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Once known as an important pearling centre, its abundant oil and gas reserves make Qatar one of the most glittering prospects in the Middle East today.

Lusail City will be some 15km north of Qatars capital Doha, but this is more than a suburb. Lusail is expected to eventually house 200,000 people in over 50,000 dwelling units; Qatar boasts that the finished city will be bigger in area than Beirut and bigger in population than Luxembourg City. The first and final matches of the FIFA World Cup 2022 will be played there, all on what they presently call a "rocky desert habitat".

GROWTH AND GARBAGE Along with its buildings, Lusail's infrastructure is being built from scratch, including an unusual public litter disposal system that will function under the streets.

"You put rubbish into a litter bin and it gets sucked underneath the street away in pipes, pneumatically, three or four kilometres into a central collection area".

The costs of construction to prepare for the World Cup alone are simply staggering. German financial analyst Dr. Nicola Ritter estimated in September that the total cost to Qatar could be around €159 billion, including transport, stadiums and facilities. Not content with one massive sporting event, Doha has also put in a bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

Sports aside, Qatar is also rapidly modernising its infrastructure and trying to reform its economy away from reliance on the fuel exports.

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index last year also rated Qatar highly, ranking it by far the least corrupt country in the Middle East, scoring better even than UK or France. Its low corruption and economic stability are matched by unusual political stability. Qatar has so far escaped the uprisings of its Arab neighbours.

"The concentration of Irish companies in the region in general has shown a big increase over the last couple of years so the more companies look at Qatar, it does seem to offer longer term opportunities for them."

STRIKE THE IRON The successful World Cup bid has attracted greater attention to Qatar's construction possibilities, and the country is experiencing a rush of interest from international companies looking to grab contracts.

"Certainly from an Irish company point of view, I think the time to be in Qatar is over the next twelve months," says Anthony Cahill (Middle East representative for Enterprise Ireland), "to start building up relationships with a view to the market really kicking on within the three years in terms of increased construction activity."

Cahill adds that it's important to make the investment in finding the right contracts and reliable business partners. Cost-of-entry in the Middle Eastern markets is high, so companies must evaluate their options in advance.

 

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