Government clients in Qatar have put two more major construction projects on hold, in the latest sign that Doha is prioritising its efforts on building the raft of projects required to host football’s World Cup in 2022.
The state-owned Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development has put on hold plans to build its proposed Aerospace City in the Al-Khor area of Qatar, after an enabling works package for the project had been tendered last year.
The Aerospace City scheme was planned to include several research facilities, which were be used for satellite and space sciences. The project was planned to include input from the US’ Nasa, in addition to a science museum and tourist facilities.
“We were interested in the Aerospace City project, but have been told by sources close to client to forget about it just now,” says a local contractor.
In addition to the Aerospace City project, Doha has also put plans to redevelop the city’s corniche on hold, weeks after the nearby Doha Grand Park project was shelved.
The Emir’s Office received design competition entries from three international architects to redevelop the entire cornice earlier in the year, but according to sources within Qatar the project has now been put on hold.
The slowdown of the corniche scheme follows the recent decision of Qatar’s Private Engineering Office (PEO) to cancel plans for the proposed Doha Grand Park project in the centre of the capital city. The park was planned to be built on the area stretching from Al-Rayyan road to the tennis centre and from the old British embassy to the road leading on to the corniche. The PEO had selected the local Urbacon International to develop the scheme on a design and build contract.
Although clients have given no official reason for the slowdown or cancellation of the projects, those within Qatar’s construction sector say that the government is putting non-urgent infrastructure schemes on the backburner as it looks to focus on the essential infrastructure and building projects required to host the World Cup in 10 years’ time.
“The government clients are looking at what needs to be done and what can be done later,” says one local consultant. “It makes sense, as major projects, such as the metro and stadiums, are vital to its World Cup plans, and have to be built within a set time frame. Other projects, such as building parks and science centres, can be done at a later date.”
Meanwhile, there has been progress with infrastructure schemes that form a central part of Qatar’s World Cup preparations.
In April, Qatar Railways Company (QRail) issued tender documents for five major construction packages on the multibillion-dollar Doha metro project. The 300-kilometre-long Doha metro system will consist of four lines: the Red Line, Gold Line, Green Line and Blue Line. The project will have 80 stations by the time it is completed. The metro will link the New Doha International Airport (NDIA) to the centre of Doha and will connect some of the stadiums to be used for the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar is also pressing ahead with plans to spend QR100bn ($27bn) over the next five years on building and upgrading roads and drains throughout the country.
Qatar’s Public Works Authority (Ashghal) recently awarded a QR3.5bn ($961m) construction contract to South Korea’s Hyundai Engineering & Construction to build the Lusail Expressway project in Doha, which will link the Lusail development to the centre of Doha. The road project is an important part of Qatar’s World Cup plans, as the Lusail development will accommodate the Lusail Iconic Stadium, the largest planned sports arena for the event, which will have the capacity to hold more than 80,000 people.
The Lusail Expressway award followed the appointment of the UAE’s Al-Jaber Group to build a QR2.33bn ($640m) package on the Doha Expressway scheme.
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, the body in charge of preparing the Gulf state for the World Cup, is also pushing ahead with prequalifying firms for the sporting infrastructure required to host the tournament. In April, the committee invited companies to prequalify for future tenders on the lead consultancy and project management contracts for the planned stadiums. Qatar will spend $4bn on building nine new stadiums and upgrading the existing Al-Rayyan, Al-Gharafa and Khalifa stadiums in preparation for hosting the event.