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Sun 9 Oct 2011 12:49 PM

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Work to start on $1.37bn Doha Festival City 'in days'

Project located 15km north of downtown Doha is being developed by Dubai's Al-Futtaim Group

Work to start on $1.37bn Doha Festival City 'in days'
Work on the AED5bn Doha Festival City project is due to start in the next few days

Work on the QR5bn ($1.37bn) Doha Festival City project in Qatar is due to start in the next few days, Arabian Business has learned.

The project is one of the first mega projects to get underway as a result of Qatar's successful bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 tournament.

Ibrahim Mohamed Jaidah, managing director of Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB), the project architects on the Doha Festival City project, said it had seen a big surge in opportunities as a result of Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

"We have secured some major jobs [as a result of the World Cup 2022 announcement]," Jaidah said on the sidelines of the Construction Week Awards in Qatar last month.

"Doha Festival City, a QR5bn project, that's one. You will see earth moving in days," he confirmed.

The 433,847sqm entertainment, retail, hospitality and commercial facility project is being developed by Dubai's Al-Futtaim Group, which has also developed the Festival City construction brand in the UAE and Egypt.

The project is located 15km north of downtown Doha on Al Shamal Road, one of the main arterial routes to the city centre and connecting Doha with Bahrain.

Due to be completed in 2014, some of the main retail tenants already announced include the Swedish furnishing giant IKEA, Toys "R" Us, Marks & Spencer and Intersport.

"It is going to open in phases in different stages as it is a mega project - so you do not open it in one year," Jaidah added.

The awarding of the World Cup tournament to Qatar in 2022 late last year has led to a massive boost in confidence to Qatar's real estate sector, especially the private sector, Jaidah said.

"Yes, we already feel the impact. It has given the private sector, let alone the government who is already designing all these mega-projects, confidence. The confidence of the private sector has changed in an amazing way. Since the announcement many projects were told to go faster. So the mood is wonderful."

Based in Qatar for 50 years, AEB currently has 400 staff and Jaidah said the opportunities the World Cup has offered will see it grow at a fast pace over the next few years.

"The type and size of projects we are sketching now it looks like in five years - don't be surprised if we have to double our practice - things are looking so wonderful," he added.

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