World Cup and beyond: the future of construction in Qatar
by Moutaz Al-Khayyat, Chairman of Power International Holding and UCC Holding
Source:Construction News UK
The coronavirus pandemic struck just as Qatar was enjoying a construction boom, with developers looking ahead to the 2022 FIFA World Cup and beyond.
The sector was valued at $43.95bn (£35bn) last year and, while Covid-19 has posed challenges and required heightened health and safety protocols, work has not ground to a halt. Our company, UCC Holding, has always prioritised the health and safety of our workers, who are doing so much to build the country, and we were proud to have recently been awarded the country winner for Qatar at the British Safety Council 2020 International Safety Awards.
There has of course, been a relative slowing of projects, a result of a reduced workforce and delays in certain supplies. But these have not been significant problems – indeed, the government has given the green light to dozens of new projects since the Covid-19 outbreak.
We are confident the economic readjustment will be sharp enough that the value of Qatar’s construction market will still hit previous estimates of $71.65bn (£57.04bn) by 2025.
By any standards, that is an extraordinary growth rate and illustrates the opportunities in a country known for having one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. This is a result of National Vision 2030, which outlines our government’s determination to diversify the economy away from its dependence on the oil & gas sector – with construction and manufacturing among the key beneficiaries.
Examples of how the construction industry has flourished in recent years – backed by four years of budget surpluses to fund public spending – can be seen wherever you look. There are new rail and metro lines, a fast-expanding airport, and a rapidly expanding road network. More than $3bn (£2.4bn) has been allocated for building new highways alone.
Of course, we can’t ignore the stimulus created by the World Cup. Ever since we became the smallest nation ever to be awarded the great festival in football back in 2013, construction growth has accelerated. Within four years, construction had become Qatar’s biggest non-minerals sector, contributing 15% to GDP.
The building of stadiums and associated infrastructure is in its final stages and there will, as a result, be a slight downturn in major tenders now the venues have been built.
This dip, though, will be filled by lower value tenders to make the finishing touches to the venues, be it fit-out or additional external features. The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, for example, is readying eight stadiums and an array of training venues.
This will create opportunities for smaller players, creating a broader, even more resilient construction market in Qatar. As a result, construction will flourish even after the World Cup and I hope that our British friends will continue to look for - and make the most of - the opportunities available from working with us in Qatar in the many years ahead.