DOHA 2017 and DOHA 2032: Creating liveable cities: The Qatar National Master plan Optimum solutions

for infrastructure management and social development Starts ‘Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030), launched in October 2008, builds a bridge from the present to the future. It aims to transform Qatar into an advanced country, sustaining its development and providing a high standard of living for all it ’s people for generations to come. It foresees a vibrant and prosperous Qatar with economic and social justice for all. It envisages all Qataris working together in pursuing these aspirations, with strong Islamic and family values guiding their collective energies. ’ This is the opening statement of the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011 – 2016. The plan for Qatar’s development is encompassed in three main documents: the first document is the Qatar National Vision (QNV) which runs to 2030, the second document is the Qatar National Development Strategy which is a direct result of the QNV and this runs from 2011 – 2016 and the Qatar National Master Plan is the third document which is soon to be published and is now under discussion and awaiting Emiri Decree. Sustainability Qatar invited Mr Ian Lyne the project manager for the Qatar National Master Plan to speak to its members about his work at the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). Mr Lyne has a string of alphabets behind his name including two Masters degrees from Oxford University in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The current Qatar National Master Plan runs from 2010 to 2032. This is not the first master plan that Qatar has developed but it is the first that will be passed by Emiri decree as it emanates from the Qatar National Vision 2030 which has been approved by Emiri decree. Two of the key thrusts of the national vision include sustainable development and protecting the environment. Lyne went further and asked the question: what does that mean for a place like Qatar? He said that without being pragmatic one cannot get a lot done and this plan contextualises projects like the hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the rail project, the new airport and others. The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) of Qatar has engaged Oriental Consultants of Japan to prepare the Qatar National Master Plan (QNMP) to guide physical development in Qatar over the next 25 yrs. This encompasses all aspects of comprehensive planning including National Framework, Municipal Structure Plans, City Plans, Local Area Plans and planning processes and regulatory codes mechanisms. The QNMP is an important endeavour that will ultimately benefit all residents, businesses, real estate developers and government agencies. The Plan proposes to shape and form a future that benefits the present and future generations to come in Qatar. (www.qnmp-oc.org) The QNV 2030 is based on four pillars: Human development, social development, economic development and environmental development. The QNMP is the instrument that will drive this vision into reality. Lyne posed another question to the audience: So how do we get there? Lyne said that to many Qatar may looked developed but, as he described it, this is merely the hardware. The software still needs to be loaded. QNV 2030 aims to transform Qatar into a developed country by 2030 and this is on all levels not merely a city center with skyscraper towers and an

LNG facility. The vision and the plan used scenario planning and looked at where Qatar could possibly be heading. Moving beyond a carbon based economy is the ultimate goal and the impetus driving the QNMP. Lyne suggested that we look at it retrospectively, what he called in his presentation, ‘Innovating the Future’ or planning backwards. Determining the most desirable endpoint and then looking at the steps that one would need to bridge where Qatar wants to be and where it is now. The General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP) is the government instrument tasked with executing this through strategic level thinking. Lyne underlined that this was straightforward and had been done by other countries and regions and the key was the will behind driving the vision; the catalyst that will ensure the transition from an old style economy, driven by carbon production, to a new style economy, driven by knowledge. Some of the factors to drive the move towards the non-carbon economy are: investment, innovation and wealth. The Qatar National Development Strategy is an evolution of the national vision, Lyne added that it less of a strategy and rather a series of plans moving the country towards its desired destination. The Qatar National Development Framework provides the spatial and physical development context to these national policy directions. The QNMP is rooted in sustainable development and is promoted through the tagline ‘The future is on our hands’. Qatar is aware that they are walking a tightrope with regards to their need to balance traditional values with aspirations for the future; and that there are some rather large responsibilities in being the richest people on the planet. It is with this in mind that the country knows that only securing improvements in living standards is not the ultimate goal of managing its hydrocarbon resources. The National Development Strategy 2011–2016 thus aims to balance five major challenges identified in QNV 2030: the First, moulding modernization around the preservation of Qatari culture and traditions. Second, balancing the needs of this generation and those of future generations. Third, managing growth and avoiding uncontrolled expansion. Fourth, matching the size and quality of the expatriate labour force to the selected path of development. Fifth, aligning economic growth with social development and environmental management. The QNMP has developed planning tools to manage aspects of the QNDF including, but not limited to, areas like food security, national defence, considered investment in infrastructure and introducing intermodal forms of transport to reduce congestion. A key part of the QNMP is thinking about what Qatar will look like and what Qataris want Qatar to look like. There is definitely a desire for a more distinctive look rather than being a ‘carbon’ copy of other oil rich Gulf cities. This includes integrating the mega projects within the urban systems and dealing with the large isolated structures that have single uses. Lyne continued to say that the QNMP advocated better use of land and vacant areas to prevent urban sprawl and also to halt environmental degradation and the depletion of resources to service the urban sprawl. This would need a serious commitment to integrate the planning agencies on a public and private sector level. A question raised here by Lyne was: What are the critical development pressures? The QNMP is broadly aimed at creating a liveable city. Its vision is to create a role model for the sustainable development and in so doing create the Gulf’s most liveable cities and towns. Making a city like this affordable to live in is another

challenge and not as easy. Lyne added that the key to achieving a liveable city was to be pragmatic and follow a time based implementation process. In the planning framework there are 185 policies looking at how municipalities need to operate. Part of this includes temporal and spatial planning. With regards to the growth and development of the city infrastructure Lyne pointed out the following: In 2010, Doha is the capital city but the form and shape of that capital city has not been defined and the other commercial centers in the city lack identity. Challenges are that there are not enough public spaces; and that the city limits have already been exceeded creating peri-urban sprawl. There also exists unsustainable density and uneven distribution of commercial, residential, educational, recreational and industrial facilities. There is also a significant amount of underused and vacant land and considerable amount of environmental degradation as well as a congested transport system. All this contributes to a reduced and continually reducing quality of life. To change Doha 2010 into the visionary cities of Doha 2017 and Doha 2032 Lyne outlined some of the core concepts that were put forward to create a liveable city. A compact city: this advocate reducing the area and depth of impacts from urban development. Polycentric centre: localising journeys so that people would not have to traverse large areas to reach work, school or recreation areas. Mixed use: creating mixed use developments so that urban development’s would include elements to service all aspects of one’s existence in an urban space. Lyne further spoke about density, transit orientation and managing the amount of ‘brass and glass’ in the city. Some of the measurements that Lyne point ed out that were being used is ‘place making’, environmental management, quality of life, assessment of sustainability integration and risk management. In the transformation plan for Doha City the difference between now and 2017 would be: Doha would have a downtown city centre (CBD), there would be managed density, more parks and open spaces, a Metro red line (rail), Grand park at the Corniche, BRT bus lines and an improved radial roads feeding the ring road system. The ring roads will continue to be a feature of the current road grid system. The difference between Doha 2017 and Doha 2032 will be a Greenbelt, Airport City, Doha Bay crossing, a variety of metropolitan centers, a Grand Park and a Waterfront, New Capital City Centre and an integrated Transit System. The QNMP has about 17 strategic objectives including a high quality capital city precinct, the retention of cultural identity with regards to rural/non-metropolitan communities, establishing a quality integrated transport system, use density to promote different kinds of lifestyles, differentiated residential plans for expatriates and nationals, protect and enhance the natural and built environment and finally develop policies and systems so that all the planning agencies have the tools to plan and implement the recommended strategy. Spreading the urban impact and looking at a measured depth of change is what will differentiate Doha from other cities in the Gulf and Qatar form other leading countries in the world. One of the areas of change that Lyne spoke at length about was the decentralisation of the commercial centres. The areas that have been identified for commercial growth are: Lusail, Downtown Doha, Airport City, Wakra, Rayyan North and Rayyan South. The plans for this transformation would form part of each municipalities local development and spatial development plans. Other factors for success would be to create walkable catchment areas, preserving the historic

character of places and creating amenities in ways that they can be shared by different communities. As an example, Lyne said that the community of Umm Slal, a historic city, asked that the farmland setting be retained. Lyne said that Qatar is eminently aware that any process of development will be fraught with difficulty and it is only through managing the change that they can stick to the framework that they have set themselves. Some of the touch points that have been put forward to measure the depth of change: the extent of the urban renewal process, urban consolidation, responsibility of environmental stewardship, urban renaissance and sustainable development. Essentially the vision, strategy and plans are excellent and there is nothing to prevent its realisation. The resolve to enforce the implementation of the plans and monitoring and evaluating milestones as the process unfolds will ensure success; as well as leveraging the private sector for public benefit. Both individuals and institutions will have to develop competencies to achieve their national goals. Lyne also said that the adoption of international standards, the avoidance of contested solutions and staying away from ‘development fashion’ items will also help in the achievement of the goals set out in the QNMP. In conclusion Lyne said that the sustenance of local traditions and culture will ensure that the achievements will match the aspirations of the Qatari people. Regular health checks and periodic risk assessments of the strategy and the plan will need to be done to ensure that bad planning and execution habits do not become entrenched. His Excellency the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, who is also the Head, Supreme Oversight Committee for implementing Qatar National Vision 2030 says in the preamble to the QNDS that the, ‘first National Development Strategy for the State of Qatar 2011 –2016 was prepared to set a path towards achieving the goals of Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar’s tremendous progress is clear in all fields. However, the stresses that accompany rapid progress are also visible. Our mission— balanced and sustainable growth—requires responsible use of resources and continuous modernization and development of public institutions to ensure good programme management and high-quality public services. This Strategy also highlights our competitive position in the international economy and reminds us of the effective role we must play at both the regional and international levels. (http://www2.gsdp.gov.qa/www1_docs/NDS_EN.pdf) Ends Wordcount: 2082

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