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The Pearl Qatar is an artificial island that is being constructed in Riviera style offshore Doha. The mixed-use phased establishment is characterized with ten discrete, themed districts comprising of town homes, exclusive penthouses, beachfront villas, luxury apartments, five-star hotels, marinas as well as upscale retails and restaurants. This artificial island costs two and a half billion US dollars. It covers 400 hectares of land that has been reclaimed. It is stands out as the first international residential establishment in Qatar that provides freehold title ownership to international investors. The name and the location of the island are a true reflection of the strong cultural ties of Qatar with the sea. The artificial island is constructed on a previous pearl diving site.  The Pearl-Qatar is being established off the shore of the prestigious West Bay of Doha which is a lagoon zone. It will connect with the mainland through an eight-lane super highway lined with palm-trees. It will create more than 40 kilometers of a new line in the coast (http://www.medcodredging.com/pearl.html).

Seattle-headquartered Callison Architecture inc. has been chosen by the Pearl-Qatar has as the prime consultant and the structural architect for purposes of coming up with the master plan. Seattle-headquartered Callison Architecture inc. also provides services of design and construction. The Pearl-Qatar is being established and promoted through the United Development Company (UDC) which is the largest private sector shareholding organization in Qatar. UDC announced The Pearl Qatar on April 2003 but the physical work on the Island commenced on December 06th 2004. Residents ranging above three thousand have occupied the island as of the 2011 spring season.

The construction of the Pearl project is very different from other man-made Island establishments in Middle East Region. Unlike common artificial islands that are constructed in regions with enough water depth that promotes ease of access and deployment and huge equipment for dredging, The Pearl Qatar was constructed on an already existing shallow region which was actually a former pearl bank.  The filling process was thus minimized (http://www.medcodredging.com/pearl.html).  “Blue water dredging” was conducted both to create the design water depth in the channels, the beach regions and the marinas and at the same time to give the water its superb blue color. Concrete is a very common construction material within the Pearl Qatar structures.  Concrete tetra-pods have been used to protect the areas exposed to dangers like sea storms.

The biggest part of the bed of the sea consists of cap-rock and limestone and therefore disadvantaged the services of a small, shallow drafted Cutter Suction Dredger. The Cap-rock that was removed was large by volume compared to limestone. The construction applied limestone as an under layer for the protection of the shore while the cap-rock was used in refilling the area to be reclaimed after it was reduced to sizes of choice. Thus, this is the foundation upon which the buildings stand.  The construction includes the placement of rock revetments that are basically used to retain the structure of the sea at the bottom. The interior region has been filled with sand covering up to the revetment top. A repeat procedure was conducted moving the revetment to the interior (http://www.medcodredging.com/pearl.html).

Client Motivation, Interest and Orientation

The UDC identified and invested in the Pearl Qatar project which has been taken as a long-lasting socio-economic development. The main agenda has been to boost the growth of Qatar. One of the main motivations is the position that it takes to provide a shareholder value that is good and economically feasible to client. The establishment of UDC in 1999 and its active participation in development works gives the client confidence the Pearl Qatar will be a magnificent establishment. The start of UDC with an authorized share capital of QR 500 million and its listing on the Doha Securities Market in June 2003 renders big support and faith in the project. The UDC’s history of an authorized share capital of QR 1.609 billion, total assets of QR 11.008 billion as of 31 March 2001 shows signs of success that is about to be replicated in the Pearl Qatar Project. Being the among Qatar’s most successful investors and developers, UDC’s founders and current Board Members are dependable for excellence.

The mission of the company in being a basis in the developments of Qatar and the region is of great significance to the Pearl Qatar as it will create a lasting value and maximize returns for partners and the shareholders as well. For the Pearl-Qatar, UDC is committed to make it a unique living and cultural experience that integrates the best of the country's past and present offering diversity of high quality living environments. Diversity of housing choices with the highest quality of accommodation was key objectives in the project's master planning. Along with it being a recreational center, it is very important to know that the island is a big commercial enterprise for many nationals and internationals.

Purpose of the Project

The Qatar Pearl is a project that was drawn with a many aims and objectives to address diverse needs. Initially, it was meant to act as a form of recreation of Qatar’s past in maintaining the country’s culture and pride while linking it with the present as a way of preserving heritage and history. Of great importance is Qatar’s long history of pearl production. The design of the project is a commemoration of this legacy. Another very important aspect following the establishment of the project is the economic leap forward that the larger Qatar has experienced over the last several years. This has transformed the region generally and the country in particular into an exotic spot for international business persons as anticipated. The project was to a bigger part meant to push the limits to a higher level is a sure way of not only enhancing this competitiveness, but also ensuring that other parts of the world benefit at the expense of Qatar’s sunshine of economic growth and development. This economic goal seems to be coming true given the number of international businesses that have already occupied pace in the completed first tower in the project (http://www.medcodredging.com/pearl.html).

Users Groups

The beneficiaries of The Pearl Qatar Project can be categorized into two main groups. On top of the people and general staff embarking on the project in different areas and facilities there are the residents and visitors who enjoy the services of the project.

For one, the residents are given the choice of selecting their preferred location in the island depending on their desired requirements and lifestyle. The residents are expected to first make a choice of their destination and then a home for themselves. Three main marinas are set within distinct residential zones, Porto Arabia, Costa Malaz, and Viva Bahriya in addition to Isola Dana which is an exclusive chain of islands. Each Marina has its unique characteristics and lifestyle features (Travel-Wise pt 2, Porto Arabia). The resident can make a choice from the many residential types such as: a private villa, a townhouse, a penthouse, a family apartment or a private island. 

On the other hand, The Pearl Qatar is a destination of quite a number of visiting groups coming from different backgrounds of culture. All the same, visitors could also be locals, Arabs and other Internationals. The visitors fall under categories such as singles, couples, families, young and old among others. The Pearl Qatar offers many activities including dining, shopping, sea viewing, cycling, walking, and yacht marina activates. However, the nature of the upscale retail stores, and moderate to expensive restaurants in addition to the manned gates, resulted in excluding the poor or labor class visitors.  

Location in the City to Its Context

The Pearl-Qatar is located off the eastern shore of Qatar, approximately 20 kilometers north of the city central business quarter of Doha and directly north of West Bay. A causeway has been constructed to link the island to the main land. The Pearl is located between two Islands Al Saflyia and Al Alyia. The pearl project is also strategically positioned next to major cultural and commercial projects such as Katara, the underdevelopment currently developing city of Lusail, and Doha Exhibition Center. The strategic location of The Pearl-Qatar is also evident looking at the city of Doha and its close proximity to the buzzing business district, the prestigious West Bay area and being only 20 km from Doha International Airport (Google Map of Doha, Qatar).

Physical description of the project as a whole, building functions, activities, and the visual and environmental aspect

The concept behind The Pearl-Qatar is basically to offer unparallel lifestyle; fine homes on an island paradise, a shopping experience including fashion boutiques, cafes and restaurants featuring the world’s best-known brands, a water-side haven of marina life - all this and more combine to create an environment  which is second to none in the Arabian Gulf region.

Figure 1. The Pearl-Qatar

(Retrieved January 5, 2012 from http://www.thepearlqatar.com/)

A number of concepts were considered in order to develop something really special. This included a merging of architecture, lifestyles and cultures, recalling North Africa, Mediterranean, Spain, and Italy on an Island made up of a number of separate districts, each with their own special character and ambiance. The plan for the development imagined an Island consisting of 10 individual districts; each would have its own character and identity. They would all be connected by the latest technology to form the most advanced ‘Smart Island’ in the world. 

The Overall land area is 4.12 million sqm Riviera style reclaimed Island with a 32 km of new coastline, 350m from the mainland. The Island is around 5.5 km long and 3.65 km wide. The final establishment will consist of 27 km of roads, 44 km of waterfront and 200 kilometers of communication cabling.

The project consists of three main marinas forming different sizes of semi circular shapes, with an island in the middle of each marina in addition to an extended string of nine private islands. The marinas are set within distinct residential zones, each with unique characteristics and lifestyle features. Following is an overall description of the project: 

2 million sq feet of overall retail area = 626 outlets:

Porto Arabia:  318 [Retail 208; Services 26; F&B 84]

Medina Centrale:  142 [Retail 78; Services 28; F&B 36]

Qanat Quartier:  166 [Retail 83; Services 33; F&B 50]

Marinas: A 4.5 m deep “blue-water-belt” was created around the island, which allows navigating with yachts. The Pearl Qatar has three marinas with a total capacity of 1002 berths

Porto Arabia marina = 782 berths

Viva Bahriya marina = 103 berths

Costa Malaz marina = 117 berths

Viva Bahriya

This is architecturally themed to echo the Moroccan-styled town homes and apartments. It features a recreational central island with a luxury hotel. It has 29 Maghreb-inspired towers, marina with 200 moorings and exclusive marina club, 2000 meter beach tower residences with one to three bedrooms apartments and penthouses.  The relaxed atmosphere here is very much enjoyable.

Costa Malaz

This is a tropical, spa-based island with beach villas. Others include Spas and wellness centers, hotel on Marsa Malaz islet and Costa Fayrouz. Both architecture and landscaping evoke the atmosphere of a tropical island. It is an exclusive residential cove accessible to small watercraft and provides links from Qanat Quartier and Porto Arabia in addition to sea access from the north. 

Isola Dana

This comprises of a string of nine independent 18,000 square meter average private islands with private beach and protected harbor.  It is accessed via a dedicated causeway and gatehouse and offers the largest residential plots within The Pearl-Qatar. It is approached from the extreme south-eastern tip of The Pearl-Qatar, initially via a bridge spanning a navigable channel.

Abraj Quartier

This is located at the gateway to The Pearl-Qatar (Google Map of Doha, Qatar). At 42-storeys, two of these buildings are the tallest structures with ‘pearl’ architectural features. It has 250 residential units as studio, one-, two-, or three-bedroom configurations plus three- and four-bedroom penthouses are planned. Also, there are 200 varying townhouses.  Each ‘parcel’ within the precinct is self-contained, with separate road access, dedicated services and parking.

Perlita Villas

This comprises mixed villas and townhouses with landscaping and saltwater lakes located on the fringes of Viva Bahriya VILLAS. Gated communities of villas and townhouses make up many of the residences in the so-called “garden” precincts (Google Map of Doha, Qatar). There is a lot of space of moving around.    

Giardino Villas

Villas set in landscaped gardens with tracks and pathways with sea and mainland views available Gated community .Up to five bedrooms. They are located north of Viva Bahriya, clubhouses, sports and other leisure facilities (Google Map of Doha, Qatar).

Qanat Quartier

This is planned around intricate canals and pedestrian-friendly squares and plazas. Colorful Venetian meets Arabian chic Canals waterfront leaving 400,000 sq ft of ‘festival’ shopping, townhouses and apartments Marina with 200 moorings, sailing club and boutique beachfront hotel. Additionally, there are one to four bedroom Townhouses low-rise residences overlooking canals and beaches.

Medina Centrale

This is the ‘town centre’; the island’s hub for amenities and facilities with 600,000 square feet of retail 400 residential units with parks and open spaces which will link and serve nearby residential areas. Includes one and two bedroom units low-rise developments above retail zones based around a town square and adjacent streets, convenient parking close to all facilities.

Floresta Gardens

Located east of Viva Bahriya, it revolves around a concentric introvert, coliseum style layout (Google Map of Doha, Qatar). Community living with Roman-inspired architecture and Mediterranean style architecture, Centre Piazza, Leisure Clubhouse Promenade with artisan retail and F&B offering Italian inspired fresh food market Wellness centers consisting of 285 apartments and 100 townhouses.

The Villas

Available in three distinct areas - West, Central and East – villas line a meandering coastline along the entire southern fringe of The Pearl-Qatar. Readily accessible and positioned to take full advantage of its absolute beachfront location. Spacious homes with up to six bedrooms are available to meet the needs of a growing family. Villas stand in semi-tropical gardens in absolute beachfront  

La Plage South

This is Located at the Island South, overlooking beaches to the skyline of Doha. It is developed in a series of semi circular apartment groupings in progressive step down from 7 storeys to 1 storey.  Generally, there are over 700 apartments in one, two and three bedrooms. The architecture emphasizes the façade diversity. 

Porto Arabia

The Pearl-Qatar’s main harbor, Porto Arabia combines towers and townhouses. The Pearl’s Project first phase is set around a waterfront – which is called La Croisette –  2.5 kilometer pedestrian concourse lined with upscale shopping and dining (Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar). The elevations designs are inspired by the French: Monaco and Provence; Italian: Tuscan and Florentine; and Spanish: Catalan and Andalusia.

The tower residences offer apartments with one to four bedroom homes or penthouses, fitness amenities, and home automation systems. Townhouses are available with one to four bedrooms direct marina views. Both are close to all dining and entertainment facilities.  Porto Arabia is characterized by a boulevard-style café culture. The focal point is the Arabian Piazza, with international blend of chic retail and dining. It provides luxury vehicle dealerships and bespoke jewelers to fresh-from-the-catwalk designer wear (Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar).

Porto Arabia will be the home of residential towers lining a Riviera-like boardwalk around the 400-boat slip marina. The bustling quayside is destined to become a cruising base, as well as a convenient spot to board exclusive boats, serving every corner of The Pearl-Qatar. The centre of Porto Arabia is Ras Croisette, with late-night restaurants and lounges. At the very heart of Porto Arabia lies the Marsa Arabia Island. Accessed via a causeway, this ‘island-within-an-island’ will feature an exclusive Four Seasons hotel serving Qatar’s business and leisure travelers. Taxi and ferry services will be available to virtually all parts of The Pearl, as well as to various parts of Doha (Porto Arabia, The Pearl-Qatar).

  •  31 Mediterranean-style towers with a total of 4,800 units
  •  437 townhouses and low-rise terrace apartments
  •  1,000,000 square feet of leas-able retail and commercial spaces
  •  14,514 parking spaces
  •  320 retail units
  •  3.63 kilometer corniche – ‘La Croisette Boulevard’
  •  785-berth marina

Porto Arabia is the archetype of Riviera Arabia living acting as the home to the main harbor of The Pearl Qatar. It combines townhouses and elegant towers in a magnificent location. Porto Arabia is characterized with a lively promenade It houses a huge collection of prominent fashion brands and high-class beverage and food outlets.  Port Arabia has captured the pulsating sophistication of the Riviera. It is a colorful conducive and refined establishment with high standards of living. It is a continental harbor beating to the Arabian rhythm (http://www.udcqatar.com/English/OurVentures/ThePearlQatar/Pages/default.aspx).

Every home in Porto Arabia has aspects facing the sea with most of them directly overlooking the picturesque harbor (Travel-Wise pt 2, Porto Arabia). All the homes feature luxurious amenities and an environment that is purely Mediterranean. There is a lot of plant cover within the compound and around the car parks. The trees are planted in lines round the buildings towards the beaches. There are many other vegetation coverings on the land mainly to prevent erosion and make the reclaimed land firm. These are mainly grass and some trees in part.

The vegetation cover also includes beautiful flowers and palm trees planted in strategic positions for anchorage and aesthetic value (Travel-Wise pt 2, Porto Arabia). General design comprises of both ancient and modern architectural outfits representing a variety of culture and values. Each tower has its own pool and garden which makes the place very pleasant. There is strategically placed furniture for each tower where occupants can rest and have a panoramic view of the region.

The design and construction was faced with some challenge. The impact of the establishment of the artificial island on the local marine ecology is a growing concern for environmentalists. As rising sea levels from global climate change could result in creating problems for these investments. It is feared and considered an irony the very people who drive rising levels of the sea through their businesses emitting much of the greenhouse gases while it will certainly be some of the first to encounter the destructive effects of climate change. Construction activity is damaging the marine habitat, burying coral reefs, oyster beds and subterranean fields of sea grass, threatening local marine species as well as other species dependent on them for food. Environmentalists' concerns about the present state of Dubai's waters are not without warrant. Coral reefs and their associated mangrove and sea grass habitats function on varied levels, providing a number of integral services. Among these values are the provision of food and shelter for a wide range of marine species, the protection of coastal regions from storms, the prevention of coastal erosion and the support of commercial fishing and recreational activities.  The health of the coral reefs has been in a state of continuous decline over the past 50 years. The Arabian Gulf is one of the most grievously affected areas, with recent estimates of habitat loss pegged at 35 percent. Increases in temperature and salinity have previously been attributed as the leading factors in reef habitat degradation, but the new pressure from dredging serves only to exacerbate the declining state of the environment. Having knowledge of these threats, the Pearl Qatar project has not gone without responding to the environmental concerns by providing some remedial measures even though their effectiveness is yet to be validated. These include: avoiding the use previous methods used elsewhere in the Gulf to reclaim land; the construction of a coffer dam (or bund) around the development to ensure that all dredging run off was captured and the re-vegetation of the once disturbed sea grass beds.

The climate in Pearl Qatar is closely related to the climate of the larger Qatar. The earlier months of the year, January and February are among the coolest recording a temperature of around 220 Celsius. This however changes as from May when the temperatures rise to around 400 Celsius. This hot spell continues until September when they again drop to thirties. There is precipitation throughout the year although it is not of any significant amount. Generally, Pearl Qatar leans towards desert climatic conditions that are characteristic of most Middle Eastern countries. The residences in the Pearl Qatar are prone to hot weather conditions, and this is why the developers have made an effort to include cooling system in each and every building that is on the island. 

 

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