The exclusive international beach resort chain Nikki Beach has confirmed that it is pulling out of Qatar.
The brand is famous for its all-white decor and celebrity parties in some of the world’s hippest holiday spots, such as St. Tropez in France, St. Barths in the French West Indes, Marbella in Spain and its home town of Florida’s Miami Beach.
Doha was supposed to be the company’s first venture in the Gulf, and a site on the Pearl-Qatar has long been earmarked for construction.
The website of the island’s managing company UDC still lists the private club as an upcoming attraction, although the 2012 scheduled opening date has long since passed.
This week, a company spokesperson for US-based brand told Doha News that Qatar would no longer be a location for one of its clubs. However, a Nikki Beach in Dubai would be announced “very soon.”
“We did not open and are not opening in Qatar,” she said, adding that the reason behind canceling the Qatar location was a change of ownership of The Pearl.
In 2012, a state-owned retirement fund announced that it had bought a controlling stake in UDC.
At the time, the acquisition of some QR1.6 billion in shares by Qatar’s General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority was thought to have helped stabilize the island.
But questions were also raised about whether the business deal prompted the Pearl’s sudden ban on alcohol sales a few months before that.
Initially touted as temporary, the ban remains in place and may have played a factor in Nikki Beach’s change of heart.
Describing itself as “the world’s sexiest beach bar,” Nikki Beach clubs regularly feature in international newspapers’ gossip columns, hosting parties for celebrities from Paris Hilton to Jay Z as guests sip QR11,000-a-bottle champagne.
Given this description, there may also have been cultural questions about how such a venue would fare in a conservative Muslim society like Qatar’s.
UDC did not respond to Doha News requests for comment about Nikki Beach.
The company is the latest in a number of international names that has pulled out of the Pearl.
Just last week, the only restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef on the island announced it was shutting its doors for good on Nov. 21.
The eponymous Quisine by Guy Savoy, which opened after the alcohol ban came into effect, was the French chef’s first foray into the Middle East.
According to the restaurant’s communications manager, things “just didn’t take off the way we expected.”
The restaurant’s closure will follow in the footsteps of Maze, by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, which closed in March 2012, citing falling revenue due to the ban in alcohol sales.
While a number of other restaurants on the island have also fallen by the wayside in the intervening years, the new Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel near Qanat Qartier looks set to buck the trend.
Opening on Dec. 1, the Alfardan-owned, 281-room hotel is expected to serve alcohol in some capacity in one of its 11 bars, cafes and restaurants. Its facilities will include a 150m private beach, a cafe and pool bar, outdoor swimming pools, water sports facilities, a tennis court and yacht jetties.
I don’t think anyone expected this to go ahead. The concept just doesn’t fit with Qatar. The unpredictable nature of authority, ban on alcohol on Pearl, alcohol by hotel pools banned, I’d take my money to Dubai too.
Hmmm change in controlling interest will not allow us to sell ou QAR11,000 bottle of bubbly!!
‘Dry’ beach club ain’t the experience they aiming for – smart move to not open in the first place rather than to bleed like all the restaurants at the Pearl.
What to do with the pearl.
I hear it’s going to be floated…………….
Irrespective of alcohol, when you look at the other venues for Nicki Beach you realise how hard it will be for Qatar to build an international tourist industry. Culture, climate, and lack of real diversity are against it, and despite the hype Dubai has exactly the same problem. The Gulf states will be a tourist destination for the indigenous and western shopaholics, and that’s about it.
But Dubai SEEMS to be more tolerant at least.
I think the Pearl would make a lovely retirement home for the affluent rich. Just a few adjustments and it would be ideal: panic buttons in all apartments; priority throughways for mobile powerchairs; restaurants converted to tea rooms. That sort of thing. Perhaps UDC could team up with Qatar Airways to offer an all in package to include a single airfare into the country and a 28″ x 84″ box cargo return to your final destination?
Business opportunity alert for –
Five Star Funeral Homes?
“Luxurious”* Five Star Funeral Homes” please…
I wish I had also not bothered coming to this dreadful place called the Pearl, its just such a big con. Its not quite as the UDC claim in their adverts. Its just a glorified racetrack with 24/7 building noise + its empty most of the time, I suppose most people are either in the queue to get in or the queue to get out! Only nine months of my lease to go, if I really try I may make it out sane.
Tumbleweed can be fascinating!
“the ban remains in place and may have played a factor in Nikki Beach’s change of heart”
Hmm, do you think it MAY have played a part? I wonder.
I doubt it did, popping bottles of Pepsi is every bit as enjoyable to the party types as a bottle of bubbly, and if they are looking to lose their senses all they need to do is spin around as fast as they can for 10 minutes straight, and the resulting dizziness can be as relaxing as a few drinks, with added benefit of the risk of a “raped while drunk” factor being 0%.
I think they pulled out to early, all they needed was some merry go rounds, vending machines and world class DJs to turn this beach into a party scene that would would put anything in Ibiza to shame.
Hahaa, thanks for that, needed a good laugh
The Pearl could be fantastic, it has all the potential to be a world class destination, but unfortunately like most things in Qatar it is hampered by idiotic restrictions and no vision. Imagine open air restaurants, street performers, live jazz/music, bars, nightlife…but alas it will never be…its a lemon and always will be. Ohh not to mention the fundamental design floor of one road in and out.
That sounds kind of lame. I would personally prefer a site that promotes women removing their tops for bead necklaces and Amsterdam type coffee shops. That’s my vision for a Pearl that would be a world class destination.
Who needs Guy Savoy and a Nikki Beach? Who said such venues define world class destinations? All the Pearl needs is a Marmara Istanbul and a Doha Gulf Palace hotel to become a major cosmopolitan location within Doha.
NIkki Beach does not need The Pearl. It is The Pearl that needed Nikki Beach!!!