Mondrian

The Mondrian Doha  in West Bay Lagoon

A new luxury hotel in Qatar that draws inspiration from falcons is expecting to open its doors to the public within the next few months.

Four years behind its original schedule, the Mondrian Doha is now eying a soft launch during the second quarter of this year, its owners have announced.

The hotel will have 270 rooms and suites, eight bars and restaurants with local and international cuisine and what is being billed as “an exclusive and immense spa.”

Mondrian

The atrium of the Mondrian Hotel Doha

Plans for the hotel, which is located in West Bay lagoon near the Lagoona mall, were initially revealed in 2011, and an opening was set for 2013.

However, the project, which is part of the sbe hotel group, has seen multiple delays. The most recent launch date passed in the fall of 2015.

No explanation has been given for the postponements.

‘Hollywood vibe’

Owners said the Doha hotel aims to achieve the same “up-all-night intensity, the energy and Sunset Strip vibe” of the original Mondrian hotel in Hollywood.

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A bedroom at the Mondrian Doha

The building, designed by Dutch architect Marcel Wanders, stands 31-stories high, and its appearance was apparently inspired by the falcon.

It has an entrance shaped like a beak, wing-like extensions framing the rooftop and basements that appear to carved out like a nest.

Inside, it will also apparently reference the bird of prey in paintings, portraits and ornaments.

New restaurants

Doha’s foodies will be keen to know which restaurants the hotel will host.

The Mondrian’s owners have revealed that two of them will be global brands – CUT by Wolfgang Puck, a fine dining steak house, and Japanese fusion restaurant Morimoto Doha.

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One of the dining venues at the new hotel

The hotel will also have a branch of the popular Magnolia Bakery in its lobby.

Other eateries include an authentic Qatari restaurant called Walima; a burger joint and bar called the Hudson Tavern; a cigar lounge called Smoke and Mirrors; and a shisha terrace.

The Mondrian is also planning to have “entertainment floor” complete with a nightclub, Black Orchid, an indoor pool and a skybar on its top floor, Cirrus.

Following a soft launch before the summer, the Mondrian will hold an official opening in September, the Qatar Tribune reports.

Are you looking forward to visiting? Thoughts?

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Qatar is likely to remain one of region’s most stable economies in the coming years due to its strong economy, top-heavy governance and politically inactive population, a new report has found.

According to BMI Research, the government’s ability “to provide its citizens with generous subsidies and economic opportunities” is a main reason for the stability.

However, Qatar has implemented some austerity measures in recent years due to lower oil prices and budget deficits.

Reem Saad / Doha News

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But when asked about actions such as rising utility and gas prices, BMI told Doha News that these were “unlikely” to have a negative effect on stability.

Andrine Skjelland, MENA Country Risk Analyst at BMI, said:

“The scope of fiscal consolidation remains limited, and the overall impact on Qatari citizens’ living standards will be minimal.

In any case, we believe the government would be quick to scale back measures at first signs of significant popular discontent, preventing unrest from spreading.”

However, BMI’s report noted that political involvement from Qatari citizens is expected to remain “minimal.” Additionally, it forecast that foreign workers will continue to be subject to “heavy restrictions.”

It added that national policies will continue to be shaped by “a small group of elite decision makers” who face few constraints, “in turn ensuring broad policy continuity.”

Trump effect

BMI was also optimistic in terms of the big picture. For example, it asserted that Qatar’s diplomatic ties with the US will remain strong.

This is despite Donald Trump’s presidency and his views on radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Donald J. Trump/Facebook

US President Donald Trump

The report concluded that the continued US military presence at the Al Udeid air base and deep economic ties between the two countries will outweigh other US foreign policy concerns.

BMI’s experts added that a softer focus on human rights by the US would likely work in Qatar’s favor.

“Compared with the previous administration, we expect the US government under Trump to focus less on human rights issues and the spread of democracy in its foreign policy – a trend that will likely be welcomed in Doha, as it limits the potential for external pressure on it to implement political and social reforms.”

Muslim Brotherhood links

Trump’s team is also currently debating whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

This move could strain diplomatic relations between the US and Qatar, whose support of the group in Egypt has caused past conflict with its neighbors.

European External Action Service

Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi

However, BMI asserted that Qatar’s ability to act as a peace-broker in the region, coupled with financial and military concerns, guarantee that the two countries won’t fall out over the issue.

“Doha’s ties to a broad range of state and non-state actors mean it is still considered a facilitator of MENA negotiations in Washington,” the report stated.

“The two countries also have deep trade links, particularly in the energy sector, and Doha has announced plans to invest $45bn in the US over the next five years.”

BMI added that Qatar would likely yield to US pressure over its Muslim Brotherhood ties if required to do so.

This is because relations with the US and other GCC countries are becoming increasingly important amid regional instability, according to the report’s authors.

Thoughts?

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Eight expats have recently been arrested for stealing people’s valuables in crowded areas, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has announced.

The bust was made by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which formed a special team to respond to several recent complaints about pickpocketing in Qatar.

In a statement, the MOI identified the men only as “Africans” and said further legal action is pending against them.

Neha Rashid / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Police are now urging residents to keep an eye on their belongings, especially in crowded areas like public markets and bus stations.

They also requested people cooperate with authorities in the event that they are pick-pocketed or witness such a crime.

Concerns raised

Earlier this month, the Gulf Times reported an increase in pickpocketing incidents outside exchange houses.

The incidents were especially common during weekends, when large crowds visited the exchanges to conduct transactions.

Separately, the newspaper also reported that an increasing number of people have been robbed after being spat on.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The offender usually apologizes, attempts to wipe off the spittle and then steals the victim’s wallet or other valuables in the process.

This has reportedly happened near Souq Waqif, in Al Hilal and Fareej Abdel Aziz, oftentimes after the victim has just visited the ATM.

Have you had any problems with theft lately? Thoughts?

Chantelle D'Mello / Doha News

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Commuters in Qatar spent an average of 4.5 days on the roads last year, thanks to traffic congestion.

Up seven hours from the year before, the wasted time equates to an economic loss of about QR6 billion, or about 1 percent of the country’s GDP.

That’s according to the Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC), which released its second annual Qatar Traffic Report this week.

The report tries to quantify the impact traffic jams have on the country using more than a billion data records.

These are collected through QMIC’s network of traffic sensors, cars outfitted with GPS devices and information from users of its iTraffic (Masarak) mobile app.

Worst locations and times

QMIC highlighted several routes that are particularly congested during the morning rush hour.

Ameer Abdul Razak/Flickr

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According to the Gulf Times, they include:

  • Al Sadd Intersection-Olympic Roundabout;
  • Musheireb Interchange, B Ring Road;
  • Onaiza Intersection-Lekhwiya Intersection, Al Markhiya Street;
  • Umm Ghuwalina Intersection-Al Sharq Intersection, C-Ring Road; and
  • Al Waab Intersection to Al Bustan St.

During the evening, the most congested areas were:

  • Environment Roundabout Duhail Intersection, Al Khafji Street;
  • To Television Roundabout, Ahmed Bin Ali Street;
  • Al Sadd Intersection-Olympic Roundabout, Jawaan Street;
  • To Al Waab Intersection, Al Bustan Street; and
  • Lejbailat Intersection-Television Roundabout, Al Jamiaa Street.

The worst day of the week for traffic is Sunday mornings, and the most congested month last year was October.

However, traffic jams appeared to improve as the year went on. This suggests that newly completed road projects are starting to help traffic flow, QMIC said.

Three more years

According to the Peninsula, traffic officials sought to reassure residents about the new data, saying conditions are only temporary.

Qatar Rail

Doha Metro rendering

The newspaper quoted Traffic Department chief Brig. Mohammed Saad Al Kharji as saying things would improve within the next three years, after all major road projects are completed.

He added:

“The study is shocking for sure, but I believe the real figures will come when all roads are opened, railway projects commenced and public transport expanded.

We have to be patient for the time being. I used to give an example to explain this situation. For example someone is sick and the doctor told him that he needs surgery and it will take a month for recovery. The patient will undergo the operation and wait for recovery.”

Thoughts?