Qatar – A Giant Awakens from the Desert
A giant is awakening from the desert. In Qatar, endless miles of sand are now earmarked for the construction of skyscrapers, luxury hotels, transport infrastructure and, thanks to the 2022 World Cup, a plethora of state of the art football stadiums.
So great is the scale of the transformation that it is difficult not to draw comparisons with Dubai, whose skyline is now unrecognisable compared to 30 years ago. For construction companies the real question is, does Qatar now offer more lucrative opportunities than it's neighbour to the east?
In the years leading up to the World Cup, Qatar is planning to spend hundreds of billions of its admittedly substantial wealth to achieve global commercial relevance and fiscal success.
In fact, Qatar is so determined to become a significant commercial hub in the Middle East, the country plans to spend an enormous £200 billion on various construction projects to enrich the area for tourism prior to the World Cup.
To highlight the scale of the opportunities in Qatar, the country is planning to invest £120 billion in the next five years on transportation infrastructure alone. This money is primarily for the creation of new roads, a new metro system and a new airport in Qatar, which will support the country's expected surge in visitors for the World Cup.
The Qatar Tourism Authority will also be spending an estimated £20 billion on the improvement of tourism infrastructure. With the number of new tourists expected to increase by a rate of 15.9% compounded annually, until totals reach an estimated 3.7 million in 2022.
It is telling that the actual stadiums for the World Cup games only come in at number 15 on a list of the 20 most expensive developments already going ahead in Qatar. That goes to show the enormity of the change that the country plans to undergo in the following decade.
As well as various stadia, other notable construction projects that are scheduled to take place include the Ras Laffan Olefins Complex - a £6 billion construction project that will produce ethane and propane for sale to Asian and European customers. Astoundingly, eight other construction projects still outrank this development in terms of size and budget.
The rise of Qatar may only be in its infancy, but it has all the right ingredients for a construction gold rush. It has the financial clout, the template to follow (Dubai) and the deadline of the 2022 World Cup looming. For ambitious construction firms, architects and engineers, Qatar is an attractive and perhaps very profitable land of opportunity.