Key fact

Ten per cent of visitors to the World Cup in 2022 are expected to come from Bahrain

Source: MEED

Succeeding in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup has come at a critical moment in the development of Qatar’s transport infrastructure. Its transport masterplan, which was completed in 2008, is being updated to take into account the sharp increase in visitors to the country in 2022. An influx of some 400,000 fans is expected throughout the World Cup.

The 2022 World Cup bid is very important to the rail plan as it dictates at what speed the metro will [develop]

Industry insider

To accommodate visitors and players, Doha is set to embark on a enormous investment programme to build stadiums and associated infrastructure needed for the event. The total cost of the investment is expected to be more than $606bn. Doha will spend $4bn to build nine new stadiums and upgrade three existing stadiums, it said in its bid report. Seven cities in Qatar will host football matches. A world-class road, rail and air network is also essential for delivering Doha’s aims.

Long-term investment in Qatar

Finance is unlikely to be an issue. Rising liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports and high oil prices are set to continue delivering budget surpluses for the foreseeable future. Oil and gas accounts for more than 50 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), or about 85 per cent of export earnings and 70 per cent of government revenues. But while the hydrocarbons sector is enabling Qatar’s plans, Doha’s primary objective is to diversify its economy away from a dependence on oil and gas.

The lack of new roads will place unwanted pressure on the country’s international airport

The delivery of the World Cup event is not the end point for Qatar. Its population in the past two years has grown rapidly. In 2008, the population was reported by the International Monetary Fund to be 1.5 million. Today there could be more than 1.6 million people, including expats, living there. More than 85 per cent of people live within a 20-kilometre radius of Doha. The country’s population is predicted to more than double by 2030 to about 3.2 million.

Qatar contract awards Q1 2010-Q1 2011
Percentage of $5.1bn
Construction/infrastructure total 72.60%
Roads 27.40%
Source: MEED Projects

Since 2004, Qatar has had plans committing about $40bn on developing public transport systems and a further $20bn on road upgrades over the next decade. Work continues on key elements of Qatar’s transport network and, following the World Cup win, plans could be accelerated to make up for significant delays.

The country’s metro project is moving slower than expected. The emirate is planning to build a 340km metro system. It is scheduled to have four major lines and each train is expected to have a capacity of 400-800 passengers.

During the World Cup bid process the committee said it expected the metro to be capable of transporting 35,000 spectators every three hours. Each of the 12 stadiums hosting matches during the event will be linked by the metro line. The first line to be built is the Red Line, which will run from the New Doha International airport to the centre of Doha city. The estimated completion date for the project is 2021.

Top priorities for Qatar

Prior to Fifa’s announcement that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, an industry insider told MEED that winning the event would dictate the pace of the country’s rail development. “The 2022 World Cup bid is very important to the rail plan as it dictates at what speed the metro will [develop],” he said. If Qatar had failed in its bid to host the sporting event, the metro would not have been ready until 2025 at the earliest.

Selected Qatari road, bridge and tunnel contracts awarded, 2004-10
Project Value ($m) Project status Award date
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: Doha Expressway: Salwa Road Phase II: Package VII 437 Execution 2010
QPWA – Dukhan Central Road: Doha Expressway F Ring Road 522 Execution 2010
QP – Mesaieed Community: Gabbro Support Area: Earthworks, Roads & Infrastructure Works 203 Execution 2010
QP – Ras Laffan Industrial and Metal City: Khalifa Road Extension 225 Execution 2009
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: North Road: Phases 2 & 3 597 Execution 2007
NDIA – North and South Extension of the Ras Abu Aboud Road 203 Complete 2007
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: Doha Expressway D Ring Roads 274 Execution 2005
QPWA=Qatar Public Works Authority; QP=Qatar Petroleum; NDIA=New Doha International Airport. Source: MEED Insight

Significant progress has been made by Qatar Railways Development Company (QRDC). The joint venture, formed by Qatari Diar and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, is now in the final stages of developing the rail specifications to hand over to the market. It has also started the registration of companies to put on the vendor list. In addition to the metro, the $25bn investment planned for the sector includes high-speed rail links across the proposed Qatar-Bahrain causeway and a freight line that will link up with the wider GCC network. The company plans to have this up and running by 2017 and significant progress on this project is expected to be made in 2011-12.

To further assist with transporting football fans between cities, construction of light-rail networks to reduce travelling times between the old Doha city centre and new developments at Lusail and West Bay are planned to be completed by 2022.

Qatar has committed to spend $20bn on building new roads and updating the existing network. Major projects in the pipeline include the $687m Lusail Expressway, Doha Expressway, Dukhan Freeway and Doha Bay Crossing.

While many road, bridge and tunnel projects are going ahead, one major road scheme has failed to get off the ground. The $3-4bn Qatar-Bahrain causeway – the 45km-long bridge project, which will link the west coast of Qatar to the east coast of Bahrain – was put on hold mid-2010, having already experienced a number of delays. The authorities say the project will be resumed as soon as possible and it is thought the football event could give new impetus to the scheme. The first phase, a four-lane motor crossing, was scheduled for completion in 2013.

If the causeway is not built it would be a major stumbling block to Qatar’s transport plans, as 10 per cent of visitors to the World Cup in 2022 are expected to come from Bahrain. The lack of new roads will place unwanted pressure on the country’s international airport.

Keeping pace with Qatar projects

Phase one of New Doha International airport is scheduled to open next year following a two-year delay. Qatar invested $14bn in the project. It includes two runways and a 140,000-square-metre airport terminal, with 42 aircraft gates. The airport will be capable of handling 24 million passengers and 750,000 tonnes of cargo a year. A planned second phase will double the airport’s capacity to 50 million passengers and 2 million tonnes of cargo a year by 2050. The airport will have one of the largest runways in the world at 4,850m.

Selected Qatari road, bridge and tunnel contracts awarded, 2004-10
Project Value ($m) Project status Award date
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: Doha Expressway: Salwa Road Phase II: Package VII 437 Execution 2010
QPWA – Dukhan Central Road: Doha Expressway F Ring Road 522 Execution 2010
QP – Mesaieed Community: Gabbro Support Area: Earthworks, Roads & Infrastructure Works 203 Execution 2010
QP – Ras Laffan Industrial and Metal City: Khalifa Road Extension 225 Execution 2009
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: North Road: Phases 2 & 3 597 Execution 2007
NDIA – North and South Extension of the Ras Abu Aboud Road 203 Complete 2007
Ashgal – Primary Routes Project: Doha Expressway D Ring Roads 274 Execution 2005
QPWA=Qatar Public Works Authority; QP=Qatar Petroleum; NDIA=New Doha International Airport. Source: MEED Insight

These are exciting times for the Qatar projects industry, but there are worries. Critics argue that the country’s existing infrastructure is insufficient to support the massive influx of workers and material needed to complete the new projects.

Ala Ghanem, Ivensys Rail’s regional director of business development for the Middle East and North Africa and Turkey takes the opposite point of view. “Qatar’s decision to bid for the 2022 World Cup was an educated and calculated one,” he says.

Ghanem agrees that Doha will have to pick up the pace at which it is executing its transport masterplan, but its project experience will hold it in good stead. “Even prior to making its World Cup bid, Qatar was well advanced with its metro and rail projects,” he says. “The tiny Gulf state has built massive LNG projects from which to leverage experience.”

Above everything else, Qatar has the money to carry out these projects without delay. “There will always be the critics sharpening their knives and this places the country under increasing pressure, but there is no doubt that Qatar is up to the task,” Ghanem says.

Winning the World Cup bid will ultimately serve to speed up the pace of development in the country. The running of 64 football matches as well as event-related services, such as transport and accommodation will require sufficiently qualified staff, an issue that the World Cup team has time to work on. The challenge lies in delivering the considerable number of infrastructure projects on time and to the standard Fifa envisaged when it decided to make Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup the winning entry.