The GCC\'s construction sector is forecast to award a total of $286bn worth of projects between 2012 and 2016, according to new research. A breakdown of project values to be awarded in each of the six GCC countries shows Saudi Arabia leading the pace with over $119bn to be awarded before 2016, followed by the UAE with $75bn and Qatar with $26bn. Elsewhere in the GCC, Oman is expected to award more than $30bn projects, followed by Kuwait with over $25bn projects up for tender, and Bahrain with $10bn, according to a report by MEED Projects for the Arabian World Construction Summit. \"There is cause for optimism in the infrastructure and construction sector. This kind of growth cannot be seen anywhere else in the world, and is still driven by huge petrodollar reserves,\" said Edmund O\'Sullivan, chairman, MEED Events, organisers of the summit. \"However, with the construction sector picking up pace, GCC economies are likely to benefit and experience a positive increase in their GDP in the next four years.\" Outside of the GCC, there are other opportunities for contractors in Iraq, where a burgeoning real estate and transport infrastructure development agenda is underway, with spending expected to top $35bn by end of 2012, according to the research. Hot markets in the region include Qatar, whose ambitious infrastructure development programme - estimated at $600bn - will gather pace in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The emerging markets of North Africa will also feature prominently at the 2012 summit. In Libya stalled projects will be revived and new projects will be tendered as the country seeks to rebuild and improve its infrastructure. The Arabian World Construction Summit will take place on May 20-23 at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort and Spa.