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7

QATAR

Qatar is set for big things: that much is well known. What is less well known is that the nation is undertaking a mammoth project unrivalled

before in the history of the Middle East: building a futuristic rail network from the ground up that will define what Qatar looks like for

decades to come. It is all in the hands of Qatar Rail.

WilliamMalmer reports

Much hinges on Qatar’s National Development Strategy and its smooth

implementation. With an economy growing so fast, staying on top of

new trends is of paramount importance.

Michael Robinson reports

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Corporate AD-16.8x27-WBT.pdf 1 10/21/14 10:35 AM

The minister of Development Planning and Statistics is

charged with overseeing the oil and gas industry to en-

sure that Qatar’s economy is diversified and sustainable,

guaranteeing a more prosperous future for its citizens

in the coming years. Dr Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit

was appointed to head the ministry in June 2013, before

which he was secretary-general for the General Secre-

tariat for Development Planning.

How far advanced is Qatar in terms of

sustainable development for the National

Development Strategy?

We have been working hard towards making all of

our developments sustainable and will provide future

generations in Qatar with a good future and style of life.

Our main focus is to achieve the goals and aspirations

of the National Vision. We review the NDS to make

sure that there are no gaps or shortcomings and try to

learn from our past experience. We also monitor the

implementation of the NDS with all concerned parties,

including other ministries and institutions and I think

that we are on the right track.

In which areas of sustainable development

does Qatar lead?

Creating sustainable development is always a challenge,

especially if you are talking about countries that are

depleting resources. However, Qatar is leading in terms

of investing in human capital and human development to

become a more efficient and competitive nation.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a

government department?

The challenges that we face can be resolved in the

medium term and we are concerned about the overall

population and the composition of the population in

terms of nationality, gender and the mix of families and

singles. We think this should be adjusted to make sure

that we find the right composition that can work for Qatar

in the long term.

These are normal challenges that any government

faces such as finding highly qualified and skilled em-

ployees where we want Qataris to be more involved.

We have some good short term plans to educate and

enhance the capacity of Qatari youngsters.

How do you juggle the conflicting needs of

economic development, human development,

environmental and social development?

The fact is that whenever you increase the exploitation

of hydrocarbons, there are inevitably environmental

issues. We have already put measures in place to limit

harmful chemicals and gases. In the future, air quality

will be better because hydrocarbon production will not

increase and we are using new techniques to reduce and

reuse emissions in different ways.

How comprehensive is the national

development strategy?

I think it is very comprehensive. It is ambitious in terms

of the numbers of projects and programmes. We will be

working on any improvements needed.

A pivotal strategy

for development

The backbone

of the nation

Saad Ahmed Al Muhannadi, CEO of

Qatar Rail

Dr Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Nabit, Minister of

Development Planning and Statistics

THE scale of the undertaking being

envisaged by the management team at Qatar

Rail is simply enormous and yet the story

only began in 2011 when the Qatar Rail

Company (QR) was created. The company

is the owner and manager of Qatar’s rail

network and will be responsible for the

design,

construction,

commissioning,

operation and maintenance of the entire rail

network and systems.

This involves developing the railway

sector regulatory framework, including

fare policies, standards forsafety,

environment and customer services and

integrating railway services with other

modes of transport. QR is also in charge

of the appointment and oversight of

programme management consultants

to ensure delivery and performance,

enforcement of regulations and standards

on rail services operators and cost

management.

Theman at the helmof Qatar Rail is its

CEO Saad Ahmed Al Muhannadi, whose

academic background is in electrical

engineering, holding a bachelor’s degree

and an MBAfrom the University of Qatar.

Al Muhannadi has more than 15 years of

practical experience in the areas of public

sector services and utilities through his

contributions in many major committees

of Qatar’s Ministry of Electricity &Water.

The scope of the project

It is clear from the outset that this is no

toy railway and no pet project but a major

piece of the future infrastructure of the

fast growing nation that will see it better

connected internally as well as better

connected to its near neighbours. The project

itself has a number of parts.

“Qatar Rail is developing and

implementing three main projects. The

first project is the LRT, the light rail

project, which is to serve Lusail city. We

have completed all the tunnelling and

infrastructure and we are in the final stage

for the fit out, architecture and system.

This project has been awarded to Alstom

and QVDC as a joint venture. We expect

to be in the operational phase by the

end of 2018 for the light rail,” says Al

Muhannadi.

The Lusail project is a standalone

development within Qatar masterminded

by QDVC to become a waterfront state-

of-the-art city. Located north of Doha,

Lusail is tipped to be one of the largest

and most elaborate developments

undertaken anywhere in the world and

extends over 35 square kilometres of land

and is scheduled to house approximately

200,000 people. It will encompass not

only new residential, commercial and

retail opportunities, but a full array of

community services, complete with

schools, medical facilities, entertainment

and shopping centres.

Al Muhannadi says, “The light rail is

also connected to and integrated with two

metro stations and we are also working on

the greater metro project. The Metro will

connect the cities in Qatar, the north with

the south, the east with the west. Phase 1 is

around 80km with 38 stations across three

lines; the red line, gold line and green line.

We have already awarded seven of the

nine main packages and expect to have

awarded the others by the end of this year.

We are on track and we have completed

15 per cent of the underground work.

The metro has both an underground and

elevated section. It will be underground

within Doha and then elevated outside of

Doha.”

Doha Metro consists of four lines

and will cover the greater Doha area

with connections to town centres and

vital commercial and residential areas

throughout the city. Taken together there

will be around 100 stations built for the

entire Metro Network over a length

of approximately 216 km and these

will include two major stations built

at Msheireb and Education City. The

Msheireb station, located in the centre

of downtown Doha, will be the hub of

the Metro network, being the major

interchange station for three of the four

lines.

Another core part of the project

covers both long distance passenger and

freight rail to connect major centres of

population and industries in Qatar and to

form part in the planned Gulf Cooperation

Council railway network linking Qatar,

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,

Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. Naturally,

long distance passenger rail lines offer a

quick and safe mode of public transport to

communities and their citizens because of

their segregated right-of-way but equally

importantly they help in reducing carbon

and other greenhouse gas emissions.

The long distance rail network is

planned over a length of approximately

510 km and will be developed in distinct

phases to meet commitments made to

GCC and domestic passenger and freight

demands. The network consists of a

freight rail line from Port Mesaieed to

Ras Laffan, a mixed passenger and freight

rail line from Doha to Saudi Arabia, a

high speed passenger rail line from Doha

to Bahrain, a mixed passenger and freight

rail line from Doha to Dukhan and a

mixed passenger and freight rail line from

Doha to AlShamal.

“The third project is the regional

network and connects Qatar with Saudi

Arabia and Bahrain. We will implement

stage one to connect

Qatar with Saudi

Arabia. It is around

145 km of track

and will be used

for both freight and

passengers. We will be announcing the

prequalification for that soon. There is

coordination between Qatar and Saudi

Arabia and other GCC members to

centralise the specifications and have one

schedule, so we are working with our

colleagues from Saudi Arabia. We expect

to have this finished by the end of 2018

and naturally this will integrate with the

progress being made by Saudi Arabia

since there is no point in completing it

until our neighbours are ready. The Metro

should be completed by the end of 2019,”

says Al Muhannadi.

Looking to the future

The construction phase and opening of the

railway will be undertaken on a staggered

basis, with a target date of 2019 for the

first elements of Phase 1. The total value of

the recent contract awards for Phase 1, the

design-and-build phase, is around $11.5bn.

Qatar Rails is leveraging technology

as much as possible in order to be able

to deliver its own unique vision. Al

Muhannadi says, “We are trying to use

the world’s best technology and build a

world class Metro. The temperature and

the atmosphere inside the stations should

be friendly and encourage passengers to

utilise the Metro fully. For signalling and

communications we are using the best

technology to make sure that entry and

exit from the stations is made easy.”

But it is not just about passenger

comfort: it is also about being responsible

toward the environment. “Rail, from an

environmental point of view, allows you

to reduce CO

2

emissions and because of

this it helps us to contribute to our National

Development Strategy of reduction in car

traffic and reduction of CO

2

emissions.

From a human capital point of view it

opens up a number of opportunities both

before and during operations, particularly

for Qataris,” says Al Muhannadi.

From an economic point of view

Qatar Rail has stipulated that any

international contractor should be coupled

with a local contractor to form a JV

and in practice this means that in each

of the development packages awarded

to date, the percentage of local contactor

input ranges from 20 to 50 per cent

and this helps contribute to the local

economy.

From

a

long-term

financing

perspective, the Ministry of Finance is

funding QR but after the rail network goes

live, revenues will come largely from

ticketing, from retail and also from media

since there will be advertising in stations.

There are many stages to go through

yet before the network goes live but

already QR has plans in motion to ease

the transition to full-blown rail operator.

“In the last few months we have been

running workshops and getting all the

staff together to discuss our strategy

and how we shift from a construction

company into an operations company and

this is the main focus. We want to make

sure that we keep QR as a performance

driven organisation to deliver on this

strategy,” says Al Muhannadi.

Now that much of the hard work has

been done, it could be a propitious time

for European companies and contractors

to get involved in the project as a partner

or a supplier. Al Muhannadi concurs

and is positively seeking inputs and

expertise from a wide variety of sources.

He says, “Rail is a newly established

industry for Qatar and there are

opportunities from A-Z in this sector.

We have a lot of consultancies involved

and there is an opportunity from the

UK for consultancy services for long

distance supervision. The two main

parts of the main contracts are civil and

architecture and we are holding awareness

workshops to explain our strategy.

Around 50 per cent of the project is

MEB and architecture branding.

We would also like to see factories

established locally to manufacture

elements of the network that would

require frequent repair, for example

replacement

track,

consumable

materials like chairs. We would like

to localise this type of procurement.

The idea would be to serve QR but also

other GCC countries’ rail networks.”