Land from the sea
Creating what is now the largest island off of the Qatari coast required major dredging work. The Qatar Dredging Company, a sister company of the UDC and responsible for all the reclamation works, used 10,000 horse power cutter suction dredgers to penetrate the earth and excavate soil, gravel and rock; the company revealed that around 15 million cubic metres of land was excavated during the process.
The result is a 400 hectare space that by 2010 will, according to the UDC's latest figures, be home to more than 40,000 residents living in 11,000 villas, town houses and apartments. The Pearl-Qatar will also contain three five star hotels, three marinas with a total capacity for 700 yachts as well as around two million square feet of retail and commercial space. The island has also generated 32 kilometres of new shoreline, including three coves and numerous canals.
But now that the land has been created, the equally challenging process of actually building the development and its associated infrastructure needs to move on apace. With this in mind, the UDC subsidiary Qatar Cool has agreed a $236 million contract to design, build and operate a vast district cooling system that will offer air conditioning to all 40,000 residents. The company claims that once it is up and running, the plant will be the world's largest single district cooling facility churning out 120,000 tonnes of refrigeration.
While the towers and villas gradually begin to take shape, the UDC also needs to make sure that it finds occupiers for them. This week, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts signed a deal to manage a 350 room luxury hotel on the 720,000 square feet Marsa Arabia, an island at the heart of the Porto Arabia district of The Pearl-Qatar. The hotel will include numerous high-end suites and several restaurants.
Once the new hotel is ready it will become Qatar's second Four Seasons following the Four Seasons Hotel, Doha which opened just last year; both hotels are owned by the Advanced Tourism Investment Company. For the Four Seasons chain, The Pearl-Qatar venture is part of a concerted effort to expand its operations in the Middle East.
Spreading the word
When the very first units at The Pearl-Qatar went on sale back in late 2004, three towers worth of apartments were snapped up in a 24 hour investor feeding frenzy and since then sales have continued to rack up at a very healthy rate but the UDC is nevertheless keen to market the development across the world.
In September, the firm entrusted the Singapore based marketing and advertising agency Batey with the task of launching a global campaign to push the project. Batey is to devise a TV advertising strategy and will package the development's brand for global markets.
But with Khalil Sholy, the United Development Company's MD, stating that further partnerships with major groups and international brands will shortly be announced, in the wake of the Four Seasons tie-up, The Pearl-Qatar is certainly not wanting for interest.