Qatar is struggling to recruit and retain skilled experts who can help deliver on its many planned infrastructure projects over the next several years, according to a new report by international consulting and accounting firm PwC.
The ensuing “capacity crunch,” which is also being experienced in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, will make it difficult for projects to be delivered on time unless radical changes are made to management styles.
In the second edition of the Building Beyond Ambition: Middle East Capital Projects & Infrastructure Survey for June 2014, PwC states:
“Organisations delivering complex and iconic projects need to rethink how they govern and oversee project delivery, building delivery units that are agile, empowered and able to make decisions effectively. Failure to do so risks these projects being mired in delays and disputes.”
PwC experts surveyed 130 of the region’s most prominent project owners, developers, contractors advisors, and financiers during the month of April to assess their confidence of the year ahead.
While three quarters of business leaders said they expected spending to increase in the coming year as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 World Cup and the UAE gets set for the Dubai Expo in 2020, the report found “acute” capacity constraints facing the region’s mega-projects.
Qatar is feverishly working to build and overhaul at least eight stadiums ahead of the conduct extensive road improvements, create a metro and light-rail system and develop a new city in Lusail, as well as a new port.
A shortage of skilled manpower may be one of the biggest impediments to delivering these projects on time, according to those who spoke to PwC.
More than half (54 percent) of business owners and 43 percent of contractors said this was their top challenge for the coming year:
“While the Middle East may well have the ambition and political imperative to embark on the projects planned in the region, the key limiting factor and potential crisis point is around people.”
As the number of big projects increase internationally, the report states that money alone is not the only consideration for expert workers.
Skilled expats who are being sought after also consider the available healthcare and education facilities, and whether they will have a good quality of life if they relocate.
Qatar is cited as one of the top three countries, along with UAE and Bahrain, where the availability of skilled resources is considered the biggest external challenge.
The findings of this report chime with the latest statistics released last week by Qatar’s Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS), which concluded that the proportion of highly-skilled workers in the country declined between 2008 and 2012.
This is despite significant state efforts to expand and develop Qatar’s knowledge-based industries, as it attempts to diversity its economy away from oil and gas.
To avoid a talent vacuum, businesses should focus on trying to retaining their experts by giving them chances to develop and progress in their roles, the report stated.
Another problem is poor decision-making on behalf of those managing the projects. More than half (54 percent) of those questioned cited it as a key reason why developments were falling behind schedule.
Critical of the common client structure in the region, the report describes the status quo as “power-lite,” saying it contributes to delays and makes projects go over-budget:
“A lack of experience at a senior level to oversee large, complex projects and their contractors, also creates problems.
When combined with relatively weak governance structures and a lack of delegation, it leads to delays in decision-making, last-minute variations, poorly defined scope or inadequate designs and a lack of oversight.”
Fewer projects across the region are being canceled these days, according to the report. But delays are commonplace – some 95 percent of those questioned said they suffered some delay, with nearly half (44 percent) admitting their projects were behind by six or more months.
This is worse than the situation two years ago, where PwC’s first report found that 90 percent had reported delays, with 34 percent saying the delays were six months or more.
At that time, as is now, a lack of funding was cited as one of the reasons, with 45 percent of respondents saying this year that this had led to their project being delayed or deferred.
Projects are also now more likely to run over-budget. Some 71 percent reported an overspend this year, compared to 63 percent in 2012.
Disputes are also more likely to take place, with 62 percent of business leaders admitting they were in dispute last year or expect to be in the coming year.
Here’s the full 2014 report:
The key point is quality of life for these critical expats. They can earn good money anywhere so why would you want to work in Saudi as you live in an open prison. It is like giving up 2 years of your life for a project, but I’m sorry no matter how much you pay me my time on earth is too precious to waste like that.
Qatar needs to accommodate those it wishes to recruit to build its country, because if you get them here on false promises they will quickly leave.
Or if you wish the developments to stop that is also possible but the locals will have to accept a lower standard of living.
Besides the school placement situation other factors are on the surface of decisions to come. Who wants to be constrained by exit visas, who wants to have to leave at age 60,who wants to have a Dorjie Gerung situation happen,then there is the overshadowing prospect that you come to work today with a new set of rules to live by with little or no explanation or headship it was coming. Lots of upsides of course,but constraints that drive westerners batty rise to the top of decision making.
There’s only so much money can buy.
This stat is appalling – “with 62 percent of business leaders admitting they were in dispute last year or expect to be in the coming year.”
too many projects screwed down to the last penny, and terrible contracts and a big stick – when if you want quality reward good work on time etc
fast, good or cheap – you get to choose two
who wants to sit in hour long traffic, in 45 degree heat, and not even be allowed to drink some water?
I didn’t love it, so I left it (where is that donkey, anyway?). I’m in Kurdistan now, and enjoyed a nice breakfast in the sun this morning, followed by lunch in a cafe. Could have had a beer, too, if I’d wished.
There IS life beyond. Free! Free! I’m Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Careful of ISIS and I am not talking about the Egyptian God……
Newly renamed “THE Islamic State” thank you very much.
is it safe in kurdistan? are ramadan rules not applied there to everyone or just expats?
It’s business as usual here. If you didn’t watch the news, or drive a car, you wouldn’t know anything was different. There are huge queues for fuel, but other than that, nothing.
Kurdistan is a truly welcoming land, and a secular one of religious tolerance. Ramadan “rules” are a personal choice, and not applied to anybody by the state, as far as I am aware. In fact, it’s business as usual in that sense, too. It’s probably treated more in the way Christian families consider lent. I’ll talk to some locals about it, but I think it’s more a time of reflection, rather than an absurd cycle a feast and famine.
It does sound like a wonderful place, perhaps if they manage to gain independence then you would be guaranteed normalcy away from all the chaos in the rest of iraq.
It’s not particularly wonderful, it’s just more like what those from outside the gulf would consider normal. Most from outside the gulf consider the gulf to be a bit, you know, odd.
Obviously you are an idiot. Qatar is far better than most places in this world, sure it has its problems but it’s not Nigeria, North Korea or The Yemen.
In fact it has a lot of things going for it. Not paying tax for one, the weather is great for 9 months of the year and the serious crime is not too bad. Plus it’s a good hub to fly to pretty much anywhere.
troll – don’t encourage them
Yes because speaking the truth these days makes the person a troll. Enjoy slave land.
You’re right MIMH, but I suspect you’re looking at it from the perspective of someone who is used to the business and social culture of Qatar, and to try justify it by naming the countries that are at the absolute bottom of the ladder just reinforces the point to the expats. To those not from the Middle East Qatar is a shock at every level when we compare it to the competitive labour market and human rights that we would normally enjoy in the western world. And don’t tell us that we earn good money because in terms of the difficulties of the business culture, the social culture, legal restrictions, and climate, we earn every last Ryal – and more.
they make sooo much fuzz on infrastructures that in the end most percentage is not good enough to last.. . ex… HIA.
why are you reading news on the “dump-hole” on a Doha focused site? I take it you are one of the failures who does not have the option of leaving the dumphole?
Because I, like millions of people are waiting to celebrate Qatar losing the right to host 2022 🙂
These animals (sorry to insult animals) are worthless, lazy, degenerate racists, who care about nothing but their food, prostitutes and cars.
Wishing that they will lose the world cup is your right as an individual but to compare them to animals and now insinuate that animals would find it insulting with the comparison is going to far. Its really uncalled for.
Seriously ? I wrote all that and you highlight the fact that I forgot to put an apostrophe ? lol … Thanks anyway ..
Do you think animals are lesser beings than us? They were created by God and they mostly never harm or enslave humans.
Come on…you know what I mean. I would agree with you on Qatar losing the right to host the world cup but to compare them to animals is just below the belt.
Then I do appologize. My point was that animals are more respectful to humans than how some humans are.
How humans treat each other is a legitimate philosophical point that one could discuss, but to characterize all Qataris as animals is crude, demeaning, and intellectually lazy. LIOLI was rightly criticized for comparing a group of people to insects, your behaviour is equally distasteful.
You seem to know them well enough to simply be a random outsider hoping Qatar lose 2022 rights based on fairness and what is ethical. Your posts wreak of emotion like those of a scorned lover as a opposed to a judicious sports fan.
I can only infer that you once were a prostitute who was intimate with a “fat ahmed”, and despite the passionate moments you shared together, where you got to know him and his interests very well, you still were discarded and replaced with fresh “meat”.
I suggest you lurk on the Western media sites as I am certain they will reveal Qatar’s losing of 2022 rights before Doha news. Sorry about “ahmed” and the cruelty of the aging process though.
I never said that I am a random outsider. Your thinking process and poor logic portray you as the perfect profile fit to live in Qatar. While i pity you people, I shockingly enjoy a little schadenfreude. See, besides your culturally ambraced lack of credibility and accountability, the problem with you guys is that the moment someone calls your unethical and slimy moves, you go all personal, patriotic and deffenssive to the point where you actually sound more pathetic. On your next reply, I want you to use reality a little more.
Note: using big words in their wrong context is like a short guy that wears high heels, then walks around, convinced that it is being unnoticed.
Your abysmal grammar skills not only reveals why you may have struggled with my post, but also how detached you are from reality to think you are in a position to offer anyone grammar advice.
I am done wasting time on someone who is clearly delusional.
Hopefully that Ramadan promotion for a slave works out and “fat Ahmed” brings you back into his harem for your “professional services”. 😉
1-Offer anyone “grammatical” advice.
2-Hopefully”,” that Ramadan. Or, you can also say “Hoping” that “the” Ramadan…
3- skills not only reveal… no need for the “s,
4-Someone who clearly is.. not who is clearly.
Completely unacceptable – you may have good points to make, but you have destroyed your credibility through sweeping ad hominem attacks. Characterizing an individual as an animal in an emotional moment is one thing, calling the entire population animals does not have any place on a conversation board such as this. You now have about as much credibility as LIOLI.
You forgot one important thing…
I did appologize to the animals 🙂
No it’s just that the more I read about misreable Quatar, the more I feel good about my life 🙂
You must have a pretty bad life.
P.S. – You can’t spell.
Hehe I just love spelling it Quatar.. sounds more of a zoo that way.
I meant the word “miserable” – It was obvious you couldn’t spell “Qatar”.
So tell me, how much $ to own a slave these days? I heard they have a ramadan promotion.
Can’t complain. At least i am not a slave to a fat ahmed 🙂
There are many things I do not like about Qatar but to call them animals in unacceptable. You are an idiot to make such a comment !!
When you bring relatives, tea boys and drivers and make them managers then what else can you expect. They instead end up getting and filling the organization with more of their relatives and friends rather then doing any productive or beneficial work for the company
Where did you see drivers and tea boys at management positions? These, along with construction workers, are at the bottom of the scale. Are you joking here?
I believe many of us fail to look at one very important reason why Qatar has a talent vacuum or even a retention issue. Its FAMILY matters. Most middle management to upper management personnel come here with their wife, husband and children. And how the family member and children feel after spending sometime here in Qatar I believe plays an important role in whether he or she decides to continue working here. Intangible reasons which tugs at the emotional aspect of the family. Maybe…Qatar should also look into this matter. Money is important but not at the expense of rest of the family feeling sad. It might seem trivial to many but I truly believe this plays a role when it comes to talent retention.
Lack of good school places and the kafala system would have to be two of the biggest turn-offs about Qatar. Then throw in the arrogant attitude of some and the appalling driving skills of many and you have many reasons to seek employment elsewhere.
I do agree with some commentators here. The biggest challenge is education and healthcare. If you want to hire people with extensive experience in their fields then you should assume that these people have families and kids, and will therefore be very demanding when it comes to the well-being of their kids.
With regards to healthcare, Qatar is doing its best. There are many clinics in the country and most companies offer generous healthcare coverage. The government also offers everything health-wise almost for free. There are shortcomings but honestly these exist even in Europe and the US. The US by the way does not have a good reputation for healthcare.
Education on the other hand is different. The Independent Schools approach apparently failed and the government does not seem to have a solution for it. For Universities however, bringing reputable international universities to the country helped alleviate the pressure on Qatar University and offer quality education and new subjects.
Finally, bad PR is also an issue, but I think it will fade away in the next few months if it is confirmed that the Qatari bid was fine and that there is no way Qatar will be stripped of its right to host the WC.
I agree with you until the last part of the last paragraph – though we could quibble over how much pressure QF actually relieves. The bad PR will continue, the alleged corruption related to the Qatari bid is only part of Qatar’s bad employer rep – the kafala and labour/human rights abuses were being reported on and were a topic of conversation long, long before WC corruption, and this will continue. The difference is that because of the WC attention the Qatari system is now out in the open and common knowledge, and many people are not willing to accept it.
My point was that, if the bid is fine and the WC2022 will be in Qatar, then media pressure will ease. I get your point about the Kafala system, but bear in mind that calls to strip Qatar of the WC only emerged after the accusations of bribery in the bid. Before, it was only about the FIFA pressuring Qatar to improve the workers situation and remove/update the Kafala system. There were fewer voices asking for the radical decision of moving the WC to another country.
Just look at the UAE, their system is as bad as Qatar but they get much less negative coverage. Recently, they had some bad PR following the revelations of abhorrent treatment of laborers working on the NY University campus there, but even that is gone now and there is nothing in the news about it anymore. I assume the same will happen to Qatar sooner or later.
I think that we’re talking on different sides of the same coin. The general topic is why people are bypassing Qatar in favour of other destinations. People are much more knowledgeable about Qatar than they were in the past, and if Qatar keeps the WC, regardless of the outcome of the investigations, it will be under scrutiny until the WC is finished – the media pressure may shift focus from corruption, but you’ll still see documentaries from labour camps, hidden camera investigations, etc. That is not going to end regardless of what happens with the corruption investigation. There may be a lull if the investigation finds nothing, but the reporting will pick back up again later. It is largely not within Qatar’s control, and so far Qatar has shown no talent for reputation management.
Anyway, the WC reporting is just one of many reasons that Qatar is losing out to its global competitors. Get away from the mainstream media and into the career specific job-boards for nurses, teachers, engineers etc, where people trade information on employers, working conditions, etc. It is at this word-of-mouth level that Qatari employers and Qatar’s system really take a beating. For fun one day, pay your $25 and get a membership in the International Schools Review website and start reading reviews of Qatari schools, then honestly ask yourself whether you would be keen to seek work there. Similar boards exist for all of the professions, and this is where Qatar’s reputation really suffers, and no matter what becomes of the WC, those boards aren’t going to stop.
Thanks for the information. I did not know about these online boards. I would be keen to read the stories posted there 🙂
I did joi8n the discussion and I explained how the Client/Contractor/Consultant relationship is far more detrimental to the Qatar construction industry than any talent drain – but it has been deleted for some reason
now the pragmatic view from someone who has seen it at first hand and just about torn every hair out of his head in frustration. Even projects fully resourced with quality staff suffer, and they suffer more than anything else because of the combined failures and dysfunctional relationship between the Client (and the Clients Representative body such as ASTAD/ASHGAL) and the Design/Project Management Consultants (PMC). It is a master servant relationship between an often unknowing Client and a PMC unwilling to challenge him and give him proper guidance for fear of being seen as confrontational and putting their future fee income at risk, and this is the case from project inception through to completion. It starts with an inadequate Client brief that doesn’t get properly developed, an often utopian programme that almost guarantees an inadequate design on which to invite tenders and commence construction. Often the project fragments as the Client manages the design, invites and inadequately analyses the tenders in-house, and then simply dumps the result on a PMC at construction stage, losing the knowledge base and
expertise that would track the project as a whole and correct the obvious errors. The Client foists his contract on the contractor – a contract that is badly drafted with confusing and unclear wording , often contradictory within it’s text, punative in it’s conditions, and inevitably leads to dispute between the Client and contractor. Add changes of mind by the Client, the low morale of the site engineering/architectural/Cost Management staff who having had no involvement on the pre-programmed disaster dumped on them yet inevitably end up as the fall-guys for every failing (as neither the Client nor Client Representative nor the PMC Project PM and his/her higher management can do no wrong), the blatant and deliberate withholding of payments to PMC’s and contractors, and it is little wonder that projects are massively delayed and over budget. In the developed world it was realised some 30 years ago that projects only get built to budget and programme with all sides working as a team with honesty, transparency, and realism – and in Qatar that isn’t even on the distant horizon. This is no rant, this is the Qatar construction industry as it functions today and which will unnecessarily heap pressure on itself in the run up to WC2022.
This is probably the core issue. Schooling & traffic problems are probably some of the results of this. The phrase “p!55 up in a brewery” comes to mind..
Sounds very familiar – well written 🙂