Farewell, West Bay.
Doha’s under-construction Msheireb district is now aiming to become a new financial and business center for Qatar, with the first firms expected to move in next summer.
The announcement was made yesterday after Qatar Financial Center (QFC) said that all new companies who register with it will work on the site.
That will include both local and international organizations, it added.
QFC is a Doha-based onshore business and financial center that has its own legal, regulatory, tax and business rules.
These include allowing firms to be wholly foreign-owned and to repatriate all of their profits.
Currently, existing companies registered with the QFC will not be required to move, the organization said.
But the center’s main office relocation will take place in phases over the next three years starting from summer 2017, QFC’s chief executive said.
Changing West Bay
If all of QRC’s firms opt to move, West Bay is going to become a lot less crowded in the coming years.
Some 300 companies – including banks, law firms, accountancy firms, management consultants and media/PR agencies – are currently registered with QFC, according to its website.
These are based in more than 45 designated premises across Doha, including the two QFC towers in Dafna/West Bay and several other high-profile locations there.
The West Bay area has become increasingly congested in recent years and parking spaces come at a premium, which can cause problems for visitors to offices in the area.
As a result, Qatar’s authorities have been taking steps to encourage firms to set up in other areas.
For example, the Ministry of Economy and Commerce (MEC) and Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) have moved from their previous West Bay offices to Lusail City, which is still being built.
And those who shift to downtown will be able to use the Musheireb station, the main stop for the new Doha Metro, to get to the work.
However, the first phase of this is not expected to open to passengers until early 2020.
Additionally, there will be a total of 10,000 underground car parking spaces for the whole Msheireb Downtown Doha site.
The new Msheireb business district will also house non-QFC companies in around 100 buildings.
The plan for the new downtown area, which is being developed by real estate firm Msheireb Properties, is akin to London’s Canary Wharf. It combines commercial, residential, retail and cultural entities in one complex.
The first companies – newly registered QFC firms – will start moving into the district next summer.
Organizations that are already registered and have offices elsewhere in the country can relocate in phases over the following two to three years.
In a statement, QFC said:
“Following the QFC’s relocation and move of QFC firms, other QFC entities including the Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority, the Qatar International Court and Dispute Resolution Center and the Qatar Finance and Business Academy will relocate as well. Their relocation is expected to be complete in 2019.”
The creation of the new business area is part of Qatar’s economic diversification from its reliance on hydrocarbons, QFC’s chief executive Yousuf Mohamed Al-Jaida said.
The old Musheireb neighborhood traditionally housed hundreds of small businesses and shops.
Many of the shopping and residential complexes were demolished several years ago to allow for the total reconstruction and modernization of the district.
It is being built in phases, although some deadlines have been missed.
According to Msheireb Properties CEO Abdullah Hassan al-Mehshadi, work on the first three phases of the development is “80 percent complete.”
He told Gulf Times that the company is working with Qatar Rail on the fourth phase.
So far, the development houses one school – Qatar Academy Msheireb, which opened its doors last September.
And last summer, Msheireb Properties announced that its first commercial tenant in its Al Baraha district would be the International Center for Sport Security (ICSS), which is also part of the QF stable.
When finished, the entire Downtown Doha project will include shops and a cultural forum that features two art house cinemas and a performing arts theater.
In addition to the 100 commercial and government buildings, Msheireb will have 900 houses and apartments, eventually accommodating a residential population of 2,600 people.
There is also a mosque, a museum and 120,000 square meters of parks and open space.
Additionally, there will be four hotels, including a Mandarin Oriental which is set to open this year and a Park Hyatt.
In the heritage quarter, next to the Emiri Diwan, government buildings include the National Archive, four restored houses that comprise Msheireb Museums and Eid prayer ground.
These are across from Al Koot Fort near Souq Waqif and first opened in 2014.