What are the responsibilities of Ashghal in advancing the country?
Ashghal was established as an autonomous body in 2004. It is responsible for delivering and managing infrastructure and public buildings of national importance in order to transform the country, drive socio-economic growth, and enhance Qatar's position as a developing global destination. Aligned to the Qatar National Vision 2030, Ashghal's 2011-2018 corporate strategy sets a clear vision and mission, and it aims to develop a more dynamic, responsive, and customer centric organization. That strategy saw the appointment of consultants who have assisted in starting three key Ashghal programs: the Expressway Programme, which will deliver more than 30 expressway projects; the Local Roads and Drainage Programme, which will deliver more than 200 roads and infrastructure projects across Qatar in the next five to seven years; and the Inner Doha Re-Sewerage Implementation Strategy (IDRIS), which will upgrade and expand the sewerage infrastructure to accommodate the projected population growth in the south catchment area of Doha. These programs are well underway and making steady progress. Over the last year, the authority has been working to convert roundabouts to signal controlled intersections. In addition, various existing roads are being upgraded across the country to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
Outside of infrastructure, what are some of the significant projects that Ashghal is currently working on?
Ashghal is not just involved in infrastructure projects of national importance. Its remit also includes a number of buildings projects that serve local communities. Ashghal has been working with the relevant Qatari authorities on significant building projects that include healthcare, educational, and general sector projects. Ashghal is currently constructing educational buildings distributed across the country's various villages and suburbs. At the start of this academic year, Ashghal completed 13 schools and eight kindergartens in Doha and surrounding areas. The authority is actively contributing to the development of the healthcare sector with more than seven healthcare centers under construction, in addition to Hamad Medical City, which is scheduled for completion in 2015. Back in 2013, we also announced some key projects for construction, including the final concept master plan for Qatar Zoo, which will position Qatar on the global stage.
How do you organize your business to maintain an overview and ensure efficiency?
Delivering on Ashghal's strategy depends on its people and processes. I am very glad that over the last few years we have put more attention and investment into developing and enhancing the skills of our greatest assets—our employees. We began a Corporate Succession-Planning program, and also started an Individual Development Plan in addition to our scholarship program for employees and students. This is further to our strategy of knowledge sharing to gain the best out of our partnerships with industry leaders and apply best practices. We have also made significant progress internally in terms of streamlining Ashghal's business processes and improving our systems. We started using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to automate processes, in addition to launching our Inteqal Programme, which focuses on people, processes, technology, and business. We are truly transforming as an organization to meet our strategic goals of being more responsive, dynamic, and customer centric, and our recently launched new brand encapsulates the heritage of our past, the achievements of our present, and the aspirations for our future. To capitalize on a more customer centric approach, we also launched our new Contact Centre and revamped website, which both serve to ensure Qatar is informed of all that we are doing.
Ashghal partners with world leading international firms in its projects here in Qatar. What are the requirements that a foreign company needs to comply with in order to be considered?
"Qatar Deserves The Best" is the slogan that Ashghal has adopted as its mantra. The process of selecting contracting companies is done based on certain conditions and criteria that take into account important factors such as quality, safety, expertise, as well as capability and commitment to implementation within the set schedule. Ashghal operates an open and transparent compulsory competitive tendering process whereby tenders are advertised on its website and in relevant publications. With major projects, Ashghal also holds pre-tender briefings to ensure companies are aware of the tender requirements for each stage of the project. Based on the value and scale of the projects, our tendering process includes clear categories for eligibility of companies who can apply. Currently there are four categories that include eligibility for Qatari companies only, for joint venture companies, non-Qatari companies, and international and local consultants. Ashghal's requirements for companies to be eligible to tender are determined by value and a quality based assessment system. We do and will continue to encourage all international, regional, and local firms to take part in our project bidding process and share their knowledge, expertise, and technical know-how in implementing some of the biggest infrastructure projects in the world.
What trends and evolutions have you noticed in the public works sector over the past few years?
In recent years we have seen much more collaboration between the public and private sectors, and more partnerships with private, local, and international companies. As our construction works expand across roads, expressways, drainage and building sectors, there are a lot more opportunities becoming available for infrastructure companies. More and more international consulting and contracting companies are entering Qatar, which is now home to some of the largest and technologically advanced infrastructure projects not only in the region, but worldwide. With this increase in the pace of construction, there is a major emphasis on the safety and quality of projects being implemented. Starting from design, construction, and delivery, to the operations and maintenance stage of projects, stringent and comprehensive safety measures are being applied and adhered to. Another recent trend in the Middle East is a growth in the application of global best practices. Everyone is trying to learn from different markets and apply the best practices they find, and Ashghal is no different.
What opportunities exist for these partnership projects in Qatar during the run-up to the World Cup in 2022?
Our current model is easier than the conventional PPP model. Many opportunities exist to partner with private sector companies and we have already done this with many local and international companies. Ashghal is working on projects worth approximately $30 billion in the coming five to seven years. Therefore, we are always looking to partner with the best companies in Qatar and the world to deliver state-of-the-art projects and infrastructure for Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup in 2022; whether this is in terms of design, construction, or the operation and maintenance of our projects.
© The Business Year - January 2015