Singapore companies can benefit from real estate boom in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar : It has been dubbed the “Venice of Qatar”; a project called “The Pearl-Qatar” is an upscale Riviera-style development, and when completed in 2011, the project will be home to some 40,000 residents.

Investors from 45 countries have flocked to the project to snap up properties there, but real estate is not the only attraction for Singapore companies.

With its mix of Venetian charm and Arabic chic, the US$20 billion project is built entirely on a man-made island.

All 4 million square metres of it is reclaimed land, creating 32 kilometres of new coastline.

The project has been launched in phases, and according to the developer, 35 percent of the units have already been taken up.

In fact, an entire residential district was sold within an hour recently.

That transaction alone amounted to over US$405 million.

These mind-boggling numbers were presented to the Singapore delegation, led by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

The progress of the development was obvious as the visitors cruised the waters of the Arabian Gulf.

However, while property is one obvious area to consider, Singapore companies may want to venture into other sectors.

Minister of State for Education Lui Tuck Yew said, “There are some possibilities on how Singapore companies can participate because we were asking them about security arrangement, we were asking them about the operation and the running of the entire complex, and they thought that that’s an area where Singapore companies would be interested to look into.”

This is Qatar’s first international real estate venture, and it comes with all the frills of luxurious waterfront living.

Shaped like a string of pearls, the island retreat will house marinas, high-end retail shops, five-star hotels, schools and medical centres.

The development will also feature high-tech services and a fully-automated vacuum waste disposal system, amongst others.

Besides industry players, the Singapore delegation is in Qatar to touch base with the country’s leaders.

During a meeting with the Amir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, both leaders discussed developments in the region and relations between the two countries.

One of the topics covered was how to strengthen the already close state of bilateral relations.

Opportunities to collaborate in various areas, including joint ventures in environmental technology, was among the ideas mooted.

The two leaders also exchanged views on recent developments in Asia and the Middle East.

SM Goh last met the Amir in June 2005, when the Amir made a state visit to Singapore.

The Amir hosted SM Goh to lunch and during their discussions, SM Goh praised the Amir for the rapid development of Doha since his last visit there in 2005.

SM Goh also met Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Heir Apparent, who led a high-level committee to Singapore for a working visit last October.

It was Sheikh Tamim who had invited Mr Goh to visit Qatar.

They last met when Sheikh Tamim visited Singapore last October.

During this meeting in Doha, Sheikh Tamim briefed SM Goh on Qatar’s economic development and its future outlook.

Sheikh Tamim also expressed satisfaction with the progress of the High Level Joint Committee which is chaired by himself and Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng.

The two leaders also discussed how Qatar and Singapore could cooperate in tapping business opportunities in third countries.

Apart from meeting the members of the royal family at the Diwan Amiri, SM Goh is also expected to address the business community at the inaugural Qatar-Singapore Business Forum.

The event will see a gathering of businessmen from both sides and the signing of three agreements to spur bilateral trade.

More educational exchanges could also be on the cards, following SM Goh’s visit to the Texas A&M University at the Qatar Foundation.

At the Foundation, SM Goh also held discussions with Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of the Amir and Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation.

This was SM Goh’s second meeting with Sheikha Mozah.

During their talks, SM Goh said he was impressed by the progress of the Education City, which is a flagship project of the Qatar Foundation.

SM Goh and Sheikha Mozah also discussed opportunities for cooperation between Singapore and Qatar in education as well as research and development.

The Singapore delegation also toured the ASPIRE sports academy. – CNA/ms

Source : Channel NewsAsia Р30 Jan 2008

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