Qatar's construction growth fuelled by health and education sectors

 

Continuing to focus on improving social infrastructure, Qatar is investing billions of dollars in new health care facilities, schools and recreational developments under the overarching Qatar National Vision 2030. A host of awards for social development facilities were made in 2014, including health care developments, spearheaded by the state’s Ashghal (the Public Works Authority). With spending in the 2014/15 fiscal year expected to reach an all-time high of $59.9bn, of which $20.7bn has been allocated to infrastructure, the state will see dozens of new schools and thousands of housing units completed in the next several years, offering numerous opportunities to construction stakeholders.

SOFT TARGET: Qatar’s development of soft infrastructure has been promising in recent years. Under its 2014/15 budget, allocations to the education sector increased by 7% to reach QR26.3bn ($7.2bn), while total health care infrastructure expenditure is projected to rise by 13% to QR15.7bn ($4.3bn), led by allocations to Sidra Medical and Research Centre, Hamad General Hospital, and a new maternity hospital and 19 health care centres, six of which are already being built.

According to the Supreme Council of Health’s 2012 annual report, 31 new health care facilities are expected to be built in Qatar between 2013 and 2021, including three dedicated to male labourers, in Mesaieed, Ras Laffan and Doha Industrial Area. Other planned facilities include a women’s hospital, a communicable diseases hospital, a neuroscience institute and a cancer hospital. The education sector will witness similar expansion; plans are in the works to launch 85 new school builds during the 2014/15 fiscal year alone.

Ashghal is spearheading the development of many of these projects. In the 2013/14 fiscal year, it began development of 102 building projects at a cost of $1.2bn, including 18 health care projects and 44 new schools. The company reported that it awarded $326m worth of contracts for seven health care projects in 2013 alone, for construction of a new surgery building at Hamad General Hospital, five new health care centres in Al Nuaim, Al Muntazah, Al Karaana, Leghwairiya and Al Roda, and a health and wellness centre in Umm Salal.

In November 2014 Ashghal announced that it will launch 80 new infrastructure projects across the state during the 2014/15 fiscal year, reporting that it already had 233 under development, spread across an area of over 750 sq km. According to the report, of 172 current projects, three have been completed, 16 are under construction, 24 are at the tendering stage and 129 are in the design phase. Once completed, the projects will serve more than 132,000 plots of land.

Although most of its new projects will be dedicated to building up Qatar’s hard infrastructure – including the Expressway Programme, the Local Roads and Drainage Programme, and a host of drainage initiatives such as the Inner Doha Re-sewerage Implementation Strategy – soft infrastructure builds, including schools and health centres, are also poised to expand under Ashghal’s current capital spending programme.

HEALTH CARE: The authority has already made headway on several new awards. In October 2014, Ashghal awarded eight new consulting and construction contracts for health care facilities in Qatar, at an estimated value of $485m. Al Balagh Trading and Contracting won a $57m contract for construction of a new centre at Hamad Medical City. Construction started in 2014 and is expected to finish in the first quarter of 2016.

In addition, United Construction Company won a $69m contract for two new health care centres in Al Waab and Al Jamiaa, featuring clinics for blood tests, pharmacies, laboratories and emergency services. Work is expected to finish in the third quarter of 2016. International Trading and Contracting won a $79m contract, also for construction of two health care centres, in Muaither and Al Wajba. They will feature primary care facilities similar to the centres in Al Waab and Al Jamiaa, and under the same construction timeline.

Consultancy and design contracts for large-scale health projects were also awarded. KEO International Consultants picked up a $61m deal for works at the planned 500-bed Al Khor Hospital annex, with design work expected to finish in 2017, while Cuningham & Arab Engineering Bureau won a $7.5m contract to design Hamad General Hospital’s emergency department annex, with design work scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016. A joint venture led by Faithful & Gould also won a $7.5m contract to design and supervise construction of the National Laboratories Building, which will cover 15,000 sq metres, with design work expected to finish before the end of 2015.

These contracts added to an earlier consulting contract, which was awarded to Engineering Consultants Group (ECG) in early 2014. The $13m contract includes design and construction supervision for five health care centres in Al Mashaf, Ain Khaled, Al Wakra, Al Khor and Al Shamal. “We have had success with the government and are working on a number of projects from Ashghal and Kahramaa. Going forward we will concentrate our efforts in similar work,” Omar Baghat, vicepresident and regional manager at ECG, told OBG.

EDUCATION: Having already pledged to build 44 new schools under its 2013/14 spending programme, Ashghal upped the ante in April 2014, announcing plans to launch 85 school projects during the 2014/15 fiscal year. “We are very encouraged by the number of school projects Ashghal has been tendering. Ashghal prefers to work with locals, given the complex and sensitive nature of building educational facilities, which is encouraging for the local construction industry,” Issam Ghaleb Salem, executive manager of Bojamhoor Trading and Contracting, told OBG. Projects already in progress include the Umm Ghuwailina School, which is scheduled for near-term completion after Asghal awarded a $15m construction contract to Tadmur Contracting in 2013. The Amna Mahmoud Al Jaidah School is also set for completion shortly, following the award of a $16m contract to Al Darwish Engineering.

Qatar’s educational infrastructure received a major boost in February 2015, when Ashghal awarded contracts worth $343m for the construction of 17 schools and six kindergartens. The contracts are part of a package worth $822m. The buildings are to be completed by the third quarter of 2016. Ashghal’s president, Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi, said each of the 17 new schools would be able to accommodate 650 students.

SHORTAGE: For now, demand continues to outstrip supply, however; according to a July 2014 report in local daily The Peninsula, rapid population growth has led to a severe shortage of schools. Although an average of 20 new schools have opened each year since 2010 according to the Supreme Education Council, Qatar’s population has tripled over the previous decade to hit 2.22m as of early 2015, and continues to expand by an annual average of 10%. “There is a shortage of schools. The private sector is not as involved in education as the government would like, and there is now an estimated shortfall of 2000 school places,” Rory Fyfe, senior economist at Qatar National Bank, told OBG.

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