Interview: Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi

In what ways is Qatar benefitting from the Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Law?

SAAD BIN AHMAD AL MUHANNADI: PPPs play a vital role in developing the private sector and will be an important mechanism for future projects. In line with Qatar’s efforts to increase the participation of the local and international private sector in the country’s plans, Ashghal is extending the PPP model across its upcoming projects. Within the framework of the PPP Law, feasibility studies have been coordinated with the relevant government entities for some works.

We are also collaborating with the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to implement the Qatar PPP Schools Development Programme, which will follow international PPP best practices. As part of the first phase of the programme, in 2021 Ashghal signed contracts to build eight new schools. Overall, 47 new schools are scheduled to be built with the help of private sector participation by 2027.

These projects will benefit from the private sector’s experience in project management and implementation, and knowledge-sharing between the two sectors will be facilitated. The programme will also encourage best practices and efficiency, in addition to supporting economic diversification.

How is the use of local materials for large-scale infrastructure projects being increased?

AL MUHANNADI: The share of primary local materials used in Qatar has increased from 38% in 2016 to 70% in 2020. The local market has benefitted from about QR20bn ($5.5bn) worth of investment in infrastructure projects and building works since 2017. Between 2022 and 2027 the value of local materials needed for such upcoming projects is estimated at QR25.6bn ($7bn).

To establish an enabling environment for local companies to grow, continued support is given to small-scale Qatari contractors working on road improvement projects as part of our Ta’heel initiative. Launched in 2018, the initiative aims to help small-scale companies compete in the local market, as well as in the global market over the longer term. It also provides support to new contractors through training on best practices in project implementation. The total value of contracts awarded as part of the Ta’heel initiative reached QR189m ($51.9m) as of January 2022, and we are expecting to award additional contracts worth QR120m ($32.9m). relying on local materials and manufacturers for most of the authority’s projects, it is expected that the increased opportunities will boost the competitiveness of the local industry over time.

What has been done to raise environmental and social standards in the construction sector?

AL MUHANNADI: In 2021 Ashghal received the ISO certification 45001:2018 for our occupational health and safety management system, and ISO certification 14001:2015 for our environmental management system. The authority is committed to adopting high standards in environmental protection, recycling, health and sustainability across all programmes and projects. Promoting and complying with environmental and social standards is an essential goal in line with the efforts of various institutions towards achieving the objectives outlined in Qatar National Vision 2030. To this end, the Global Sustainability Assessment System is being implemented in public educational and health buildings, while in 2020 Ashghal’s motorway and road projects used a high proportion of recycled materials, exceeding the 20% target set by the National Development Strategy. At the same time Qatari companies are being empowered to expand their participation in local infrastructure projects, which is contributing to job creation and human capital development.