Saudi Arabia has replaced the UAE as the new gold mine for South Korean builders in the Middle East, according to new figures.
According to the International Contractors Association of Korea (ICAK), orders won by South Korean builders from Saudi Arabia reached a record $10.7bn so far this year, far exceeding Iraqi orders worth $3.3bn and $2.7bn from Singapore.
The Saudi figure in 2011 is nearly double the orders that South Korean builders won from the kingdom in the same period last year, said ICAK in comments published by UAE state news agency WAM.
For the previous five years, the UAE was the biggest market for South Korean builders, but they clinched only $1.3bn in orders in the emirates during the same period.
ICAK said that 43 South Korean builders are working on 40 projects in Saudi Arabia, including 29 new projects won this year.
It attributed the boom to Saudi Arabia's recent expansion of projects ranging from desalination, electricity and oil refining facilities to polysilicon plants and optical cable building projects.
The total amount of Saudi orders will go up further, once Samsung C & T Corp's $2.1bn deal to build a thermal power plant in the country earlier this month is added to the figures, ICAK added.
The three biggest beneficiaries of the Saudi Arabian boom were Samsung Engineering Co, which gained $4.2bn in Saudi orders, Samsung C & T ($2.1bn) and SK Engineering & Construction Co ($1.8bn).
"A growing number of builders are competing here in Saudi Arabia," said an official at the Saudi office of the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
"South Korean builders should maintain price competitiveness and form close partnerships with Saudi firms to build an information network," the official added.
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