Interview: Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi
What sectors of the economy are prioritised for infrastructure spending in 2019?
SAAD BIN AHMAD AL MUHANNADI: Ashghal will continue to prioritise the development of key sectors, such as infrastructure for subdivision areas, health care and education. Developing infrastructure to serve the residential areas and citizens’ subdivisions throughout the country and opening them on schedule and according to quality requirements are our key focuses for the year. The plan for citizens’ subdivisions projects includes awarding 20 contracts across Doha, which will commence soon and will serve approximately 13,000 land plots.
Ashghal is gradually transitioning from an authority entrusted with awarding and executing efficient, sustainable infrastructure projects to an entity that focuses on operating and maintaining road and drainage networks and delivering quality services and solutions. As we move closer to 2022 we will be working on developing these areas extensively, while our plan following 2030 is to provide integrated infrastructure and drainage networks for all of Qatar.
To further develop the health care sector, Ashghal recently signed contracts worth approximately QR1bn ($274.6m) to build six projects across the country that will serve around 3500 visitors per day, in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health.
How can higher-quality requirements reduce the long-term costs of maintaining road infrastructure?
AL MUHANNADI: Ashghal’s dedicated departments and partners audit and oversee all construction matters to ensure we continue to meet the highest standards in all we build, particularly on concrete structures, asphalt pavements and mechanical and electrical works. Ashghal’s Research and Development Centre, which is accredited by the UK Accreditation Service, ensures that our projects pass a rigorous quality assurance check.
The centre’s laboratory equipment covers all kinds of environmental and civil engineering tests on roads, concrete, buildings and sewage projects. There are also workshops to train Ashghal technical contractors on the latest road equipment and the most important mechanisms used in asphalt milling and paving.
In 2018 we also commenced the Constructing Excellence initiative, which aims to promote best practices, encourage innovation and adopt new technologies to improve the sector and create a knowledge legacy that can be utilised and developed over the long term.
What benefits are expected as a result of the recent reform of the foreign direct investment (FDI) law?
AL MUHANNADI: The new FDI law is intended to attract foreign capital inflows, accelerate development and commercial activities, and achieve economy diversification in accordance with Qatar National Vision 2030. Ashghal is already partnering with leading global and local firms to execute some of its biggest infrastructure projects. We run an open, transparent, compulsory and competitive tendering process, and with major works, we hold pre-tender briefings to ensure companies are aware of the requirements for each stage of a project.
How can policy support local builders and suppliers?
AL MUHANNADI: In collaboration with Qatar Development Bank, we launched the Ta’heel initiative in 2017 to rehabilitate and accredit existing national factories; allow Qatari manufacturers to help implement Ashghal’s engineering and construction programmes; include national companies in Ashghal’s approved supply chain; and encourage new, local investors to invest in the establishment of factories that contribute to projects on which Ashghal and other bodies are working.
Ashghal had successfully added 97 factories by mid-December 2018. The number of locally manufactured materials used in infrastructure projects increased by 141 during the same period. These initiatives have helped Ashghal attract a number of national competencies to implement and support local projects.
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