Though the vast majority of Qatar residents continue to choose to live in Doha and its immediate outskirts, the ongoing population growth has put the city under increasing pressure, resulting in high rental prices, traffic gridlock and long waiting lists for schools.
As a result, authorities have begun investing in the former fishing towns of Al Wakrah and Al Khor by improving their amenities to make them a more appealing location for residents.
Al Wakrah is undergoing significant expansion, with a new general hospital, a recently-launched outpost of Souq Waqif and multiple international schools opening up in the vicinity that capitalize on the city’s proximity to Hamad International Airport and to Doha.
But Al Khor is coming up in the world.
This week, Qatar’s public works authority Ashghal has announced that new hospitals, health centers, schools, roads and other infrastructure worth billions of riyals are being planned for the northern town in the coming years.
While further away from the capital than Al Wakrah, Al Khor is also in the midst of redevelopment aimed at benefiting not only those working in nearby Ras Laffan industrial city, but also at attracting others who may be keen to escape the bustle of Doha.
At a public meeting this week, Ashghal outlined details of more than two dozen construction and infrastructure projects that are underway or are in the planning for Al Khor and the surrounding area.
Here’s what coming up – along with some other reasons why it might be great to live in Al Khor.
Initially billed as an extension to the town’s existing hospital, Ashghal has now said it is planning a new QR3.6 billion, 500-bed hospital. The structure is currently in the design phase and work is expected to begin by the summer of 2017.
International consultants KEO announced in October last year they won a contract to oversee design and implementation of the new building. Facilities are set to include new operating theaters, outpatient clinics and an upgraded emergency department.
Additionally, a new health center is planned for the town. Currently under tender, construction of that QR3.6 billion project is expected to begin early next year.
Three new schools and a kindergarten collectively priced at more than QR200 million are set to be built in the town’s surrounding area by next fall.
This will be in addition to existing state facilities as well as Al Khor International School, which provides separate English and Indian curriculum education to 4,000 children of RasGas and QatarGas employees.
Both the local road network through Al Khor and the main roads connecting the town to Ras Laffan and Doha are being extensively upgraded.
The Al Huwaila Road, leading to the industrial city, has already been widened from one to four lanes in each direction with new intersections built, to help reduce congestion.
To improve connections with Doha via the Al Shamal Road, new interchanges are being built while existing junctions are upgraded, service roads are being added and a cycle route is planned, all slated for completion by the end of 2016, Ashghal said.
Al Khor’s artery Commercial Road is also being reconfigured, with the road widened and new signal-controlled intersections replacing roundabouts, aimed at improving traffic flow and reduce congestion.
In addition to creating a venue for the World Cup in 2022, the under-construction QR3.11 billion Al Bayt Al Khor stadium complex will also provide community facilities including a mall, hospital, mosque, hotel, communal rooms, parks and landscapes for horse-riding, running and cycling.
The 70,000-seater stadium, which will have a surrounding area of around 200,000 square meters, will be completed by September 2018.
The northern town is also set to get its first three-screen movie theater.
It was due to open in time for Eid Al Adha last month, but has been delayed because of “technical difficulties,” mall management said. It is now set to welcome its first customers by the end of the year.
In Al Khor Mall, the cinema will be operated by Cineco, a Bahraini company that currently manages 27 screens in Qatar, including at City Center and Villaggio malls.
Two of Qatar’s main farmers’ markets are also nearby, at Al Khor/Al Dhakira and Al Mazrouah Yard near Umm Salal Stadium.
The markets operate in the cooler, winter months and usually open from November, selling locally-grown fruit and vegetables, home-reared poultry and eggs, honey and even camel milk.
Lots of nature
Al Khor’s Corniche and beach area have been earmarked for upgrades, with additional parking and amenities such as bathrooms and cafeterias to accommodate weekend visitors in the works, its municipal officials have said.
Meanwhile, its park, which is one of the biggest and oldest in Qatar, has undergone a QR250 million renovation over the last five years. It was due to reopen to visitors in August, but works still appear to be ongoing.
Al Khor is also next to some of Qatar’s best outdoor escapes, making it easy to explore nearby Purple Island and the Al Thakira mangroves, as well as the wild beaches of the state’s northern coast.
Would you consider moving to Al Khor? Thoughts?