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Transforming Qatar's Future through Smart Infrastructure

Qatar is currently spending $500 million a week on capital projects in preparation for Fifa World Cup 2022 and over the next five years it is set to boost its expenditure on smart infrastructure developments. Many activities indicate the consistent steps taken by the policy-makers and solution providers towards smart solutions.

The Emir of Qatar met last week with the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco Systems Inc. John T. Chambers in Doha and have discussed joint cooperation.

Today, Orange Business Services announced signing signed a multimillion dollar consulting deal with MEEZA, a Qatari managed services provider, to deliver the majority of smart services and applications at Msheireb Downtown Doha, a flagship smart cities development in Qatar and in the Region.

Over the next two months, Qatar will host a series of forums to highlight the nation's emphasis on building smart infrastructure. In March, the International Institute of Communications will host its second Regulatory forum and Telecom and Digital Media Forum in Doha from March 21-23, 2017. And Expotrade will host its seventh edition of Arab future Cities Summit from April 10-11, 2017.

Most governments are adopting solutions and undertaking measures to promote smart city development. It has been estimated that over the next 20 years, cities across the world will invest approximately $41 trillion on technologies to offer improved services.

Experts pointed out that the worldwide infrastructure spending will grow to more than $9 trillion per year by 2025.

Globally Barcelona, Singapore, Amsterdam and Australia are leading the way in smart city implementation; in the Middle East, Dubai and Doha are fast becoming smart cities with a significant uptick in the adoption of smart services and increase in infrastructure spending.

As per the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS), Qatar’s construction industry is a critical non-oil growth driver.

In the 2017 budget, announced a few months ago by the Ministry of Finance, a total of QR93.2 billion ($25.6 billion) has been allocated for major projects in key areas such as health, education and transport, including QR46.1 billion ($12.7 billion) on new projects divided between infrastructure and transportation programmes worth QR25 billion ($6.9 billion), followed by FIFA World Cup 2022 projects estimated at QR8.5 billion ($2.3 billion), and health and education programmes worth QR5.8 billion ($1.6 billion).

While the pace of urbanisation has increased exponentially, to fill the existing gap and meet the requirement of the citizens, the need to build, develop and manage a robust urban infrastructure network to facilitate industrial and service sector growth is crucial, said experts.

ICT is considered the key enabler of smart city development. While the integration of technology to improve the citizen-oriented services and provide a more connected network is important, infrastructure also remains a key component in the development of smart cities.

With one million visitors expected to throng to Qatar for the World Cup 2022, there has been a surge in infrastructure spending across key segments such as transport, broadly encompassing rail, roads, airport and ports; utilities covering telecommunications, power generation and water; hospitals, real estate and stadiums, according to experts.

With an estimated budget of $35 to 45 billion, the Qatar Rail Development Programme is one of the most expensive infrastructure projects underway in the state.

Few years back, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) had announced that by the year 2022, the country would be investing $20 to $25 billion in new tourism projects, stated experts.

Recently the Ministry of Finance in Qatar announced that the government is set to spend more than $200 billion on stadiums and major projects such as roads, a new airport and hospitals.

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