Doha is one big building site. The view across to West Bay has added a number of high-rise glass and steel structures in the time we have been here. But also many of the older buildings, and by that I mean 1960s or 1970s, have been flattened, and many more are now being vacated prior to demolition. Whilst many of these buildings were in a poor state of repair, the character of the older parts of the city is being lost.
Whether it is road improvements, the new metro, shopping malls, offices, hotels, apartment blocks or stadiums for the World Cup… whichever way you look the city is a forest of cranes or deep excavations. In between there are hundreds of buildings in various stages of completion. Four apartment blocks have been built opposite our flat since we moved in.
Many of the new buildings are finished but remain stubbornly empty. I am guessing they are speculative builds, waiting for occupants. I am not sure whether this is true, but someone told me that bank loans for construction projects do not need to be repaid until buildings are sold or let.
Then there are the many projects that started but then stopped completely. From our bedroom window, we can see a tall rusting crane standing in a large lifeless plot – see the header photo at the top of the page. The concrete footings are in place and the first uprights for ground floor, yet there has been no work on the site in the 30 months we have lived here.
It has been suggested that there is going to be an oversupply of all types of property. There are many more hotel beds for football fans being built leading up to 2022. It is being suggested that there are more hotels beds than potential visitors. Similarly, once the building boom is over, many of the expats employed on these mega-projects will go home, leaving villas, apartments and shopping malls without residents and fewer customers.
Either way the building boom shown no sign of slowing down in the near future.