While the GCC struggles to gain traction in investment flows, some countries have already made gains in securing market share in the region in niche areas. The GCC is South Korea's largest EPC market overseas while South Korea is one of the top contractors in the region. The GCC region accounted for up to 60 per cent of all South Korean EPC contracts abroad, with a total value of Dh 160 billion in 2011. South Korean firms take up approximately 50 per cent of the total EPC market share in the GCC. Most of these projects are in petrochemicals, desalination and energy. The UAE is South Korea's biggest overseas EPC market in terms of a country as 35.77 per cent of all Korean EPC contracts abroad are located in the UAE. GS Engineering and Construction has won a $1.8-billion deal to build four petrochemical plants and other facilities in Saudi Arabia. The company would build the plants by 2015 under a deal with Saudi state oil giant Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical. The order – the biggest the Korean firm has won overseas this year – is part of a $3.2 billion project for a petrochemical complex north of Jeddah.Real Estate movements depict the 'real state' of the economy. So when governance gets active, we suspect that the interest in the sector is alive and kicking. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), the regulatory arm of Dubai Land Department (LD) imposed Dh 900,000 fines on twenty two real estate companies and brokerage firms during the first half of the year.RERA's Real Estate Licensing Department observed the repeated violations by these entities but initially issued circulars to the violating brokerage firms regarding the importance of abiding by and complying with regulations. Then RERA issued notices and warning to these firms before imposing fines on them. Such procedure came as last step after exhausting all means to ensure compliance and safeguarding the rights of concerned parties. RERA works to create a professional real estate environment governed by clear laws and regulations, as per its mandate. Regulating the real estate brokerage profession aims at clarifying relations between different parties, clients and firms in order to protect the rights of clients against any violations of laws and professional ethics that can be committed by real estate brokers.The emphasis seems to be on the process and as long as it is robust the sector can wade many a storms, once the tide turns.Alan Robertson, CEO of Jones Lang LaSalle, Middle East & North Africa, has reportedly stated that while transparency has increased in most markets in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) over the past two years, the region continues to experience lower levels of transparency than other parts of the world. However, he has identified Dubai as the most transparent of the 15 markets covered across the Middle East and North Africa, and has ranked it in the semi-transparent category at 47 out of the 97 markets covered globally. Although on average, only marginal rental increases were witnessed across Qatar's residential locations, strong demand for one and two-bedroom apartments, particularly in the Diplomatic District and the Pearl-Qatar, pushed their rental rates up by 8 per cent compared with Q1, according to the Qatar Q2 2012 report from a leading property management company.Last month we detected an uptick in cement performances and now EPC contracts and real estate activity are showing an uptick. Time to move GCC up the ladder of priority.