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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Five hotels planned for Qatar’s airport economic zone

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Ras Bufontas Special Economic Zone
Ras Bufontas Special Economic Zone

This story was updated on Oct. 5 with new information on the projects from Manateq.

Five new hotels and apartment-hotels are expected to be built in the under-construction special economic zone near Hamad International Airport (HIA).

These will collectively provide at least 670 rooms in 3- and 4- star facilities that do not have alcohol licenses, according to tender notices published today in the Gulf Times.

Currently, plans are afoot to build three special economic zones (SEZs) in Qatar. There are located at Ras Bufontas, by the airport; in Al Karana, south of the Industrial Area; and at Um Alhoul near Mesaieed.

The zones will specialize in different sectors and are being developed by by Manateq. The organization, set up by the government in 2011, will also run and maintain them.

Airport hotels

The new hotels will be in the Ras Bufontas zone, which at 4.01 square km is the smallest of the three sites.

It will be a hub for businesses specializing in technology, business services, logistics, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, the  automotive industries, healthcare and medical devices.

In addition to offices, the facilities in this zone will include:

  • Showrooms and shopping;
  • Hospitality (hotels);
  • Service hubs;
  • Public spaces; and
  • Assigned land for labor accommodation, according to Manateq’s website.

As with the other zones, Manateq will also offer “one-stop-shop” facilities to make it easier and more attractive for international businesses to set up on site.

This means handling land and building applications, company registration and licensing, and securing the necessary building permits and visa access, the website added.

The tender notice suggests that Manateq is looking to create a mini-tourism district within the zone, which will offer more affordable accommodation to future visitors.

Currently, the majority of Qatar’s hotels cater to the luxury market.

Tender notice
Tender notice

Two separate packages are being offered. The first is for the development of three apartment-hotels, which will be 3 or 4-star rated and serve no alcohol.

The buildings will be on three separate sites – one 3,428 sq meter, another 3.945 sq meter and the largest which will be 5,288 sq meter in size. Each should have a minimum of 100 apartments.

A separate notice invites firms to bid for two, four-star business hotels with at least 185 guest rooms each. The sites will be 7,526 sq meter and 8,712 sq meter.

Manateq is looking for companies that will not only design and build the hotels and apartment-hotels, but also at least partly-finance and run them.

Separate bidders will be sought for each of the five projects. The deadline for submission of initial applications is Nov. 8, the notice stated.

What are SEZs?

Special Economic Zones are typically set up by governments to provide incentives for foreign investment, as well as create jobs and boost trade.

The project is part of Qatar’s economic diversification plans, to attract more international companies to do business in the country.

To woo them, plans are underway to allow these firms to repatriate all their revenue, investments and capital overseas.

Ras Bu Fontas SEZ
Ras Bu Fontas SEZ

Earlier this year, the state Cabinet approved a draft law based on a proposal by Manateq that will allow businesses in the zone to be entirely foreign-owned.

According to the provisions of the new draft law, companies licensed to work in the zone would be subject only to the rules there, and would not need to get approvals, licenses or follow legislation that would apply to firms elsewhere in the country, QNA said at the time.

The Ras Bufontas zone will be built in two stages, with the first phase due to be finished in Q4 2018 and the second in 2019.

Progress report

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the airport development nearly two years ago.

And in July 2015, a joint venture between Qatar-based UrbaCon Trading & Contracting (UCC) and Spanish firm Sacyr won a QR1.69 billion contract for design and construction of the infrastructure for the first phase of the zone.

The second zone in Umm Alhoul is a 33sq km which will be a light-manufacturing site, attracting businesses in petrochemicals, building materials, maritime, metals, logistics, food processing and automobiles, tools and machinery.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

French group Egis won a five-year contract to supervise design and construction, it said in a statement on its website.

The Al Karana site will be the largest at 40sq km in size and will be situated about halfway between Doha and the Abu Samra border with Saudi Arabia.

It will target businesses involved in building materials, machinery and fabrications, specialized spill over industries, safety and maintenance and specialized warehouse/logistics activities.

In addition to the SEZ, Manateq is also developing six logistics and warehouse parks in sites across Qatar, from Al Wakrah to Al Ruwais.

Artist's rendering of new Souq Haraj
Artist\’s rendering of new Souq Haraj

It has also been behind the relocation of Souq Haraj from its current site in Najma to near Barwa Village, which is set to happen by summer 2017.

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