It's only natural in the wider scheme of things for any Qatari developer to look into the future, or 2022 to be precise, to gauge what it would mean for his projects. For the uninitiated, that's when the football World Cup jamboree will descend on Doha.
But for one Qatari developer, his focus remains firmly calibrated on the distant past and how it can be integrated into its ongoing projects. Not surprising given that the 20 billion riyal (Dh20.17 billion) Musheireb development aims at the regeneration of one of Qatar's oldest communities without losing any of the flavour associated with its history.
"It represents a huge commitment on the part of the authorities and the developer given its status as the first regeneration project of its kind in the Middle East," said Eisa M. Al Mohannadi, CEO of Musheireb Properties, a subsidiary of the Qatar Foundation, in a tele-phone interview.
"It needs a lot of focus to deliver it and in a way that would meet all expectations generated by it. As a developer, we need to be at the top of our game."
The entire development is staggered over multiple phases and is to reach the finish line in 2016. The first schedule is for three buildings which will house government departments and corporate offices by 2012. The developer has also raised the stakes by opting for "platinum" a first for Qatar and "gold" certifications for sustainable development on the properties.
The second component of Phase One is currently in design and will have mixed-use elements including retail and schools. All of the preparatory work will be done during summer, ahead of the tendering finalisation, which will be before year end.
As to whether the granting of the World Cup required the developer to make changes to the Musheireb masterplan, the CEO said: "This is a project that has been in planning for a long time and done with the specific purpose of recreating the traditional downtown. As such, the World Cup has had no impact on the design and planning for this project. But hosting the World Cup is a win-win situation for us and the development as it focuses a lot of attention on what we are planning to do."
Obviously, recreating the past is a theme close to Al Mohannadi's heart. "There is an issue with most developments in the region trying to needlessly mime Western architectural concepts. Instead, we are going back to Qatar's roots and using what was there and modernising it. We are building an architectural bridge from the past to the present."
Hotels and serviced apartments also make up the Musheireb fabric, with as many as 900 hotel keys being created. They will come in handy when all the visitors descend on Qatar during the World Cup.
In regard to financing, the CEO said that the Qatar Foundation is backing the project to the hilt. "It's still early to talk about financing options at this stage," said Al Mohannadi.
"We are too involved in getting the whole project into full activity mode and the Qatar Foundation is wholly supportive of the funding requirements. If at a future date, we need to review the options, we will do. But not now."
Indeed, the company has the past keeping it busy for now.
Spread over 31 hectares, the project site is adjacent to the Amiri Diwan, Qatar's seat of government and ruler's palace. The redeveloped Souq Waqif a
mixed-use scheme based on a traditional Qatari souq and the Al Koot Fort is also nearby.
The masterplan has five distinct phases, with the first, the ‘Diwan Amiri Quarter', currently under construction. The three major government buildings include the National Archive.
Subsequent phases include a five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, along with three additional hotels, commercial offices and residential formats.
From / Gulf News