Qatar’s oil and gas sector is expected to grow just 0.4% this year, before shrinking by 1.1% in 2014, according to Meed‘s Middle East Economic Review 2013.
This means that the country will rely increasingly on construction projects to guarantee economic growth – but despite enormous investment in the sector, some of Qatar’s biggest construction companies are struggling, Reuters reports.
The news agency points to the $ 7.1 billion government financial support package announced last month for Qatar’s largest listed developer, Barwa Real Estate, as a sign that the industry is weakening. Barwa has sold significant assets to minimize its debt.
Fellow industry heavyweights United Development Co. and Qatari Diar have also announced restructuring plans designed to cut costs.
‘Culture change’ needed
At a presentation given in front of the Qatar Society of Engineers this week, industry expert Dr Abdulla al-Ajmi suggested that a lack of training could be part of the reason for the sector’s decline:
“The industry is becoming increasingly reliant on a less skilled workforce” he is quoted as saying in the Gulf Times.
“The construction industry must change its culture and the way it does business in order to meet and exceed their client’s expectations…There is a lack of enhancing the quality and skills of the construction workforce.”
Qatar is set to invest an estimated $120bn in infrastructure projects to get the country ready for the World Cup 2022, including the construction of a new port, railway and metro system.
To complete these projects in good time, companies need to recruit large numbers of skilled workers from around the world.
‘No incentive’ to live in Doha
Finding the staff required may not be plain sailing, however.
Reuters reports that some companies are struggling to recruit some highly skilled professionals because they view Doha as an ‘undesirable’ place to live.
“There’s no incentive for people to stay long in Doha,” says Matthew Green, head of research at real estate consultancy CBRE in Dubai.
“Doha clearly needs to build on other components of its tourism, leisure and lifestyle aspects. Currently they don’t have a leisure market, which is its fundamental difference to neighboring Dubai.”
Furthermore, one unnamed Dubai based consultant told Reuters:
“I take a flight to Doha on Sunday morning and return on Wednesday. Life is more comfortable in Dubai, and my family will never agree to move to Doha.”
Credit: Photo by Penny Yi Wang