Optimism about growth at Project Qatar

Project Qatar 2016 Minister OpeningThe Project Qatar exhibition opened this week with organisers reporting a 36 per cent increase in visitor numbers on last year’s event

The event was opened on Monday 9 May by His Excellency Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, Minister of Economy and Commerce.

Scott Nichols, business development manager – MENA and laboratory technical manager for CTL Group Qatar, described the exhibition as “a wonderful show”. He said there are “a lot of opportunities” in the Qatari construction sector and said that the growth was a reflection of the general economy in Qatar, rather than simply a boom that stems from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Nichols described Qatar as a “very, very good, developing economic engine”, adding that CTL Group’s focus on standards, training and certification for construction projects and workers is becoming more important to the country’s authorities. 

Qatar is “headed in that direction”, he said when asked about the introduction of high-quality building standards and the growing emphasis on ensuring workers on construction projects are properly trained and accredited.

Jijin Nair, assistant sales manager for Al Maamoura Lifts and Escalators, which manufactures lifts for high-end clients, reiterated Mr Nichols’ optimism, telling Technical Review Middle East that Qatar is where virtually all of its business takes place.

However, BR Gururaj, head of business development for Maxmech Equipments, an Indian-based concrete technology company, was more circumspect about prospects at Project Qatar. While he acknowledged that infrastructure development has been booming in Qatar, he said that he was looking further afield to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman for more opportunities in the Middle East.

“On paper, Saudi looks the most promising,” Mr Gururaj told Technical Review Middle East, adding that he has been doing business in Oman, but that the political situation and low oil prices have led to some projects being put on hold.

Another company that has shifted its focus is Vortex Trading, manufacturers of Le Natura-brand luxury flooring. Moharem Khattab, marketing manager for the Doha-based company, said that in Qatar the company has been targeting high net worth customers and residential projects rather than larger public works projects. Despite this, he said that Qatari customers are “very intelligent” when it comes to appreciating high-end building materials and that the current spate of five-star hotels under construction in the lead-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup should create more opportunities over the next year.

A highlight of the exhibition was the B2B matchmaking platform, which brought professionals from the same sectors together to discuss trends in the construction industry with experts and policy-makers. Martin Castle, group commercial manager of Gulf Contracting Company was impressed with the platform, noting that he had the opportunity to “network with major officials and policy-makers from Qatar and abroad” as well as exploring new products and innovations in the construction industry.

Site tours and workshops also played important roles in the event’s success. One of the site tours took in the Hamad New Port Project, one of the world’s largest greenfield port developments at 26.5 sq km. Paolo Mastromauro, manager of Eurostone Italy, described the projects that were covered by the site tours and opportunities to network at an international level as “the future of Qatar” and “essential for international industry leaders to explore the outstanding development of [Qatar’s] infrastructure projects”. 

Other site tours included Lusail City, a coastal development in the municipality of Al Daayen, which is slated to include residential areas, marinas, island resorts, retail development, leisure facilities, a golf course community and entertainment districts.

The Project Qatar workshop series covered a wide range of topics, with sessions covering product testing, the role of solar energy in the construction sector, general structural analysis system (GSAS) awareness, winning tenders, sustainable smart cities, project analytics training, construction waste, HSE awareness, and properties of local unbound road materials.

Workshops were moderated by established industry professionals, including Bob Wells, global head of personal safety at the British Standards Institution Group Middle East; Dr Ashraf Adel Shawky, associate professor of reinforced concrete structures at the structural engineering department of Educare| Gherass; Jean Paul Peteza, senior consultant in sustainability at Excelledia; Osman Mohamed Idris from Qatar Construction Sites; and Karen Tillion from Fidic.

Three other conferences were held concurrently with Project Qatar this year. The third annual Lighting Tech Qatar discussed balancing design, engineering, compliance and incorporation of developing technologies to meet the challenges of Qatar’s lighting industry. Qatar Stone Tech 2016, the fifth international stone and stone technology show and Heavy Max 2016, the 13th international exhibition for heavy machinery were also held this week.

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