By TBY | Qatar | Jun 15, 2014
Qatar has embarked on a series of megaprojects that have caught the world's attention, including The Pearl Qatar, Lusail City, Msheireb, and the fifth tallest tower on earth.
Porto Arabia was the first district to be completed. Its landmark feature is La Croisette. The exquisite 2.5 kilometer-long waterfront walkway is home to many of the world’s most famous fashion designers and luxury brands, as well as showrooms for Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. Adding some 40 kilometers of coastline to Qatar’s territory, the isles furthermore boast three luxury marinas with a total of 1,000 berths.
Although construction continues, a major part of the ambitious project has been completed. In 2009, the first residents moved into The Pearl, which today is home to well over 5,000 inhabitants. Eventually, the “island estate” is set to house some 41,000 people, many of whom will be foreign nationals.
In addition to the West Bay and the (on hold) Al Khor developments, The Pearl is the only project in Qatar to offer non-Qataris freehold property, which entitles the buyer to own both the land and the structure built on it. Some 18 other Qatari projects, including Lusail City and Msheireb, offer leasehold, which only allows the buyer to occupy the property for a maximum and renewable period of 99 years.
Lusail City is the largest real estate project currently under construction in Qatar. It is the brainchild of property developer Qatari Diar, a subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). When completed, the $18 billion coastal development north of Doha will measure some 38 square kilometers, consist of 19 precincts, and house up to 200,000 people.
So far, only the residential area of Fox Hills has been delivered. Construction is underway in the Marina District, where a 93-berth marina is already operational. In the future, the seafront district will furthermore be home to the Lusail Iconic Stadium, which is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s opening and final games, and the fabulous Katara Towers.
Inspired by the crossed swords of the country’s official seal, the twin-arched towers will be the signature hotel of Katara Hospitality, previously known as Qatar National Hotels. Set to open in 2017, the Katara Towers will also rank as one of Doha’s most iconic structures.
In May 2013, the Lusail City Real Estate Development Company (LREDC), a subsidiary of Qatari Diar, hosted a week-long seminar to introduce the many construction packages concerning the Central Zone, the future heart of Lusail City, which attracted over 300 participants. The Central Zone most importantly features the Commercial Boulevard and Waterfront District, the city’s main urban façade.
“This seminar comes at a time of significant momentum in our quest to develop and deliver a world-class sustainable and smart city,” said Khalid Al Hammadi, LREDC’s Infrastructures Projects Director.
The $5.5 billion mixed-use Msheireb project aims to regenerate the old city center of Doha. With an emphasis on state-of-the-art architecture and technology, while safeguarding traditional Qatari heritage, Msheireb comprises five districts and over 100 buildings. The project’s first phase, the Diwan Amiri Quarter, is currently under construction. It features several governmental buildings, the Doha Cultural Forum, and the National Archive.
In January 2014, Msheireb Properties, a subsidiary of the Qatar Foundation, announced it was set to start construction of the Doha Cultural Forum overlooking Al Baraha, a large open-air square at the heart of the new downtown. Once completed, Msheireb will be home to an estimated 2,226 residents and over 15,000 employees. It will furthermore be a major destination for foreign visitors.
In terms of commercial developments, Energy City has completed all infrastructural works. “Energy City is Doha’s first low-density business park, so our competition in the market is very limited,” said Energy City CEO Hesham Al-Emadi. “We are now in the development stage and we expect the first building to be completed within two years and the city to be semi-functional within two to three years. We are also considering rebranding the project to fit in with the Qatari National Vision as it tries to diversify away from an oil and gas dependent economy. We are, after all, a business park above anything else.”
The by far largest commercial project currently under construction is the QP District, formerly known as the Barwa Financial District. Following the 2008 financial crisis, Barwa sold the project to the state-owned energy firm Qatar Petroleum (QP).
Situated in the Doha West Bay area, the $3 billion project consists of nine 18- to 52-story office towers, a five-star hotel, mall, and mosque. QP is to relocate its headquarters and many branches to the QP District, while the remaining office space will be rented out. Construction started in September 2013 and is set to be completed by 2017.
Another major and mainly commercial development is the Doha Convention Center Tower (DCCT). Following several years of delay, Qatari Diar in December 2013 announced that construction of the 551-meter-tall “tapering obelisk” in Doha’s West Bay area was set to resume.
The authorities had feared the tower might hamper air traffic from and to the Hamid International Airport. However, research has shown that is not the case and thus the DCCT is set to become Qatar’s tallest and, according to today’s records, the world’s fifth tallest tower.
Yet, seeing the story of superlatives and iconic designs that characterizes Qatar today, the DCCT is unlikely to have the final say.