Qatar wants more transparent bidding

The Arab state, which is embarking on a major programme of infrastructure projects in the run up to its staging of the soccer World Cup in 2022, has called for more transparency from contracting firms through the bid phase. The call appears to have met with some resistance.

Foreign construction firms wanting to land a slice of more than $70 billion worth of infrastructure projects being awarded by 2022 soccer World Cup host Qatar need to heed the Arab state’s call for more transparency through the bid phase, according to speakers at the recent MEED Qatar Infrastructure Projects conference in London.

“Qatar remains one of the most robust global markets for construction companies,” said Stuart Curtis, group managing director of The Links Group, a company formation specialist. “However, tendering for the major contracts will require more transparency on the part of the contractors as the Gulf state seeks to appoint partners that can satisfy the technical and financial requirements of each project…”

Ian Lyne, director of development strategy at consultants Place Dynamix who helped prepare Qatar’s National Master Plan to guide the physical development of Qatar, said procurement has slowed as development priorities are re-evaluated. He said this allowed a “period of reflection” for Qatar to make sure it was bringing in the right expertise “to deliver their massive infrastructure projects on time and to specification with minimal risk of additional contractual claims”.

An example of the new demand for transparency is the $7 billion New Doha Port project, for which the tender and bid process has been moved online in an attempt to make it “more efficient, competitive and to improve the overall quality of submissions”. 

Publishing the names of all companies who apply for pre-qualification as well as those who get shortlisted has, however, proved controversial. “Some companies have complained to us about publishing their names when they have not pre-qualified, but we believe this creates a more competitive and fair marketplace,” said Nabeel Mohammed Al Buenain, New Doha Port project executive director.

“What we have now is a cultural disconnection between clients and companies,” added James Brenan of law firm Herbert Smith. “Companies have to manage the client relationship as much as the contract. It can mean the difference between succeeding and losing the bid.”