Domestic Al Jaber Engineering awarded $431 million contract
Project was started last year, before Saudi-led boycott
Qatar will spend 1.6 billion riyals ($431 million) to build a food-processing and storage facility near Hamad Port in about two years that will more than meet local demand for sugar, rice and cooking oil.
Doha-based Al Jaber Engineering won the contract and has 26 months to design and build the project for the nation’s food security, Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti, minister of transport and communications, told reporters Sunday in Doha. Qatar invited companies to bid on the project last year, before the Saudi-led trade boycott against Qatar that began in June.
Food security is important in the Middle East because lack of rain and excessive heat make it difficult to grow grains and develop livestock farms. Qatar is in a tougher position because it depended on food coming across the border with Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic and trade links with its neighbor last month. Some 38 percent of Qatar’s food used to come through Saudi Arabia, according to Mazen Al-Sudairi, head of research at Al Rajhi Capital.
“This is the first time that these commodities will be processed in Qatar,” al-Sulaiti said. It will start looking for a managing agent for the project next year, he said.
Other companies involved in the project are Switzerland’s Buhler AG, German BIA and Italy’s C.M. Bernardini, which specializes in equipment for the oil and fats industry, according to a Qatar transport ministry press statement.
Transport Minister al-Sulaiti said Qatar is considering investment in ports abroad, but declined to be more specific.