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QNA

Qatar’s Emir checks out model of Doha Metro train

With only two and a half years to go before the Doha Metro opens to passenger traffic, Qatar’s Emir was briefed this week on the progress that has been made so far.

Yesterday, transport officials brought Sheikh Tamim up to speed on passenger services, the upcoming train designs and safety and security equipment, QNA reports.

He also viewed models of the Doha Metro and Lusail Light Rail Transit system and its various cabins, including first class, family and standard seating.

Qatar Rail

Doha Metro rendering

Additionally, he was updated by Ashghal about its upcoming projects.

Before leaving, he urged officials to “speed up infrastructure projects of various types” and “to enhance the welfare of citizens and meet their needs,” QNA reports.

Coming up

The first phase of the Doha Metro is set to open to passengers at the beginning of 2020.

Tunneling on the public transportation network was completed at a breakneck pace last year, and work is now underway to set up some 37 stations across three lines.

Qatar Rail

Construction at Green Line -Education City stop

On its website, Qatar Rail offers a peek at what’s going on behind the safety hoardings set up at each station.

It looks like work is well underway, including on the Green Line at Education City, the Msheireb Red Line station and the Gold Line’s Al Saad stop.

Qatar Rail

First phase of Doha Metro stops

Tracks have also already been laid at some of the few aboveground metro stations.

Officials said previously said that by the end of this year, the company aims to finish 70 percent of the public transport project. This entails:

  • Completing track installation works;
  • Taking delivery of the first four of its 75 driverless trains in Doha; and
  • Awarding key operator contracts.

When it opens, the metro will also connect to two other separate rail projects.

They are the Lusail light-rail line, which contractors say will be operational by 2020; and a long-distance passenger and freight service linking to the GCC rail, whose timetable remains unknown.

Thoughts?

Gadget Dan/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s government is spending some $500 million a week on capital projects around the country, its Minister of Finance has said.

That pace of spending could continue for the next three to four years as the nation prepares for the 2022 World Cup, Ali Sherif Al Emadi said, according to AFP.

“That doesn’t mean the stadiums only, we are talking about highways, rail, ports, airports, those are really underway, even hospitals and everything,” the minister said to reporters who were on a press trip to Doha.

Ooredoo

Minister of Finance Ali Sharif Al Emadi

He added:

“We are really giving ourselves a good chance of delivering things on time and we don’t want to get in a place that we start painting while people are coming to the country.”

Austerity measures

Despite the huge expenditures, Al Emadi confirmed that austerity measures around Qatar will continue.

Last year, lower oil prices caused the country to run its first budget deficit in more than a decade.

This year’s budget slightly cuts spending and projects a smaller deficit of $7.8 billion, compared to $12.8 billion in 2016.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In response to fiscal pressures, the government has consolidated its ministries, partially lifted petrol subsidies and postponed some construction projects.

There is also a plan to introduce a value-added tax next year, though Al Emadi said yesterday that this might be postponed until 2019, AP reports.

Qatar’s Emir has also denounced extravagance and urged citizens to spend more “reasonably.”

Additionally, thousands of people have been laid off in the oil and gas industry and by other companies in the past two years.

That said, hiring is picking up at least in the healthcare industry as several hospitals near completion.

Thoughts?

QFC/Twitter

Rendering of redeveloped Musheireb district

Qatar residents living near the Msheireb Downtown Doha development will see a new multi-screen cinema open in the neighborhood this year, Novo Cinemas has announced.

The cinema will include regular and “7-Star” screens that have VIP services and reclining seats. It will be located inside Msheireb’s The Galleria shopping center.

That mall is still under construction, but when completed will have 100 stores. It will include an Al Meera supermarket and a children’s entertainment zone, Msheireb said earlier this month.

Msheireb/Facebook

Msheireb Galleria mall

Novo already operates at the Pearl-Qatar, 01 Mall in Abu Hamour and recently opened a 19-screen complex at the new Mall of Qatar.

In a statement, Novo CEO Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen said:

“We look forward to developing a cultural and innovative cinema space for this revolutionary neighborhood with the help of Msheireb Properties.”

Msheireb’s progress

The QR20 billion Msheireb project is still under construction and has seen some delays.

When finished, it aims to combines commercial, residential, retail and cultural entities in one development.

Msheireb Properties

Rendering of redeveloped Msheireb Doha Downtown

Last fall, Msheireb Properties CEO Abdullah Hassan al-Mehshadi said work on the first three phases of the project is “80 percent complete.”

He added that the company is working with Qatar Rail on the fourth and final phase.

So far, the development houses a museum that opened last year and one school – Qatar Academy Msheireb.

A mosque is also occasionally open to the public during Eid prayers.

Thoughts?

Note: This article has been updated to reflect that the number of screens has not yet been determined.