At time of writing, Cop28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, is taking place in Dubai in the UAE. Concern has been expressed that a conference, the main and essential outcome of which must be an urgent reduction in the burning of fossil fuel, is located in a region that has oil as its major export.

The region has, however, as far as its economy goes, been actively engaged in reducing its dependence on fossil fuel. Germany’s Willy Brant School of Public Policy said in March 2023 that UAE is diversifying its economy beyond natural resources. It defines ‘resource curse’ as a phenomenon in which nations with abundant natural resources experience slower growth than those with few – those that we might more easily recognise as ‘oil-dependent economies’. It continues: “In the progress of diversification, [UAE] has been focusing on the service sector and investing heavily in infrastructure and free trade zones, and the country has attracted significant foreign direct investment, leading to sustained economic growth. The UAE’s results can serve as a positive case for… avoiding ‘resource curse’.”

In short, diversification from oil offers not only some amelioration of climate change, but opportunities in infrastructure.

This, in turn, means that “the lifting market is currently thriving, particularly in the Gulf region, where there is intense competition among GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman] countries to establish themselves as premier destinations for tourism and business,” say Street Cranes’ Grew Dow, EMEA business manager, and Lachezar Komburov, regional manager for the MENA area. “The UAE stands out as the most developed market, boasting advanced infrastructure and industrial zones. Over the past decade, significant investments have been directed toward projects like Expo 2020, resulting in a stable market. Although the number of new projects has decreased, it aligns with the demands typical of a European industrial country.”

Dow and Komburov continue: “The surge in infrastructure projects triggers substantial demand for various products and components. This encompasses a wide range, including pre-cast concrete panels, steel/metal products, glass, plastics, and more. Among the essential lifting equipment utilised in industrial settings, cranes play a central role.

“Given the need for these materials in large quantities and the inherent cost constraints, the trend is for production facilities to be established in close proximity to the project sites. This strategy is driven by the necessity for efficient supply chains and the optimisation of costs. As a result, numerous new factories are expected to emerge in the vicinity of these mega and giga projects in Saudi Arabia, further bolstering the local industrial landscape. This proximity not only facilitates a steady and timely supply of materials but also aligns with the economic and logistical considerations associated with large-scale construction endeavours.”

Those huge – sometimes immense – infrastructure projects, though, are not without risk. As just one example, the impact of the war in Gaza is still unknown, and will depend on many factors including the nature of the businesses, their proximity to the conflict zone, and the broader economic and geopolitical context.

“While conflicts in specific areas may be localised, they can have ripple effects on regional stability and perception, potentially influencing business conditions” says Dow.

“Direct economic impacts on businesses in the region may be limited if they are situated far from the conflict zone. However, broader regional stability concerns, changes in investor confidence, and geopolitical dynamics could have indirect effects. It’s essential for businesses to monitor the situation closely and consider potential risks to their operations and markets.”


For the effect of Black Swan events – that is, the unexpected and unforeseeable – we have the recent example of Dubai’s Expo 2020, which involved major construction, of metro lines and hotels as well as exhibition centres, but was hit by the Covid pandemic, which led to its – hugely expensive, one imagines – postponement, although it did eventually happen, but not in 2020.

“[But] despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, businesses are adapting and regaining their footing,” say Dow and Komburov. “Notably, large-scale events such as Expo 2030 and the World Cup 2034 demand extensive long-term preparations and significant investments.

“Many construction projects associated with these events are already in the planning stages, poised for realisation. The initiation of new projects not only addresses the immediate needs but also catalyses additional construction activities. This ripple effect results in the development of various infrastructure components, including new roads, hotels, offices, warehouses, shops, petrol stations, tourist attractions, residential areas, and factories. The interconnectedness of these projects contributes to the overall growth and transformation of the business landscape, creating a dynamic environment driven by ongoing construction endeavours.”


Another example of non-oil industrialisation is the aluminium industry – Street Crane has established itself over many years as a prominent supplier to this sector within the region, and seems poised to continue this.

“Over the past 30 years, the company has installed hundreds of cranes in various aluminium smelters across different countries,” say Dow and Komburov.

“The surge in demand for aluminium products, driven by the new mega projects in the region, has created a significant growth opportunity. Many companies within the industry are not only looking to modernise their equipment but are also keen to expand their manufacturing facilities. This expansion is a strategic response to the heightened demands for aluminium products, and it underscores the need for upgraded and efficient crane systems to support the increased production capacity.

“In essence, Street Crane is positioned favourably to capitalise on the evolving landscape of the aluminium industry by providing essential crane solutions to companies seeking both modernisation and expansion of their manufacturing capabilities.”


Marcus Curry, is MD of George Taylor Lifting, [GT], a UK-based company with extensive experience of the Middle East. Since 2005, it has been established also as GT RAK in the Ras al Khaimah Free Zone of UAE, one of the free trade zones mentioned in the Brant School’s report. From there, as well as from its UK offices, the company has supported not only sales to GCC countries, but also exports to African markets.

“Some traditional African export markets which were supported by our UAE and UK offices have struggled for finance and central bank currency support,” says Curry, “and alongside heavy inflation it has felt for us as if it has been restricting infrastructure and oil and gas development in those regions. However, for the GCC and via our UAE office it has been an outstanding growth year and is currently up more than 20% year-on-year.

“George Taylor has seen its network of stockist and distributors in the Middle East exceed expectations; we have added two further logistics and assembly production facilities in Sharjah and Umm al Quwain [both in UAE], alongside our RAK Free Zone facility. We supply to resellers in the region and, in turn, can support all end users with technical and product support wherever required for them and our clients.”

Both oil and infrastructure, says Curry, have contributed to growth – which, he says, is prompting investment at the best level it has been for some time: “The GCC region growth has been fuelled by some very large infrastructure and construction projects, but the added release and signing of large oil and gas projects has not only sustained growth in 2023 but has given very positive investment signals to many of our GCC customers, and they are already investing in stock and material for a positive 2024. We haven’t seen that type of robust investment strategy for more than four years, and so GT has also been investing again to support that, despite the current concerns over the ongoing Ukraine crisis and the more recent Israel/Palestine conflict.”


Each country, of course, has its own polices, priorities and characteristics, and sales of lifting gear reflect that. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [KSA] has generated huge hoist sales within 2023 and shows no sign of slowing down,” says Curry. “Sales in the larger capacities of manual hoists between 10 tons and 30 tons have seen cumulative sales in 2023 outpacing combined levels sold since 2020!” These, he says, are all related to construction projects. “Oil and gas sales to the likes of [oil firm] Aramco, where our customers hold lucrative contracts, have seen large increasing volume of consumption, suggesting their output is being developed and prepared for future use.”

Dow and Komburov of Street Crane agree: “Saudi Arabia has emerged as a regional star, experiencing a phenomenal demand for industrial equipment. The country’s substantial investments in megaand giga- projects, aligned with Vision 2030, Expo 2030 and its World Cup bid for 2034, have significantly impacted the local economy. Projects such as Neom (the new urban centre), Jedda Economy city, and others require vast quantities of building and construction materials, ensuring a substantial and sustained demand for lifting equipment in the coming years. This positions the Saudi market as one of the largest worldwide.

“Oman and Kuwait, being reliant on oil and gas, primarily focus their projects in this industry,” they continue. “In contrast, other markets in the region, such as Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon and others, exhibit less stability in both economic and political spheres. Business activities in these areas are often tied to single projects rather than long-term government strategies such as are seen in the GCC countries.”

“The Kuwait market [grew] rapidly in 2023 after a very clear market malaise since Covid 2020-2021,” says Curry.

Heavy Engineering Industries and Shipbuilding Company (HEISCO) is a Kuwait-based company engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair and marine activities as well as industrial and engineering contracting with specialisation in oil and energy. “Hoist sales into HEISCO areas has seen some large volume sales, and the just-in-time demand that we succeeded in supporting from George Taylor UAE logistics throughout the first half of 2023 suggests that the market was not ready with product availability early in 2023, but in the second half of 2023 investment with large forward production orders for hoists and allied mechanical items for the market stock are under process in readiness for delivery Q1 2024.”

UAE, says Curry, with its historic trade routes has always been a difficult market to assess, “but massive projects from NPCC [National Petroleum Construction Company] and ADNOC [the state oil company] have again called into effect large-capacity hoists for the local domestic market from our UAE office; 20t and 30t units are in demand, much more than the past three years. The recent ADIPEC international petroleum exhibition and conference, held in Abu Dhabi in October 2023, signalled further investment in projects and those are all fuelling investment in day-to-day consumables of manual hoist and blocks from 1.0t to 5.0t.”

Qatar hosted the most recent World Cup. “It has leveraged its investments in the World Cup 2022 to spur further economic growth, particularly in manufacturing,” says Dow. The investment in infrastructure that took place for that can truly be described as massive, with sales of lifting equipment to construct it correspondingly huge. One might have expected a downturn afterwards, but, says Curry, not so: “Qatar has been a stable consumer with some large shutdown projects consuming the variance of standard hoists and machine moving equipment, and despite the fact most of the construction phase of all sports infrastructure was completed an expected drop in volume sales did not appear. Volumes have surprised us for the standard hoists being taken on a regular basis.

“Iraq has grown in 2023, and with some ongoing stability we hope to see those clients – all oil and gas – sustain growth in 2024. It is not easy to verify projects but the dynamic of sales suggest there is oil and gas investment from those clients and their end users.

“Bahrain has seen a steady year with dayto- day consumables not showing major project development,” says Curry.


Western manufacturers export lifting gear to all the countries we have mentioned. So, too, do Eastern manufacturers. Through much of the world Chinesemade cranes have achieved market penetration through cheaper, sometimes much cheaper, pricing; European manufacturers, however, are perceived to provide both quality and aftersales support. Is the European premium still seen as worthwhile for crane purchasers in the region? Dow and Komburov again: “Crane users in the region prioritise safety and reliability over price when selecting cranes. European manufacturers hold preference due to their extensive history in the area, reliable aftersales support, and familiarity with the technical nuances of the Middle East environment. Chinese products find success in projects fully managed by Chinese contracting companies. However, the abundance of suppliers from China and India can be overwhelming for end-users.

“Street Crane’s strategic approach aligns with building long-term relationships. This involves not only establishing ties with local official distributors but also directly engaging with end-users. The focus is on providing tailored lifting solutions that address specific application needs. This commitment to understanding and meeting the unique requirements of each customer sets Street Crane apart in the market, emphasising a customer-centric approach that goes beyond mere product provision.”

There would thus seem plenty of opportunity in the Gulf States for those with the commitment to follow it through.


In 2022 the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (Leea) established a regional council in the Middle East.

It last met in Qatar. An outcome of the meeting was a clear direction to engage more fully with governments and stakeholders across the region. As part of that the association is in the process of agreeing a visit from Qatar’s government to the Leea’s Huntingdon, UK headquarters, and is having conversations with the Bahrain government to support the country’s licensing of occupations, with Leea exploring new ways to support upskilling domestic workforces. All Leea courses are now online with an Arabic option in both course and assessment.

Further, a white paper is in preparation proposing how a multi-nation region might be able to have occupational standards and qualifications that are recognised in different sovereign nations. The regional council is also pushing for more resources for the region, in particular to encourage more engagement with members and end users, and discussed the prospect of creating an end user grade of membership to make the Leea brand more known among buyers and procurers.