British businesses should offer a comprehensive package in a spirit of co-operation to benefit from Qatar’s infrastructure expansion drive, says Lord Marland By Denise Marray/London Gulf Times
Chairman of British Business Ambassadors (UKTI), and Parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Lord Marland, called for a renewal of the pioneering spirit among British business in seeking out new markets. Speaking at the Meed Qatar Infrastructure Projects 2012 conference in London late Tuesday, he noted that over the past fifteen years trading opportunities had abounded ‘on the doorstep’ in Europe, which had diminished the need to explore further afield.
Looking at the wealth of opportunity in infrastructure projects in Qatar, he urged British companies when bidding for a contract to ‘make a complete offering’ or comprehensive package in a spirit of co-operation. This, he said, would make bids more competitive against overseas rivals.
Meed Events chairman Edmund O’Sullivan expanded on this point. “There is a greater scope for virtual partnerships, not formal but informal associations in which British companies mutually reinforce each other by bidding in an intelligent way, ie, not fighting each other. British companies should ask, ‘How can we as a community working together, without losing any of our competitive edge, assist our common client?”
If they adopted that approach, he said, “It would constitute and unbeatable advantage for British companies.”
He expected UK engineering companies to do well in securing contracts for the Doha Metro projects, and also on the professional services side. “The big opportunity for UK construction and engineering firms working in Qatar is forming partnerships with Qatari investors who would initially be involved in providing capital, but in the long term sharing expertise between UK professional service providers and their Qatari counterparts,” O’Sullivan said. “That’s not a deal – that’s a relationship and a journey which British companies are generally well advanced on.”
Speaking about interested parties from around the globe, Essa Mohammed Ali Kaldari, chief executive officer, Lusail City Real Estate Development Company, said, “The door is open to all provided they are technically and financially capable.”
In his keynote address to the conference on the remarkable Lusail City, he said. “A city built for the future has to set new industry standards. Lusail City takes pride in leading the Green Cities legacy. It is the first city which adopted our home-grown ‘Qatar Sustainability Assessment System’ known by the name QSAS. We are part of a country that thinks big and delivers big. Lusail City forms the silhouette of this modern Qatar.”
Keith Bradley, general manager, head of banking, Barwa Bank, said one of the challenges for the Qatar government and government entities is processing the huge volume of tendering contracts from around the world. He issued a word of warning to contractors about using ‘change requests’ to improve margins.
“There has been a tendency historically to agree to take a contract and then try to renegotiate the terms after the ‘in principle agreement’ has been given,” Bradley noted. However, today, “the government is taking a very tough line on that approach and seems to pushing back very hard on contractors trying to do that,” he said.
Stuart Curtis, group managing director, Links Group of Companies, said his team was working with contracting companies aiming to secure a package or packet arising from the large opportunities in Lusail City, road, rail and sewerage. “We’re making sure that everybody is appropriately licensed and regulated, operating within the right legal framework and set up with the right partners, so they can concentrate on bidding and getting the right packages,” he said.
Concerning the stadia for the World Cup in 2022, there is intense interest in winning the contracts to design and build the structures required to meet the demands of the climate.
Joachim Schares, member of management and partner, Albert Speer & Partner, said, “I started to work on the project in 2009; it would be our utmost pleasure to be selected.”
Alistair Lenczner, partner, Fosters & Partners, whose company is engaged in the Lusail City project, is also in the bidding for the Stadia. “We’re waiting to get clarity on moving ahead with main stadium. We’re waiting to get feedback from the committee on exactly how that’s moving forward – the project managers are still developing the briefing documents,” he said. “One of the challenges for all the stadia is how to contend with the climate and we’re continuing to develop ways to achieve the right conditions within the stadia, both when open to the skies and closed,” Lenczner added.
He also said it would be very important to provide places for the football fans to enjoy themselves. “A lot of thought needs to be given to the social infrastructure as well as building the hardware,” he said.