For illustrative purposes only

Chantelle D'mello

For illustrative purposes only

Qatar hotels will need to slash room rates and offer more interesting dining options to attract guests during the ongoing economic slowdown, a new report has said.

More than a third of all hotel rooms in Qatar are predicted to sit empty by the end of this year, according to US-based Colliers International.

In its latest report on Qatar’s hospitality sector, the real estate company noted that demand fell during the second quarter of this year.


Excerpt from Doha Q2 2016 review - hotels

Colliers International

Excerpt from Doha Q2 2016 review – hotels

This was due to a drop in oil prices, a slower economy and Ramadan, the firm said.

And in the first quarter of this year, government figures showed hotel occupancy at 70 percent – down some 14 percent from the same period in 2015.

This is despite a record number of visitors to Qatar in March – more than 300,000 in one month, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said at the time.

More empty rooms is a trend that’s expected to continue through the rest of 2016, with occupancy rates forecast to hover around 64 percent by December.

That would signify a drop of 11 percent based on figures for the same period last year.

However, the report noted that Qatar’s hotels are still doing brisker business than other Gulf cities that rely heavily on corporate stays.

Competition heating up

To help it stand out in this new market, venues will need to think of more inventive dining options, Colliers said, continuing:

“If successfully implemented, F&B revenue can account for as much as room revenue, or even more in some cases. Having a more attractive F&B offering will also lead to a more appealing property.”

Another way hotels can attract visitors is by dropping prices.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Lesley Walker

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

According to Colliers, the cost of staying in a hotel in Doha is expected to fall 7 percent from last year’s prices, to an average of US$182 (around QR660) by year-end.

For luxury hotels, corporate bookings are expected to continue to make up some three-quarters of hotel reservations.

But discounts through online booking sites will become increasingly important to hotels that wish to attract more guests, Colliers said.

Building boom

Despite falling demand, the building spree of hotels and apartments in Qatar continues.

Some 538 new hotel rooms became available in the second quarter of this year, following the opening of new businesses including the Centro Capital Doha in Bin Mahmoud.

That takes the total number of rooms in Qatar to 16,243.

Construction of Mondrian Hotel Doha, Sept. 2015

Lesley Walker

Construction of Mondrian Hotel Doha, Sept. 2015

By the end of 2018, a slew of new hospitality launches is expected to cause the number of rooms to grow by more than 7,000, to 23,567.

Next year is set to be one of the busiest years for new openings, with 14 hotels  planned to launch, according to a separate new report by Tophotelprojects.

In the pipeline for a 2017 opening are venues including the Pullman Doha West Bay, JW Marriott West Bay, Hilton Garden Inn Doha Al Sadd and the Millennium Plaza Doha, which will be in the Barwa Al Sadd development on C-Ring Road.

With 41 hotel projects in total in the works, Doha is the third-busiest city in the MENA region for hospitality construction, the report noted.

Dubai came first, with 133 projects, while the Saudi city of Riyadh was second with 47 hotels .

However, Colliers noted that more than 20 percent of planned projects have already been delayed by at least a year.

This has affected a number of landmark hotels across town. That includes the Mandarin Oriental in Musheireb, which pushed back its original 2014 opening date by two years.

Meanwhile, the Mondrian hotel by Lagoona Mall is set to open this year, its website says, following multiple delays.


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Asian Games promotional poster


Asian Games promotional poster

As the Olympic Games in Rio come to a close, a longtime Qatar resident is working to make sure Qatar doesn’t forget about another important sports event: The Asian Games in 2006.

The country hosted the tournament nearly 10 years ago, when it was just starting to get more involved on an international level.

Over the past few months, Indian expat Prakash Maroli has been asking those who were around then to share their memories of the event on a community Facebook page.

Opening ceremony of the December 2006 Asian Games in Doha

paula le dieu/Flickr

Opening ceremony of the December 2006 Asian Games in Doha

According to Maroli, Doha ’06 Memories is an “online exhibit” that aims to honor the games and their host, before the country gets set to hold an even larger tournament – the World Cup in 2022.

The Facebook page contains photos, videos and memories of the tournament as a way of sharing the its legacy with the younger generation, he told Doha News.

A legacy

Alongside posters of the Asian Games, the Qatar Museums employee and former tournament volunteer has shared several promotional videos of the event on the page.

The videos show a much smaller Qatar, keen to share its ambitions with the world.

Maroli said he believes that the event helped the country achieve this aim: 

“Before, the world always questioned where Qatar was when you said you lived and worked there, but that changed after the opening of the 15th Asian games” he said.

Since starting the page in June, Maroli said that many people have offered to share their mementos of the event with him.

He plans to post images of these on the page soon, alongside his own souvenirs, which include a Torch used in the Torch Relay and a prototype of a Bronze Medal from the games.

Promotional posters

Maroli’s own involvement with the Asian Games came about when he pitched the idea of producing souvenir games posters for the event.

Asian Games promotional poster


Asian Games promotional poster

“I approached the Games Committee after drafting a one-page presentation and knocked on doors without any appointment,” he recalled. “The bosses gave me five minutes to sell the idea, and the rest was history.”

Event organizers gave Maroli and the company he was working for the green light to produce the posters, which were sold in gift shops during the games.

Prakash Maroli at the Asian Games in 2006


Prakash Maroli at the Asian Games in 2006

The expat, who has lived in Qatar for 15 years, also helped the organizing committee promote and distribute an official DVD and music CD.

Were you in Doha during the Asian Games? Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Omar Chatriwala

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Daily performances at malls and a children’s musical at the Qatar National Convention Center are being planned for this year’s Eid Al Adha festivities, officials have announced.

The exact date of the holiday has yet to be declared, but is estimated to be around Sept. 11.

Under the theme “Capture Joy,” the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has helped organize a week of shows at several malls around town. These include Hyatt Plaza, City Center, Ezdan, Lagoona, Al Khor and Dar Al Salam malls.

Mall show


Mall show

The live entertainment at these venues includes Tarzan (City Center), Beauty & The Beast (Dar Al Salam), Flying Super Kids (Al Khor Mall), Alvin and the Chipmunks (Ezdan Mall), Pirates from the Caribbean (Lagoona Mall) and Sinbad the Sailor (performed in Arabic at Hyatt Plaza).

In addition to stage shows, malls will host indoor parades and popular children’s characters.

Elsewhere, the Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) near Education City will host Fafa Saves the Forest from Sept. 11-17. The show follows the adventures of friends who try to rebuild their forest after a storm.

Tickets cost QR150 to QR490/person and can be bought at Virgin Megastores or online.

Numbers booster

Qatar is counting on the Eid celebrations to boost visitor numbers this year. These were down 6 percent in the first half of this year from the same time in 2015 in part due to Ramadan, according to officials.

In a statement, a senior tourism official said this week that the Eid offerings will “further energize the hospitality and retail sectors” in Qatar.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

ITU Pictures/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Rashed Al Qurese, QTA’s chief marketing and promotion officer, added that the celebrations are part of Qatar’s strategy to grow and diversify its tourism sector.

During Eid Al Adha, special events and entertainment are also usually on offer at the Pearl-Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, the Aspire Zone and other venues.

Stay tuned for our comprehensive guide to enjoying the holiday soon. Thoughts?

Civil Defense Roundabout construction


Civil Defense Roundabout construction

Commuters may want to avoid Civil Defense junction for the rest of the week if possible, as several lanes in the area will be closed for construction starting tomorrow.

In a statement this afternoon, Ashghal said it is entering the final phase of works on the intersection, which is being overhauled from a roundabout into a signalized junction.

This means diversions will be in effect from tomorrow morning (Tuesday, Aug. 23) to Friday, Aug. 26.

Civil Defense closures


Civil Defense closures

As per the map, motorists who want to go toward to the Corniche from Bin Omran and vice versa will be required to turn right or left instead.

However, those going perpendicular will have a few more options.

For example, drivers coming from Khalifa intersection can turn right toward Medical City or go straight to Onaiza St. But the left lane leading to Al Bidaa will be closed.

And motorists coming from Onaiza St. will not be able to turn left to go to Medical City, but can turn right toward Al Bidaa or go straight to Khalifa intersection.

Once this week is over, it will take about another month of works before the intersection is completed and fully open for traffic.

Will these diversions affect your commute? Thoughts?