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Cityscape magazine takes a look at some of the major projects in the making ahead of 2022 and as part of Qatar’s 2030 National Development Programme.

May 2015

As Qatar prepares itself for 2022, it is investing heavily in developing infrastructure and construction projects, utilising revenues generated from the hydrocarbon sector.

Critics have voiced that Qatar’s projects are too ambitious for such a small country in a relatively short space of time, and delays in construction timelines have made headlines in the past. However, experts remain certain that the Gulf state will deliver on its promises.

“The extension of the deadlines granted in January this year should assist with the timescale. The state appears incredibly determined to deliver these developments in time and moreover, they have the resources and capabilities to ensure that all deadlines will be met,” commented Thanos Karvelis, Partner, Galadari Advocates and Legal Consultants, Dubai.

Set out below are details on some of the major projects, which are planned or already ongoing.

Lusail City

Developed by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. for an estimated value of USD 45 billion, Lusail City is massive masterplanned city that upon completion is expected to boast a population of approximately 200,000 people. It is located about 15 km north of the city centre of Doha on the coast, and covers an area extending to approximately 35 square km. Infrastructure works are advanced and the development is expected to be phased over the next 10 – 20 years. The completed development will have two marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, including golf courses and an entertainment district.

The Pearl Qatar

The Pearl Qatar is a project that is being master developed by United Development Company (UDC) on 400 hectares of reclaimed land to the north of the Diplomatic District in Doha. Upon completion, the island will be home to nearly 40,000 residents. Work commenced on the project in 2004 and the targeted completion date was 2011/12. The first properties were being occupied from the middle of 2009, though final completion is now expected by 2016.

Msheireb Downtown Doha

Developed by Msheireb Properties, the USD 5.5 billion project Downtown Doha is an ambitious plan to regenerate and preserve the historical heart of Doha.

Utilising the latest in sustainable technologies, Msheireb will adhere to the highest standards in green building. It will add around 900 new residential units to Doha and will be constructed over five distinct phases. The first phase, which is currently under construction, features three major government buildings while subsequent phases will add luxury hotels, commercial office space, retail shops and restaurants.

Qatar Rail Development Programme

Qatar Rail Company (a JV between Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company and German-based Deutsche Bahn) is tasked with developing a conceptual design for integrating Qatar’s various planned railways into a comprehensive and consolidated national railway system. The project is made up of three main components; Doha Metro, Lusail Light Rail Transit (LLRT) and the Long Distance Rail Network that proposes to include a passenger and freight railway linking Qatar to Bahrain and the wider GCC. The USD 35 billion rail proposals formed part of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.

Hamad International Airport (HIA)

After a long series of delays, the first phase of HIA finally opened in 2014 with the final phase planned for 2018. Covering a land area in excess 22 square km of which over half is reclaimed land, HIA replaces Doha International airport as Qatar’s main airport. The airport currently has annual capacity to handle up to 24 million passengers and 750,000 tonnes of cargo rising to 50 million passengers on completion. The additional capacity of the new airport is recognised as a key element behind increasing tourism to Qatar.

Sharq Crossing

Initially planned for completion by 2021, just in time for the World Cup, Qatar’s Public Works Authority, Ashghal, has announced earlier this year that the project will be delayed. Sharq Crossing comprises three bridges interconnected by subsea tunnels, linking Doha’s new Hamad International airport with the city’s cultural district of Katara in the north and the central business area of West Bay.

Expressway Programme

Ashghal set out a plan to establish a modern road network to cope with the urban boom in Qatar. At the hub of this plan is the Qatar Expressway Programme that includes development/redevelopment of approximately 900 km of mainline carriageways ranging from single lane to dual fine-lane highways and approximately 240 major interchanges ranging from conventional traffic lights to four level interchanges. The programme also includes new and upgraded freeways, expressways and arterial roads, a new orbital highway and truck route, and substantial upgrade of existing routes within the Doha’s boundaries. The plan is well underway with a number of projects completed whilst progress is being made on other projects.

In addition to major expressways, Ashghal is also implementing the USD 2.7 billion Inner Doha Re-sewerage Implementation Strategy as well as the USD 14.6 billion Local Roads & Drainage Programme.

New Port Project

A new port is under construction in Economic Zone 3, Al Wakra, and will be linked to the mainland by an 8.5 km long trestle bridge. The port will cover an area of 20 square kilometres. The scope also includes construction of five general cargo terminals and berths, four container terminals and berths, a roll-on/roll-off berth, an administration and customs complex as well as a berthing area for tugs and pilot boats. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2016 with full completion is not expected until 2023.

2022 FIFA World Cup Stadiums & Facilities

The tournament will take place in seven host cities and 12 stadiums, nine of which are being built specifically for the occasion. Three stadiums will be renovated by 2020, and the new stadiums will be built by 2021. After the Cup it is planned to dismantle parts of the stadiums and send them to developing countries to make 22 new stadiums. Qatar’s bid organisers say that the stadiums will be zero-carbon emitting and climate controlled. Furthermore, the stadiums will take measures to reduce solar radiation and warm winds, and offer soft air conditioning to provide adequate climatic conditions (measures which have not before been deployed on stadiums of this size).

Post 2022

In addition to major real estate and infrastructure projects, Qatar is planning significant hotel, tourism and other football related developments ahead of 2022, leaving many to raise the question of what will happen to the supply once the tournament is over.

Experts say that we need to look beyond 2022 as a lot of Qatar’s development efforts are part of its broader 2030 National Vision which outlines the country’s long term development plan.

“The Qatar tourism industry is going from strength to strength, with the number of visitors to the country increasing by over 8% in the last year alone. With the ambitious aim of attracting 7 million tourists by 2030, there is great scope for construction projects in Qatar with plans already underway for Doha Festival City, a Convention Centre, Doha Zoo, the Lusail Museum and a new marina,” commented Karvelis of law firm Galadari.

“In terms of the stadia themselves, Qatar has publicly committed to ensuring a lasting legacy with some sections set to be dismantled and donated to developing nations, such as Africa, where they will be used to construct over 20 sports venues around the world.  The legacy point is something that is now worked out early on in construction projects around stadia – the reconfiguration of London’s Olympic stadium as a permanent ground for a London football club is one example of this. It will be interesting to see whether Abu Dhabi or Dubai will be an option for future World Cup tournaments,” Karvelis added.

Whilst health and safety standards, and in general, employment conditions within Qatar construction projects have received criticism, said Karvelis, “the Qatar Government is working to clarify these and strengthen the regulatory framework.” He also said that the Government will be keen to implement whatever changes are deemed necessary to ensure that the Qatari market continues to progress.