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Qatar solo

Market report - Nestling between the attention grabbing United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Qatar is quietly getting on with a £67bn, 10-year investment plan. Bernadette Redfern reports.

Engineers in Qatar compare the country to Dubai 10 years ago in terms of potential for new and exciting projects. And there is one significant difference - Qatar has more money. It is ranked 11th richest country in the world.

Its GDP is $31,397 (£16,159) per head while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sits in 23rd place with a per capita GDP on (£14,367).

Yet Qatar's government is taking a cautious approach to investment. Unlike the UAE, it is absolutely not looking to become a world-class tourism resort.

'It wants to cultivate a reputation as a centre for technological and educational excellence, and has set up the Qatar Foundation to drive through projects such as Education City and the Qatar Science & Technology Park', says Hyder area director Alan Lord.

Hyder has been working on some of the country's most interesting projects, such as the soon-to-be-opened waterfront Museum of Islamic Art in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

Other major infrastructure projects include Doha Airport (see box), a new port, a controversial 45km road bridge to Bahrain and the huge Lusail business and residential development.

'For Qatar, the biggest priority is infrastructure. The government is investing £67bn in 10 years, ' explains Bechtel Middle East regional manager Sabah Barakat.

Like anywhere in the region it is difficult to get professional staff to service the growing workload.

Another consultant told NCE: 'People know that Qatar exists and that there are opportunities here, however, Dubai still attracts more people. There is less to do socially in Qatar, ' he says. There is also pressure on materials, mainly concrete.

The construction industry hopes that once the new port and airport come on line they will help smooth the capacity problems, which are the only constraints on growth in this ambitious lone state.

Project Focus: New Doha International Airport 'I was the first person on this job over four years ago, ' smiles Bechtel deputy project manager Omran Assa from his office at the site of the £3bn airport development. 'It is the cornerstone of Qatar's economic development.' From the end of 2009, Qatar Airways will operate from a new two runway airport, able to take the enormous Airbus A380 aircraft.

'The first thing to consider was the aircraft and the length of runway required. For the A380, the length of the existing runway is just not right, ' says Assa. With this in mind, client NDIA Steering Group opted for a two runway airport capable of taking 24M passengers in 2009 and, potentially, 50M passengers by 2015.

At 4.8km, the western runway will be one of the longest in the world.

'It will be able to take any aircraft in any conditions. There will be no constraint.' Qatar often experiences high humidity which means aircraft need more speed to take off. The second eastern runway will be 4.25km.

The aireld is 17% complete.

Land now being turned into the airport previously lay beneath the waters of the Persian Gulf. A huge reclamation job has been undertaken to full the government's ambition of building the new airport next to the existing one without closing it down.

'We have used 63Mm 3 of dredged material to create a 22km 2 site. Right now the land reclamation is 95% complete, ' says Assa. The depth of fill varies from 2m to 6m depending on sea bed depth, and bored piles extend 14m to the bedrock below. A joint venture of four dredging rms (Qatar Dredging Company, Dredging International, Great Lakes Dredging & Dock Company and Boskalis Westminster) won the contract to carry out the work. The reclaimed area accounts for around 60% of the total airport site.

On land, construction has not been easy. 'The city waste facility used to be here, ' says Barakat. Local contractor Al Jaber Engineering moved 300,000 truck loads of waste over the course of 12 months. In total more than 7.2Mm 3 of domestic household waste had to be dried out and the leachate diluted before it could be discharged into the sea. Finally, the remaining waste was relocated to a new engineered landll in the southern city of Mesaieed.

In August 2005 the rst foundations of the main two tier £1bn passenger terminal were laid. It will have an oasis design theme with architect HOK designing minimal column grids through the use of sweeping steel arches and a dramatic undulating steel framed roof.

At the moment the job remains on track to meet the end of 2009 completion deadline.

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