The big win-win

International and local contractors need to join forces

Gerhard Hope
Gerhard Hope

International and local contractors need to join forces to meet World Cup goals

There is no greater reminder of the pulse of a city than being stuck in its traffic. Recently I was reminded of this maxim when commuting from the West Bay area to Salwa Road.

Well, commuting in fits and starts, with a leisurely view of the construction work underway along Salwa Road, which is an absolute nightmare to negotiate at present. While I was fidgeting and glancing at my watch constantly, the driver was rather more stoic, and told me that the traffic situation in Doha was only likely to worsen as work on the metro got underway in earnest.

In many respects Doha reminds one of Dubai before the big boom and its subsequent upheaval in terms of construction work. The city is only at the beginning of an amazing transformation that will see it become a proud world-class host of the 2022 World Cup.

A local contractor at the vanguard of this transformation is UrbaCon Trading & Contracting. MD Ramez Al Khayyat tells CWQ that the secret to Qatar achieving all its World Cup goals – both in terms of timeframe and the range and quantity of infrastructure required – lies in the design-and-build approach.

Al Khayyat argues that this will promote upfront involvement on the part of contractors, and encourage them to use their expertise and experience from as early on as the design stage in order to meet their clients’ goals for cost-effective and fast delivery of quality projects.

One only has to look at the Lekhwiya Sports Complex, a design-and-build project that UrbaCon’s sister company Khayyat Contracting & Trading delivered in 18 months from start to finish, which is a remarkable achievement.

No stranger to challenging projects, UrbaCon is also delivering the Banana Island Village Resort & Spa project at present, located on an island about 10km offshore from Doha itself.

All building materials and equipment have had to be barged in, while a labour camp and full facilities have had to be established on the island itself.

Al Khayyat says that UrbaCon’s success with this project, which is on track for completion towards the end of the year, despite some changes being brought about at this late stage by the client itself, is to have a tightly-knit professional team encompassing all facets, from design through to MEP.

Such integration is critical from a planning and logistics point of view, especially with a project as complex and as constrained as Banana Island.

One gets the feeling from speaking to local contractors like UrbaCon that Qatar’s World Cup legacy is in very good hands.

There has been a lot of speculation about the country being slow off the mark in awarding critical infrastructure contracts, but it is clear that the government is focusing on project integration and planning before it lets any work go.

It is equally clear that Qatar should not be under-estimated when it comes to the expertise and commitment of its own contracting sector, especially as the local construction industry becomes increasingly competitive as international companies continue to enter the market hoping for a slice of the World Cup pie.

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