Top 10: Largest Construction Projects

By Kitty Wheeler
With the global population rapidly increasing, it is estimated that 13,000 buildings each day need to be built to accommodate the expected population by 2050.
Major construction companies including China Railway Construction Corporation and NASA, are investing in the largest construction projects in the world.

Recent years have been a particularly challenging time for the construction industry. As naturally, the worldwide push for sustainability and adopting innovative technologies has posed testing for an industry traditionally resistant to change.

Existing challenges of labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, growing population and rising material costs, were accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and global geopolitical tensions, leading to project delays, cancellations and lack of labour workers. 

However, the industry is adapting, and building some impressive construction projects by embracing change. Latest projects have seen increased adoption of digital technologies, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and modular construction, to improve efficiency and sustainability. 

With the pressure for sustainability and green building practices across the industry, innovation is driving energy-efficient materials and construction techniques across major companies. 

Such companies include: China State Construction Engineering Corporation, Vinci, and Bouygues that are focusing on infrastructure projects, modular construction, and digital technologies like BIM. 

Here, we observe an extraordinary increase in the scope and complexity of construction projects in 2024, through the top 10 largest construction projects in the world. 

From skyscrapers to huge transportation systems that link continents, we look at the effects they will have on both the local communities in which they are located and the entire planet. 

These ambitious projects span a range of industries, from energy and transportation to urban planning and entertainment, and each has made a substantial contribution to the economic, social, and technological advancement across a host of countries.

10. South-North Water Transfer Project

Location: China
Total cost: US$62bn

With the expectation of 50 years to complete the project, The South-North Water Transfer Project, is a Chinese project that aims to divert water from southern regions to the north. 

Eventually, it will redirect 44.8 billion cubic metres of water annually to the urban areas in the drier north, by using technologies like water diversion channels, tunnels, and pumping stations to achieve one of its goals to achieve sustainable water management.

Leading the construction are state-owned enterprises like China Railway Group and China Communications Construction Company.

9. International Space Station

Location: Space!
Total Cost: US$150bn

The International Space Station has a surface area the size of a football field and weighs about 400 tonnes. 

The International Space Station is so big, you can see it with your own eyes.

It’s so enormous, that the parts of it had to be launched into space and constructed there, because there is no rocket powerful enough to launch the full capacity. 

It is operated through an international collaborative project involving NASA, Roscosmos, and ESA and its goals differ from projects on earth, with waste management being a priority over sustainable construction methods. 

8. Dubailand

Location: Dubai
Total Cost: US$64.3bn

Dubailand is “the world’s largest leisure and entertainment destination” or “the Disneyland of the Middle East.”

Between Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road and the desert, the 107-square-mile plot is located inland from Palm Jumeirah. 

Major companies like Tatweer, Bawadi, and Dubai Properties are key investors and builders, with the goal of creating one of the world's largest integrated tourism destinations with theme parks, eco-tourism attractions, and residential/commercial districts. 

Through construction technology like 3D printing and robotics are being utilised, sustainability is a focus, with goals like net-zero emissions and water recycling. 

7. Jubail II

Location: Saudi Arabia
Total cost: US$80bn

Jubail II will be the world’s largest civil engineering undertaking, being 6,200 hectares, this project will increase the size of the Jubail Industrial City.

The project aims to transform the area into a global energy and chemicals hub by 2035, and aims to improve society and support the petrochemical sector. 

To connect the project’s smaller towns and regions, numerous roads and trails have been built, and current participants include Shell, the oil and gas company. 

The project takes sustainability one step further with investments in petrochemicals manufacturing, carbon capture/storage, clean hydrogen and ammonia production facilities.

6. Al Maktoum International Airport

Location: Dubai
Total Cost: US$33bn

Al Maktoum International Airport is expected to be the biggest airport in the world, with a higher passenger volume, and a capacity of up to 255 million per year.

Major players like property market company Emaar Properties are involved to achieve the airport’s huge total area of 56 square kilometres through energy-efficient systems and green construction practices.

5. Madison Square Garden Sphere

Location: Las Vegas
Total Cost: US$2.3bn

The Madison Square Garden (MSG) Sphere is a huge, sphere-shaped stadium that stands at The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas.

The exterior of the Sphere in Las Vegas can transform into almost anything with 1.2 million LEDs.

The Sphere opened with a concert by the rock band U2, and since has provided entertainment for 20,000 guests at a time. 

Designed by Populous, it aims to provide audio-visual experiences powered by solar energy and advanced technologies like beamforming audio, 4D technology and interior projection mapping.

4. King Abdullah Economic City

Location: Saudi Arabia
Total Cost: US$100bn

It will take around 20 years to build the City, which will house close to two million people.

The city aspires to have a seaport, industrial zone, central business district, resorts and facilities area, residential neighbourhoods, and scientific and research institutions.

Technologies like smart grids, automation, and AI are being implemented, with major investment from tech company, Siemens.

3. Dholera Solar Power Plant

Location: India
Total Cost: US$169m

One of the biggest renewable solar power plants in the world, is the Dholera Solar Power Plant in Gujarat in India, with a surface area of 11 square kilometres and a 700 MW capacity. 

The plant aims for low costs through manufacturing synergies, and aims to enable a transition to clean power, creating jobs, and developing eco-friendly industrial infrastructure around affordable renewable energy. 

Adani Green Energy constructed the facility, alongside technologies to decrease water use and optimise energy output to construct the plant to be extremely efficient with minimal environmental impact.

2. The Gulf Railway

Location: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Total Cost: US$250bn

As the Middle Eastern economies look to develop urban growth, rail projects are attractive as investments once again.

The Rail is expected to span more than 2,000 kilometres, and aims to enhance regional connectivity, boosting economic growth, and reducing carbon emissions through sustainable transport solutions. 

Cutting-edge technologies like high-speed rail, advanced signaling systems, and renewable energy integration are being employed to ensure efficiency and environmental sustainability, with major players like China Railway Construction Corporation being involved. 

1. NEOM City

Location: Saudi Arabia
Total Cost: US$500bn 

Neom is a huge region of Saudi Arabia that is referred to as a “smart city.” 

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Smart city earned its name due to its design to house multiple cities and resorts, by being powered by renewable energy and technologies like AI, robotics, and the Internet of Things. 

The city is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 plan, to diversify the economy and become a futuristic, economic zone aimed at diversifying Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil dependence.

The project also strives to include 100% renewable energy, zero carbon emissions, sustainable water and food production through desalination (the process of removing salt from seawater) and vertical farming.

Soon, major tech firms like Alphabet, Alibaba, and energy firm Saudi Aramco will be involved. 

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