As Qatar speeds up construction ahead of the 2022 World Cup, rushing to build new roads, homes, a public transportation system and stadiums, many residents have complained that “constant pounding and drilling” is keeping them up at night.
Compounding the problem appears to be a lack of clear laws or guidelines regulating working hours on construction sites in residential areas in Qatar. There also appear to be no set penalties for violators.
Last week, Marwa Bannani, a stay-at-home mom, said she moved out of her new rented home in Musheireb after only one day, because she could not stand the loud noise and dust emanating from the construction site next door.
According to Bannani, the company worked every night from 10pm until dawn, as well as in the mornings.
“Me and my son couldn’t sleep at all,” she told Doha News.
She added that she has temporarily moved into her sister-in-law’s home until she finds a more suitable and quiet apartment.
Not all residents are so lucky. Many say moving isn’t an option, as they don’t have family members in Qatar to take them in, and finding a suitable, affordable apartment here is not an easy task.
Speaking to Doha News, English teacher Zamzam Ghassan said that around a year ago, she contemplated moving several times from her apartment in Al Sadd, when the villa next door was demolished and construction workers started drilling and digging to lay down foundation for a new building.
“It was utterly difficult with a child in school, who needs enough sleep, a newborn baby and a working husband, none of us could sleep well due to the noise. It felt as if we were sleeping in the middle of the actual construction site, not in our flat.”
When Ghassan’s husband eventually complained to onsite staff one night, he was told that they were officially authorized to work during such late hours.
“We wouldn’t have minded if they had worked in the evening, due to the heat during the day, but (they should) stop working by 11 to 12pm maximum,” she said.
Her husband then e-mailed his complaint to the Doha Municipality, which responded a few days later saying the matter was out of its jurisdiction, and advising him to call the police.
“To be honest, we gave up (after that),” Ghassan said.
She added that construction continues near her home, but after the foundation was laid, the noise is much more tolerable than before.
Speaking to Doha News, former Qatari justice minister and practicing criminal attorney Dr. Najeeb Al Nuaimi said that the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) and the police department are both responsible for handling residents’ noise complaints.
But when Doha News contacted the MMUP this week to inquire about filing a construction-related noise complaint, an operator referred the matter to the police. When reached by phone, the police department then referred Doha News back to the MMUP.
According to Al Nuaimi, there is no clear legislation in Qatar regarding construction-related noise complaints. However, the MMUP has set general guidelines for contractors and construction companies.
According to Al Sharq, these guidelines permit construction companies in financial districts to work 24 hours a day from Saturday until Thursday, and from 10:30am to 1pm on Fridays.
In residential areas, working hours of construction companies are restricted from 6:30am until 6pm, Sunday to Thursday, and from 8am to 2pm on Saturdays.
A contractor must obtain special permission from the MMUP to operate outside of these hours. In these cases, the contractor must personally inform the neighbors prior to commencing the construction work, the regulations state.
However, the guidelines do not apply to many public projects, including the construction and maintenance of roads and government projects led by Qatar’s Public Works Authority. Ashghal often says it works 24/7 on projects to get them done as quickly as possible.
Construction on Qatar Rail’s Doha Metro project also continues around the clock. Nearly two dozen custom-made tunnel-boring machines are currently working to dig 20 to 25 meters below the surface to make way for stations and tracks.
Originally, officials warned residents that they may feel some minor vibrations during the work. However, in June last year, they back-tracked, saying the tunneling would be “practically unknown to the population above.”
The rules for parts of Qatar that are zoned for mixed-use remain unclear. One resident for example who lives in the financial district of West Bay/Dafna said her building manager had no recourse when construction noise reached a fever pitch last year.
Though the drilling noise at the time felt like constant “banging on your head,” the construction company had permission to work around the clock, she said.
There’s also the question of what actually happens if a company flouts the set working hours and disturbs neighboring residents.
Under Law No. 4 for the year 1985 on regulating construction, firms can be fined up to QR100,000 ($27,468) for building, expanding or adding floors without permits. But there is no mention of penalties on extended working hours or causing disturbance to residents.
Last April, Central Municipal Council (CMC) members responded to residents’ complaints by calling for the law to be amended to limit working hours of construction sites.
The CMC also suggested limiting the use of heavy machinery like drilling machines to specific hours, for example prohibiting their use from 1pm to 3pm and from 8pm to 5am.
But to date, no movement appears to have been made on those amendments.
However, there are some cases where complaining does pay off. Al Nuaimi said that neighbors who live near Landmark Mall succeeded in halting construction work of adjacent villas at night by complaining to authorities a few years ago.
And a manager at a construction company here told Doha News that they recently reached an agreement with residents on Salwa Road to reduce their working hours, following complaints.
The manager, who asked not to be identified, said his company now works from 6am until 4pm on weekdays. Before the complaints, it used to work around the clock.
He added that he didn’t believe the company was violating any laws or regulations by working through the night, as the MMUP did not warn or reprimand his firm.
He concluded that the company didn’t want to appear selfish and as if they didn’t care about the residents, but pointed out that many contractors in Qatar could lose a substantial amount of money if they don’t meet their tight deadlines.
Construction noise on The Pearl is never ending. UDC rules state that contractors may only commence work at 7am, however…and despite repeated complaints, the contractors on Tower 21 on Viva Bahriya start creating noise pollution considerably earlier.
I also thought there was a certain irony seeing contractors working on the two new Pearl mosques on Friday morning at the same time as prayers.
Mmup informs to go to the police and the police says go to Mmup. Strange. does none of these Mmup or police feel the same experience of the noise as the residents feel. I wonder where do the Mmup and police would go for complaining.
I assume most of these people are Qatari who live in areas that have next to no construction.
Ive gotten used to the sound but the dust, thats slowly killing me..
The other problem is the workers, if they work during the day then they are going to die due to the heat so surely they have to work at night…
Another problem is the technical side where it is not good practice to pour concrete when the temperature is above 30c, so many companies do as much concrete work as possible at night.
A good article from DN with some investigative journalism wahoo! I rang the police about construction noise, they didn’t want to know, didn’t want to know where, my name, number. He just said yes yes mam, loud noise in West Bay, they can make this noise all night. So reading the story above he was right, despite a lot of residential buildings around City Centre, they can work through the night. I wish MMUP would create a useful resource for residents online which detailed things like this, rather than a newspaper having to do it. Then again it is MMUP who probably are the most useless department in Doha.
In dense residential areas of Muntaza and Mansoura private construction happen thru day and night…all concrete pump trucks arrive after 6 pm and work thru out night even blocking small access lanes…
Good sources, real issues, substantial content with catchy writing and the title brings a smile! Isn’t it some excellent journalism! Keep up the good work DN!
There was a construction site next to where I used to live, the noise was unbearable 24/7, dump trucks, bulldozers, backhoes, the works. I went to the site one night and asked to see their permit as it was not displayed. Initially they said it was a government project, I insisted, they tried the “manager is not here” trick, I persisted, they tried to fool me with a document in Arabic that was anything but a permit, and I finally called the cops. All of a sudden a site manager showed up and it became clear that the permit required them to stop work between midnight and 5 am. The work stopped, the cops left and by the time I went to bed it was 1:30 in the morning. The next day they did not stop at midnight, I called the cops again, but this time they did not show up (wasta at work?), so I had to choose between going to bed very late again, or using earplugs. Long term, the solution was to move out, which we did, but now the metro construction moved to our area and it is terrible. That’s how it is going to be until 2022, I am afraid.
This is where youtube comes in handy.
Thinking of what is happening near my house in Al Saad and reading this article can say that I might as well have written exact thing. Living peacefully for the last 12 years in the same villa, construction began of a large complex few months ago and it has nothing but pure torture to us from day one! To the massive dust, the noise and the inconvenience that has caused us is unbearable! to start off construction at 4.30 in the morning and only to change to 6 am once we’ve complained. Now it’s from 6 am to 6 pm with only a lunch break from 12-1 pm. Nothing but inconvenience. And yesterday laying of the concrete till late night. they really should consider that there are kids, families who sleep and wake up early. No proper rules and regulations nor any responsible authority
Apart from the noise for the unlucky ones, if you thought the air you were breathing in this town is at all clean,FYI
Bear in mind that New Delhi at the coveted no: 1 spot has a population in excess of 25 million as opposed to Qatar’s 2 point something million so really Doha is at no: 1. So really,we ought to ask ourselves,is the ”tax-free” income & ”secure environment” worth it for the damage this place is doing to our respiratory systems. Food for thought people.
So you’re basically saying “If you don’t like it then leave” ???
No were saying that we’ll carry on suffering until a) We get sacked, b) it becomes too much for us and we leave, c) we have enough money and we can leave, d) we drop dead either of exhaustion or repiratory failure and then leave.
At least we expats have the option to leave,what options do you guys have?! 🙂
Anyone else find it interesting that penalties are increasing for shops that stay open during Friday prayers (per a recent DN article), but during Friday prayers is the only time on Fridays that construction companies are allowed to work? …. So you’re saying it’s not really about being all pious and holy huh? It might just be about the money after all?……
You can’t make this stuff up!
I’ve finally concluded that the only thing that’s rigidly enforced in Qatar is a shortened lifespan.
When they started to build a block of flats in the middle of our residential area the neighbourhood finally assembled on the site one night and stopped them. The last paragraph of the article is hilarious isn’t it?
Well… my air conditioning unit is loud enough to drown all the outside noise out except for the scream of a cat every now and then.. so I guess I can’t complain…
Please can someone stop the construction site in westbay near the beach
tower. We cannot sleep all night, and I might loose my job if I continue
to fail at work because of sleep deprivation….!!!!!
same here, let’s organise ourselves
I am also in Beach Tower and the constant drilling for those facing the construction site is maddening. This site isn’t Mshreib or Ashgal, or 2022 vital construction. There is no reason to rush this building and work all night as they do. I am so tired now in the morning as I cannot sleep. Any one else here up to raise our complain in an organised fashion, let me know at twitter pgerhard.