Despite concerns about increasing traffic congestion at the Pearl-Qatar, the lead developer and management company of the island has said it has no plans to build any additional entry or exit points there.
Currently, there is only one way for cars and most residents to enter and leave the Pearl.
As the island’s population grows and construction work in the area picks up, more residents have begun expressing concern that a sole access point is a risk to safety and security, especially when it becomes blocked by long lines of traffic at peak times.
This would make it impossible, for example, for emergency services to leave or enter the island.
But United Development Co. (UDC) told Doha News that while it understands concerns, “There are no plans to build any new access/exit points at The Pearl Qatar.”
In recent months, residents have reported more traffic snarls, particularly in evenings and during the weekends, on the Pearl ring roads and on Lusail Street, between Katara and Lagoona roundabouts.
One resident, Jennifer Tan, said it took her one hour to drive from Tower 2 to the small Spinneys store in Porto Arabia last Thursday, while others say that the gridlock is so bad on weekends that they feel they are effectively being held captive on the island.
Lusail Street is currently undergoing extensive construction as part of plans to create a multi-level highway connecting West Bay/Dafna with the new city of Lusail, to the north of the Pearl.
As part of the works, several roads that previously carried traffic from the Pearl out of the area were closed last year, forcing all vehicles to travel on the one route towards Katara, which can quickly get backed up at peak times.
To help cope with the congestion, residents have asked UDC to take action to improve the infrastructure serving the island, and to work with authorities to open up additional routes to and from the Pearl.
Maureen Chisholm, who lives in Tower 7 of Porto Arabia, told Doha News that traffic now regularly backs up at the one point of entry and egress from the Pearl, causing tailbacks in both directions:
“If there was an accident, sick person or pregnant lady needing to get to a hospital quickly it would be a nightmare,” she said.
Ellora Soucek, a mother of two who lives in Porto Arabia, told Doha News that a bus that had broken down at the main exit off the Pearl blocked traffic for more than an hour yesterday morning, causing delays for people trying to leave for work and school.
Another Pearl resident, Susan Sullivan, said:
“The amount of traffic is horrendous, the concerns of residents about having to get off The Pearl for various reasons such as an emergency or with flights to catch are genuine.”
Whereas you could allow at the most an hour to get to the airport, on a weekend you would have missed your flight. As for emergencies, for the emergency services to get on The Pearl at rush hour, it just wouldn’t happen.”
The problems appear to get worse when there are events at Katara, which can clog up the length of Lusail Street.
For example, last weekend’s welcome parade and ceremony for Qatar’s U19 football team, which won its first AFC U-19 Championship title in Myanmar, led to heavy traffic all around the area.
This month, many residents have voiced their frustrations about the growing traffic on Twitter:
if you go to #ThePearl on a wkend consider it take 20 minutes to EXIT The Pearl; 5 yrs ago I said: only one little road to go out? #traffic
— Flamenquita (@basbusa10) October 26, 2014
What's going on!? Crazy traffic in and out of the Pearl. http://t.co/ILT3mSZv2H
— Mohammed Al Mannai (@M_Mannai) October 25, 2014
What's the traffic at the pearl about? @dohanews pic.twitter.com/e97XY6zBsb
— Latifa bint Sa'ad (@LatifaSJ) October 25, 2014
Worse to come
With many parts of the Pearl still under construction, residents fear that the traffic problem will only get worse in the months and years to come.
In June this year, a UDC spokesman told Doha News that between 11,300 to 12,250 residential units on the island were complete.
The island is being built in stages and by 2018, it is expected to have a total of 18,831 villas, apartments, chalets and townhouses.
So far, only a fraction of these are occupied. In June, this was estimated to be 3,500-4,000, although this could now stand at more than 5,000 as the vacant properties were expected to be released and filled up at approximately 1,000 units a quarter.
Moreover, as the weather cools, the area becomes an increasingly popular weekend destination for families to go for a meal and walk by the marina, further compounding the traffic on and off the island.
And it could be set to become even busier as the Kempinski Hotel, currently under construction near Qanat Qartier, prepares to open to the public before the year-end.
Issues with internal phone lines on the Pearl over the past month has also added to residents’ safety concerns, as they say they have been unable to contact The Shield, which manages security on the island and the entrance to The Pearl.
In a statement to Doha News, Abdulrahim Al Ibrahim, director of The Pearl’s Central Authority Directorate, said that UDC was “fully aware and shares the concerns relating to the current traffic conditions outside The Pearl-Qatar.”
He said that due to ongoing infrastructure works to the Lusail highway and the surrounding area “there will be the inevitable traffic conditions which results in congestion which is being faced by the residents when entering and exiting The Pearl-Qatar at peak times.”
“UDC would like to point out that these works are ongoing outside The Pearl-Qatar from the Lagoona roundabout up until Katara Roundabout. As such, these areas do not fall under the jurisdiction of UDC and are controlled by the government department Ashghal.
Unfortunately, however, these subsequent works do have a knock-on effect for all those exiting or entering The Pearl-Qatar. There are no plans to build any new access/exit points at The Pearl Qatar.”
He said that UDC has regular meetings with Hyundai, the main contractor for the highway project, and has been recently told that a new, three-lane traffic diversion system should soon be in place “that will help alleviate the traffic congestion outside The Pearl Qatar.”
This is exactly why I’ve always said I would never live on the Pearl. I could see this coming three years ago, and it’s not even close to full occupancy yet. What with that and the racing cars and motorbikes all night long, it’s hardly luxury residential experience it was intended to be.
It is the standard Qatar five star veneer.
One entry and exit point…good luck with that, it was a traffic mgt fault from the start, but is so Qatar, no planning. And lets not even go near the emergency management implications .. fools and money.
doesnt the palm in Dubai have one entry one exit, so that isnt the problem…going from 5 lanes? (maybe more) to 2 lanes entering 1 tiny roundabout which also serves the zig zag towers, lagoona mall, ritz carlton and the grand hyatt.
Maybe they could adjust the North Bridge of the 3 Bridges To Nowhere to stick out of the Pearl. That would give the Sharq Crossing an actual use and give the Pearl a quick link to west bay and the old airport area.
It’s all about the motorbikes, motorcycle cops, paramedics, motorists….
Floating hospital, or ambulance boats
My lease is up end of December and we will never rent on The Pearl again having lived here for the past three years. First impression is Wow… but live here a month and you will soon change your mind.
The traffic congestion getting off the pearl in the morning is just a disgrace and god forbid if you are ever in the back of an ambulance or a burning building. Add in the boy racers in their expensive cars (immune to speed cameras), lack of decent shopping and “dry” restaurants the place really has nothing going for it.
Will things improve when the new expressway is complete? Well if the place currently has 5,000 properties leased and cant cope, how will they manage when there are 18,831? All leaving for work and returning at the same time… fantastic planning UDC!
UDC…? U Dont Care.
Well, at least is cheap and you have plenty of entertainment, shopping and relaxing venues :)))
At least when the traffic is gridlocked on the Pearl it keeps the noise of boy racers in their shiny cars to a minimum.
Keeps everyone travelling at safer slower speed too
If Qatar was serious about hiring the right expats, then one of the questions it should have asked at interview is ‘do you want to live on the Pearl?’ Anyone who answered yes, the interview should have been terminated immediately and the candidate wished the best of luck.
For some reason I can’t stop laughing at this comment, I imagined the scenario play out perfectly in my head.
There was precious little sympathy in a recent Doha News article for the business owners in Al Sadd who will face 3 years of uncertainty owing to traffic problems. The case for The Pearl would seem to me to be the same.
There isn’t much that UDC can do, since the problem is that there are traffic snarls on the mainland, which then tailback onto the island. adding more entries isn’t just impossible, it’s also of limited advantage – the additional entry point, wherever its constructed, will also just connect the Pearl to the same clogged, gridlocked road, just at another point.
With the construction of the Doha rail stations, there are people all over Doha whose commute is now much longer than it used to be (and ought to be). I don’t have any particular sympathy for the residents of The Pearl. If you live in Doha it’s pretty likely that your daily commute is pretty congested.
This is a disaster waiting to happen, I truly hope for the safety of every resident and visitor of the Pearl that it is sorted out as a priority. I can’t even wrap my head around how much of a risk this is.
So much money to spend but when it comes to proper planning, this country is way backward
If it was only when it comes to proper planning…
Traffic problems are currently everywhere in Doha, and will get worse as more constructions get away and population increases. However the one way exit of the pearl is indeed a security and health hazard regardless of the traffic. I hope the directors at UDC will realize this and find some solutions.
Reminds me of an old film……………………..
We struggled over to Lagoona mall last Thursday night and have vowed to avoid the area in the afternoons and evenings from now on. Not sure how the restaurants on the Pearl will go with this. It might be that the residents will patronise them as they are trapped in the area or they might find less diners as anyone from off the island can’t get in.
I hope last Thursday was an exception because there was an event on at the Ritz, it took me around 25 mins to go the distance of the Lagoona mall.almost cried.
Single way in and out for thousands of residents. Genius
One exit is enough once the tunnel is complete. their current management of the situation is horrible though. maybe a temporary ferry service should be in place
Sorry, but one exit will NEVER be enough. The problem starts with the road layout on the Pearl itself. There are queues starting from the parking areas!
right! Because if you have a narrow road only since the beginning of the project, it means they did not think enough to understand that there would be people living on the Pearl and people visiting. It’s always called “lack of planning”
there are queues cuz the exit ends with a roundabout ! once the tunnel is ready the exit will be part of the new free-flow expressway!
A disaster? It is a matter of time…
Maybe they could issue exit permits for the pearl ;-D
privileged folks whining.
Serves all you whingers right. Paying for rent and services through your noses, getting rubbish quality, and you cannot even get off/ into the development conveniently.
More fools you. But just as long as you can go back home and tell all your friends that you live on ‘the Bearl’, it should be alright then.
well, there are people who don’t live in the Pearl, but they go there for a walk near the sea on the weekend, take a coffee, do something ……and by the time they leave “The Bearl” they have to sit half an hour in the car to exit it! Do you think it is normal?
I was talking about residents who have chosen to pay through their noses for the privilege of being stuck in traffic and the other “niceties” of living there and have no choice other than to grin and bear it until their rent contracts are exhausted.
The rest of us have a choice. There are plenty more other places in Doha where one can relax and unwind.
I got it, but there are not many other places…souq is a mess, try to avoid because you get stuck trying to park, after all Cornish is often without a place to park or to sit and sip a drink near the sea….there are not so many places, I wish there were!
Priveledged? No, not really. Paying through the nose? I pay less for a one bed apartment on the pearl than an executive studio at Ezdan. Only one way on and off? Well, yeah – it’s an island. Screaming super cars, bikes and jet skis – a thing of the past. The problem is greatly reduced and in some areas non-existent.
Traffic congestion… Yes…. But the issue isn’t the pearl. The issue is with Losail street North and South of Katara roundabout, and it is a recent thing, because other feeder roads are being opened. Soon they will reach the next stage of development on that stretch and the problem will go away again, and the stretch between the Marriott and tornado tower is far worse. Normally I can make the pearl to tornado tower in 12 minutes…. Currently it takes twice that, but I can live with it. Compare it to my old commute in the UK of 2.25 hours to do 22 miles… All on the motorways. This really is not so bad.
There are one beds for under 8 including aircon & cleaning in The Pearl? In that case I think the value is pretty good! A bit of traffic would be bearable compared to the creepy Ezdan pool area and the constant fire alarms (don’t worry mam we can disable if you want no more noise….what? Disable the fire alarm?)
Well…. 2 years ago Ezdan were charging me 9500 for a studio…. earlier this year they quoted me 8-10. MD properties have one bedroom apartments on Qanat Quatier for 9.5. Unfurnished, but Ikea is a god-send! And they are quite nice…. reallt quiet too, and the traffic really is not that bad – not compared to Al Wabb St or C Ring road
They charged us 8600 then I got caught in a stairwell when the power went out with no emergency lighting. Took me 35mins in pitch dark to descend on my hands and knees. Then there was a small fire and they hung a guy with a garden hose upside down out the window. No saving of money is worth my life.
I live on the Pearl and it takes me at least an hour to get to my work no matter what time I leave. I enjoy living there until I have to get on the road. I either get stuck in traffic ar face death 50 times/trip at least due to the stupid arrogant drivers, who I bet they brag how many people they bullied tonight, causing all sorts of annotance and disturbance beyond human imagination!
My decision is clear: I will leave the place as soon as my rental contract has expired. These Mr Smart from the development company understands only this concept, obviously.
Many countries who also suffer from traffic congestions have a medical helicopter service in place. I doubt that there is one in Qatar even though there are plenty of helos around. But even the top rollers need the roads closed for average Joe when they travel around the city instead of using a helicopter. That’s ridiculous.
Actually HMC has medical helicopters, for critical emergencies.
I’m going to defend Qatar and UDC here…. The design for The Pearl (and I’m no fan of it) has long been established: a series of artificial islands connected the the mainland by a single causeway. Nothing has changed. That what it’s always been, and always will.
When people coming to Qatar are choosing a place to live, simply use the same criteria you would use at home: good transport links, close to your work, close access to good schools and medical facilities, good local shopping etc etc…
Don’t just move to The Pearl because it’s the most ‘prestigious’ address in town. Idiots and morons, all of them.
If this was a building, Civil Defence would close it immediately.
It regularly takes me over 2 hours to travel to and from work due to the appalling congestion. The Pearl is no different really, just a smarter address. The one way in and out is the real worry, don’t the developers have any imagination of what could go wrong? Scary…
The problem is not the pearl Qatar or UDC, it’s outside development and planning. The pearl had nothing to do with the traffic. Prior to the outside road works there was no traffic! You guys need to chill.
Lol so many complaining about the Pearl yet no one is forcing you to stay there! It’s not UDC’s fault anyway, it’s the ongoing road works leading to the pearl.