Oct 15 2007
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Qatar looks to Singapore for its model of public security and Singaporeans take advantage
Already the model for small countries looking to promote ultra-efficient economies that can act as global-scale business hubs (Dubai was an early convert), Singapore's authoritarian precedent also gives inspiration to states working out their security strategy. The Qatari leadership has long admired the Singapore model, as is evident from the evolution of the emirate's security infrastructure.
Long before the March 2005 Doha Players bombing or the late 2006 Doha Asian Games brought public security to the fore in Qatar, the Gulf 's fastest-growing emirate had already identified a model for its public security architecture, GSN was recently told by consultants active in Doha.Singapore's successful fusion of economic opening alongside maintenance of authoritarian social order has cast a spell over Al-Thani decision-makers since the late 1990s, and the Singaporean security industry has been busy since then, successfully burrowing its way into what is shaping up to be one of the Gulf 's most attractive security markets.
The March 2005 Doha Players bombing and, more importantly, numerous international events led by the Asian Games, awakened Qatari interest in public safety in the last two years. The Asian Games saw little actual improvement in public safety the mooted Doha Street Surveillance System, supposed to be in place prior to the Asian Games, has yet to be tendered but it did highlight the lack of systems and sensors available to the security services. Numerous miniature "rings of steel" are now planned at industrial cities, plus educational and residential developments.
The success of Singapore Technologies Electronics Ltd (STET) has many lessons to teach other aspiring security vendors in Qatar. STET's success came through its understanding of state-owned security company Himaya, which acts as the local distributor of its products and services.
But while Himaya remains the only major Qatari security company, its lack of capability meant it could not displace Group 4 as the provider of manned guarding for the Asian Games; neither was it ready to enter the lucrative integrated technology security solutions marketplace.
Rival security companies say that STET has used the platform of Himaya to gain business by acting as subcontractor for all services except guarding; the Singaporeans are acknowledged front-runners in the field of ports and airport security in the emirate.
Singapore's position in Qatar is thus strong, giving the South-east Asians good access at all levels. "They work hard to identify projects then deliver unsolicited proposals that have achieved a surprisingly high award rate," commented one rival.
STET does not have a Qatar office (outside Himaya) and remains tied to the Crown Prince's security firm to distribute ST Electronics security products in Qatar. "In a market where being the incumbent is a licence to print money, they have gained pole position," the rival concluded.
Who else is playing?
Australian group Boartes provided advisory services for the Asian Games and is also in a strong position to bid on any work related to Qatar's 2016 Olympic bid.
From the outset, Boartes sought to use the Asian Games as a foothold and afterwards branch out into broader security and public safety offerings. This approach appears to have paid off.
Like STET, the Australians emerged into the government's field of view at a critical time; the often bruising whiteknuckle ride of the Doha Asian Games was not easy for Boartes, but the reward for hanging in there has been that it can call on unique shared experience with the State of Qatar that will stand it in good stead in future years.
Boartes is thus well-placed to become the strategic architect on future event security and public safety initiatives in an economy with a wide range of prospects.
Business prospects in the Qatari security industry
Qatar is experiencing rapidly rising demand for security and access control systems; area-wide cordon and ring of steel networks; intelligent building, telecommunications and intelligent visual systems; intelligent ID cards and business process analysis. This is being driven by new developments such as the Ras Laffan industrial complex, Education City, and the Pearl andWest Bay real estate developments.
Borders and ports are another key area of interest. In June, the Qatari military signed a $322.5m deal with European Aeronautics Defence and Space Company (EADS) to boost radar-based protection and safety measures for Qatari airspace as part of the National Security Shield (NSS) system, which is being developed to guard the country's borders and offshore exclusive economic zones.
Under the contract, a network of electronic surveillance stations will be set up on Qatar's sea, land and airspace borders, and linked to command-and-control centres at various points.
The work is scheduled to be completed within three years. It is not clear to what extent this technology will be integrated with US equipment or air defence systems at US bases.
Port security prospects
Port security looks like being a major earner for security design consultancies and equipment providers.
Qatar has three ports, each designed to fulfill specific functions, with plans for more:
Doha deep water port - serves as a container and transshipment point.
Messaieed - handles the bulk of industrial goods and oil; and
Ras Laffan - the new port serves the gas industry with four liquefied natural gas berths and six liquid product berths, as well as container and solid cargo berths.
New Doha Port project - physical site constraints at Doha port,which has been upgraded, have led the government to plan a new port, which will be built on 500ha of reclaimed land 5km east of Doha International Airport. A masterplan, prepared by Bechtel, envisages a port with capacity of 1m teu/yr. It will have reported capacity to handle 3m shipping containers/yr (compared to 100,000 at the existing facility).
Alongside plans for the new port in Doha, the government is also seeking to expand Ras Laffan port.
Intelligence transport systems
Intelligence transport systems offer further prospects for the security and public surveillance sector. Projects include:
plans for improving the road and traffic network;
developing a public transport system for the next 20 years, including improvements to the bus and railway networks, such as fast, advanced and comfortable tramways or subways;
recommending applicable transport policies to monitor demand for transportation;
developing solutions to the shortage and problems of parking;
the $5.5bn New Doha International Airport (NDIA);
the Qatar-Bahrain causeway - an estimated $2bn project described as the world's longest bridge;
Qatar-Dubai causeway - an estimated $3bn project.
Alongside such projects, the crown jewel remains Ras Laffan Industrial City (RLIC), the focus for foreign oil companies engaged in developing the LNG business and a key area of operations for STET, Boartes and the chasing pack of second-tier security providers (see article above).
Each company operates within its own area of RLIC, and is responsible for its own security in that area.
Qatar Petroleum is responsible for the overall security of RLIC's external perimeter and offshore facilities. Similar arrangements have long existed south of Doha in Messaieed Industrial City, which connects to the southern pipelines and Dukhan oilfield.
Doha is to bid for the 2016 Olympics, following the success of the Asian Games in 2006. A number of the venues used for the Asian Games are already in the process of being converted into other facilities, including hospitals, and a successful Olympic bid will thus require a substantial infrastructure build.
The Doha 2016 Bid Committee is led by businessman Hassan Ali Bin Ali. The chairman has already appointed several international consultants to support the bid process, including Helios Partners, PR company Burston-Marsteller, Vero Communications (Mike Lee), Clifford Chance, Andrew Craig of Craig Company and Erwin Roth of SBV.
Lessons for providers
For the security market, a key opportunity lies in the systems integration and design offering, although the presence of embedded incumbents will mean that very few companies stand a chance of priming security contracts.
While a minority of design and build firms such as Siemens offer end to end services that include but are not limited to security, most competitors are low-end systems installation providers.
In the field of high-end consultancy, well partnered players like Giuliani Associates have, through a combination of luck and good positioning, become trusted partners.
Technical consultancies such as Boartes and STET have first-mover advantage and have embedded themselves quickly as well-connected incumbents.
According to well-placed analysts, smart partnering with a local businessman or increasingly with senior Qatar Armed Forces officers who are running sidelines is vital for those looking to progress in the Qatari security industry.
The gradual accrual of a strong local reputation and a local base also seems essential.
This is effectively what Boartes and STET achieved through hard work, savvy networking from a base in Doha, and through the provision of numerous unsolicited proposals.
The key lesson for any security sector incomer is that in Qatar it is necessary but not sufficient to be technically competent. As ever, it may be who you know, not what you know, that wins the day.
© Gulf States Newsletter 2007
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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