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Sat 28 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Supply chain needs to evolve

As Qatar rides the roller coaster of its construction boom, material shortages have begun to stymie progress.

The ambition of Qatar is admirable. What this Gulf state has achieved in a short space of time has rightly placed it on everyone's radar - comprehensive energy infrastructure, the Asian Games and a bid to become an education hub in the Middle East have all contributed to its record-breaking GDP and worldwide profile.

And its future plans, too, will continue to come under the spotlight of a global audience. As Qatar rides the roller coaster of its construction boom, major challenges have begun to present themselves, and these will serve as important lessons for the future.

‘Material shortages', I hear you cry. This seems to be the overriding concern of contractors based in the country.

All of the aggregate used in Qatar has to be imported, and this has put unprecedented pressure on Qatar's freight capacity, which was exacerbated last year in the lead up to the Doha Asian Games, when ports became grid-locked and priority had to be given to materials being used to finish off projects in time for the event.

And only recently, has the government allowed the import of cement to bolster local supplies.

All of this has led to innovative approaches on larger projects to improve the supply chain.

Developer of The Pearl-Qatar, UDC, has built a jetty adjacent to the development, allowing it to directly import raw materials. It has also taken the initiative by establishing ‘mass procurement' of products on the island and recruited a team of project managers specifically for the job.

This is also the case on the New Doha International Airport, where one company has set up a raft of batching plants to supply all of the contractors on the project.

As Qatar attempts to eclipse its powerful GCC neighbours, steps are slowly being taken to improve the supply chain of building materials. Further deregulation of its construction materials sector and the development of relationships with certified regional suppliers will lead to more efficient procurement of materials in the long run.

This will leave contractors in a better position to finish projects within the expected timeframe and encourage others to come and join in the fun.

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