Qatar continues to be a magnet for investment even in the face of continued global economic uncertainty.
With a significant increase in the execution of infrastructure projects, Qatar's construction industry is poised for a major overhaul in 2017. Since January, the sector has registered a growth of 49 per cent, followed by the infrastructure (33 per cent) and energy sectors (18 per cent). Now, as the country gears up for FIFA World Cup 2022, the construction and transport sectors are likely to attract maximum investments, with construction accounting for 45 per cent and transport comprising almost 30 per cent.
The Qatari economy is considered to be highly reliable for foreign investments and businesses owing to its abundance of natural wealth and clear openness for attracting foreign investment. Additionally, the country's comprehensive and ambitious economic development and infrastructure programme has led to the highest forecasted annual growth of 3.4 per cent in the GCC in 2017 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Measures such as efficiency enhancement in public spending, growth of the financial sector and higher contribution of the private sector will stimulate this growth with regulatory reforms in the sovereign tender and procurement process, enhancing economic diversification.
Qatar's ambitious project pipeline will also aid in its diversification from its reliance on oil and gas with expansion in non-hydrocarbon activities sustaining overall economic momentum. The government is also likely to introduce a value-added tax (VAT) of 5 per cent in 2018 as part of a GCC-wide agreement to offset budget deficits in the region.
Further, it is expected to sign contracts for new projects including infrastructure and transportation projects worth QR 25 billion, projects related to World Cup 2022 facilities amounting to QR 8.5 billion, health and education projects worth QR 5.8 billion, and projects in other sectors of a total value of QR 6.8 billion. The country will continue to finance the deficit through issuing debt instruments in the local and international financial markets while maintaining its reserves and investments. The government will also continue efforts to control inflation at acceptable levels through coordinated fiscal and monetary policies through cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and Qatar Central Bank, provided the projected inflation remains at acceptable levels.
According to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, Rayyan Municipality was issued the highest number of building permits in December 2017, with Doha Municipality bagging the second slot with 133 permits, followed by the Municipality of Al Wakrah with 88 permits and Municipality of Al Da'ayen with 63 permits. In terms of the type of permits issued, new building permits (residential and non-residential) constitute 356 permits of total building permits issued.
On the other hand, commercial buildings were found to be in the forefront of non-residential buildings permits with 19 permits, followed by industrial buildings (eg workshops and factories) with eight permits.
Hotels and theme parks
Through the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030, Doha has 41 hotel projects comprising a total of 11,722 rooms in the pipeline, according to TopHotelProjects. Doha's busiest year for hotel openings is forecast to be 2017, with 14 new properties entering the market, including Pullman Doha West Bay (468 rooms), JW Marriott West Bay (297 rooms), Hilton Garden Inn Doha Al Sadd (225 rooms), and Millennium Plaza Doha (232 rooms).
According to Alpen Capital, the Qatari retail market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.8 per cent reaching $284.5 billion in 2018. The country is expected to continue its aggressive expansion in coming years with the supply of retail space reaching 1.9 million sq m of GLA by the end of 2018. Quality Group International and Global Real Estate Company, owned by Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Abdurrahman Al Thani, will launch a new 14,864-sq-m shopping centre in Wakrah City. Work on the project is expected to be completed by mid-2017. The mall will have a full-fledged supermarket and department store spread on two floors, with ample and convenient parking facility in the basement and on the ground floor.
The education sector has been allotted QR 20.6 billion in the 2017 Budget, representing 10.4 per cent of the expenditure. The country expects to complete 28 schools and nurseries besides launching 17 new schools and nursery projects. Funds have also been allocated for new projects in Qatar University, including laboratories for the Faculty of Sciences and the Faculties of Education, Pharmacology and Law.
Planned expenditure to the Qatari healthcare sector in 2017 stands at QR 24.5 billion. The major projects planned include the expansion of Hamad General Hospital and Hamad Medical Corporation as well as pledged health centres that are expected to be completed in Al Karaana, Al Ghuwariyah, Al Rawda, Al Muntazah, Al Naeem and Umm Salal, in addition to health centres under construction in Qatar University, Al Wajba, Al Waab, Muaither, and other health centres in Al Khor, Al Sadd, Al Shamal, Al Mashaf, Al Wakra, Ain Khalid, and Sidra Medical and Research Centre. By December 2017, Qatar will house over 1,100 newly built hospitals and healthcare centres.
The Qatari Government plans to build a massive 6.3-sq-km logistics and industrial park in the southern part of the country. This will include refrigerated facilities for frozen and dry stores, showrooms, shops, commercial offices and labour camps; workshops for the maintenance and storage of cars; assembly and processing workshops for light industry; and service centres and warehousing. Another major industrial project includes the Qatar Economic Zones (QEZ), a 27-sq-km, three-part megaproject with a strategic focus on industrial-grade manufacturing, aviation and marine logistics as well as warehousing.
The QAR 11.6 billion project is currently managed by Manateq.
The Qatari Government has allocated funds worth QR 10 billion to infrastructure projects such as Hamad Port, Lusail Road, Al Rayyan Road, Dukkhan Road, the new Ring Road for trucks and the new Al Khor Road, reclamation in north and west Doha, Al Khor, Al Mashaf, Al Wakra and Al Wukair. The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) also plans to construct 15 pedestrian flyovers in Doha and its suburbs as part of its infrastructure development strategy.
Qatar Rail has reportedly stated that, by 2018, the ambitious Doha Metro project will achieve 70 per cent progress, with 37 stations currently under construction. The company is also implementing the Lusail Light Rail and the Long Distance Rail projects. Moreover, it will select contractors for building stations in Q22017.
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 over 150 major interchanges.
A $7.5 billion Doha mega port plan in Qatar, which was originally scheduled to be complete in 2030, will now be operational by 2020. Additionally, infrastructure development and renovation works worth around QR 2 billion will be taken up at Doha Port in the second quarter of 2017.
In the next five years, Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the international men's football championship. The first Arab state to host the World Cup, Qatar has presented the occasion as a unique opportunity to showcase itself as a country that bridges the gap between the Arab World and the West.
The state is set to construct around 12 stadiums that will be a triumph of both science and imagination.
Here's a look at a few of these stadiums 'under construction'...
Al Bayt Stadium
When: September 2018
Contractor: Salini Impregilo, Galfar, Cimolai
The concept of the new Al Khor stadium mimics the traditional Bedouin tent (Bayt Al Sha'ar), from which it also derives its name. The stadium has a canvas-like fatade mainly dominated by the colour black, but with strongly contrasting white stripes. It is surrounded by impressively landscaped plazas and parking sites, and meets all FIFA criteria as well as the environmental and sustainability guidelines set out by LEED and GSAS standards. The Supreme Committee has assured that the stadium has been designed in a way to allow hosting football at moderate temperatures even in the summer heat.
Architect: AECOM, Zaha Hadid Architects
Contractor: MIDMAC, PORR QATAR
The stadium was designed using waves on the roof cover and wooden ribs underneath the cladding to make the interior of the roof resemble the structure of traditional boats. Under the main roof arches of 230 m each, there are stands for 44,000-45,000 people on two tiers. The stadium will ensure comfortable temperatures for fans with shade, aerodynamics and mechanical ventilation systems used to minimise the impact of the heat. Around the stadium, a vast 585,000 public space has been planned with two training fields cooled to 26o, two indoor halls, four tennis courts and two basketball pitches, among other sporting infrastructure.
A 10,000-sq-m retail complex and a four-star, 150-room hotel have also been planned.
Architect: Dar Al-Handasah
Contractor: Midmac Contracting, Six Construct
Built in 2005, the new western side of the stadium will remain intact, retaining the iconic arch system, which is such a landmark.
But the east side will go through a complete makeover, mimicking the western side. Even more arches will come atop the upgraded stand. A new arched roof over part of the east side is in line with current architectural direction, just like access ramps created on both sides of the stand. Completely new functions are planned underneath the improved structure: 10,000 sq m of retail space and a further 10,000 sq m of VIP or corporate hospitality zones. And that's not even half the new space - the floor surface of the stadium is likely to grow by 48,000 sq m, including the freestanding Qatar Olympic Museum next to the stadium, connected with a pedestrian bridge.
Architect: AECOM, Ramboll, Pattern Design
Contractor: Manco International General Contracting WLL
The stadium will be built in the place of the former Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, a western suburb of Doha. Its capacity is set at 40,000 (net). The concept, delivered by AECOM, Ramboll and Pattern Design, combines a simple, nearly rectangular bowl with exciting outer cladding. Utilising traditional Arabic patterns, the outer webbing allows sunlight access to the infrastructure within the stadium. The sun will also play an important role in the sustainable use of the stadium, thanks to photovoltaic panels.
Qatar Foundation Stadium
Architect: RFA Fenwick Iribarren Architects, Astad Project Management
Contractor: Joannou & Paraskevaides
Planned as part of Doha's immense education complex, this was initially known as Education City Stadium and later renamed to promote the Qatar Foundation. The enclosed outer shell is shaped to resemble a diamond, highly reflective during the day and illuminated with thousands of diodes in the night. With partially perforated cladding, it will also provide sufficient control of temperatures inside, enabling the maintenance of 24-28o, no matter the weather. At the same time, photovoltaic panels will be embedded into the cladding, providing up to 20 per cent of match-day power demand.