Qatar - Middle East's Fastest Growing Economy

Mark Rudman
Qatar has become the most competitive economy in the Middle East. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-2012, which ranks the world’s fastest growing economies, placed Qatar 14th, overtaking other countries in the region including United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Kuwait.

Qatar’s construction sector continues to perform well and further growth is anticipated. Expansion is being driven by high hydrocarbon prices, a high volume of infrastructure projects in the pipeline and plans for major sporting events, all underpinned by the government’s development plan Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030.

There are plans for a $35bn rail and metro line, further development at Doha airport, a $7bn seaport, new roads and stadiums, together with hotels and housing projects.

The country is poised to spend $130bn on infrastructure projects ahead of hosting the FIFA World Cup tournament in 2022, and this immoveable deadline is proving a key catalyst for activity as Qatar prepares to present itself on the global sporting stage. There are plans for a $35bn rail and metro line, further development at Doha airport, a $7bn seaport, new roads and stadiums, together with hotels and housing projects. The government wants Qatari firms to be involved in all World Cup related projects, further boosting the event’s diversifying effect on the economy.

The FIFA World Cup is the largest single event sports tournament in the world by a considerable margin and will put Qatar on the world map. Qatar’s tourism and hospitality sector expects it to help propel the Gulf state into becoming a sought-after destination for international tourism while reinforcing its reputation as a host nation for major sports events. QNV 2030 includes the government’s first national sports sector strategy, a plan outlining the importance of sport, not only to the country’s business, tourism and leisure interests, but also in support of the population’s health. The future use of the event’s facilities should also provide good legacy opportunities. Healthcare, education, commercial, retail and residential markets are also seen as priorities, as Qatar has a growing population requiring improved world class facilities.

Local supply chain capacity will need augmenting and barriers to entering the market will have to be overcome, to attract contractors, consultants and resources of sufficient scale and calibre to meet the growing demand.

Although planning permissions and building approval processes are more straightforward than other countries in the region, Qatar faces challenges in delivering the volume of construction forecast. Local supply chain capacity will need augmenting and barriers to entering the market will have to be overcome, to attract contractors, consultants and resources of sufficient scale and calibre to meet the growing demand.

The industry is also constrained by materials availability, and the logistics involved in moving them to sites is exacerbated by the constraints of Qatar’s limited infrastructure. These challenges will take considerable effort to address within the required FIFA World Cup timescales – and in an environment where deadlines and budgets are not always adhered to.

The aim is to provide all FIFA World Cup facilities by 2020, including infrastructure, mass transit systems, accommodation and the venues associated with the event.

The aim is to provide all FIFA World Cup facilities by 2020, including infrastructure, mass transit systems, accommodation and the venues associated with the event. There is a huge focus on delivery directed by the Supreme 2022 World Cup Committee and supported by all associated government ministries and agencies. There is also a drive to encourage efficient programming and logistics planning, to deliver the projects which have already started in Doha, and the pipeline for procurement is underway. Best global practice is being sought as an enabler to ensure delivery of the ambitious programme.

One such tool is Building Information Modelling (BIM), increasingly transforming the way developments are being designed and delivered. BIM is not only a 3D design tool, but also a platform for programme, cost and asset management and a precursor to more robust design, programme cost and facilities management.

BIM is not yet mandated by the government but there is support for its use in Qatar, among government agencies and private developers. The industry goal of a single integrated BIM model for construction projects is still a long way from being realised throughout the Middle East. Faithful+Gould is working on a BIM pathfinder project, the Shaza Kempinski Hotel in Doha. BIM is also being developed for use on highways, rail and associated civil engineering projects using 2D Civil and BIM measure.

Faithful+Gould has identified Qatar as a core growth area for our Middle East operation and we anticipate that our staff numbers will rise to 100 over the next year. We have an expanding portfolio of work, some of it in conjunction with our parent company Atkins which has a significant presence in the region. Current projects include Bilal Pearl Suites, a luxury residential tower at The Pearl-Qatar development where we provided cost and construction services; and Lusail Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, where we provided quantity surveying services. We are now focused on providing support to the developers and contractors investing in and delivering the nation’s vision for 2022 and 2030.