What were the main milestones for RC Al Mana in 2020?
We have been and are still dealing with plans for 2022, because 90% of our work is related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup one way or another. Currently, we are doing Lusail Commercial Boulevard, which is one of the major developments as it will be the fan zone area for the World Cup. We are also building five FIFA hotels that will accommodate fans, players, and staff. Apart from the World Cup, we have another project that is extremely important; it is a QAR1-billion project and will be the biggest water park in the region located on Qetaifan Island North; however, the most pressing deadlines come from 2022 projects. We are one of the top players in the local market, so we have to be everywhere beyond 2022. We have a diversified strategy split 50-50 between the public and private sectors, which is important in Qatar. We have residential, commercial, business, and leisure developments. We have done one of the biggest projects in Qatar: the QAR6-billion Doha Oasis with a seven-star hotel, a theme park, and more. We are busy tendering for the future and have many projects that we are pricing right now. We have confidence in Qatar National Vision 2030.
How will margins and prices evolve for contractors in the short term?
Currently, we have a good margin that will cover us in the next two to three years. In the future, we are looking year by year rather than five years in advance, so we adjust ourselves accordingly. The COVID-19 crisis happened, and we have to deal with it proactively and are constantly adapting. During a crisis, projects must still be delivered; you cannot stop working and wait. Margins fall, but we have a commitment to our clients. We have to solve it internally and have assigned a team to solve all issues arising from the current reality of the market. All airports stopped running in March 2020, and we were supposed to have 3,000-4,000 people coming from India, Nepal, and all over the world to help us with these projects. We had to do local hiring with the subsequent pressure over margins, but we are a market leader and have done fairly well.
Will the lifting of the blockade push down margins due to foreign competition?
It is slightly different for the construction field. We already have competition from outside companies. The margins will perhaps go down only because there will be limited projects with the required size for our segment, though it is not related to opening the country or the lifting of the blockade. Our country has always been open to good companies regardless of their origin. Perhaps there will be competition in terms of construction materials and other supplies, but we know the government will handle this in the right way and protect local industries. We are not worried. On the contrary, this will help us because we will have more products and suppliers from close by that we did not have before which will help decrease the prices in terms of logistic fees.
How have your sustainability efforts evolved in the last 12 months?
We now have a full team working on this made up of people with the know-how. Now, we are a partner of Green Building Council Qatar and Lean Construction and pay more attention to sustainability and environmental-friendliness requirements. We are now doing our headquarters, which will be GSAS and LEED certified. We are also working on our business structure and enhancement of our processes. We have also have rebranded our logo in response to the development of the contracting industry in Qatar by bearing in mind sustainability and also to reflect the increasing modernization of today's world, which we wanted to be part of and be integrated into our brand; a fresh start cemented on our strengths will take us forward.