A leading industry commentator has warned of ‘anxiety’ among British architects and consultants involved in projects in Qatar following the latest allegations of corruption linked to the World Cup 2022
Dubai-based, Middle East expert Richard Thompson made the comments in the wake of a damning Sunday Times report which claimed millions of pounds were paid to FIFA officials who supported the bid.
Speaking exclusively to AJ, the editorial director of AJ’s sister title Meed - The Middle East Economic Digest said: ‘A lot of people out here are watching it [the developments] nervously. There’s been a lot of opportunity created by the World Cup but on the other side of the coin a lot of people are very confident it will still go ahead in Qatar.’
Despite the concerns, Thompson insisted there was a general feeling of ‘optimism’ in the Gulf state, which he said has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and has invested heavily in infrastructure programmes included in Qatar’s economic development plan Vision 2030.
He added: ‘The past 12 months have seen some pretty major infrastructure projects going ahead – the Doha metro, wastewater and sewerage programme. A lot of people on the ground realise the World Cup is one milestone for Qatar, if the World Cup doesn’t go ahead all of those other things will carry on. The projects that will be affected are the stadiums and the ambitions for hotels will be scaled back.’
Qatar’s 2022 bid committee has denied all allegations of wrongdoing but demands have been made for the Gulf state to be stripped of holding the event.
A spokesperson for Atkins, which is working on essential infrastructure projects and programmes in Qatar said the company’s projects in the Gulf state were driven ‘first and foremost by Qatar’s National 2030 Vision’. ‘As such there is strong momentum behind them to support the state’s long term economic growth and diversification,’ he said.
Meanwhile a UK Trade and Investment spokesman added: ‘The inquiry is currently on-going and it would be wrong to comment ahead of the findings. We are continuing to work on the basis that the World Cup will be held in Qatar.’
The allegations come less than a week after four British practices were shortlisted in the competition to design the centrepiece World Cup stadium.
Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Mossessian &Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects are all vying for the job to mastermind the 80,000-seat capacity stadium in Lusail.
Previous story (AJ 30.05.14)
Foster and Chippo on shortlist for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup stadium
Four British practices have been shortlisted in the competition to design the centrepiece stadium for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar
Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Mossessian & Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects are all vying for the job to mastermind the 80,000-seat capacity stadium in Lusail.
An earlier tender process for the flagship arena in Doha, which will host the World Cup final in eight years’ time, was ditched in March, having rumbled on for almost 12 months. According to reports in AJ sister publication MEED, none of the proposals tendered then were thought to accurately ‘reflect modern Qatari design and culture’.
As a result the contest organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, began another search. The shortlisted architects were asked to attend workshops with the committee ‘to ensure the fresh design met expectations’. The proposals were submitted last week.
AJ100 chart-topper Foster + Partners has already worked on a scheme for the so-called Lusail Iconic Stadium, having drawn up a concept for the arena as part of Qatar’s successful World Cup bid in late 2010.
Mossessian & Partners has also been active in the region, playing a major part in the Heart of Doha (now Mushereib) mixed-use scheme, which won an Architectural Review Future Projects award for combining ‘architectural excellence’ with both environmental and social context.
Mangera Yvars has work in Doha, too, having designed among other things the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, which is nearing completion.
Doha had initially planned to spend $4 billion on building nine new stadiums, as well as overhauling the existing Al-Rayyan, Al-Gharafa and Khalifa arenas.
However, Qatar’s 2022 organising committee recently announced it was considering reducing the number of proposed host stadiums to ‘an amount that better reflected the size of the country’. Among those schemes still likely to go ahead is the Al-Wakrah stadium, designed by Zaha Hadid.
None of the practices involved in the new Lusail contest were available to comment.