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MENA to pioneer sustainable construction with $2tn investment, generate 4.3m jobs

RIYADH: The Middle East and North Africa region is poised to lead in sustainable constructions, with a planned $2 trillion investment in new “built environments,” creating 4.3 million annual jobs.

The term “built environments” encompasses human-made surroundings, including buildings, neighborhoods and cities, along with supporting infrastructure like water supply and energy networks.

A recent Strategy& Middle East report highlighted the potential for sustainability-focused construction technologies to slash lifecycle emissions by 50-60 percent amid the region’s $2 trillion construction surge.

The report said: “The size of the investment will have a substantial economic impact. It represents a little over 10 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) of the region annually, and we estimate it will create about 4.3 million jobs per year.”


The MENA region is pioneering sustainable construction technologies as the UAE prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference or COP28.

Mega Project in MENA

Mega-projects like Saudi Arabia’s NEOM futuristic city and Qatar’s planned Lusail entertainment city are examples of where sustainability-focused technologies could propel the region toward achieving its net-zero emissions goals.

The report emphasized: “The $2 trillion in investment encompasses projects in GCC countries and Egypt and can substantially underscore the region’s commitments to decarbonization.”

“Saudi Arabia has pledged more than SR700 billion ($186.6 billion) to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2060,” it added.

Saudi Arabia has pledged more than SR700 billion ($186.6 billion) to meet net-zero emissions targets by 2060

The report highlighted the potential for urban planning, real estate, construction and asset operations to adopt innovative and sustainability-focused methods and technologies.

Yahya Anouti, a partner with Strategy& Middle East, noted that the “built environment” contributes significantly to global emissions, with approximately 37 percent of energy use, 39 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 40 percent of material use.

He said: “Our estimates show that a reduction in these emissions for urban development could take the region more than halfway to realizing its net-zero emissions goals.”

The report identified existing technologies and innovations, such as solar photovoltaics, greener construction materials, and artificial intelligence systems in buildings that can be implemented soon.

However, it also acknowledged the need for additional investment and time to develop, test and integrate other nascent innovations.

Balsam Nehme, head of sustainability at Dar Al-Handasah, encouraged stakeholders to embrace an innovative and sustainable approach, emphasizing the potential for setting a new global standard.

He stated: “From urban planning to architecture, civil engineering, mechanical systems and construction materials, sustainable development can unlock widespread better quality of life, incremental economic growth, and develop local skills and jobs.”

The report underscored the significant implications for stakeholders in the built environment and outlined the necessity for regulators to stimulate demand for sustainable technologies, developers to adopt eco-friendly construction techniques and financiers to drive the transition.

Collaboration among all stakeholders is crucial for success, with lessons learned from pilots and trials essential to drive the adoption of sustainable practices and innovations.

Sarah Al-Feghali, the moonshots and innovation lead of the ideation center at Strategy&, highlighted the report’s examination of over 50 innovations that can shift the paradigm toward sustainable built environments.

The report provided 17 high-potential and actionable applications across multiple areas to reduce emissions, including mobility, managed landscapes, development density, mechanical systems and construction processes.


  • The announcement of a $2 trillion investment in sustainable construction in the MENA region is a testament to the region’s dedication to a greener future. This ambitious initiative not only promises to revolutionize the construction industry but also emphasizes the importance of creating job opportunities. The commitment to generating 4.3 million jobs showcases a vision that extends beyond environmental concerns to address social and economic needs. The MENA region is setting a commendable example for the world by demonstrating that sustainable development is not just a choice but a strategic investment in a better future.

  • The MENA region’s $2 trillion investment in sustainable construction is a visionary step towards a more resilient and environmentally conscious future. This substantial commitment not only reflects a dedication to combating climate change but also positions the region as a global leader in sustainable practices. The plan to generate 4.3 million jobs underlines the inclusive nature of this initiative, ensuring that the benefits of sustainable development extend to communities through meaningful employment opportunities. It’s an exciting and promising journey towards a greener and more prosperous MENA

  • The MENA region’s bold move to pioneer sustainable construction with a $2 trillion investment is both impressive and commendable. This comprehensive approach not only addresses environmental concerns but also recognizes the pivotal role of job creation in fostering sustainable development. The commitment to generating 4.3 million jobs reflects a holistic understanding of the interconnectedness between economic prosperity and environmental stewardship. The MENA region is poised to become a beacon for sustainable construction, showcasing the potential for large-scale investments to drive positive change on multiple fronts

  • The MENA region’s plan to pioneer sustainable construction with a $2 trillion investment is a game-changer. This forward-thinking initiative not only signals a commitment to environmental responsibility but also positions the region as a leader in sustainable development. The scale of the investment, coupled with the goal of generating 4.3 million jobs, showcases a holistic approach that addresses both environmental and socio-economic challenges. It’s inspiring to witness such a monumental effort to build a more sustainable and inclusive future for the MENA region.

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