The president and chief executive officer of China State Construction and Engineering Corporation Middle East (CSCEC ME), Yu Tao, told Construction Week that Saudi Arabia was the “next target market” that the Chinese state-owned contractor would target.
Tao was speaking to Construction Week ahead of his inclusion in the 2019 Power 100 list, Construction Week's annual ranking of the Middle East's most influential industry leaders.
“As a good friend and partner of China, Saudi Arabia makes a series of positive policies to attract Chinese companies,” Tao said, commenting on CSCEC ME's biggest market opportunity over the next year.
“Regardless of the type of project, quantity, [or] contract amount, [Saudi] is considered as the next target market we want to work in. In recent months, [the kingdom] has officially been elevated to an emerging market, which gives us more opportunities to enter the [Saudi] market.”
Tao said Saudi was also “one of the most important parts” of China’s multilateral, trillion-dollar infrastructure programme, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
He added: “As the biggest construction company both in China and GCC region, we’ll keep on going deep into oil and gas projects and railway network construction to diversify our business model.”
CSCEC ME already has a strong presence in the UAE, with the state-backed contractor building, among others, Damac Properties' mixed-use megaproject Aykon City in Dubai.
Commenting on the market challenges faced by regional contractors, Tao said payment delays were a chief concern.
He added: “We spend as much money as we can to maintain the operation of the projects in order to assure them delivered on time, but we can’t get the money back from clients in time.
“We try to solve this problem through arbitration, but it [could] take even longer.”