2019 has been the biggest year by far in the development of Gwadar. This strategic deep sea port is reaping the benefits of the Balochistan Government’s master plan while many projects under CPEC are coming to fruition.
Construction has begun on the city’s new international airport and at Gwadar Expo 2019 in March, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a whole host of new initiatives. It all brings us to a frequently asked question in regard to Gwadar’s potential status as a world class city.
What defines a world class city?
It’s one thing to ask the question but what do we actually mean when we refer to a ‘world class city?’ There are a number of theories around but Forbes seems like a sound arbiter on the subject and they started a 2009 article by focusing on what a city doesn’t need. Traffic, noise, crime and overpopulation are the key elements that would ruin a location.
On the positive side, green areas, peaceful streets, spectacular architecture, good transport links and a safe environment were among the necessary criteria.
What projects are underway in Gwadar?
The projects currently under development are crucial to the requirements of any city that aims to compete on the global economic stage. Construction has already begun on the city’s airport while Prime Minister Imran Khan has also recently announced the development of additional transport connections by train and ferry. That would certainly match the criteria of a city with an effective mass transit system.
Is there a time frame for Gwadar’s completion?
Back in 2017, Pakistan’s ambassador to China Masoud Khalid stated that Gwadar would be fully operational within ‘three to four years’. Based on this timeframe, the port would have achieved all its aims by 2021 and while it’s on the road to those goals, it may still be too early in terms of ‘World Class City’ status.
We also know that Gwadar’s international airport is scheduled to open in 2022. Of the many projects currently underway in the city this is, arguably, the most pivotal and once complete, Gwadar can start to look forward to competing on the global stage.
Trade, tourism and an increase in the city’s population should follow from this point and perhaps, we could look to 2024 as the point when Gwadar’s World Class status is confirmed. This is the year when the city’s population is expected to hit a comfortable 500,000.
Until then, Gwadar is progressing rapidly and for those looking at property purchases, the city is set to provide first class comfortable living way before any ‘world class’ status is globally recognised.