High potential

Atkins Qatar Managing Director Rod Stewart

Known for supporting the London 2012 Olympic Games with engineering expertise, infrastructure firm Atkins is now involved in development linked to the World Cup 2022 set to be hosted in Doha, Qatar. Southeast Asia also has been noted as having high-growth potential for the company with ambitions of extending expertise beyond transportation and into property and consultancy services. Inside Investor asked Atkins Qatar Managing Director Rod Stewart how they are moving to reach these goals.

Q: Currently what are your biggest projects here in Qatar?

A: We are currently working on programmes as opposed to projects supplying expertise to the Ministry of Municipal and Urban Planning (MMUP) into a new organisation called the Central Planning Office. In this we help ensure that major infrastructure programmes and their stakeholders are well coordinated, primarily in transportation, urban design and utilities. These programmes are mostly led by local management but technical aspects are supported by Atkins, who currently have around 400 staff in Qatar. We have been in Qatar for about 10 years and our operations have clearly increased in scale. The other significant programme of work we are involved with is the General Engineering Consultancy Framework for Roads and Drainage, for Ashghal, (the previous Public Works Ministry) which divides up Qatar’s infrastructure development into five geographic areas. In this initiative, Atkins is responsible for everything to the West of Doha, currently concentrating on almost 30 individual projects that are under our design or construction supervision.

Q: Who are your major private partners?

A: We work with a number of Contractors; in particular we are currently dealing with those involved with the proposed new metro scheme, which is being tendered. We have a good working relationship with QDVC, which is bidding for metro opportunities. We are also in discussion with other parties who may require some independent technical review support. Elsewhere, we have historically done a large amount of infrastructure work at Education City, for Qatar Foundation. We are also currently working on the design for the Supreme Education Council’s Headquarters Building, which is under construction at the moment.

Q: What particular projects do you currently have your eye on?

A: In general, we are keen to take up both private and public sector work, and have been growing in scale because of increased demand from the infrastructure and then building sectors in order to help deliver the upcoming World Cup set to be held in Doha in 2022. We are keen to support this development, working closely with clients such as Ashghal and with other private sector organisations, in both building design and infrastructure. We have strong recent experience and expertise in developing sports-related infrastructure and buildings and believe that we can contribute immensely to the World Cup’s goals due to our recent experience at the London Olympics.

Q: How do you compare your work here in Qatar to that of the Olympics?

A: They are similar in scale and complexity of course and require a lot of coordination skills not just in engineering, but management as well. Atkins was a strongly branded name associated with the Olympics, which was just one of many recent flagship programmes for the group. In contrast, I think the biggest challenge in Qatar is bringing the quantity and quality of technical resources to the market and sometimes this goes beyond physical bodies to the ability to package work to other locations. In reality, we need a combination of the two things: skilled workers in Qatar and the ability to manage work flow around an organisation.

Q: Do you look to be in Qatar beyond the World Cup?

A: Absolutely. In fact the World Cup is actually only a stepping stone to meet Qatar’s National 2030 Vision, which will ensure Doha becomes world class in all its facilities and infrastructure, so our commitment is very much long term. In the last few years we have grown from largely operating as a project office to creating a more sustainable business platform with a more diverse workload. We don’t aim to simply rely on a few large projects, but extend beyond the current transportation and urban planning focus into property and consultancy services.

Q: What are some examples of projects that benefited from this kind of sustainability focus on your expertise?

A: The Olympics is a great example. Through working with our stakeholders to understand and minimise the long-term carbon impact of the major capital projects, while also taking account of all aspects of social and economic sustainability, the Olympics provided a huge amount of learning for everyone involved. This has been captured and will translate strongly into our future work, providing a great benchmark for our sector.

Q: What kind of challenges do you see over the coming years?

A: Bringing the right resources in at the right time is crucial. We want to help the market mature and we may need to help introduce new concepts of development or construction approach, including different risk allocation models. For example, I’m not sure if the GCC market really needs PPPs, for access to finance, but there is a real need to consider life cycle costs at initial design stage. There is a different set of skills required to manage life cycle risks that this market will need. By this I mean allocating construction and then facility-management risk, which are very different in nature. The risk-reward model is important when designing and constructing a facility for whole life. This should be reflected in the way that capital is allocated. In the UK, for example, a significant part of the infrastructure market has determined that long-term management of facilities should best be kept in the hands of the private sector.

Q: What kind of expansion plans does Atkins have in the region and beyond?

A. We currently have about 2,000 staff based in the Middle East, 400 of whom are in Qatar. In Qatar, I can easily imagine doubling in scale over the next three to five years. For the region, there is always a shift to where demand will be. In particular, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are currently showing the highest potential for growth. At group level, we are very keen on growing our presence in Southeast Asia and are very active in pursuing similar work there.

Atkins’ projects

Ceremonial Road

 Atkins was commissioned by Tekfen Construction, a Turkish contractor to provide detailed design services for a design build project for the Private Engineering Office (PEO) in Qatar to deliver the Ceremonial National Day Road. The dual three-lane road has an additional 22m of space on each side for pedestrians to gather with almost 30km of frontage and side roads, in addition to utilities, lighting, a camel road, cycle path and four underpasses to cater for pedestrians.

Dukhan Highway

 The Dukhan Highway project consists of the design and construction of 66km of dual four lane expressway from the West side of Doha to the Dukhan Industrial Area. It contains ten grade separated interchanges and 87km of service roads. It is a major strategic highway between the capital of Doha on the East coast and the oil town of Dukhan on the West coast.

PWA Contract 2 – GEC for Local Roads and Drainage Projects – Doha West

Atkins was commissioned by Ashghal, the Public Works Authority in Qatar, to undertake all engineering activities required for the delivery of Local Roads and Drainage projects in Doha West to upgrade existing substandard or temporary local roads and infrastructure, and constructing new roads and infrastructure for planned new developments in Qatar.



Rayyan Road

 Atkins was commissioned by Ashghal for the concept design of 26kms of urban road upgrade in Doha, Qatar. Atkins’ design will form the blueprint for demonstrating Al Rayyan Road as a world class urban expressway corridor which meets the ever increasing demands of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in Doha. The public realm design will reflect the world-class nature required for a route that will service facilities hosting major international conferencing and other such events. The route will be extensively landscaped to reflect its suburban context, with the structural retaining walls being used as a canvas for the display of images of local heritage designs or place of local importance to further enhance the sense of space for the road user. At ground level junctions will become landmarks and adorned with pieces of art reflecting the local culture, and the historical significance of these locations.

Lusail LRT

 Lusail Light Rail Transit (LRT) is part of the overall Lusail project being developed by Qatari Diar to create a new city for 500,000 people on a reclaimed coastal site of 35 square kilometers to the north of Doha.With its 17 mixed-use districts, the city will boast its own Light Rail Transit (LRT) network   “the most advanced in the Middle East”. LRT will operate on four lines around 30 passenger stations, and beyond Lusail to the New Doha International Airport via the proposed Qatar Railway system.


Programme Management Office for Qnbn, Qatar


Atkins was appointed in 2012 to establish and operate a new Programme Management Office (PMO) for the Qatar National Broadband Network (Qnbn) company in Doha. The contract will see Atkins play a key role in the delivery of Qnbn’s Fibre to the Home (FTTH) programme to homes and business premises through maximum nationwide coverage.

Central Planning Office, Doha, Qatar

Atkins was appointed by Qatar’s Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) to help establish a Central Planning Office (CPO). The CPO’s primary focus is to co-ordinate current and planned road, rail, metro and other major transport and infrastructure programmes, including elements associated with the FIFA 2022 World Cup. These programmes underpin Qatar’s 2030 Vision for world class infrastructure development.