Qatar’s Municipality and Urban Planning Ministry has appointed UK consultant Atkins to help establish and run its Central Planning Office (CPO).

The new body will coordinate current and planned, road, metro and other major infrastructure schemes that will underpin Doha’s 2030 vision, which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on the energy sector. “Qatar is growing and developing its economy beyond carbon using its 2030 vision,” says Keith Clarke, chairman, Atkins Middle East.

Qatar GDP by sector, 2010
Mining & quarrying 56
Other services 11
Finance, insurance & real estate 9
Manufacturing 7
Trade, restaurants & hotels 6
Transport & communications 6
Construction 5
GDP=Gross domestic product. Source: QNB

Atkins’ contract will run for three years, with an option to extend to seven, and is worth about $108m. The deal involves consultants, including Clarke, joining the CPO from Atkins. “By next week [mid-January] we will have 100 people mobilised in the government offices,” says Clarke. “These are all senior people. It’s not like an ordinary design consultancy where there are 10 senior people and 90 draughtsmen.”

Once in place, the team will immediately start work on ensuring that Qatar’s government policy objectives are met. “We don’t set policy. There are government departments for that. The CPO’s role will be making sure those policies happen,” says Clarke.

The coordination of more than $60bn-worth infrastructure schemes, which include Qatar’s new rail network, port and expressways ahead of football’s 2022 World Cup will be a major undertaking. “The problems ahead are complex,” says Clarke. “It is not engineering consultancy work. The CPO will integrate all of these projects for the next 100 years.”

Atkins already has a huge presence in Qatar. In 2011, it secured a five-year contract for engineering consultancy services on Doha’s roads and drainage network.