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The Peninsula newspaper of Doha informed based on MEED, a projects intelligence tracking business publication, that Qatar revealed a major delay to its infrastructure development programme that was planned to be ready for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The 12km long ‘Sharq’ crossing project designed by Spain’s Santiago Calatrava as made of three bridges interconnected by subsea tunnels, is priced at $12 billion.

It will not be included in the government’s seven years programme list.

The crossing’s three bridges spanning between 600 metres and 1,310 metres link south Doha’s new Hamad International Airport with the city’s cultural district of Katara and West Bay business district in the north.

It was one of the most ambitious engineering projects in the region, possibly an iconic attraction in the future; it was planned to handle 6000 vehicles an hour in both directions with the purpose to relieve pressure on the current traffic flows on the edge of the bay ‘Corniche’.

The project’s construction was scheduled as announced back in December 2013 by Nasser Ali Al Mawlawi, the president of Qatar’s Public Works Authority, Ashghal, to start this year and be completed by 2021,

No reasons were made available as to why such a project is postponed, and whether construction will anyhow start before 2022 and / or be entirely delayed until after the World Cup.

Qatar had previously programmed some $140 billion worth of projects of roads, stadiums, the recently opened airport, a new port and residential and retail developments for the international tournament.

The scope of these works have required tens of thousands of expatriates workers moving into the country and consequently putting significant pressure on the construction industry.

And at this conjecture, it was reported that Qatar being the 16th most expensive construction market in the world and the most expensive in the Gulf, coupled with the recent low oil prices somehow denting the country’s huge revenues, could be reasonable enough grounds for such a decision.

Despite assurances to the contrary, low oil prices have generally put significant strain on the country’s revenues and as the population increasing to work on the ongoing construction projects, further strain has been put on accommodation, roads and air traffic.

Late last year, Qatar’s World Cup committee said it would be reducing the planned number of stadiums from 12 to eight.

“The inevitable has started to happen.  Doha has started to prioritise the projects it needs for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and has begun delaying non-essential infrastructure schemes,” said MEED in its report.

According to experts, the move may initially be regarded as negative, but as work on projects continues to ramp up this year, it should be regarded as a positive move.

“The Sharq Crossing delay is good for Qatar.  The delay in its construction will give some respite to Doha’s overheating constructions sector,” they added.

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