ALI AL KUWARI

Qatar 2020 | REAL ESTATE & CONSTRUCTION | INTERVIEW

As one of the leading real estate developers in Qatar, Msheireb is setting an example by building the world's smartest and most sustainable district.

Ali Al Kuwari
BIOGRAPHY

Ali Al Kuwari is the acting CEO of Msheireb Properties. He has 18 years of experience in the fields of cost and planning, engineering, and project management. He has successfully implemented many projects in Qatar, including the construction of the Ras Laffan Cracker, LPG Tanks at Mesaieed, QNCC's new fuel gas supply pipeline in Dukhan, the Family Affairs HQ in Doha, and the University of Qatar's multipurpose hall. Before joining Msheireb Properties, he held multiple positions at Technip and spent 15 years at Qatar Petroleum. He holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from the University of Miami and an executive MBA from HEC Paris in Qatar.

Can you give us an overview of your project in downtown Doha?
As one of the foremost real estate developers in Qatar, Msheireb Properties is leading the 35-ha, QAR20-billion Msheireb Downtown Doha project. The objective is to transform it into an area that is rich with mixed-use developments. Ours is the first pure mixed-use development in downtown Doha. Moreover, we are developing the old city and introducing a new architectural language that is based on Qatar's history. Notably, the tents and batons we are using utilize our natural climate, where the wind from the north ensures a constant breeze between the narrow streets.

What innovations are you incorporating in your downtown project?
We have a focus on sustainability, and our project is in line with the government's goals and our country's Vision 2030. Soon, we will acquire 100 LEED certification from USGBC. We have incorporated solar panels to heat the water and generate energy. We want to make our city different from any other city in Qatar or the region. We are focused on smart solutions and are investing heavily in building the infrastructure of the future. We offer smart homes where you can control most of the features in your house through a mobile phone. Other than that, as a part of the smart solution, we provide daily, weekly, and monthly power consumption reports. We also focus on education and culture. We are converting four old houses into museums.

What do you plan to open in 2019?
We consider 2019 as the activation year for Msheireb Downtown Doha. Given the scale of the project, we divided it into six phases, and at present we are in Phase 1C. We opened our school, Qatar Academy Msheireb, three years ago and recently, in February 2019, we inaugurated the first Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the Middle East, as well as the Alwadi Hotel MGallery. The next phase will focus on the development of retail spaces; a number of shops have already been allocated and leased. We kept each space as an empty box so that every retailer can design the area according to their own identity. Equally important, we have completed our first residential tower, named Wadi 1, and have already leased 45 of its 72 units. The first residents will start moving in August 2019.

Can you highlight the logistic connections of the development?
We have the largest railway station in Msheireb Downtown Doha, which connects all three main rain lines. Our own tram system is also up and running. One of the most important features is the location of our development. Once the rail line is extended, Msheireb will be only six to seven minutes away from Qatar Foundation, making it extremely convenient for business people. Once entities from the Qatar Financial Center move to Msheireb Downtown Doha, we will try to bring back the financial hub, like it was in the old days. In terms of parking, we have space for over 10,000 cars. We are also building a service tunnel, dedicated to the loading and unloading of trucks and heavy-duty vehicles.

How will the application of the free zones regulation attract foreign companies?
We are attracting smart companies, especially incubators and entrepreneurs. We recently signed an MoU with Huawei to open an experience store in Msheireb, and we are offering a similar proposal to Samsung. We have been in talks with Apple and Tesla and are working on incorporating a Microsoft Experience Store to show how their products are helping communities. Under the Qatar National Vision 2030, Msheireb will become a part of the free zone map. We are focusing on IT companies, creative companies, and companies focusing on innovation and high tech. We have had great success so far: Monoprix is opening its first smart store, and HSBC is opening its first digital branch in Msherieb Downtown Doha.