Browsing 'News' News

Chantelle D'Mello / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

During Ramadan, most traffic accidents in Qatar take place in the morning, not before iftar time as commonly thought.

That’s according to the Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC), which conducted an analysis of last year’s reported accidents and claims data during the fasting month.

It found that over the 30-day period, the most common timings of such incidents were between 9am and noon.

QIC

QIC Ramadan stats

This coincides with the morning weekday rush, as many people go to work later during Ramadan.

The most dangerous weekdays are Wednesdays and least dangerous are Sundays.

Older men

The analysis also found that men 40 years and older were more likely to get into traffic accidents.

They accounted for about a third of people who make claims.

Bark/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to QIC:

“Fasting can result in dehydration and low blood sugar, which in turn can limit our attentiveness, concentration, vision and reaction while driving.

In addition to fasting, the unusual eating and sleeping patterns can also cause fatigue, exhaustion, impatience and distraction.”

Advice

Company officials offered these pieces of advice to stay safer on the roads this month:

  • Be aware of your own limitations;
  • Be on the lookout for motorists struggling with the same issues and expect the unexpected;
  • Leave early so that you won’t be stressed out and rushing/speeding to your destination; and
  • Always wear your seat belt.

We would add get off your phone, since most accidents in Qatar are caused by motorists who are Instagramming and Whatsapping each other.

Thoughts?

Ezdan Holding Group

For illustrative purposes only.

Rents for compound villas and two-bedroom apartments in Qatar fell in the first quarter of this year, according to a new real estate report.

This was driven primarily by a slowdown in the country’s population growth and white-collar layoffs, DTZ said in its Property Times communiqué for Q1 2017.

Companies have also been looking to cut costs by providing staff with housing allowances rather instead of accommodation, it added.

DTZ

Excerpt from DTZ’s Q1 2017 Property Times report

Finally, new residential developments in central Doha districts including Al Sadd, Bin Mahmoud, Al Mirqab and Umm Ghuwailina have also increased supply in the market, particularly for two-bedroom apartments, the report said.

Falling rents

Average monthly rents for a three-bedroom apartment in the business district of Dafna/West Bay earlier this year were around QR15,000 for a three-bed apartment. Two-bedrooms went for QR12,000 and one-bedroom apartments cost about QR10,000 a month.

This is around QR1,000 a month cheaper than rates charged during the third quarter of last year.

Prices will likely continue to fall in the coming years as Qatar’s population levels off and supply keeps growing.

Gold Bay Real Estate

The Marina Twin Towers in Lusail

The number of available apartments in “prime” areas is set to more than double in the next three years. This is thanks in part to rising developments at Lusail and Msheireb.

Available flats will go from 20,000 in 2016 to more than 35,000 by 2020.

Energy sector struggling

Meanwhile, lower oil prices continues to affect Qatar’s property market, particularly for the rental of villas in compounds.

These compounds were often rented out by firms for their employees.

CodeCarvings

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But now, many companies, particularly in the energy sector, have ended these housing contracts and are instead giving accommodation allowances to employees.

Other firms have reduced their housing allowances as a way of cutting costs.

“This has had an impact on the rents achievable for compound villas: a market that had previously been dominated by corporate leases,” DTZ said.

This softer market – which is better for tenants, but tougher for landlords – is set to continue, according to the report:

“It is unlikely there will be a return to the strong rental increases witnessed between 2011 and 2015, due to the continuing development of new residential buildings and the lower demand from higher-earning expatriate workers.”

However, an expected influx of service workers in the coming years will likely push up demand for more affordable accommodation, it added.

More offices

Under-construction developments will also have a big impact on the commercial market in the coming years.

The QP district in Dafna/West Bay is finally expected to launch this year, bringing the total supply of office space for lease in West Bay to more than 1.86 million sq meters.

And a further 134,000 sq m of commercial buildings is set to open in Lusail soon, as well as in Msheireb.

Msheireb Properties

Rendering of redeveloped Msheireb Doha Downtown

All of these factors have caused office rents in West Bay to fall by up to 20 percent in the past year, DTZ said.

The over-supply could mean that some proposed developments, particularly in Lusail “will be put on hold over the next decade,” it warned.

Cheaper hotels

Construction is also continuing apace on more hotels in Qatar.

The country is working to meet FIFA’s requirement of at least 60,000 hotel rooms before the 2022 World Cup.

Millennium Plaza Doha/Facebook

Millennium Plaza hotel in Al Sadd, which opened earlier this year

This would require tripling the current stock of nearly 23,000 rooms and apartments in the country – 87 percent of which are four- and five-star rated.

Despite a very slight increase in hotel occupancy, many operators have been forced to reduce prices to attract guests.

Average daily room rates were QR460 in February 2016 – down from QR487 in February 2015, the report said, citing government figures.

Malls galore

Qatar’s mall market is also one that has seen many changes in the past year.

According to DTZ, the shopping center building boom is creating a “two-tier” market of malls. Customers are favoring those that are easy to get to, have plenty of parking and include family entertainment.

Doha News

Main atrium at Doha Festival City

Doha Festival City, Al Hazm and Mirqab Mall have all opened this year, bringing Qatar’s retail center count to 18 so far.

Another four are set to launch this year, and two more by 2019.

Thoughts?

Cebu/Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The low-cost Philippines carrier Cebu Pacific Air will stop flying to Doha at the beginning of July because the route is no longer financially viable, it said.

The airline has been flying direct to Qatar for just over two years, and announced that its last return flight from Manila to Doha will be on July 1.

It will also cease flying to Kuwait from mid-June and the Saudi city of Riyadh in early July.

3dom/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Passengers who are already booked on flights after these dates can transfer to another airline offering the same routes (subject to availability), book for an earlier flight with Cebu Pacific (also depending on availability) or get a full refund.

The airline “strongly advised” all such passengers to contact their travel agents or its hotline (+632 7020 881) to discuss their options.

Too much competition

Cebu Pacific is essentially halting the routes due to too much competition, according to Atty JR Mantaring, vice president for Corporate Affairs of Cebu Pacific.

In a statement this week, Mantaring said:

“Of late, other carriers have aggressively added more flights, which has resulted in substantial oversupply of seats and fares that are so low, hence making the routes unsustainable…

At this point, it makes more sense for us to re-deploy the aircraft used for our Riyadh, Doha and Kuwait service to routes where we can further stimulate demand and sustain our low fare offers.”

Cebu Pacific will continue to fly to Dubai and Sydney and may increase capacity to these cities, the statement added.

Crowded market

The airline began direct flights between Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha in June 2015.

A 436-seat, all-economy class Airbus A330 flies between the cities twice a week. It was initially popular when the route first started because of its competitive fares.

Wikimedia

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

While Qatar Airways also flies twice-daily direct flights on the same routes, prices were usually higher.

The national carrier increased its service to the Philippines’ capital in July 2015. That’s the same month that Cebu started its direct Doha-Manila service.

National flag carrier Philippine Airlines also began offering the same route earlier this year, in a bid to meet the needs of Qatar’s 260,000-strong Filipino population.

Philippine Airlines/Facebook

Philippine Airlines (PAL)

That carrier operates four times a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on A330 aircraft.

Its daytime departure and arrivals times, and its competitive introductory prices, has attracted many travelers.

Tickets range from QR885 to QR2,745 in economy, and include WiFi and meal service. Passengers can also check in two pieces of luggage, weighing up to 23kg each.

A business class option could be rolled out this summer.

Are you due to fly with Cebu Pacific soon? Thoughts?