Global Construction Disputes Report recently released by Arcadis, a Netherlands-based design, engineering and management consulting company, recorded its highest average value of contract disagreements globally since the annual report started being compiled a decade ago. The disputes were attributed mostly to pandemic-related increases in costs, with the Middle East having the worst record of any region.

“COVID-19 created significant impacts including restricted movement of labor, additional health and safety measures, supply chain delays and challenges across the region, and suspension of projects in areas such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Kuwait,” the report said.

The average contract dispute amount globally was $54.26 million in 2020, up from $30.7 million in 2019. In the Middle East, the average value of challenged contract impunities was $86 million in 2020, up from $62 million the year before. However, the Middle East’s current figure is still lower than its all-time high of $91 million, in 2017.

The average construction dispute length worldwide fell from 15 months in 2020 to 13.4 months in 2019. The Middle East also saw a drop in average dispute length from 17 to 15.5 months in the same time period. However, 15.5 months is still longer than the average in any other region in the world.

In further regional coronavirus news, Tehran declared on June 14 that it had greenlighted the state-produced COVIran Barekat coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

The Emirati state-sponsored news agency WAM reports that the UAE has started its second round of coronavirus inoculations for 12,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan using the Sinopharm vaccine. Domestically, Abu Dhabi is now offering its citizens a third dose of the Chinese-manufactured vaccine over concerns of its efficacy.

Russia’s Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing said on June 16 that a cohort of Russian health experts was flying to Turkey midweek to determine whether the COVID situation on the ground was safe enough to re-establish commercial travel with Istanbul, according to the state-sponsored news agency TASS.

In Muscat, Oman, officials said on June 16 that medical experts had discovered three cases of what is popularly known as “black fungus.” The uncommon, serious and possibly life-threatening infection can be added to the long list of health complications stemming from coronavirus. The announcement marks the first documented case of black fungus in the Gulf Cooperative Council countries.

The Associated Press reported earlier this week that doctors in Oman were concerned about running out of intensive care unit beds amid a surge in the Delta variant, and now notes that the number of COVID-19 infections has surged over threefold in the past 30 days with 2,000 new cases.

Oman recently saw the greatest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began, crowding some medical centers to the point that they were unable to accept any new patients.

In Jordan, Roya News reported on June 16 that a 14-month study which May 31 showed one COVID-19-related death for every 78 cases. According to the study’s author, Ma’an Addasi, the Hashemite kingdom ranks fourth in the Arab world in number of coronavirus cases per million population and third in deaths from coronavirus per million population. The other Arab countries’ rankings were not listed for this measure.


Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 2 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.


CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories312,3343,545305,2053,584
Saudi Arabia470,7237,635452,20910,879
United Arab Emirates606,1281,741585,24219,145


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.

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