Strategising materials procurement for Qatar’s construction sector
With the demand for concrete expected to grow at a rate of 108 percent by 2015, Qatar needs to take a sound approach to its strategies for procuring building materials.
With the demand for concrete expected to grow at a rate of 108 percent by 2015, Qatar needs to take a sound approach to its strategies for procuring building materials. by Farwa Zahra
A recent survey by Qatar’s Ministry of Development Planning & Statistics suggests that the country’s construction sector will experience an all-time high demand for basic building materials over the next few years ahead of the 2022 Word Cup.
Of the primary building materials, according to the survey, limestone will have the highest demand, forecasted to increase by 127 percent by 2015. Similarly, demand for cement is expected to show a growth rate of 108 percent, while that of washed sand may reach 106 percent. With USD22.5 (QAR82 billion) worth of contracts awarded in Qatar during the first three quarters of 2014, Meed Projects expects the amount will reach USD30 billion (QAR109 billion) by the end of 2014. With more projects lined up after 2014, ostensibly, the demand for primary building materials is only going to grow.
While a range of raw materials is not naturally found in Qatar, they are being increasingly imported and locally refined and treated for use in construction. The supply of building materials, hence, inevitably relies on imports from other countries. Add to this Dubai’s Expo 2020, among other projects heating up regional competition, and the task of procuring materials to meet the country’s demand seemingly becomes a challenge. In fact, according to Ventures Onsite, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries alone accounts for over 40 percent of the Middle East concrete consumption.
So what are some strategies Qatar can adopt to ensure a steady supply of building materials such as concrete? According to Rabih Fakih, founder and managing director of Grey Matters Consultancy, a building materials consultancy, proper planning is the key, “For Qatar, raw material, such as aggregates, is a major concern, showing signs of adverse price escalation. Concreting in Qatar will seemingly face challenges to meet deadlines and quality standards. Following a standard concrete production cycle, Qatar can safely cover the concrete demands in terms of production facilities such as batch plants, transit mixers and pumps.” While the region has recovered its market for materials such as cement, advanced material and techniques are yet to be introduced in the region. Shotcrete, a process of concreting through high-pressure spray, still has not reached the Gulf market. Requiring less formwork, the method is also a sustainable alternative to traditional cast-work concreting.
“More attention shall be paid to the impact of concrete on the environment where new sustainable solutions, in terms of concrete materials and production facilities, shall be adopted in order to cope with the rising trend towards sustainable developments in the region,” said Ihab Bassiouni, Unites Arab Emirates’ country manager for Grey Matters Consultancy.
However, regardless of technologies, sustainable credentials and procurement strategies, the increasing pace and scope of construction is bound to escalate material prices. When asked about the pricing and sourcing trend for building materials, chief executive officer of Msheireb Properties, Engineer Abdulla Hassan Al Mehshadi said, “The prices will be under pressure because of the exponential growth and construction around this area. So it will be a challenge, not only of prices, but also of sourcing.”
Ultimately, the focus for Qatar, he says, should be to ensure that “we have a good control on the material supply and the supply chain altogether. It is not only materials that will be somewhat challenging, it is also availability of right resources, and right calibre of people to help us in the running of all projects”.