TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and partner engineering companies will provide a subway system to the Qatari capital of Doha under a contract valued at about 400 billion yen ($3.33 billion).
The consortium, which also includes Mitsubishi Corp., Hitachi, Kinki Sharyo and French defense contractor Thales, will sign the deal with Qatar's state-owned rail company this month. It would be the biggest public transportation contract ever won by Japanese companies overseas.
Infrastructure development is in full swing in Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup soccer tournament. The companies will be responsible for installing three automated subway lines, spanning a combined 86km between major stadiums and facilities. They will also supply about 400 subway cars, as well as signals, communication systems and other related equipment. They hope to start operation by October 2019.
Developing countries offer a host of opportunities for public transport development. The companies plan to continue working together, leveraging their success in Doha to win more contracts in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Mitsubishi Heavy and Hitachi collaborated on a similar project in 2010, but they will officially partner for the first time in Qatar.
European companies generally have taken the lead in Middle Eastern rail projects, due to their long history in the region. Germany's Siemens and France's Alstom were also bidding on the Doha metro. In addition to a weak home currency that boosted cost-competitiveness, a reputation for safety, punctuality and technological prowess appear to have given the Japanese team an edge over competitors.
The Japanese government is pushing to triple the country's infrastructure-related exports by 2020 to 30 trillion yen. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced infrastructure support when he visited Doha in 2013, which also played a role in the recent deal.