Expensive education: GCC to spend $90 billion on education construction by 2020

442Building schools and universities will remain top priority for GCC governments, with more than $90 billion expected to be spent on education-related construction projects by the end of 2014, according to ‘The Big 5’ report by Ventures Middle East. It makes the education sector one of the biggest for contractors and suppliers with the population in the GCC forecast to increase from 50.6 million in 2014 to 55.8 million by 2018. “There are huge business opportunities for suppliers who understand the education sector. The GCC has a young demographic and governments are investing heavily in education,” said Andy White, event director for The Big 5. Saudi Arabia is the biggest investor in education with an expected spend of $56 billion. Some 465 new schools will be built, while another 1,500 will be refurbished along with work on another 1,544 existing school construction projects expected to continue. It is also building eight new colleges, vocational and technical facilities. White said The Big 5 would offer a unique insight into the education sector through its free-to-attend conference and workshop programme, which runs from 17 - 20 November at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is open from 11am to 7pm daily. “The Big 5 workshops during the show will examine the huge refurbishment market in the region and look at the technology expected in 21st century school buildings.” The report reads, “Governments of each GCC nation are investing significantly in construction of new schools and refurbishment of existing schools which is expected to drive the construction opportunities in the education sector in the region.” The total number of students in the GCC region is also expected to grow from 11.1 million in 2014 to 11.6 million by 2016. GDP per capita income in the GCC is estimated to grow from $45,184 in 2011 to $51,286 in 2016 and that will benefit education, according to the report. “The increase in income will have a positive effect on the willingness to spend on education, especially for private sector education.” In the UAE, $2.6 billion (21 per cent of its 2014 budget) is being spent on schools. Qatar has allocated $7.2 billion to education, which is 7.3 per cent up on the previous year. Oman is initiating a process to provide free basic education to all its nationals, spending $6.8 billion, which is 18.6 per cent of the total public expenditure. Kuwait will spend 14.2 per cent of its annual budget for the year 2013-2014, which is $10.5 billion. Bahrain has allocated $2.2 billion to continue to improve the education process for the fiscal years 2013-2014

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