FIFA finally decided to hold the 2022 football world cup in Qatar during the winter. The decision results in a welcomed extra time for the organisers and in huge business and investment opportunites for both regional and foreign players. Despite the slide in the oil price and the hard economic challenges to the GCC countries recently reported, Qatar proved to constantly meet the expectations with consistent growth trends and positive results in diversifying its economy structure. The new Doha underground railway project together with the building of new key infrastructures and stadiums or bulding closely related to the World Cup are expected to generate an overall investment volume very close to $200 billion.
Several important projects are being approved, such the recent $79 million Doha Metro project awarded to Louis Berger JV, leaving room to many daring innovative projects standing out from the traditional and commonly expected improvements on ports, airports, road networks. One interesting example is the Msheireb Downtown Doha project that has been approved with the aim to redevelop, regenerate and preserve the historical city centre. The project will also include several hotel buildings, office spaces, retail and leisure facilities in a vaste operation that will have a long lasting international echo. The most innovative feature of the whole project is definitely the close attention to green building standards. While many are deeply concerned about many projects in the GCC area (like the the heart of Europe site in Dubai we’ve recently covered) that aren’t properly sensitive to ecological concerns, the Msheireb project in Doha is going to be the largest pool of LEED certified buildings on a 31 hectare showcase of the latest and most innovative green building features. The design elements with comply with the most severe LEED requirements while incorporating and expressing the most appreciated elements of the Arabian architecture and tradition.
The entire project is scheduled to finish in 2016, and represents the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project. The main purpose is to achieve a relevant change of direction in the city’s development pattern that commonly relied on isolated land us, car transportation, and energy consuming buildings and infrastructures. The architectural concept relies on the creation of a social and civic hub that will hopefully become the soul of the citizen’s life in all the areas: culture, leisure, business tourism, everyday life. Cars and traditional city service will be strategically placed in underground facilities in different basement levels, with the opportunity to realize a pedestrian friendly environment.
The project is being realized together with the Pearl Qatar which spans an artificial islands of nearly 4 million sqm with upscale residential and retail structures and a total investment of $15 billion for 12.000 residential units.
While keeping the concerning passion for artificial islands and energy hungry development projects, Msheireb represents a great change of direction that will hopefully set the path for further similar projects in the GCC area.