Construction companies in the Middle East embrace digital transformation


Virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence is set to revolutionise the construction landscape in the Middle East.

Leading construction industry global professional services company Turner & Townsend has released its inaugural Middle East Digital Market Intelligence Report, surveying key decision-makers working on Middle East construction projects, with 63% of respondents saying that their organisation has an active digital strategy.

Companies in the region are strategically embracing digital technologies such as building information modelling (BIM) and cloud construction management software. The construction sector, which has a market value of $9.7tn, is experiencing an expedited surge in digital adoption due to heightened demand for infrastructure, a scarcity of trained labour, increased stakeholder expectations for data transparency and integration and a need to speed up construction timelines.

This sentiment is further fuelled by ambitious digital initiatives like Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the UAE’s Digital Government Strategy 2025, which seek to position the sector as a dynamic global player while also demonstrating the region’s commitment to technological and sustainability-led advancement.

The report also highlights the opportunity for virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence technology to transform the construction landscape and revolutionise project visualisation and decision-making. Yet, survey findings suggest a cautious approach to date, highlighting a need for balanced and measured integration to ensure optimal benefits.

Resistance to change remains a challenge

Against this backdrop, the report findings indicate resistance to change and fragmented processes as persistent challenges to progress. Notable solutions identified include the adoption of BIM and cloud construction management software, recognised by 80% of survey respondents for their combined potential to enhance project efficiency. However, such solutions continue to face hurdles in implementation, with respondents’ concerns including cost limitations and the need for comprehensive training programmes.

Sustainability also featured in the findings, with 90% of respondents believing that the digital transformation of the construction industry will lead to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to building projects in the Middle East. The surge in the global market for green building materials aligns with the report’s indication of a broader industry trend towards more environmentally friendly construction practices such as localising the supply chain, using water-efficient fixtures and energy-efficient heating ventilation and air conditioning systems, recycling construction waste and prefabricating materials in a controlled environment.

The survey findings also shed light on the use of IoT (internet of things) applications. While the range of applications is extensive, particularly with regard to data analytics, the report suggests a need for further exploration to fully understand their value. Almost half of the respondents are currently utilising data analytics systems in decision-making, but half are also identifying the benefits of their predictive insights as a future focus for investment to help shape risk assessment strategies during construction.

Adam Ralph, country manager, UAE at Turner & Townsend commented: “It’s encouraging to see 63% of construction professionals and key stakeholders that we surveyed in the Middle East are actively embracing digital transformation with an active strategy in play.

“The construction industry and digital economy are key growth drivers in the region underpinned by the increasing focus on Construction 4.0. Such a digital revolution in construction methodologies will help embed cutting-edge technologies and processes aimed at enhancing efficiency, innovation, and sustainability across the built environment in the Middle East.”

Click here to access the Middle East Digital Market Intelligence Report.