Delays are a major cause for concern in the construction industry in Saudi Arabia. This paper identifies the main causes of delay in infrastructure projects in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and compares these with projects around the country and other Gulf countries. Data was obtained from 49 infrastructure projects undertaken by the owner and were analyzed quantitatively to understand the causes and severity of delay. 10 risk factors were identified and were grouped into four categories. Average delay in infrastructure projects in Mecca was found to be 39% of the estimated projects schedules. The most severe cause of delay was found to be the land acquisition factor. This highlights the critical land ownership and acquisition issues that are prevailing in the city. Additionally, other factors that contribute to delay include contractors’ lack of expertise, haphazard underground utilities (line services), and re-designing. It is concluded that the majority of project delays were caused from the owner’s side as compared to contractors, consultants, and other project’s stakeholders. This finding matched with the research findings of the Gulf Countries Construction (GCC) industry’s literature. This study fills an important practice and research gap for improving the efficiency in delivering infrastructure projects in the holy city of Mecca and Gulf countries at large.
Keywords: Delay, construction industry, Saudi Arabia, Risks, Roads and bridges.