Posted on July 11, 2011

Qatar-based real estate developer Msheireb Properties opened a major forum in London last week on investment in the country’s emerging non-oil and gas sector.

MEED Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2011, which ran from July 5-6 at the Jumeirah Carlton Hotel, brought together chief executives from Qatar’s real estate, banking, transport, utilities, and construction sectors, as well as high-level government representatives, to debate the rapidly evolving project market in Qatar.

Msheireb Properties’ CEO Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi participated in a panel discussion on the long-term business prospects in Qatar in the opening session of the two-day forum.

Eng. Al Mohannadi introduced delegates to Msheireb Properties’ signature development: Msheireb, the QR20 billion (US$5.5 billion, €4.18 billion) regeneration of the downtown area of Doha.

He said: “Msheireb, the world’s first sustainable downtown regeneration project, is realising a new architectural language for Qatar and delivering on exacting environmental standards through the combination of modern technology and traditional principles in sustainable design.

“The story of how the Msheireb project is developing an urban community that is sensitive to Qatar’s environment, culture and heritage will resonate with all countries addressing environmental and climate change issues.”

Msheireb, meaning ‘a place to drink water’ in Arabic, will transform a 31-hectare site in the old commercial district of Doha. The mixed-use development will comprise more than 100 buildings, including 900 residential units, retail and office space, as well as hotels and cultural attractions.

Eng. Al Mohannadi added: “The Msheireb project involves a prestigious portfolio of UK-based consultants whose experience and expertise will help realise each phase of the development. Msheireb also has considerable potential for UK retailers, hoteliers and businesses seeking to enter Qatar or expand their presence in the region.”

Commercial real estate will represent more than a third of the Msheireb project, while space for retail and hospitality will also constitute around 30 per cent of the project.

Msheireb Properties CEO Eng. Issa M. Al Mohannadi participates in the opening session of MEED Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2011, held recently in London

Construction at Msheireb began in January 2010 and phase one will include a National Archive, museum, and an Eid prayer ground. The development will open in five phases from 2012 through 2016. Msheireb will also preserve several existing heritage sites, including houses dating back to the beginning of the last century.

All buildings within the development are targeting an average Gold rating under the internationally recognised LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system developed by the US Green Building Council. Msheireb expects to achieve one of the highest concentrations of LEED-certified buildings in a single community anywhere in the world.

Eng. Al Mohannadi said: “The project’s approach to sustainability looks to the past as well as present-day technology. Much was learnt from the way in which our forebears built their houses – from the use of split and thicker walls for natural cooling, for example, and the appointment of rooms to avoid the full glare of the sun.”

Street plans within Msheireb have a north-south orientation towards the sea, to take advantage of cooling ocean breezes sweeping landwards, while shaded passageways and colonnades also protect pedestrians. Modern innovations include sophisticated cooling systems that minimise fresh water demand and re-use groundwater.

MEED Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2011 invited high-level decision makers from both the public and private sector to promote business opportunities spanning many of the Gulf’s most dynamic industries, from power and water to transport and social infrastructure.

Speakers at the forum included Ahmed Al-Kowsi (Vice President, Projects and Logistics Service, Qatar Navigation), and Romi Nayef (Partner, SNR Denton).