Faced with a worsening debt crisis and the real prospect of a recession at home, several major European companies seeking new investment opportunities will be attending the annual Qatar Projects 2012 conference which will take place in Doha on 5-8 February at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
More than $106 billion (80.4 bln )of major projects will be awarded between now and 2022 in the Gulf state, with significant investment in oil and gas, heavy industry, electricity generation and water desalination, social infrastructure and transportation links, figures from MEED's 2011/12 Qatar Projects report.
Infrastructure spending will dominate the next five years with around $65 billion due to be invested in a series of new transportation schemes including the new $11 billion Doha International airport, the $6 billion Doha port project and a $25 billion metro and railway.
"More European architecture and construction firms are expected to head to Qatar as it invests heavily in building a world-class infrastructure system both for the FIFA World Cup Finals in 2022 and for Qatar Vision 2030," said Edmund O'Sullivan, Chairman, MEED Events.
Despite an expected slowdown this year, the outlook for the economy of the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas remains positive with GDP growth projected at 6%, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts.
British engineering firm Atkins is the latest European company to be awarded a project in Qatar after it won a US$107 million contract earlier this month to set up a Central Planning Office for infrastructure and transport contracts, its second major contract win there in recent months.
"This latest contract win in Qatar strengthens our position in the region even further as we are working with government stakeholders to help them to deliver the most comprehensive and integrated infrastructure investment programme in the region's history," said Uwe Krueger, Chief Executive, Atkins.
Atkins is one of several European firms attending the conference. Others include Mott MacDonald, Foster + Partners and GMP Architekten.
Leading multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, Hilson Moran, is another European company that is increasing its focus on Qatar after it opened its second GCC office in Doha last year.
While last year's conference attracted a record-breaking 644 attendees, the 2012 event has been expanded to include more client-led presentations and case study analysis, providing an in-depth look at the mega projects and investment and construction opportunities available. Increased focus on market research data with detailed sector profiles and forecasts providing invaluable future project information will add a new dimension to the debate with two days of interactive discussion.
Separate conference streams will focus on energy projects covering petrochemicals, power and water, as well as road, rail, aviation, real estate, social infrastructure and sports sector initiatives.
The confirmed list of speakers includes: H.E. Abdulla Bin Saoud al-Thani, Governor, Qatar Central Bank; Engineer Nasser Ali al-Mawlawi, President, Ashghal; Remy Rowhani, Director General, Qatar Chamber of Commerce & Industry; George Nasra, Managing Director, IBQ; Engineer Saad Ahmed Ibrahim al-Mohanadi, CEO, Qatar Railways Company; Khalifa al-Sowaidi, Managing Director, QAFCO; Monjid Abdelmajeed, Managing Director, REDCO Construction - Almana and Engineer Jalal Yousef al-Salihi, Director Infrastructure Affairs, Public Works Authority (Ashghal)