Browsing 'development' News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Peter Kovessy

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar continues to be one of the most expensive countries in the Gulf to build office towers, retail storefronts and homes, a new report has found.

Though blue-collar workers earn relatively low wages, Doha still has some of the highest constructions costs in the region, according to an annual ranking by consulting firm Arcadis.

This is despite political efforts to reign in industry prices around the country.

Over the last year, Doha moved ahead of European cities Brussels and Milan, as well as Tokyo, Melbourne and Auckland in terms of rising construction costs.

Gulf comparison

The report stated that Doha was the 12th most expensive city this year, ahead of Jeddah (16th) and Dubai (18th).

Last year, Qatar ranked 16th, still ahead of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

But in a statement, Ian Williamson – the buildings global business leader at Arcadis – downplayed the relative movement and said Qatar continues to be an attractive investment destination:

“The region’s major commercial centers of Doha and Dubai remain – for the time being, at least – relatively stable locations for developers, benefitting from access to inexpensive labor and energy.”

Arcadis compiles an annual index of construction costs around the world, comparing the relative prices of labor and materials required for various building types.

Cost controls

Reigning in construction costs has been a priority for Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani since becoming Emir in 2013.

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim

QNA

Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim

In his first publicized speech, Sheikh Tamim said the government would try to contain inflation “by all available means and tools,” such as improved scheduling of major projects

And last year, the government appeared to take a step in this direction by establishing a ministerial committee to oversee projects of “strategic importance,” according to Qatar’s state news agency.

Its tasks include prioritizing major projects, reviewing costs as well as proposing alternative contracting and financing methods.

The race to build new roads, schools and apartment buildings for Qatar’s rapidly growing population – as well as the stadiums and hotels needed for the 2022 World Cup – have driven up costs, especially as bottlenecks at the Doha Port restrict the volume of imports.

The ship nearing port in Qatar

@nabilalkhaldi / Twitter

The ship nearing port in Qatar

However, the gradual shift to the new Hamad Port – which received its first commercial vessel late last month – is expected to ease this pressure.

Reduced competition

Meanwhile, Arcadis said persistently low oil prices may serve as a silver lining for some in Qatar’s construction sector.

Lower government revenues across the region have prompted authorities to cancel or postpone some mega-projects, reducing the competition for skilled professionals and raw materials:

“Pressure from other parts of the region is, nevertheless, reducing as spend is moderated as a result of falling energy prices. This means that further construction resources can be expected to meet local demand in Qatar,” Arcadis said in its report.

In Qatar, government spending on major projects is budgeted to increase in 2016 despite expectations that the country will run its first budget deficit in 15 years.

However, government planners had already cancelled or delayed many non-essential projects unrelated to the World Cup, including the iconic Sharq Crossing, in the face of rising costs.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Peter Kovessy

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Overhauling and improving Doha’s traffic infrastructure will take time, with major construction projects expected to continue for at least the next five years, the president of Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal has said.

Speaking to Qatar Tribune, Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi said:

“We expect to complete our major programs by 2021, but it is a never-ending work and many projects will continue even beyond 2022…

This network of infrastructure can’t be built in parts. We need to go as per the master plan, which is why we are seeing large-scale construction activity, including development of roads, expressways, bridges and so on. All this will make Qatar a much better place to live in.”

The official was speaking to reporters at a press conference to address recent flooding on the Dukhan Highway.

Ashghal President Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi

Ashghal

Ashghal President Nasser bin Ali Al Mawlawi

The Lebsayyer Interchange (Interchange 42) became waterlogged earlier this month during a downpour in Qatar, which is rare this time of the year.

According to Al Mawlawi, Ashghal’s technical team found no “defects” in the design of the interchange.

In a statement, the works authority added that “heavy and unusual rainfall on the road and surrounding area exceeded the network’s design capacity (and) prevented it from coping.”

In the works

This year, Ashghal was expected to begin 14 new road projects, in addition to 11 expressway projects worth more than QR18 billion that are already underway, according to its annual report.

And in the coming five to seven years, more than 32 expressway projects are expected to be completed, featuring 240 major interchanges and 980km of new roads.

However, many of the projects are slated to be finished before Qatar sees an influx of tourists for the 2022 World Cup.

Lusail Expressway rendering

Ashghal

Lusail Expressway rendering

That includes the completion of several over the next two years:

Starting next year, work will also begin on Al Rayyan Road and Khalifa Street, one of the major routes into Dafna/West Bay that runs past the reconstructed Al Markhiya/Burger King intersection and TV Roundabout.

These are estimated to be complete by the end of 2017.

Thoughts?

Qatar Academy Msheireb Building in Msheireb Downtown Doha project

Msheireb Properties

Qatar Academy Msheireb Building in Msheireb Downtown Doha project

A massive QR20 billion (US$5.5 billion) project to redevelop the downtown Doha area has finally started coming online, with the opening of its first building this week –  Qatar Academy Msheireb.

The school, which has a 12,754 square meter campus and can accommodate up to 450 pupils, welcomed students and teachers for the start of the new academic year yesterday.

It has been described by developers Msheireb Properties as a “significant milestone” in the construction of the downtown Doha project, which is running behind schedule but expected to open in phases over the next few years.

Facilities at the dual language Arabic and English school include a swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, a gym, a dining hall, music and art rooms and a library.

There is also a student drop-off and pick-up zone in the building’s basement mezzanine, developers said in a statement.

Classroom in Qatar Academy Msheireb

Msheireb Properties

Classroom in Qatar Academy Msheireb

The school is the fifth branch of the Qatar Foundation-run Qatar Academy chain, whose private, non-profit schools cater to pre-school, primary and high school students.

Other branches are located in Education City, Al Khor, Al Wakrah, and there is also a Qatar Academy Sidra.

The Msheireb branch initially opened on a temporary site in Bani Hajer last September with six classes – two each in kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2.

Relocation to the purpose-built site took place over several months, ahead of the new school year, according to Qatar Academy Msheireb director Suad Al Kindi.

This year, QA-Msheireb is taking students from Pre-K to Year 3, and will continue expanding next year, operators said.

Commenting on the launch, Msheireb Properties CEO Abdulla Al-Mehshadi said:

“The opening of Qatar Academy Msheireb therefore marks an especially significant milestone in the development of Msheireb Downtown Doha. It underpins our overall objective of creating an environment which caters to all the needs of our residents, while also fostering a sense of community that will flow through the entire development.”

Uncertain timeline

QA-Msheireb is the first building in the downtown Doha project to open and be in use.

ICSS

Msheireb Properties

ICSS

In July, Msheireb Properties announced that its first commercial tenant in its Al Baraha district would be the International Center for Sport Security (ICSS), which is also part of the QF stable, but construction is still ongoing on this site and it is not yet operational.

After missing previous deadlines, developers have been reluctant to give confirmed timelines for the opening of the various projects being built on the 310,000 square meter site, which is in the heart of “old” Doha next to the Emiri Diwan and Souq Waqif.

Citing the “scale and complexity” of the project, a spokesperson for Msheireb Properties told Doha News today:

“More specific information on the delivery and opening of individual phases will be released as they near completion.”

Once completed, the renovated downtown district is expected to have four hotels, including a Mandarin Oriental, which is due to open next year, and a Park Hyatt Hotel. and Al Wadi Hotel.

There will be shops and a cultural forum featuring two art house cinemas and a performing arts theater, as well as space for public art exhibitions, music and fine art lessons, aimed at attracting up to 60,000 visitors to the complex.

Msheireb Downtown Doha prayer ground

Msheireb Downtown Doha

Msheireb Downtown Doha prayer ground

There will also be more than 100 commercial buildings and government offices and 900 houses and apartments for an eventual residential population of 2,600 people, as well as a mosque, museum and 120,000 square meters of parks and open space.

In the heritage quarter, next to the Diwan, government buildings will include the National Archive, restored houses and the Eid Prayer Ground which is across from Al Koot Fort near Souq Waqif, and opened for the first time last year.

Thoughts?