A tall order, by Engineer Nasser H. Al Ansari, Chairman, Just Real Estate

By: Engineer Nasser H. Al Ansari
Chairman
Just Real Estate

The hosting of the FIFA World Cup 2022 has brought a fresh lease of life for infrastructural development activities in the state of Qatar and the government has allocated a $100 billion fund to develop infrastructure linked to the world’s most popular football tournament. This speaks volumes of the thrust that the government is putting to make this event a grand success for the companies in the real estate industry.

While many plans are afoot and shaping up tremendously well, in yet another announcement, the government, as part of its push to lure many companies, has already upped the infrastructural spending and has invited the private sector to further the growth momentum. In fact, with a view to attract foreign investors, the government has even come up with investor-friendly laws for developing excellent real estate infrastructure in Qatar. The government’s contingency plans have ensured that there is no stopping ongoing infrastructure development and real estate projects from potential disruptions in the supply of construction materials owing to the imposed blockade.

According to the new draft law, Qatar has introduced bold reforms by liberalizing its economy to non-Qatari investors who may invest in all economic sectors up to 100% of the capital, and may own no more than 49% of the share capital of Qatari listed companies on the Qatar Exchange, after the approval of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce on the percentage proposed in the company’s memorandum of association and articles of association. Also, Qatar has further eased its visa policies.

Coupled with this, as Qatar continues investing in large-scale infrastructure and construction projects ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and in line with its extensive Qatar National Vision, all real estate sectors are set for significant expansion in the coming years. Experts estimate that the combined value of ongoing infrastructure projects sits at around QR 200 billion. The ongoing construction is expected to increase the demand for real estate, especially with the rise in high-profile projects ahead of 2022.

Major upgrades have been witnessed throughout the country in infrastructure and new stadiums, roads, housing complexes, hotels and malls — all underway to exceed the expectations of 1.3 million spectators from all over the world. Some of the big-ticket projects include Doha metro system; new neighbourhoods; a new city at Lusail; road expansion; Education City; the Qatar Science and Technology Park; The Pearl Qatar and mixed-use development; and many other residential, commercial, retail and industrial projects. All these endeavours will require large numbers of manual workers, along with highly skilled expatriates to design, operate and manage them, thereby providing immense employment opportunities.

With its numerous hotels, sports arenas and leisure centres, Lusail City will be one of the most important and significant cities hosting the main stadium, teams, fans and audiences during the 2022 World Cup. With 22 hotels built, all complying with the highest international standards, and five training fields designed to stringent FIFA specifications, Lusail is fully equipped and ready to host the teams, spectators and visitors to what is destined to be a most spectacular championship.

Housing infrastructure boost
Demand for affordable properties, especially in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is expected to witness an uptick. Currently, the supply of housing is scarce and with an increase in population forecasted in Doha over the coming years, construction of affordable residences will increase.

Demand for hotels and commercial developments Qatar Tourism Authority plans to invest about USD 20 billion on tourism infrastructure as the number of tourist arrivals grows at a rate of 15.9 percent compounded annually to reach 3.7 million by 2022. There will be a greater demand for hotel accommodation as more visitors are expected to visit Qatar in the run-up to the FIFA World Cup 2022, when a peak in the number of visitors will be experienced. With millions of visitors and football fans anticipated in 2022, Qatar has planned for the development of several hotels in the next few years. The expected influx of visitors also creates the opportunity for the development of commercial units, such as various shopping malls around Qatar.

According to a recent research, affordability has become pervasive across all real estate sectors in Qatar. Falling commercial rents are favouring tenants who are budget-oriented and prefer smaller units. On the residential front, developers are offering high-quality apartments at competitive rents to try and secure deals. This increased affordability has improved competitiveness in the real estate market.

Environment sustainability on course
While the massive infrastructure development is on course, the government hasn’t moved away from its environmental sustainability commitment and, in fact, it has become one of the key goals for the Q2022 programme. The programme is expected to deliver a new environmental sustainability standard and improve nationwide awareness. The upcoming Lusail City will be a great example for companies to follow suit when it comes to offering sustainable real estate avenues.

It is evident that through Qatar’s investment in infrastructure in anticipation of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, and also as part of realising Qatar’s National Vision, there will be immense opportunities for developers in the region and beyond.