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Digitisation of construction early but promising in the MENA region

Article-Digitisation of construction early but promising in the MENA region

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have emerged as early adopters of digitisation of construction in the MENA region.

Construction has long been highlighted as one of the least digitised industries, despite the benefits of digitisation on efficiency, and cost management.

One study found that digitisation of construction could save up to USD 1.7 trillion in construction, engineering and design costs within a decade. Technologies such as building information modelling, 3D printing, cloud, autonomous equipment and wireless sensor technologies could increase efficiencies across the construction value chain.

The reason digitisation of construction has not taken place at scale, is that construction projects tend to be highly complex, and involve multiple stakeholders. For an industry that has so many moving parts, wide-scale digitisation can be challenging to implement.

However, with technological disruption taking place aggressively across industries, digitisation is no longer a nice-to-have, and the construction industry is coming onboard.


In a recent study by MEED and Autodesk, 100% of respondents surveyed agreed that digitisation of construction improved project delivery, while over half noted that it would have the most substantial impact on project management and performance.

Meanwhile, about a third of the respondents also said that digitisation would bring benefits of speed of delivery, accuracy and collaboration to the construction industry.

The UAE has emerged a leader in the space of digitisation of construction. It was the first in the region to adopt building information modelling in 2013, and a growing number of companies in the country have switched to drones for mapping, surveying and monitoring projects. The UAE is also home to the first ever 3D printed building in the world.

Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia, projects such as NEOM, Qiddiya city, and the Red Sea Project are expected to drive digitisation in the construction industry

“These are ambitious projects that cannot be effectively delivered through traditional methods. The time, cost, quality and sustainability improvements offered through digital ways of working at scale becomes a very compelling reason for change,” David Glennon, digital delivery director at the Red Sea Development Company, said in the report.


Technologies such as cloud computing, driven by software as a service (SaaS) business models, are also gaining traction within the industry. Mobile apps, Internet of Things-based equipment, drones, and augmented reality are some other areas of interest in the digitisation of construction.

Moreover, data science technologies, such as Geographical Information Mapping and ‘digital twins’, are also becoming an emerging trend, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Overall, respondents of the survey noted that digitisation of construction was most likely to positively impact site execution, design development, and operations and maintenance functions.


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