While it may seem that the construction euphoria in Qatar has peaked in recent years, and has now plateaued, the sector is still expanding at a rate impressive even to the most seasoned contractors. Qatar-based civil engineer Walid Daniel Dib, and (Qatar Construction News) QCN’s editor Farwa Zahra provide a snapshot of Qatar’s top 10 projects since 2015, and explain why they matter.
Of the top 100 projects within the GCC, Qatar has a share of 9.3 percent. Despite this relatively smaller share, the country’s construction industry is growing at an exponential rate. The annual average growth rate of Qatar’s construction industry is expected to reach 11.4 percent between 2015 and 2022. Furthermore, the sector is expected to stay bullish at a growth rate of 10.2 percent for at least another 10 years.
Through the year 2015, Qatar’s construction sector continued its ongoing boom with some key projects announced, and others opening doors to the public. Below is a list of Qatar’s landmark megaprojects in progress.
What it is: At almost USD45 billion (QAR164 billion), the project which is driven by the Lusail Real Estate Development Company is aimed to eventually accommodate approximately 450,000 people in 19 districts, containing waterfront villas, townhouses, residential skyscrapers, and 22 hotels. The completion date is set in late 2019, but the development is estimated to be fully operational by 2020.
Why it matters: The project’s futuristic smart city approach will fit in with the country’s 2030 sustainability vision. Residential trash is expected to be transported to a central hub for separation through pneumatic tubes. On the west side of the city lies Qetafian – an island meant to be surrounded by man-made waterways. The project is also of importance due to the fact that the final 2022 World Cup match will take place in the new city’s iconic stadium.
Barwa Al Baraha
What it is: Also known as the ‘Labor City’, Barwa Al Baraha is a housing program for blue-collar migrant workers in Qatar. Backed by Barwa Real Estate, the project is spread across 1.8 million square meters (sqm), which began accepting tenants from the second half of 2015. With the capacity to accommodate 53,000 workers and employees, it is also one of the largest housing projects for workers in the GCC. Facilities within this project include a hotel, entertainment center, mall, laundry, health center, mosque, Islamic center, police station, civil defense center, fire-control center, sports facilities, shops, restaurants and offices.
Why it matters: Ever since its successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has been under international media scrutiny for the treatment of its migrant workers. Reports from human rights organizations continue to make headlines from time to time, highlighting the poor state of living and working conditions of most migrant workers here. Building a housing facility such as Barwa Al Baraha serves dual purpose in Qatar’s favor. First, it works towards a higher purpose of morality. Secondly, it sets a precedent for companies to provide their workers with decent living conditions. Both these factors will likely improve Qatar’s global image – something the country needs before it delivers the World Cup. As an added benefit, developers will also explore this once-hidden opportunity of building worker accommodations.
Qatar Economic Zones
What it is: Awarded in 2014, with news of possible operation of some parts in early 2017, Qatar Economic Zones (QEZ) is a 27-square kilometer three-part megaproject with a strategic focus on industrial-grade manufacturing, aviation and marine logistics as well as warehousing. The USD3.2 billion (QAR11.6 billion) project is currently driven and managed by Manateq.
Why it matters: While this project is perfect for international investors due to its strategic location, QEZ will also allow the country’s often sidelined local small- and medium-sized businesses to flourish with lucrative leases, allowing these businesses to prosper alongside their larger international counterparts. That is not all, though, as this is one of the first few instances – along with the Qatar Science and Technology Park and the Qatar Financial Centre – where full foreign ownerships can take place, as opposed to requiring a Qatari partner own 51 percent of local firms.
Doha Metro: Gold Line
What it is: The Gold Line, which starts from Villaggio Mall and runs through the city towards the old Doha International Airport, is set to take the scenic route of some of the city’s older parts, including Msheireb. Expectations are high, and the pressure on contractors is even higher, as they are required to hand in this megaproject by 2019, when it is set for full operation.
Also known as the historic line, the USD3.3 billion (QAR12 billion) Gold Line is one of four lines running above and below ground, to be built along with the country’s Lusail Light Rail Transit, and the high-speed railway running towards Saudi Arabia’s borders. In total, the Doha Metro is expected to host 37 stations across Doha in its first phase.
There were points in time where Qatar had 21 tunnel boring machines (TBMs) working simultaneously, which allowed them to formally break the Guinness World Record of consecutive TBMs. These heavy machines were operating day and night, six days a week, boring up to 20 meters of tunnel per day.
Why it matters: Think about it this way: Qatar’s population has now passed the 2.5 million people mark. Roads without sidewalks and extra hot weather do not make for the most pedestrian-friendly walking circumstances. With a subpar existing public transportation system, and such high taxi demand from the country’s expatriates, Doha’s need for proper Metro infrastructure is not limited to the 2022 World Cup, but is a necessity for it to compete with global cities of similar stature.
Msheireb Downtown Doha
What it is: Currently under unremitting construction, the Msheireb Downtown Doha aims to cater to all audiences with eight characteristic precincts. Over QAR20 billion has been invested in the project, which is meant to bridge a connection between Qatar’s past heritage and future generations. Tied to Souq Waqif by subterranean parking lots, the project will facilitate transportation throughout Msheireb by means of an interconnected tram network.
Why it matters: Over the past few years, the heart of Doha shifted towards the West Bay residential and commercial skyscrapers. For this very reason, Msheireb Properties partnered with architectural and cultural experts to revitalize the young city’s downtown area, while still maintaining the sustainable qualities of world-class downtown areas. In fact, the project is aspiring to become the world’s first sustainable community, aiming for more than 100 buildings with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s (LEED) platinum or gold status. So far, Msheireb has been awarded a LEED platinum status for its Diwan Annex building.
Internal Security Forces Camp
What it is: At an impressive four million sqm, the large-scale Internal Security Forces (ISF) Camp was awarded in 2011 to Qatar Project Management, costing an estimated USD3 billion (QAR11 billion). Expected to be operational in its first phase by mid-2016, the camp already has operational barracks, guardhouses, headquarters, and is meant to have a 10,000 spectator stadium and a five-star hotel. The overall completion date is estimated to be in 2025.
Why it matters: The ISF camp project, located in Duhail, is the first project in the Middle East to achieve the Global Sustainability Assessment Standards’ (GSAS) ‘neighborhood’ accolade.
What it is: Located in the southern outskirts of Doha, the New Port Project – also known as the Hamad Port – is one of the world’s largest greenfield port megaprojects ever tendered. Its budget is a hefty USD7.4 billion (QAR26 billion), mainly due to major excavations, spanning over 26.5 square kilometers of seaside land. These excavations have ranged into varying slopes and channels ranging from four to 17 meters deep. The port has already been partially opened, with the first cargo vessel arrived on December 24, 2015.
Why it matters: Due for full completion later this year, the port is meant to deal with the country’s raw material shortage crisis. The news of the port opening soon came just in time to match the need for infrastructure supplies for the World Cup and various other megaprojects. Once fully operational, the port’s container terminal one will fit a capacity of two million containers per year, ticking yet another box in Qatar National Vision 2030. As of now, according to the Minister of Transport HE Jassim Seif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, the initial operations involve opening of “the port’s general cargo and roll-on roll-off facilities” along with the establishment of “operations for the delivery of general goods, vehicles and construction equipment”.
World Cup stadiums
What is it: To meet the requirements of its successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, Qatar is expected to deliver at least eight stadiums to host the tournament. Of these, the country has unveiled designs for five stadiums, with the latest design revealed in 2015 for Al Rayyan stadium, featuring a seating capacity of 40,000. As of 2016, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy announced the award for main contractor for Al Wakrah Stadium to a joint venture, while Arab Engineering Bureau was awarded the design contract for the eighth proposed venue to be located in Al Thumama.
Why it matters: The capacities of these proposed venues exceed Qatar’s local requirements, which explains why every stadium announced so far comes with a legacy plan from the Supreme Council of Delivery and Legacy. That said, building these projects on time is Qatar’s key to maintain its position globally in the world of sports. With the country’s tourism strategy giving significant attention to sports tourism, it is imperative for Qatar to prove its sustained capability to the world. Successful delivery of FIFA stadiums would additionally mean the country’s strengthened position for future bids.
The Expressway Programme
What is it: Under the supervision of Ashghal, the Expressway Programme is one of the world’s largest road infrastructure projects that will connect Doha with other cities through a set of advanced highways, roads and flyovers. The scope of this project includes the New Orbital Highway, Dukhan Highway, Al Rayyan Road and Lusail Expressway. It will deliver more than 20 major projects and more than 150 major interchanges (from traffic light junctions to four-level interchanges with tunnels and flyovers). Commenced in 2010, the project’s original date of delivery lies sometime in 2017.
Why it matters: With Qatar’s growing population, the number of vehicles on Doha’s roads has increased exponentially over the last few years, leading to hours of commute. Forecasts suggest the country will continue to have more expatriates joining its workforce. If Qatar wants to remain an attractive destination for immigrants, an infrastructure project such as the Expressway Programme is crucial.
Another area this programme looks into is the reduction of future accidents, considering that Qatar has one of the highest rate of road-related accidents. Through the Expressway Programme, roundabouts on main roads will soon be a thing of the past, with incorporation of 240 major interchanges ranging from conventional trafﬁc lights to four-level interchanges with tunnels and ﬂyover. Part of the Expressway Programme, the New Orbital Highway, will add efficient highway for Qatar’s important industrial areas, namely Mesaieed, New Hamad Port, Dukhan, Al Khor, and Ras Laffan, without the need to travel through the main residential communities of Al Wakrah, Doha and Al Khor.
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