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Sat 19 Sep 2009 04:00 AM

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Opening the door

Linking to the rest of the world is increasingly a priority for Doha, with lucrative infrastructure contracts drawing contractors to Qatar.

Opening the door
Qatar is constantly reinvesting revenues from its oil and gas sectors, back into the economy.
Opening the door
Khalid Abdulla Al Hitmi talks construction.

Linking to the rest of the world is increasingly a priority for Doha, with lucrative infrastructure contracts drawing contractors to Qatar.

Infrastructure appears to be the name of the game in Doha. Still buoyed by considerable oil and gas revenues, the Qatari capital is increasingly looking at ways in which those revenues can be used for projects providing greater access to the rest of the world.

One of the major projects scheduled to begin next year is the Qatar-Bahrain ‘Friendship' causeway, designed to create a road link between the two nations, shaving off four hours' travelling time and the need to pass through Saudi Arabia. The project, worth US $3 billion (AED11 billion), was supposed to begin in May 2008 but has been delayed.

"Negotiations are still underway regarding the cost and are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, but initial estimates hover around the $3 billion mark. Bahrain and Qatar have already allocated a budget of $500 million to start the project," said Bahrain's Works Minister Fahmi Al Jowder.

He said a detailed design of the causeway, which incorporates a 13m-wide railroad bridge, was currently being developed.

Work will start on the motorway and then in 2012, work will begin on the railway bridge, with rail tracks being added later.

The 40km-long causeway (22km bridge and 18km embankments) will be the world's longest marine causeway when complete.

It will connect the west coast of Qatar near the Zubara fort to the east coast of Bahrain, south of its capital Manama. Moving in

As Doha expands its links to the world, it also seems that the world is trying to move to Doha. Construction giant Carillion is looking to expand on the success it has had in the UAE, with a view to expand into Qatar during 2010.

Meanwhile, Al Habtoor Leighton is increasingly expanding with Qatar, forming its second largest market. The company has just signed a $244 million water station deal and is chasing contracts worth a total of $3 billion.

However, it's local developers who are really making an impact. Barwa Real Estate has built Barwa Village, which has been designed to provide homes for those displaced by the Heart of Doha project. "It's a big development that was valued at $412 million," explains Barwa Village project manager Khalid Abdulla Al Hitmi.

"It's a mixed residential and commercial development and is like one of those gated communities you have in Dubai and other places in the Gulf. The project has all sorts of amenities including an international standard school, nursery, park, public plaza, playground, shopping centre, mosque, and administration building," he continued. "The quality of construction is also very good, but then in Qatar the quality of the finish and construction is generally much better than other places," he adds.

Qatar-based construction company Marbu was the main contractor for the 400,000m² Barwa Village.

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