Frustrated with a growing pile of unpaid bills, some architects in Qatar are pushing the country to revamp its reputation as having “the worst payment culture in the Gulf,” UK-based Building Design magazine reports.
Once, such disputes were settled quietly, to prevent bridges from being burned. But now, as the number of complaints multiply, and as Qatar gets set to spend billions on mega-projects before 2022, the stakes are rising. And the main fear is, if companies think they won’t get paid, they won’t come to work here.
“Qatar is the richest nation on earth and it’s looking to do a massive amount of additional development but can’t risk a bad press,” one consultant with outstanding bills told BD.
The clients that architects sign on with have no shortage of cash, but the bureaucracy involved in payments can be staggering.
In Qatar-funded Msheireb, for example, one firm said it has been struggling to be paid for $32.5 million of changes made to its project there, BD reports:
“We were instructed to make the changes which doubled our fee spend, but when we submitted the claim the system wasn’t set up to deal with it and they disappeared into a black hole,” said one of the architects…
“No one has worked on the project for three months. We now have to go through each claim with the client line by line. It’s massively time consuming but I am hopeful we will get our money in the end,” said another member of the team.
Given Qatar’s other headaches, including manpower shortages and construction material delays, 2022 World Cup project deadlines look increasingly in danger of getting pushed back.