Boom years ahead for Middle East
Dubai - Growth ahead in next 8-10 years; UAE, Saudi Arabia to lead region.
Despite the general economic slowdown, there will be unprecedented growth in the region in eight to 10 years, a Dubai-based businessman said.
RP Group founder and managing director Ravi Pillai said from 2020 onwards there will a big boom in the region, driven especially through gas and petrochemical sectors.
"This growth will be witnessed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. There will be growth for eight to 10 years, which will exceed all expectations. Gas and petrochemicals will see rise in demand. We are going to bid for a few gas and petrochemicals plants," he told Khaleej Times in an interview.
RP Group is on expansion mode and is eyeing Saudi Arabian markets with its biggest project.
"We have just inked one refinery project and another will be done next week in Ruwais. Both are big projects here. We will be able to employ 4,000-5,000 people and start work in two months. The biggest refinery project is going to come up in Saudi Arabia. We have presence in Bahrain and Kuwait also."
Pillai noted that the next few years will see many new jobs being created.
"We have 130,000 people working in the Gulf, 30 per cent of them are Indians and 15,000-20,000 locals. This manpower will keep their jobs for the next eight to 10 years. We are recruiting 400-500 workers every month. So the number in our workforce is set to rise further in future."
India bucks realty trends
Pillai said India's real estate sector is defying market conditions, as demand remains robust.
"The real estate climate in the region and worldwide is cold. Here we have oversupply and less demand," he said.
He noted that the Jumeirah Business Bay project is on hold but the Dubai Marina project will be completed by January 2019. "Construction of buildings near Burj Khalifa will be completed in the next six months."
He said India is an exception to the present trend and demand is growing, especially in Mumbai and Pune.
"Maharashtra is a booming market and we are seeing good demand. We are investing heavily in Pune and Mumbai."
Gulf remains attractive option
Pillai said the region remains an attractive place for those seeking greener pastures.
"India will not be same without Gulf's contributions," Pillai pointed out.
He noted that Abu Dhabi is financially strong with oil and gas reserves and Dubai is the best city in the world. "Abu Dhabi has also diversified in a big way. Dubai is an affordable city. Hotel rates are cheaper in Dubai than India. Since it's boom time in India, you will pay ?25,000 [Dh1,280] for hotel room in Goa but need to shell just Dh400 for a room in a Dubai hotel. Even food prices are very affordable."
Pillai highlighted that currency swap is a major development and will boost UAE-India businesses.
"More business will be conducted between the two nations as local currencies will replace the dollar. This will further strengthen relationship. Now bilateral trade has the potential to double with the currency swap agreement."
Committee for Kerala planned
Meanwhile, the flood-ravaged Indian state of Kerala is going all-out to woo investors, Pillai said.
"The Kerala government is forming a committee to facilitate the ease of doing business. It will ensure speedy approval for all projects. The government is inviting NRKs to invest into the state in a big way. The committee will be formed in the next 10 days. This is a move to make Kerala an investor-friendly state."