The best example of the role South Korean construction companies play in the Middle East, in the UAE in particular, towers above every other building in the world — Dubai’s Burj Khalifa.

That’s right, it was built by Samsung C&T, the construction and trading unit of Samsung Group, the largest business conglomerate in South Korea. The company is also involved in building the Barakah nuclear power station in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s first, consisting of four plants with the capacity to produce 1,400 megawatts of power.
In July, it was awarded the main part of a huge water and power plant project in Qatar worth $2.46 billion (Dh9.03 billion), of which Samsung C&T will take on engineering, procurement and construction jobs totalling $1.8 billion. “Samsung C&T has an extensive global experience in power plant construction of more than 20 years,” said Eui Seung Park, Head of Samsung C&T’s Plant Business Unit last year.

The Qatar project followed a similar one in Al Shuweihat in the UAE, where the company also works on various infrastructure projects. In addition, it is constructing a large power plant in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia and another one in Turkey.
Hyundai Engineering & Construction is also no stranger to the Middle East. Responsible for such iconic structures as the pyramid-shaped Sheraton Doha Resort and Convention Hotel and the Interior Ministry building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Hyundai now has been hired as primary contractor for the design and construction of the Dubai Eye, which at 210 metres in height will be the world’s largest Ferris wheel.
Another large construction company from South Korea, GS Engineering & Construction (GS E&C) too has a substantial presence in the Middle East, having bagged the contract to build the Doha Metro line, as well as infrastructure in Ruwais, an industrial town west of Abu Dhabi. GS E&C has a long-standing partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Two years ago it teamed up with one of the biggest construction companies in the Gulf, Arabtec, to pursue infrastructure projects.

“South Korean construction firms are outpacing Asian rivals as well as European competitors with their great diligence and advanced technology,” says a GS E&C company spokesperson.

Other South Korean construction firms and project contractors active in the Middle East include Hanwha Engineering & Construction, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, Daelim Industrial, Dohwa Engineering and STX Construction.