Qatar Real Estate: Trends Shaping the Industry's Landscape - A Publication by PwC
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to disruption across industries both globally and regionally, and Qatar’s Real Estate industry was not an exception. Despite the headwinds caused by the restrictions and travel embargoes imposed to control the outbreak, Qatar has demonstrated remarkable resilience to the economic turbulence caused by the pandemic.
Given the relationship between the economic activity and the Real Estate industry, a positive outlook for the Real Estate industry is expected in the future. This outlook is particularly supported by the upcoming FIFA 2022 World Cup, which will serve as an invaluable growth driver for the Real Estate industry.
Beyond the pandemic and the FIFA 2022 World Cup, tourism, ESG and technology integration combined with the government’s active stance on putting forward policies that serve to boost the industry’s self-sufficiency, will propel the Real Estate industry to new heights.
The post-COVID landscape will necessitate that industries calibrate and re-adjust their strategies more frequently than ever before in order to keep up with the changes in today’s business landscape.
The rise of e-commerce and remote working have changed what was once considered the ‘norm’ in the Real Estate industry. The increased adoption of hybrid work styles is expected to reshape workspaces. Based on a February 2021 PwC Middle East survey of 2,500 members of the general public in the GCC, of those who can work remotely, 68% of GCC employees surveyed prefer a mixture of in-person and remote working and only 7% would like to go to office full-time. (Source: GCC Hopes & Fears Survey 2021). Although time will give us a more accurate view, the office and retail sectors are likely to continue seeing lower foot traffic on a day-to-day basis.
The FIFA 2022 World Cup has been at the heart of Qatar’s economic plans, and has served as a source of optimism during the recent downturn. Whether the crisis took the form of a raging pandemic or political tensions, the event remained a source of hope for the public as well as the economic decision makers of Qatar. The World Cup is not only an auspicious strategic instrument as a stand-alone occasion, but it is also a vehicle for achieving a thriving economic landscape beyond 2022, and an integral part of the bigger picture set forth by the ‘Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030’.
Overall, with an expected influx of tourists into the country, hotel occupancy rates and RevPAR are expected to increase, boosting the hospitality sector. The World Cup is expected to support Qatar in achieving its long-term urban development and economic diversification goals, as well as to strengthen the country’s position as an appealing investment destination.
As we move towards a post-COVID world, tourism is becoming a major focus for nations around the world, including for Qatar. Following a sharp drop in RevPAR in 2016, Qatar has shifted its focus on diversifying its economy through localisation and the development of local attractions. Visa-free entry was granted to nationals from 88 countries, which combined with the advantage of Qatar being only a 6-hour flight away for 80% of the world’s population, has contributed to Qatar’s image as one of the world’s most open countries in the world.
Qatar’s focus on hospitality, particularly in the run-up to the FIFA-2022 World Cup, is at the forefront of the country’s tourism expansion plans. The country’s tourism industry has gained traction as a result of several other events, including the FIFA 2021 Arab Cup, the ExxonMobil Tennis Open, and a number of international exhibitions, including Christian Dior’s ‘Designer of Dreams’ exhibition and the Jeff Koons’ ‘Lost in America’ exhibition.
Qatar’s Real Estate industry is on track to reduce its carbon footprint and pave the way for a greener future for the country. Three of the country’s most recent major projects ‒ the Doha Metro, Msheireb Downtown, and Lusail City ‒ have incorporated Qatar’s sustainability agenda into the core of their development plans, as evidenced by their emphasis on renewable energy solutions, such as on-site energy generation, LED lighting systems and carbon dioxide monitors.
With a continued focus on minimising its carbon footprint, upholding its environmental well-being agenda, implementing and updating its ESG standards as per regional and global developments, Qatar should continue to be propelling its Real Estate industry forward as a sustainably conscious, modern, and increasingly progressive market.
An important tool that can complement Qatar’s vision of sustainability through Real Estate, as well as accelerate the growth of the industry, is property technology (PropTech). The emergence of PropTech could prove to be remarkably beneficial to Qatar’s Real Estate market, and it is a domain that should be explored further in order to reap its benefits and facilitate value creation for the industry. The recent signing of an agreement between Barwa Real Estate Group and Huawei for the provision and integration of ICT systems to ongoing and upcoming projects (source: Barwa Real Estate Group press release) demonstrates Qatar’s understanding of the strategic advantage that can be gained from capitalising on PropTech.
Following the disruption caused by COVID-19 on the Qatari economy and Real Estate industry, a recovery is underway and supported by the higher oil prices and increased economic activity, as well as the FIFA 2022 World Cup. While past experience suggests that the Real Estate industry may experience a slowdown in the medium term, Qatar may be an exception given the government's proactive stance on creating a backlog of megaevents, such as The International Horticultural Expo 2023, its ability to attract visitors from around the world, and passing impactful legislative changes that positively impact the industry (i.e. foreign ownership of property). Over time, the landscape of Qatar's Real Estate industry will most likely be defined by ESG, technologies, and both direct and indirect effects of Qatar’s Vision 2030.