As Qatar works to become more self-sufficient in all areas of its economy, it has put renewed focus into developing a sustainable source of raw materials for its impressive portfolio of current projects as well as future development.
In recent years, Qatari stakeholders have come to realize the vital importance of a sustainable domestic economy capable of producing as many input materials as possible. Such a focus has long been part of many Qataris' vision for the future, but recent geopolitical tensions and the ripple effects they have had on the economy have pushed many of the nation's private and public-sector actors to double-down on efforts to source materials from in-country producers.
One of the most prominent examples of domestic sourcing has come at the Hamad Port, Qatar's gateway to the global economy. As work continues on the second container terminal at the port (CT-2), domestic firms have produced and delivered essential steel racking and cable materials. This USD7.4 billion megaproject has stimulated development among local firms who have focused on producing high-quality industrial materials, and their successful application will very likely translate into even greater opportunity for local producers. Completion of this monumental project will see the construction of 15km of revetments and 11km of breakwaters, as well as 6.2sqkm of ground improvements, according to the Hamad Port Project Steering Committee, offering up ample opportunity for Qatari firms to solidify their value proposition and carve out a place for themselves.
Another important project that plans to put local producers front and center is the Roads and Infrastructure Project in Al-Wajba East (Package 1), built under the auspices of the Public Works Authority (Ashgal). Set to include 17km of roads, 34 km of pedestrian and cycle paths, and 40 km worth of waste and water management infrastructure, the Al-Wajba East project is projected to cost QAR263 million. According to Ashgal, domestic materials and supplies, as well as manufacturers, will vital in completing the project. The list of products and materials set to be sourced from Qatari firms is impressive and includes such disparate items as lighting lamps, signboards, columns, sewage and drain water pipes, asphalt, prefabricated manholes, concrete, and steel reinforcements. Project managers hope to see approximately 85% of the project's work fulfilled by local providers, and observers are confident that by integrating domestic sources into such essential public works projects the government and the private sector can forge a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.
The diverse portfolio of local materials set to be used on this project is no fluke for Ashgal, which since 2017 has been focused on its Ta'heel Initiative. A resounding success, the Ta'heel Initiative is dedicated to attracting and integrating more Qatari firms into public sector supply chains. Since the inauguration of the initiative, the number of Qatari factories grew from 86 to 131, and the number of building materials produced in Qatar has grown from 114 to 165, according the public works authority. Ashgal has made local sourcing a primary focus, and its status as driver of key infrastructure means that firms of all sizes take note when it puts domestic materials and companies at the heart of its development vision.
Though Qatar has made great strides in the domestic supply of certain construction materials, others remain elusive. This is especially true when it comes to certain raw materials, such as gabbro, which is used as a base material in numerous infrastructure projects. Though Qatari gabbro has been an important component of numerous projects in the country, weak supply has caused some firms to look to neighboring countries, such as Oman, to fill the gap. With the completion of the Qatar Primary Materials Company's (QPMC) Gabbro Terminal in Mesaieed in 2017, QPMC helped alleviate some supply issues, doubling the terminals capacity and allowing it to handle approximately 30 million tons of aggregate every year. Projects like this have been vital pieces in Qatar's development puzzle, allowing construction firms to bypass what had been serious bottlenecks and make significant progress on not only high-profile projects, such the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but more long-term development goals enshrined in Qatar National Vision 2030. As Qatar continues to put local materials and firms in a position to succeed, expect strides in both economic growth and resilience.