Boom town: A wide variety of projects are helping to reshape Doha

Qatar’s development strategy centres on using income from its vast energy resources to establish Doha as a regional, and increasingly global, centre for business and commercial activity. Constructing an urban environment that places the city alongside leading capitals is thus a priority for the government. Doha’s urban landscape has developed very rapidly over the past two decades. While the country’s industrial construction projects get the most attention, the government has invested a significant amount of capital on constructing core urban infrastructure like transport and utilities, and on urban amenities such as retail space, health care facilities, and schools and colleges.

Changing Skyline

One of the most high-profile construction projects in Doha is The Pearl, which is being built by United Development Company (UDC). The 4-m-sq-metre artificial island has added an additional 32 km to Doha’s coastline, and is at the centre of several major residential, commercial and retail real estate projects. Construction of The Pearl was estimated to cost in the range of $15bn, according to UDC.

Investments in building a number of skyscrapers have also helped transform Doha’s skyline. Several new towers completed construction or are nearing completion in the West Bay diplomatic district, such the Al Baker Twin Towers and Al Jasimya Tower. The West Bay area is now fairly densely developed and capital investments in construction have now been shifting to developing towers in Lusail (which is located adjacent to Doha), The Pearl and other parts of the Doha municipality. Real estate firm DTZ reports that there are a number of towers nearing completion on The Pearl.

The Public Works Authority, also known as Ashghal, is the main government entity charged with overseeing construction projects for infrastructure and other public services. The authority is currently managing a portfolio of projects, including all roads, hospitals and infrastructure. Data from the authority shows that it expects to oversee projects valued at more than QR100bn ($27.4bn) over the next seven years.

Ashghal is developing an integrated transport system strategy. The agency has already put out several contracts to build the transport system, which will eventually link rail, metro and road networks. Projects worth close to $70bn have been planned according to data reported by Trade Arabia, making transport one of the key drivers in the construction market going forward.

Qatar’s new metro rail network is one of the largest construction projects in the capital. In addition to the national rail network, Qatar Rail is working on a 340-km metro rail project that will connect most of the country’s urban areas to Doha by 2020.

Qatar Rail has reported that design and build contracts worth over $32bn have already been awarded for the first phase of the project. The integrated network will also include a light rail system in Lusail City, which is being developed by Qatari Diar and is expected to be completed by 2017.

The government has approved the design of metro stations and has issued contracts to start work on the Red and Green Lines. The Red Line will connect central Doha with the airport. As of June 2013 QR8bn ($2.2bn) worth of contracts have been awarded to a consortium that includes Qatari Diar’s QDVC and French and Korean partners. Contracts have also been awarded for construction of the Green Line, which will run through Doha and major stations.

A consortium of Qatar’s HBK Contracting, Austria’s PORR and Saudi Binladen Group won the QR8bn ($2.2bn) bid for the Green Line while Qatar Building Company, Samsung and OHL received a QR4bn ($1.1bn) contract for the metro stations.

Road Programme

With traffic management a growing concern, Ashghal is also investing in improving Doha’s road network. Ashghal has launched a pre-qualification programme to select 75 contractors that it can call on to upgrade local roads. The pipeline of work covers more than 200 projects over the next seven years.

The programme gives Ashghal the ability to initiate new work on short notice and with pre-determined prices and technical specifications. The authority also launched a tender to improve Doha’s C Ring Road, which is becoming the centre for commercial activity for small and medium-sized enterprises. The project is only open to local companies or joint ventures in which a local partner owns at least 50% of the shares.

Core Utilities

In parallel to urban transport, Qatar has invested heavily in constructing core urban utilities to support Doha’s expansion. The city’s power and water needs are mainly met through independent water and power projects that combine electricity generation with water desalination. The Doha West, Doha South and Doha North plants are the major suppliers for the city. The Qatar General Electricity & Water Corporation, the regulator and organisation in charge of transmission and distribution, and the Qatar Electricity and Water Company are the main suppliers of electricity and clean water, although Ashghal is charged with financing and managing investments. Ashghal is embarking on the Inner Doha Re-sewerage Implementation Strategy (IDRIS), which will expand Doha’s wastewater drainage infrastructure. The project will initially add capacity to manage 500,000 cu metres of sewage per day. Ashghal is in planning stages for the project and will issue contracts for construction in 2014, with an expected completion date in 2019.

Retail space is also being built to meet pent-up demand in Doha. The $5.5bn Msheireb Downtown Doha, for example, will add up to 100 retail outlets with a total of 48,000 cu metres of leasable space. The nearby Barwa Commercial Avenue is also being constructed to add an estimated 910,000 sq metres of mixed-use space, with about 250,000 sq metres reserved for retail showrooms. DTZ estimates the Barwa project will increase total retail showroom stock by 25% (see Retail chapter). According to global real estate services firm DTZ, as of the third quarter of 2013 there were nine new shopping malls under construction that will add a total of around 1m sq metres of gross leasable area by 2016 (see Retail chapter). Mazaya Qatar Real Estate Development is constructing one of the biggest new malls at a cost of QR1bn ($273.9m).

The government is also designing public spaces, including parks and museums. The Doha Corniche, for example, was nearing completion by the end of 2013.

The Sheraton Park is also currently being built adjacent to the corniche. The park will have parking facilities for 2000 vehicles with access to the convention centre.

The highlight of the park will be a set of fountains that will add to the amenities available at the corniche.

Winning the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has focused significant attention on the city and done much to raise Doha’s profile globally. By the time fans arrive for the football tournament in eight years’ time, many of these projects will have been completed, and the capital that they will experience then will likely be that much closer to the government’s vision for Doha – that of a leading regional and international city.

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The Report: Qatar 2014

Construction chapter from The Report: Qatar 2014

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