What were the specific reasons for taking on the Qatar Rail project?
The main reason is to serve future generations in the State of Qatar. This is strongly linked to the State's vision for 2030, which is to provide an infrastructure network capable of serving the needs of the people. If you look at the situation in Qatar now, in terms of population and congestion, and compare that to the expected population of 2030, it is clear that, without a robust transportation system, the quality of life in Qatar would be severely impacted. Although we are a small country, most of our population is concentrated in a small and congested area. We have an additional 100,000 cars coming onto our roads every year. If you consider that growth rate continuing to 2030, any person looking at this population forecast will agree that, though the State of Qatar is small, it will need a public transportation system to serve the needs of the people. It is not only a rail system. It is an integrated system with rail, bus, and other modes of transport. In addition to that, it is our vision to be the hub for major events. The availability of a public transportation system will help Qatar to serve as a top destination for major events. It will make for a smooth and easy experience for visitors.
The tunnel boring machines for the metro arrived in April 2014. Where do you expect the construction of the Doha Metro to be at the end of 2014?
We have a plan, and we are on schedule. We received eight tunnel-boring machines and have already delivered them to each site. We expect to finalize the main foundation for around 15 stations by the end of 2014. By the end of 2014, we will award all the technical-related tenders for the metro. By the end of 2014, we will have all of the components of the metro. In addition to that, civil progress, which is one of the critical parts for the underground, has moved in line with the plan. According to the plan, the first metro can start its engine in October 2019. As of now, there is no indication that we will not be able to achieve this.
In which specific elements of the Qatar Rail project are you still inviting foreign companies to come in and offer their expertise on?
For Phase I, all of the projects will be awarded by the end of 2014. We have a master plan that is split into three phases. Once there is a need for further expansion, we will launch Phase II. Now, it is only in the planning stage. That is normal with any rail or metro project. You set up your network, and you will see that the network needs to be expanded every two to five years depending on the demand. In the coming years, the main focus will be on the operations and architectural companies to come and fit out the stations.
The Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 is pushing the country forward, and Qatar Rail is a very important element of that. How does it personally inspire you in managing this project?
To be honest, people have asked why we need a metro. Qatar is small. But to have a vision, and know where you want to go, helps you to keep the path clear. You know what you want and understand what is required. This provides a clear motivation for any Qatari to do his best to achieve this vision. You should not look at what you need today. You need to think about the future and how you need to serve the future generations, so that the old people can do something good for the state. This is one of the main elements of QNV 2030. It has shifted the mindset of the people, especially for the management, from operations to strategy. Before, we did not announce our vision. However, once you announce your vision, even the management starts to think more strategically. Now, in any organization you will find will have a master plan for short-term, mid-term, and long-term planning. This is a key element to improve all of the management in the state of Qatar.