1) Qatar remains GCC's fastest-growing economy
Qatar is set to remain the “fastest” growing country in the GCC region at 3.5% this year and 3.7% in 2017, according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The country’s hydrocarbon production will benefit from increased pipeline gas output from the Barzan gas field and the new Ras Laffan II refinery in 2017.
However, this will be broadly offset by slowing growth in the non-hydrocarbon sector, leaving total GDP growth at a forecast 3.5% in 2016 and 3.7% in 2017, ICAEW said in its "Economic Insight: Middle East Q3 2016" produced by Oxford Economics, its partner and economic forecaster. The ICAEW report states that GCC Governments need to step up efforts to improve the financing environment.
According to the report, a balance in the oil market is expected in 2017. Brent crude oil prices are forecast to average $44 a barrel in 2016, edging up to $50 for a barrel in 2017 respectively, thanks to the success of Opec’s (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) strategy to keep production high and try to freeze out higher cost producers, particularly those in the US.
2) Al Meera set to expand with 5 new stores in Qatar
Qatar-based retail major Al Meera Consumer Goods Company has announced that it is in the final stages of preparations for five of the company’s upcoming stores in the country. Al Meera plans to launch its five new shopping centers in succession, starting with the 4,239 sq m Bu Sidra branch, which is set to open its doors to consumers in the soon future. In addition to the Bu Sidra branch, Al Meera will be opening four new shopping centers in North Sailiya (Al Miarad), Al Wakra (West), Um Salal Ali, and Leaibab 2, built on a covered area of 4,000 sq m, 2,667 sq m, 4,014 sq m and 5, 093 sq m respectively.
The company’s upcoming stores will add a total of 9,709 sq m supermarket area to its presence in Qatar, bringing its trademark shopping experience to citizens and residents in five different suburbs spread across various regions of the country.
3) Five hotels planned for Qatar’s airport economic zone
Five new hotels and apartment-hotels are expected to be built in the under-construction special economic zone near Hamad International Airport (HIA). Ras Bu Fontas economic zone by the airport is one of three economic zones p-lanned by Qatar in Al Karana, south of the Industrial Area; and at Um Alhoul near Mesaieed.
The new hotels will be in the Ras Bu Fontas zone, which at 4.01 square km is the smallest of the three sites. It will be a hub for businesses specializing in technology, business services, logistics, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare and medical devices.
4) Qatar reveals new visa rules to boost tourism
A new tourism visa scheme that eases travel to passengers transiting through Doha has been introduced in a bit to promote tourism in Qatar, the Ministry of Interior has announced. Travelers with a minimum transit time of five hours in Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) will now be allowed to remain in Qatar for up to four days without prior entry visa application. The previous transit visa rule allowed transit passengers with a minimum layover of eight hours to spend a maximum of two days in Qatar.
The move is meant to ease stopovers at Doha, make them more attractive to Qatar Airways passengers and strengthen the country’s position as a tourist destination. Upon completion of passport control procedures, passengers of all nationalities can opt for the Qatar transit visa free of charge on arrival at HIA.
5) Qatar to build Bedouin camp for 2,000 World Cup fans
Qatar is to construct a special Bedouin-style desert camp to house thousands of fans during the 2022 World Cup as the Gulf state looks to broaden accommodation for the tournament beyond the limited number of apartments and hotels.
A fan village among the sand dunes close to the Saudi border will house up to 2,000 visitors in Arabian tents, allowing them to experience the desert from close quarters, Qatar's World Cup organizing committee said in a statement.
Most of the 500,000 fans expected to descend on Qatar will stay in hotels and apartments, but an earlier announcement suggested thousands could also camp under canvas in desert areas close to stadiums.
6) Qatar power capacity tipped to reach 13,000MW by 2018
Qatar's power capacity is expected to reach 13,000MW by 2018 and will cater to the country's ever growing development needs, said Fahad al-Mohannadi, managing director and general manager of Qatar Electricity and Water Company. The existing capacity is around 8,800MW.
Asked whether more utility projects would be added beyond 2018, al-Mohannadi said, "There has been a steady increase in the demand for electricity and water in our country. This is obviously due to Qatar's development and population growth.
"Some of our existing projects are old. A case in point is the Ras Abu Fontas A plant. It is now 43 years old. Some of our new projects will replace the existing ones and others will be new developments."
He said there would be another utility project in Qatar between 2018 and 2022. "The location is roughly known. But I cannot disclose it now. It depends on how the grid moves. There is more than one option. It has to be done on techno-economical basis," al-Mohannadi said.
7) Qatar Rail completes digging tunnels for Doha Metro
The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani attended Qatar Railways Company (Qatar Rail)'s celebration to mark the completion of tunnel digging works for the Doha Metro Project on the south side of the Red Line in Hamad International Airport (HIA) Station.
The tunneling works started in July 2014 and a total of 111km were digged by the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM).
In order to dig 111 kilometers of tunnels, the Doha Metro Project required 470.497 concrete block for the production of 70,071 tubes. With the completion of the tunnels' drilling, 50% of the Doha Metro Project has been completed.