Not a single month has gone by in the recent past without another new addition to Doha city being announced, and it’ll be a wonder to watch how the city morphs into its ultra-modern identity, quietly, under our feet, over our heads and all around us. What are these big projects? A Qatar based magazine Qatar Today has published the most distinctive, high-impact projects, announced or under construction in Qatar, that will directly or indirectly touch all of our lives, and giving an approximate idea of when they will all see the light of day. Qatar Gulf News will update this page regularly to keep you informed about the status of these projects. So bookmark and keep visiting this page for the latest updates…
BODY, MIND AND SOUL
Qatar National Library
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser announced the creation of a new national library on the 50th anniversary of Dar-al-Kutub, which opened in Doha in 1962. Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the gorgeous glass-paneled structure will open in late 2014. The ultra-modern structure will house 1.2 million books, 500,000 e-Books, periodicals, newspapers and special collections, and give access to over 60 online databases and websites, 300 public computers, and multimedia production studios, according to a statement released by the Qatar National Library. It is also working closely with the British Library to create an online hub that will give everyone around the world access to thousands of archives resources from the British Library pertaining to the Arab world that hitherto have been inaccessible. The pride of the library is undoubtedly the Heritage Collection, which features more than 100,000 manuscripts, books and artifacts representing Islamic and Arab civilisation.
National Museum of Qatar
Inspired by the desert sand rose and designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the National Museum of Qatar (NMoQ) will sprawl organically around the old National Museum structure, the restored Fariq Al Salatah Palace originally built by Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani. Though the nature of the exhibits has not been discussed yet, it has been confirmed that they will shed light on the past, present and future of Qatar Recently, in November last year, the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) announced that Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz bin Jassim Al Thani, current acting director of the museum, would take over as the director. The NMoQ is scheduled to open in December this year.
Sidra Medical and Research Centre
The opening date came and went in 2012, and since then Sidra Medical and Research Centre (Sidra) had maintained a stoic silence on when it might be up and running. Which meant Damien Hirst’s unveiling last year of his 14 giant metal statues depicting an embryo from conception to birth (“The Miraculous Journey”) had to take place on a construction site instead of a QR28.7 million ($7.9 million) bustling and modern hospital premises. But a few weeks ago a local news website quoted Khalid Al Mohannadi, a spokesman for Sidra, as saying that the hospital would be fully open to patients by 2015.
The Sidra Medical and Research Centre, under Chief Research Officer Dr Francesco M Marincola, is set to open the first reprogrammable cell therapy facility in the MENA region. Last year the team made a significant discovery, a gene called Bach2, which may play a central role in the development of a range of allergic and autoimmune diseases and have implications for cancer treatment.
In the first quarter of 2015, over 21 Tunnel Boring Machines (TMB) are expected to be put to work, carving out tunnels deep undersground for the metro project. While the largest TMB can measure upto 19.25 m in diameter, the project here will use 7.2 m diameter TBM, producing tunnel measuring 6.17 meter in diameter. Working 20 m under the surface of the city, the TBMs will have small environmental footprint and very little impact on the high water levels beneath the capital.
MOBILITY ON THE MIND
In 2012 Qatar Foundation awarded Siemens a contract worth QR500 million ($137 million) to supply turnkey solutions for an energy-efficient and environmental-friendly tram system linking the various campuses in Education City. Nineteen trams, each with a capacity of 239 passengers, are scheduled to start operating from last 2015 over the 11.5 km track and will service 25 stops across the area, in addition to connecting with the proposed Doha Metro station in Education City, giving students easy access to the city. With no overhead contact lines, the air-conditioned trams are equipped with energy storage systems that will be recharged at the depot and even during the short stops at the stations. The project is currently ironing out some technical issues like communicating the specifications of the electrical feed to Kahramaa, according to CEO of Siemens Mobility and Logistics, Dr Sami Attiya.
Behind the Scenes
Inner Doha Re-sewerage Implementation Strategy
If you haven’t seen any signs of the multi billion-riyal project getting under way, it is because the work is being carried out deep underground, with barely any disruption on the surface. For example, a deep terminal pump station is being constructed approximately 70 metres below the ground. Ashghal will build and upgrade 40 km of a main sewage trunk and more than 70 km of lateral interceptor tunnels, extending up to Mesaieed, where an advanced sewage treatment works with an initial capacity of 500,000 litres per day is being built to meet the potential demand of an additional one million residents in South Doha.
The plant will feature high-level wastewater treatment technology (with the treated water being channelled for irrigation purposes), as well as sludge biogas generation facilities that will be used to generate electrical power and heat. The work, which is likely to cost in the excess of QR10 billion, is expected to be complete in seven to eight years, with the earliest commissioning dates set for mid-2019.
Fuelling the future
Barzan Gas Project
With agreements first signed in 2011, RasGas announced in November that the offshore and onshore construction of QR37.5 billion ($10.3 billion) gas project was more than 80% complete, with the installment of the plant’s four offshore platform topside modules, collectively weighing a total of 9,500 tonnes. Commissioned to meet growing domestic demand, the plant’s drilling platform is located 80 km north-east of Ras Laffan Industrial City, and the project itself will be developed in two phases: Train 1 will come on stream in 2014, with Train 2 following in 2015, RasGas has announced.
Together they will supply around 2 billion standard cubic feet per day of sales gas, much of which will be directed to the power and water sector, also making RasGas the largest gas producer in the country at 11 billion standard cubic feet per day. The final offshore hook-up phase of the project will entail the connection of 30 development wells to subsea pipelines that will take gas to shore in Ras Laffan, according to Nafez Bseiso, RasGas Chief Venture Officer. With 25,000 staff working across a three square kilometre area at a rate of over 1.5 million work-hours per week, there is no reason for the project to not be on schedule.
Ashghal recently announced a landmark infrastructure project that will dramatically change the skyline of the city – the Sharq Crossing, a video of which went viral when it appeared online last year. Comprising three bridges interconnected by subsea tunnels, the bridge will link Doha’s Hamad International Airport with Katara and West Bay, Ashghal said. Spanning 12 kilometres (eight of which will be subsea tunnels) and estimated to cost about QR18.2 billion ($5 billion), the structure, inspired by the flying fish, has been designed by Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, known for his many eye-popping creations like the Milwaukee Art Museum in the US and Brookfield Place Atrium in Canada. The West Bay bridge, probably the most exciting of the three, is a two-deck arched structure incorporating a recreational park that can be accessed via an elevated walkway and a funicular cableway and will also include hospitality and recreation facilities. A US-based engineering and construction company, Fluor, was recently awarded programme management and construction supervision services contract amouting to QR673 million ($185 million), and work on the project is expected to commence in 2015 so that it can be ready in time for the World Cup.
Of all the infrastructure projects mentioned here, probably none is more highly anticipated or will have more impact on the city than the Qatar Rail project. It is no surprise that 25% of the Qatari government’s sizeable investments in the country’s infrastructure over the coming few years will be poured solely into Qatar Rail, according to Eng. Hamad Al Bishri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Programme Officer at Qatar Rail. The transportation company is developing three railway projects: the Doha Metro, the Long-Distance Passenger and Freight Railway, and the Lusail Light Rail Transit system.
With its four lines, serving 93 stations within the city, Doha Metro will extend 354 kilometres across the Greater Doha area, spanning a big web across the capital and linking the farthest edges of Doha to the city centres, from Lusail City to the new Hamad International Airport and Education City to the West Bay area. The Metro will operate underground in busy areas and on or above ground level in the suburbs. The Red Line (Coastal line), Gold Line (History Line), Green Line (Education Line) and Blue Line (City Line) will be interlinked and implemented in two phases, with the first stage scheduled to be completed in 2019 with 37 stations. The final phase will be ready by 2026.
Lusail Light Rail Transit
Composed of four lines extending 30.5 kilometres in total and serving 37 stations with a fleet of 34 trains, this will be the first of the three Qatar Rail projects to be delivered, slated for commencement of operations in 2017. Qatar Rail says 50-60% of the tunnelling and bridge work related to the project is complete.
Long-Distance Passenger and Freight Railway
This system, expected to link Qatar’s local network to those of other GCC countries over a 350-kilometre network, is still under technical and commercial evaluation by expert consultants, according to Qatar Rail.
National Expressway Programme
Ashghal is also in the process of rejuvenating and expanding Qatar’s road network. Consisting of 30 major projects worth QR16 billion ($4.4 billion) in total, the National Expressway Programme will provide 900 km of new roads, an array of underpasses and flyovers and approximately 240 major interchanges ranging from conventional traffic lights to four-level interchanges to enable free-flowing traffc and improved journey times. There will be road safety improvements and enhanced facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, according to Ashghal. At the end of the seven-year programme, which will come to a close in 2017, the expressways will provide a strategic freight route around Doha that connects ports, the new Hamad International Airport, and allows for future integration with other transport networks.
New Port Project
Considered one of the world’s largest greenfield developments, the New Port will serve as a key facilitator for all current and upcoming infrastructure projects in the country. It was given the go-ahead back in 2007, and work began in earnest the very next year with the first design and programme management contracts being awarded. Located in Economic Zone 3 at Al Wakrah, the 17 m-deep port, covering an area of 20 square km, will be linked to the mainland by an 8.5 km-long trestle bridge. Developed in multiple phases, the port will comprise three container terminals with an eventual combined annual capacity in excess of six million containers. The New Port will also be a centre for Qatar’s maritime security and a new Qatar Emiri Naval Forces Base (QENFB) will be built offshore from the New Port, providing berthing for Qatar’s navy and visiting naval vessels from around the world. The port will also potentially be linked by rail as part of the proposed Gulf Cooperation Council railway. The QR27 billion ($7.4 billion) construction will be ready for operation in 2016 as planned, Nabeel Al Buenain, Project Executive Director of the New Port Project, was quoted as saying last September. He also said QR11 billion worth of projects have already been awarded, with 60% of the contracts being bagged by Qatari companies. The remaining tenders are most likely to concern QENFB equipment procurement and installation, the base’s security facilities, port administration offices and coast guard terminals.
Ideally this project shouldn’t feature in this list. Twelve years after the “friendship bridge” was conceptualised, there is still no announcement from either government regarding the commencement of the project. But we can’t even write it off because it’s not like the project is dead; a Bahraini daily reported as recently as last April that a third design (incorporating high-speed freight and passenger rail) was almost complete, compelling us to keep it on our list. The 40-km structure, featuring 25 bridges and viaducts, would link Qatar with the King Fahd Causeway between Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and could cut the travel time from Qatar to Bahrain from five hours to 30 minutes. However the cost has continued to be a bone of contention, with the last design reportedly being scrapped on account of it being too expensive.
Solar Testing Facility
The large solar test facility in Qatar Science and Technology Park, covering over 7 acres and with a capacity to produce nearly 400 kilowatts of power, was launched towards the end of 2012 and is doing groundbreaking work in testing over 30 different solar technologies and customising their efficiency to suit Qatar’s climate. Several of Qatar’s green projects and long-term energy initiatives have pegged their hopes on the research work coming out of this facility. Greengulf, which is a major collaborator in this project, is also studying various other technologies that will see application in green transport (like electric buses), energy-efficient district cooling technologies and energy optimisation, in partnership with international players like Siemens. It is very likely that the project will impact several aspects of Qatar’s future development in the years to come, considering how the nation has set its heart on sustainable and renewable sources of energy, with a special focus on solar.
Hamad International Airport
Way too much has been said about the new international airport, and not enough seen. Almost two years since it was supposed to open, and with five deadlines come and gone, while the old airport creaks under the burden of increased passenger traffic, 2014 simply has to be the year that flights start taking off from Hamad International Airport. The new airport will reportedly have 138 check-in counters; 34 passport control counters for economy passengers and 16 for Business and First Class; 41 gates with direct access to the aircraft; the ability to handle 19,500 bags per hour; and three times more parking than the current airport, it has been reported. Even more exciting is what is to come after the opening of the first phase of HIA, the Airport City planned by Rem Koolhaas’ firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). The Airport City Master Plan consists of four circular or semi-circular districts – the Business District, Aviation Campus, Logistics District and the Residential District – linked together by a central spine running parallel to the runways of the new airport. The first 10 years (Phase 1) of the development will see completion of the Civil Aviation Authority and Qatar Airways headquarters and support functions in the Aviation Campus, which also forms the gateway to Airport City; a transport hub and supportive commercial and hotel facilities in the Business District; cargo, warehousing and logistics facilities in the Logistics District; and cultural event and leisure opportunities to be provided by the landscaping scheme in its variety of interpretations across the expanse of the site. Completion of the development of the first phase of the project is scheduled to coincide with the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
WORLD CUP FEVER
Al Wakrah Stadium
Jokes about the apparent shape of the stadium aside, Al Wakrah was the first of the World Cup stadiums to have its detailed plans announced in 2013 and it will no doubt retain a special place in our minds. Designed using “sustainably-sourced structural timber”, and with 15% of the permanent structures made from reused or recycled materials, the stadium design, by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects, was inspired bY the traditional Qatari dhow. It is scheduled to be delivered in 2018, Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, announced. The whole 72,000 square metres of it can be temperature-controlled in the range of 30-32 degrees C.
To keep Qatar’s carbon-neutral promise, Al Wakrah Stadium “will produce 15% of the energy it needs for the tournament using renewable sources on-site, reduce water by 60%, and will minimise waste by 90% through design efficiency and construction waste management”, it was reported. With seating capacity for 40,000 people (of which 20,000 are modular seats, enabling them to be shipped to lesser developed countries after the World Cup), the stadium will be connected to the city through the new Metro station in Al Wakrah on the Red Line, which will be located four kilometres away, in addition to water taxis at the port of Al Wakrah .
There are still plenty of eye-popping stadiums to look forward to: The spectacular Doha Port Stadium, the refurbished Al Rayyan Stadium with its “media membrane” façade, the diamond-like Education City Stadium, the sleek Al Shamal Stadium and the Al Khor Stadium.
Qatar Power Transmission System Expansion
This ongoing project, Phase XI of which was recently awarded to the Indian firm Larsen & Toubro, is a massive overhaul of the country’s high-voltage grid, substantially increasing the capacity of Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa)’s power distribution network. The current QR1.7 billion ($473 million) engineering, procurement and construction contract for supply and commissioning of transmission lines and substations will involve 18 extra high voltage (EHV) substations and 151 km of EHV cabling in Qatar and is projected to be completed over 22 months, according to a local press report. Once this is complete (12 phases have been planned so far), work on the high-voltage underground cable and transmission lines will continue.
CITIES WITHIN A CITY
Doha Festival City
The second phase of the QR6 billion ($1.6 billion) development project was officially announced last year, a few months after the opening of the first IKEA store in Doha. It was revealed that this would make it the country’s largest mall. It will include hotels and a convention centre and is expected to be complete in 2016. It was also announced that Festival City will house the “most advanced snow play area in the region” and an outdoor rapid river ride covering an area of two and a half football fields, which will form the biggest attractions in the complex, Kareem M Shamma, CEO Basrec said, Fun under the sun Theme park to come?
A foreign daily has reported that Gebal Group, the local agents for Lappset, the developers of Angry Birds theme parks, was approached by Doha and other Middle East countries keen to build what is touted to be the world’s biggest such attraction.“We are speaking to private investors in Doha and the UAE; all are interested to install the first Angry Birds theme park in the region, but Doha is in the more advanced stages of negotiation,” said Nigel Cann, Director of Operations and Development at Gebal Group. “The presentations have been made; now investors are looking for a space and deciding whether to have an outdoor or indoor park.” The project is expected to cost QR60 million ($16.34 million)
Msheireb Downtown Doha
The QR20 billion regeneration project in Msheireb is aimed at giving the heart of Doha a modern facelift while conserving its historic and architectural identity. The 31-hectare mixed-use development will feature premier office space, retail, leisure facilities, townhouses, upscale apartments, hotels, museums, civic services, and exciting cultural and entertainment venues divided over five districts – Amiri Diwan Quarter, Mixed-use and Residential Quarter, Heritage Quarter, Retail Quarter and Business Gateway.
The Galleria, announced last year, will be the largest retail establishment in Msheireb, comprising about 100 stores set across four levels of shopping and entertainment space and spanning approximately 48,000 square metres of gross leasable space. With Phase 1 of the development on the verge of completion and Phases 2 and 3 under way, we will see more mixed-use buildings rising up this year, in addition to a crosswalk to Souq Waqif, and a service tunnel.
This QR165 billion ($45 billion) city, which is being created from scratch, will stretch across 39 square kilometres and 2,763 plots over four exclusive islands and 19 multipurpose residential, mixed-use, entertainment and commercial districts, accommodating 200,000 residents. The Central Zone, also known as the Heart of Lusail, comprising three districts, will see completion within the next two to three years, it was announced. It will contain the Commercial Waterfront District that forms the silhouette of Lusail City’s marina design, the Lusail Towers District, and Plaza, forming the financial and commercial backbone of the city.
Perhaps the most exciting feature of Lusail is the adoption of various Smart City technologies, making it a model community and laying a blueprint for similar services to be rolled out elsewhere in Doha. Another thing to note is the push towards public transport, with the Lusail Light Rail Transit, a park and ride system, and safe pedestrian and bike paths. Underground car parks that can accommodate thousands of cars are being built to relieve congestion on the roads.
Barwa Oryx Island
One of the most awe-inspiring real estate developments announced last year at industry showcase Cityscape was Barwa Oryx Island, whose proposed site lies close to Hamad International Airport. The 250-hectare project, expected to cost QR20 billion ($5.5 billion), features an aqua park, five floating hotels to be introduced temporarily to the west of the development during the World Cup to provide extra hotel capacity, three five-star hotels, a natural harbour, private homes, a shopping and recreation centre and a maritime college to teach about marine life and traditional pearl hunting methods. Another attractive prospect is that Oryx Island is designed to be a pedestrian-only resort; there will be no traditional means of transportation, but electric vehicles, water taxis, ferries and private boats will be available to shuttle visitors and residents around. “The project, once implemented, will be completed in seven to eight years,” Group CEO Abdulla Abdulaziz Al Subaie said.
VALUE OF CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN QATAR
FUN UNDER THE SUN
The giant educational and recreational park under construction by Kahramaa in Al Thumama, which was supposed to be completed last year, will most likely be opened to the public in mid-2014. The QR180 million ($49.4 million) Kahramaa Awareness Park will feature a design that minimises obstruction of daylight, and a landscape that encourages greenery and fights desertification and will teach residents about electricity and water conservation in addition to demonstrating the processes of electricity generation and water desalination.
Latest Update (27th March 2014):
Official: Opening of Kahramaa’s Awareness Park to be delayed until 2014
A new futuristic education park in Al Thumama that was supposed to open within the next few months will now not receive the public until 2014, Kahramaa officials have said.
The Kahramaa Awareness Park, which will teach residents about electricity and water conservation, is currently under construction on a site just south of the old airport. Officials interviewed by Al Watan did not say why the $49.4 million (QR180 million) project was running behind schedule.
Mall of Qatar
Retail space per capita in Doha has already surpassed that in Europe and new malls like the one being constructed at Al Rayyan are contributing to this.
The QR3 billion Mall of Qatar project has been under way since 2012 and the opening is planned for the third quarter of 2015, with an estimated 20 million customers anticipated annually. A dedicated Metro station integrated into the mall will give all of Doha and surrounding regions access to the mall and its 162,000 square metres of retail space spread across three levels.
One of the major distinguishing architectural features of the Mall of Qatar is a three-storey-high central amphitheatre with a massive domed roof, called the Oasis, which will feature themed restaurants, fine dining and family fun food experiences on all sides. Spread over a building area equivalent in size to 50 FIFA football pitches, the mall will have a major hypermarket, five department stores, 20 international restaurants and an indoor streetscape with double-height flagship stores from across the globe.
Drake & Scull International won a mechanical, electrical and plumbing contract worth over QR400 million recently.