In what is slated to be Qatar’s third children’s “mini-city” role-play center, Mexican entertainment chain KidZania is planning to open a Doha branch by early 2017, organizers have said.
The indoor theme park will be located behind Hyatt Plaza mall. It will sit on a 6,500 square meter site that is currently a dirt parking lot adjacent to Aspire Park. There will also be a pedestrian link to Villaggio Mall, officials said.
Kidzania is being brought to Doha under a joint venture between Aspire Zone Foundation and Sharaka Holdings named Qatar Entertainment Tasali.
Qatar will be the fourth KidZania branch in the Gulf and will operate similarly to existing play centers in Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
How it works
The center is designed like a small-scale city, allowing children ages four to 14 years old to pretend working one of some 100 jobs, including as a fireman, scientist, pilot, news anchor or chef. The kids can earn money in the city’s own currency, the KidZo, and spend it on stores inside the city.
Businesses within the city are sponsored and branded by real companies. At a signing ceremony today, QNB became the first partner for KidZania Doha.
Children will be able to both work and act as customers in a miniature branch of the bank.
“In a fun, role-playing environment, the KidZania experience teaches kids values that cannot easily be imbibed in traditional classrooms,” Tasali Chairman
Sheikh Nasser bin Abdulrahman Al Thani Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Thani, said in a statement.
Work is expected to start on the site in November, Jim Levesque, project lead for Tasali, told Doha News. It will include building a covered walkway that links KidZania to Villaggio, either underground or as a bridge over the existing road, he added.
Rival role-play centers
This is the third “edutainment” children’s role-play center that is expected to open in Qatar in the coming years.
Aimed at children ages two to 14 years old, the facility is designed to resemble a town with more than 70 scaled-down businesses in a two-story complex.
The center is expected to include a central plaza, fire station, clock tower, police station and hospital theater.
Meanwhile, space-themed imaginative play center Juniverse, aimed at kids ages five to 15 years old, is expected to be one of the entertainment options at Doha Festival City, when it opens to the north of Doha next fall.
The QR6.5 billion ($1.8 billion) mall, which announced its Juniverse plans in April, also plans to build an Angry Birds theme park, an interactive digital theme park named Virtuosity, a snow park and a water park.
As several mega-malls prepare to open in the coming years – bringing with them 1 million square meters of additional retail space – shopping center operators in Qatar have sought out ways to differentiate themselves to customers.
Diversifying and upgrading family entertainment options, especially in a market that’s expected to have an oversupply of retail space in the coming years, has been one strategy.
This article was updated on June 10 to reflect the correct name of the Tasali Chairman, which was mis-stated in a media advisory.