The government might be expecting Qatar’s economy to grow by 16 per cent in 2010 but, for the construction industry, it looks more like it will be a year of mixed fortunes.

Government agencies and government-backed developers are continuing to build large infrastructure schemes, but smaller projects, funded by the private sector, are struggling to make progress in a market that is no longer interested in real estate.

A walk around Doha’s West Bay quickly reveals why investors no longer want to know. Recently completed towers stand empty and land excavated in preparation for new projects has been backfilled as developers put their plans on hold.

And it is not just the West Bay area. Contractors are now completing work on the nearby Pearl Qatar development, putting more empty properties onto a market that is already looking over-supplied.

“Right now, contractors will have to accept such difficulties if they want any work at all. In Qatar, clients are calling the shots”

For construction companies, the solution is to look for work on infrastructure projects funded by the government. Contractors from France and Germany are already working with Qatari Diar and Barwa Real Estate, and others are looking for work on government schemes such as the New Doha Port project and New Doha International airport.

But winning new orders is just part of the equation. For contractors to succeed in Qatar they must also complete their projects on time and make a profit – and that is something many have failed to do in recent times.

Contractors working on some government projects say they have found Qatar a difficult place in which to work. In particular, they say it is hard to negotiate with clients over any changes to a project once work has started. But right now, those contractors will have to accept such difficulties if they want any work at all. In Qatar, the clients are calling the shots.