Although Qatar’s enormous portfolio of mega-projects is dominated by infrastructure builds, the state’s long-term development strategy envisions the creation of numerous new “cities”: large, self-contained projects comprising a mix of residential, office and retail space, similar to West Bay and the Pearl. Involving billions of dollars of investment and years of planning, cities in Lusail and Msheireb will offer the most significant additions to mid-term residential capacity, while long-term developments including the planned Airport City, a Medical City and the long-awaited Energy City Qatar (ECQ) will cater to the state’s rapid economic expansion, offering housing, services and facilities which will promote growth and economic diversification under the Qatar National Vision 2030 development plan.

LUSAIL CITY: Perhaps the most high-profile of the new cities portfolio is the $45bn Lusail City, a huge development across 38 sq km and four islands in northern Doha, offering 19 mixed-use residential, entertainment and commercial districts. Lusail City will be serviced by the Lusail Light Rapid Transit system, which is expected to officially launch in 2018. The city is expected to house an initial 200,000 residents, a number that could eventually expand to 450,000, including 170,000 employees and 80,000 annual visitors. Lusail Real Estate Development Company (LREDC), a subsidiary of Qatari Diar, expects the city’s attractive leasehold ownership options – foreigners can buy leasehold property for 99 years under a renewable contract – to give it a competitive advantage (see Real Estate chapter).

LREDC has made steady progress, moving in June 2014 to award a construction contract to Al Jaber Engineering, for infrastructure of the Seef Lusail North and Waterfront Commercial districts. The package includes building roads, lighting systems and sewage networks, as well as connections to the state’s telecoms, water, district cooling, electricity and waste management networks. Work is expected to finish in October 2015.

In November 2014 LREDC invited bids for project management and construction management services as it moved forward on the development of more than 30 high-rise buildings to be located within the city.

MSHEIREB DOWNTOWN DOHA: Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD), the flagship development of Msheireb Properties, is a $5.5bn project launched in 2010. It is expected to become Doha’s first smart city, utilising solar technology to supplement its energy supply, and become the world’s first city certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) on completion. Building designs range from three to 30 storeys.

MDD’s five phases of construction will span 31 ha, offering over 100 buildings, including commercial and government offices, retail space, hotels, residential areas, community buildings and parks. Phase 1A will mainly serve an administrative and civic function, with the Diwan Annex, residences for the Amiri Guard and the National Archive the main buildings in the district.

Phases 1B and 1C will include developments in the Al Baraha and Al Kahraba areas, offering a cultural forum, a new mosque, an exclusive residential area and hospitality options, including the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. In addition, it will see the development of a mixed-use neighbourhood, which will feature business, retail and educational components.

Phase 2 will focus predominantly on retail activities, including the Galleria, offering 48,000 sq metres of gross leasable area, as well as residences, offices and the Al Wadi Hotel, with the UAE’s Arabtec winning a $631m construction contract for the project in December 2012. Phase 3 will cater mostly to the residential segment. In May 2013 Msheireb Properties awarded a QR2.5bn ($685m) construction contract for Phase 3 to Obayashi Corporation and HBK Contracting.

Phase 4, Business Gateway, will include Nakheel Square, MDD’s main business and transport hub, and will house the central Msheireb station, a meeting point for three of Doha metro’s four lines. Architectural firm HOK is the lead consultant for Business Gateway, which is divided into sub-phases: retail, offices, apartments, a hotel and public plazas. Msheireb Properties officials told OBG that they expect 50% of the total project will be finished by the end of 2015, with the first three phases set to open in 2016. In June 2014 the company announced plans to float a tender for Phase 4 construction, which has been delayed.

MEDICAL CITIES: In May 2014 Qatar’s Ashghal (the Public Works Authority) floated a new tender for the construction of a mass-casualty trauma hospital in northern Doha, one part of the Medical City planned for a site in Duhail, next to Qatar University. The 1100-bed hospital is expected to be finished in 2022, offering a complete trauma care system with 24-hour access. The city, which is under development by the Supreme Council of Health and Hamad Medical Corporation, will bolster trauma care options in the state, which are currently limited to Hamad General Hospital in central Doha. Ashghal announced in May 2014 that it will draw up a shortlist of prequalified bidders for a project and construction management consultancy services contract, with construction expected to start in 2015. The new city will be separate from Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, which was launched in 2003 as the Athlete’s Village for the 2006 Asian Games staged in Doha, offering accommodation for participating athletes, as well as nurses and staff of the hospital. Work on retrofitting the facility began in 2011, with the project’s redevelopment priced at $2.13bn. In November 2014, local media reported that the city was near completion, and was expected to open to the public in 2015. It covers an area of 216,000 sq metres near West Bay, with 500 hospital beds spread over three buildings.

AIRPORT CITY: Expansion plans at Hamad International Airport (HIA), which opened in April 2014, include Airport City, which is expected to house 200,000 residents, as well as hotels and a special economic zone. In March 2013, Dutch firm OMA was selected to be the city’s master planner, unveiling a 10-sq-km master plan comprising four districts running along a “green spine” parallel to HIA’s runways. This spine will include public spaces and a plaza, connecting the city’s business, logistics and aviation districts to residential areas adjacent to Doha Bay Marina. The first phase of the 30-year master plan is expected to finish by 2022.

ENERGY CITY: ECQ originally aimed to become a full-service city catering to the commercial, technical and human resource demands of the GCC’s oil and gas industry. In 2013 developers announced that the city would instead become a mixed-use space, expected to open in 2018. Located in Lusail and valued at $2.6bn, the project was launched in March 2006. The first phase, ECQ 1, will house corporate offices and other infrastructure, comprising 92 corporate buildings with capacity for 20,000 people on a 721,584-sq-metre site. The second phase, ECQ 2, will provide residential facilities to corporate members, although developers report that this phase has been sold to a private entity. Planned offerings include a geophysical data interpretation and storage centre, as well as an advanced training centre.