Interview: Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Khalifa Al Thani

How is the ministry working with other bodies to help alleviate congestion and backlogs in the construction industry?

SHEIKH ABDUL RAHMAN BIN KHALIFA AL THANI: In order to meet the requirements of the construction boom currently taking place in the country, and the urban re-planning that is under way in a number of areas, the ministry launched the new building permits complex at Doha Municipality in February 2014. The new facility was created to help address the complexities associated with the issuance of licenses from various different authorities, and to speed up the issuance of building permits.

The complex was launched in conjunction with the new electronic system for building permits. This system will provide a platform for following requests for building licenses in order to keep pace with projects that are taking place. It is also designed to exploit all the options made available through the use of modern technology, which can addresses all the technical requirements of different agencies in one centralised location. This will help improve performance and simplify procedures in order to cut down on the time and effort required to obtain a building permit.

Given the amount of work currently under way in the state, what role do e-services play in helping to facilitate and ease the process of licensing?

SHEIKH ABDUL RAHMAN: The successful completion of projects involving multiple stakeholders across various sectors of society requires IT automation and an advanced level of e-services to enhance overall performance and coordination, and also to reduce wastage of resources. We recently launched the new electronic system for building permits. This service enables a consultant to identify a single point of contact for submitting building plans to various parties and serves to remove the confusion that may occur as a result of too many parties being involved within the same project. The service has the built-in ability to understand and distribute applications to the various relevant stakeholders, depending upon individual requirements, whether this is to the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, Ministry of Interior, Ashghal, Qatar Electric and Water Company, Ooredoo, Woqod or Qatar Rail.

Aside from eliminating the process of going to different locations, the electronic system is used for follow-up requests from consultancy firms, angel investors, contractors or others, through a uniform electronic service on the internet available to users inside and outside of Qatar. This system receives and communicates all the requirements from the relevant authorities in order to issue building licenses. The system is open to property owners, consultants and employees from external entities who may use it for requesting new building permits, permit renewals or permit modification requests. The new programme will ensure that new licenses can be issued in five to seven days.

How is the ministry strategising and planning for the state’s development in the coming five years?

SHEIKH ABDUL RAHMAN: In line with Qatar National Vision 2030, we aim to contribute and support the development of the country. Given the construction boom, we are increasing coordination with Ashghal to ensure public works are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. The Emir recently restructured the ministry, and Ashghal is directly under the purview of the Office of the Minister now. We are also studying the rezoning and commercialisation of several areas in Doha in line with upgrades planned for the city’s urban infrastructure. Along with that comes the responsibility to supervise the entire construction industry and ensure that the works being undertaken are done properly and in line with best practices. Efficiency and the proper usage of state resources has been identified by the Emir as one of the most pressing issues going forward, given the unprecedented spending and work taking place. This made it even more important that we launched the new electronic system in order to reduce duplications and increase the efficiency of delivery.