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Sun 16 Aug 2009 04:00 AM

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Big things planned for small Qatar

Qatar is one of the smallest Gulf countries in terms of population and geographical area, but has big things on the horizon. MEP Middle East takes a closer look at some major projects and key focus areas.

Big things planned for small Qatar
Qatar pays homage to its history as a major pearl trader.
Big things planned for small Qatar

Qatar is one of the smallest Gulf countries in terms of population and geographical area, but has big things on the horizon. MEP Middle East takes a closer look at some major projects and key focus areas.At the recent centennial conference and exhibition of the International District Energy Association (IDEA) in Washington DC, it was revealed that Qatar Cool is building a true behemoth at The Pearl. “At 120,000 TR, it will be one of the biggest in the world to be built as a single plant,” said Tabreed CEO Sujit S. Parhar.

Qatar Cool is a private sector JV 51% owned by the United Development Company (51%), 44% owned by Tabreed of Abu Dhabi, and 5% owned by private Qatari investors. The company focuses on the cost-effective provision of district cooling services for the public, commercial and industrial sectors, especially in the rapidly-developing West Bay commercial district of Doha.

The Pearl, also known as the Riviera Arabia, is an artificial island spanning nearly four million square metres. When completed in 2011, it will create over 32 kilometres of new coastline for use as a residential estate with an expected 15 000 dwellings. Developed by the United Development Company (UDC) and master-planned by architectural and design firm Callison, the US$2,5 billion (QR9,1 billion) project is located 350 metres offshore of Doha’s West Bay Lagoon area.

Reclaimed

The Pearl is being built on a reclaimed pearl-diving reef in the Arabian Gulf. It will have a Riviera-style theme that will encompass 7,600 freehold residential units accommodating 30,000 residents. The residential units will be contained in 21 20-storey towers with 3,116 apartments and 410 town houses/detached villas. The Pearl will also contain ten themed districts (Porto Arabia, Viva Bahriyah, Costa Malaz, Isola Dana, The Quartiers, La Plage Villas, Bhari Villas, The Grand Cruz), three luxury hotels, four marinas that can accommodate over 700 boats, leisure facilities, and 60,000 square metres of luxury retail and restaurant space.

The name ‘The Pearl’ was chosen to reflect Qatar’s history as a major pearl trader of Asia before the Japanese introduced a more affordable variety of pearls (which was well before the current oil boom.) When completed, the project will literally represent a string of pearls set against the backdrop of the ocean.

There will be over 13 islands in total. The largest will feature a large range of luxury villas, apartments, three five-star hotels and over two million square metres of international retail, restaurants, cafés and entertainment. Eight other private islands will be for sale to private owners together with building rights. The Pearl will be linked to the mainland by a four-lane, palm-tree-lined super highway. First development

Recently La Plage Villas West was the first development on The Pearl to receive district cooling services from Qatar Cool. “Qatar Cool took on the challenge of building the largest district cooling plant in the world to serve this massive development. The district cooling plant will not only deliver chilled water to commercial outlets, residential apartments, hospitality and other facilities, but to individual standalone villas as well,” said Qatar Cool GM Fayad Al Khatib in outlining the project.

Ahmed Hassan Bilal, a major property developer in Qatar, took ownership of the first villa in The Pearl to be provided with district cooling. “I am privileged to have the distinction of being the first to complete my personal villa project,” commented Bilal. He said the benefits of district cooling included its cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency, plus it was less noisy and had a smaller footprint than conventional air-con, allowing the villa to sport an additional terrace as a result.

“As a property developer, the need for environment-friendly energy sources and solutions has always been a priority. I am confident that the tenants of our properties in The Pearl will have the facilities to enjoy the lifestyle they are looking for [in a responsible manner].”

Tower 4

In other recent news at The Pearl, owner and master developer UDC staged a lavish unveiling of Tower 4 at Porto Arabia. “This is just the first of 31 towers that will rise to the skies at Porto Arabia. Your new neighbourhood will be a virtual UN of 28 different countries. When completed, The Pearl will home to 52 nationalities,” commented The Pearl acting property manager Sami Abu Kishk.

An overview of Qatar’s economy

Qatar has the second-largest gas reserves in the world, representing more than 5% of the global total. The prosperity of natural resources, coupled with the growing and diversifying economy, means enormous access to investment opportunities and incentives. The government has adopted an economic policy aimed at diversifying income resources and developing economic infrastructure. This has resulted in Qatar having one of the most rapidly-growing economies in the world, offering numerous incentives and opportunities for the international community.

However, The Pearl is not the only jewel in Qatar’s growing crown. The Lusail Real Estate Development Company WLL and Marafeq Qatar, a leading multi-utility, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to proceed with the design, construction, financing, maintenance and operation of utilities for Qatar’s groundbreaking Lusail development. The MoU was signed by Mohammed bin Ali Al Hedfa, CEO of Lusail Real Estate Development Company and Charles Dupont, CEO of Marafeq Qatar, a JV between Qatari Diar (26%), Barwa Real Estate (25%), GDF Suez (24,5%) and Suez Environment (24,5%).

It focuses on multi-utility facilities and services in the fields of water desalination and distribution, wastewater treatment, solid waste collection and treatment and a range of energy services such as district cooling, gas supply, and power transmission and distribution.

Lusail

Under the terms of the MoU, Marafeq Qatar will design, finance, procure, operate and maintain the district cooling, waste collection, gas supply system and provide the studies in water and electricity networks for the 35 square kilometre Lusail development north of Doha. Commenting on the MoU, Al Hedfa said: “To create a development of global standards, we plan to work with Qatar’s leader in utility supply and management. Marafeq Qatar’s utility solutions will significantly contribute to our vision of Lusail as a breathtaking development that will dramatically improve our country’s economic and physical profile.”

“Our partnership is in line with one of the core principles of Marafeq Qatar, namely to select the best partners to develop Qatar further by providing first-class utility services that meet or exceed global best practice,” said Marafeq Qatar chairman and MD Yousef bin Ahmed Al Hammadi.

Detailed plans

The MoU outlines plans for Marafeq Qatar to prepare detailed designs and specifications for waste collection, district cooling and gas networks for the entire Lusail development, with work being initiated in two of its busiest neighborhoods, namely the Marina District and Fox Hills. Located at the southern end of Lusail, and the first phase in execution, the Marina District will act as a lively hub for the city overlooking the Marinas.

It will provide waterfront residential, mixed-use, commercial and hotel space with large open spaces leading to the waterfront Marina boardwalk. The centrepiece of Lusail is Fox Hills, a district designed as a medium-density inner city residential area combined with mixed-use buildings. The district is split by Lusail’s main commercial street running from north to south and is surrounded by landscaped parks.

Qatar part of Gulf-wide power grid

A US$1,4 billion power connection project that will help Gulf countries meet rising power demands and avoid summer power outages due to additional cooling loads includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. The UAE is due to link up to the grid in 2011, according to a statement from the GCC Interconnection Authority (GCCIA).

Representatives of the five Gulf nations have signed a power trading agreement in Saudi Arabia. Oman has yet to sign, but is expected to join the power grid project at some point. “The agreement is between transmission system operators, power procurement companies and the GCCIA for the sole purpose of exchanging and trading electrical power,” said GCCIA chairman Yousuf Janahi.

Burgeoning populations have placed increasing demands on power resources in Gulf countries. It is believed that Kuwait has also been in talks with Qatar about acquiring additional electricity, but Qatar reportedly said it lacked any surplus.

Demand for electricity grew 10% year-on-year in January 2009, and by 19% in February. Water consumption increased by an average 20% year-on-year during the same period.

Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation director Eisa Hilal Al Kuwari attributed the rise to the expansion of the distribution network.

Several projects are underway in Qatar to boost water and power capacity even further. The Ras Girtas independent water and power plant, to be located in Ras Laffan, will have a capacity of 2,730 MW and 63 million gallons a day of potable water.

When completed, it is believed that this plant alone will almost double the electricity generation of Qatar. Meanwhile the Mesaieed project will see the construction of a 2,300 MW power station and a large substation, which will also feed a proposed aluminium smelter.

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Khalifa 10 years ago

No the Pearl isn't also known as Riviera Arabia. That is the name of one of the sections of the Pearl.