The opening date for a luxury hotel scheduled to open in Msheireb this year has been pushed back two years – the latest signal that the massive QR20 billion (US$5.5 billion) redevelopment project is slipping behind schedule.
The Mandarin Oriental is to be a high-end, 158-room hotel with 91 serviced apartments and is one of three hospitality projects under construction on the massive 31-hectare site in central Doha.
A spokesperson for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group told Doha News that the project, first announced in 2010, is now not scheduled for completion until 2016.
As the operator of the hotel, the spokesperson said her company was not involved in the actual construction of the project.
She directed questions about the revised timeline to the property’s owner, Amlak Hospitality, but that company could not be reached for comment.
Amlak is a member of the Qatar Foundation and is developing three Msheireb hotels. Once completed, the buildings will take up more than 15 percent of the 760,000sqm of the site’s eventual built-up space, which will also include homes, retail shops and cultural space.
The other two hotels are the Al Wadi Hotel, part of Accor’s M Gallery Collection, and a 181-room Park Hyatt. When they were initially announced, the projects aimed to open in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
However, representatives of those two chains could not be immediately reached for an update on the developments.
It’s common for major projects to fall behind schedule in Qatar, where countless road, rail, real estate and infrastructure projects are under construction in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.
There are several theories about why this is the case, including supply bottlenecks in importing building materials and red tape for various approvals.
However, some argue the delays are a byproduct of Qatar’s overwhelmingly foreign workforce. Employee turnover is high, and it is a lengthy process to recruit and relocate new skilled workers.
Construction Week magazine, meanwhile, suggested earlier this year that an extremely competitive construction sector in Qatar forces contractors to accept unrealistic deadlines in order to land work.
It’s not clear what the delay in the opening of the Mandarin Oriental means for the overall Msheireb project, which is being constructed in several stages.
That property was supposed to be the first of the three hotels to open and is part of phase 1B/1C, which was slated for completion in 2015 and also includes offices, townhomes, apartments, amenities, government buildings, a school, cultural center and a mosque, according to a project update published last fall.
Future phases will include retail space, a cinema as well as more offices and residential units.
Meanwhile, the first section, phase 1A, includes the Diwan Amiri Quarter – made up of a Diwan Annex, National Archive and Amiri Guard building – and the Heritage Quarter, featuring four restored heritage houses that will serve as a museum, as well as an Eid prayer ground.
It was originally scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013. The fall update pushed the expected completion date to mid-2014.
While the exterior of the buildings are completed, the site still appears to be an active construction zone. There is still extensive scaffolding in place and dozens of workers were visible on the property on Saturday.
Meanwhile, several kilometers away, it appears another delayed hospitality project may finally be nearing completion.
The website for the Banana Island Resort Doha appears to be accepting reservations for rooms after Nov. 1.
Construction on the Banana Island property – which will be operated by Thailand-based Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas – began in mid-2012.
Last year, UrbaCon General Contracting – the firm responsible for building the resort – told Construction Week Qatar that the resort would be completed in the summer, and that there would likely be a soft opening by the end of 2013.
Guests will have to take boats to the resort, which officials previously told Doha News would not be licensed to sell alcohol.
When reached last week, the property’s sales and marketing director, Elias El Khoury, declined comment.