“The agreement confirms that QPMC has become the trusted arm in Qatar and the region. It can be relied on to provide primary materials of gabbro and limestone, as well as fine and washed sand within the required quantities for the implementation of major projects in Qatar,” said QPMC chairman, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Ansari. “We consider Ashghal as QPMC’s strategic partner, and this co-operation will surely enhance projects in the pipeline.”

QPMC’s Singh added: “Material availability, consistent logical pricing, and efficient supply chain management is the key to [facing material shortages].

“This can only be achieved through creating state-owned assets across the supply chain for 40% of the country’s long term need for materials. We are creating a strategic materials stockpile,” he explained.

Concerns that materials shortages in Qatar will hamper ongoing projects have loomed large since the country’s government rolled out its slew of developments for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Experts warned in February 2015 that increased pressure on Qatar’s mammoth construction projects ahead of the World Cup and the country’s National Vision 2030 deadline could cause a shortage in materials supply and skills, creating bottlenecks and delays on key projects.

John Kristian Wallgren, business development manager at Al Hamad Engineering, says competition is high in Qatar, with the immovable timeframe around 2022 and 2030 resulting in constraints on companies. “It’s a huge undertaking and the contracts are fairly tough, so you have to carry some risks if you want to meet the schedule, more so in Qatar with all the delays. Delivery is severely hampered by red tape.”

Wallgren adds: “You have to have strong procurement in place to prevent materials delays or shortages; you have to look ahead and plan, also, bearing in mind that everything has to be imported into Qatar.”

The situation is bleak for contractors facing material shortages, but the industry refuses to give up. Glenn Platt, managing director of KEO International Consultants’ infrastructure division tells Construction Week that materials shortages provide the industry with “an opportunity to look at alternatives”.

“I don’t think shortages are specifically holding people up in terms of their programme,” Platt says.

“The expertise of the contracting firm comes into play here because it knows what the long-lead items are, and it has to plan accordingly for that. Contractors have to order products which are not manufactured locally, and in that sense, the design process starts sooner.”

Platt concedes base material shortages could hurt projects, but claims the undersupply of materials could be the industry’s launch pad towards sustainable building replacements.

“In terms of [shortages in] quarries and base materials – from my point of view, it provides us the opportunity to look at alternatives. For instance, we don’t do much with recycled concrete yet, but we could use it as a base product for roadways.

“Of course, you have to be mindful about the salinity of the groundwater, which does not go well with the cement in the aggregate, but it is possible to modify the concrete with additives.

“We’re in a very unique region here, where you have high temperatures combined with dust and humidity. As a contractor, you have to ensure that the materials you import, or manufacture locally, suit the conditions they will be used in,” Platt warns.