REVIVING A NEIGHBOURHOOD
The winner of Qatar Today Business Excellence Awards for Best CEO, Eng. Abdulla Al Mehshadi of Msheireb Properties, talks to us about his personal and professional milestones in heading this multibillion dollar project to bring one of Doha’s oldest quarte
The winner of the Qatar Today Business Excellence Award for Best CEO, Eng. Abdulla Al Mehshadi of Msheireb Properties, talks to us about his personal and professional milestones in heading this multi-billion dollar project to bring one of Doha's oldest quarters into the new age.
We have seen the scale models, computer renditions and skirted around the tantalisingly high corrugated sheets that keep everything discreetly out of sight. For years now we have been promised a refurbished, new and improved district at the centre of Doha, modern yet with a Qatari soul. It's more than just a collection of buildings; it's meant to be the city's beating heart. With every new announcement that takes us closer to completion, the expectations and excitement reach fever pitch. The man behind the whole operation, Chief Executive Officer Eng Abdulla Al Mehshadi, finds himself increasingly under the spotlight.
The question he is invariably asked is: What stage of construction is Msheireb currently in and is it on track? “We are on schedule and we are confident it will be completed on time. The best way to understand the progress we have made is to actually visit the development, and to see for yourself both its scale and the number of buildings that have either been completed or are nearing completion. Alternatively, you can view the various time-lapse videos on our website. Then you can visit the Msheireb Enrichment Centre which contains a detailed scale model of the development, and you will get a feel for how much progress has been made. In fact, we awarded a facilities management contract to a local consortium, SNC-Lavalin, in August. More generally, different stages of each of the buildings have been met, and continue to be met on an almost daily basis,” he says.
For Eng Al Mehshadi, excellence in all he does is a given. It has to be, for him to be able to navigate a project of this scale and complexity. Along with this, there are a few other things he constantly reminds himself. “Do not be daunted by any challenge. Plan carefully before execution. And communicate effectively and regularly with everyone to whom you are entrusting responsibility,” he says. He and his team are under no illusions about the complexity of the project, he says. “Given the scale of what we are trying to achieve and how much it will represent the traditions and values of Qatari culture, while also meeting its significant sustainability aspirations, Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD) represents a major challenge.” And to meet the challenge it is essential to “ensure total
co-ordination and alignment between ourselves and our partners to ensure a seamless execution of the plan”. An example of this is a CEO Forum hosted by Msheireb Properties in January of this year, attended by the leading contractors and consultants engaged in the project. “The objective of the forum was to encourage the leaders of all the firms to exchange views about the project, to share best practice, and to identify areas where closer collaboration could deliver greater benefits and results. The forum is thought to be the first of type in the real estate sector and was considered by all to be a great success,” he says.
Eng Al Mehshadi's leadership played no small part in Msheireb being able to announce plenty of milestone events in the previous year including the signing of their first commercial tenant, the International Centre for Sport Security, followed by the Qatar Academy Msheireb recently. "It will be able to accommodate 450 students, with an increased curriculum, and is reflective of our objective to build a community that caters to all the needs of its residents," he says.
In another significant step forward, last month Msheireb Properties awarded the contract for the installation and management of MDD's car-parking facilities to Traffic Tech (Gulf), who will handle the integration and future management of "one of the most complex car park systems in the world". In total, it will cover 10,000 parking spaces and over 200 gated entry/exits.
Additionally, Msheireb Downtown Doha continued to enjoy recognition for the development. “We won the Best Retail Project award at Cityscape Doha last year, as well as Arabian Business's Development of the Year award. In April 2015 at the Qatar Green Building Council Gala Dinner, the Diwan Annex building achieved LEED Platinum status, a green building certification programme that recognises best-in-class building strategies and practices. In the same week, the Diwan Annex picked up the Government Building award at Kahramaa's Tarsheed awards ceremony as part of its National Campaign for the Conservation and Efficient Use of Water and Electricity, and MDD's District Cooling Plant won the Industrial sector award,” he says, listing out many of the project's recent accolades.
A number of personalities have played a role in guiding and shaping his personality and the person he has become today, says Al Mehshadi “The most important would be our Holy Prophet Muhammad who is not only a religious teacher but someone who led Muslims wonderfully well in all other areas of life as well. I would also like to add that the strong leadership and influence of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has also played a very significant role and has inspired me throughout my career.”
Ultimately he credits the success of his company not only to his leadership qualities but to the people and the vision of the leaders of the country. “All of these factors are important, and are all inextricably linked to our success. Without any one of these, we will not achieve our goals. At Msheireb Properties, our vision is to be the leading national developer of sustainable and innovative projects inspired by Qatar's unique heritage and through our strongest values – excellence, leadership, innovation, partnership, and responsibility – we will be able to become one of the most respected real estate companies in the country and the world.”
“Given the scale of what we are trying to achieve and how much it will represent the traditions and values of Qatari culture, while also meeting its significant sustainability aspirations, Msheireb Downtown Doha represents a major challenge.”
Above: Msheireb: The vision; below: As the district stands today