More shops and cinemas coming to renamed ‘Asian Town’ in Qatar

Grand Mall Hypermarket in Asian Town.

Penny Yi Wang

The 2013 opening of Grand Mall Hypermarket in what was then known as West End Park.

A popular retail and recreation complex near the Industrial Area that caters to Qatar’s low-income workforce has changed its name as it prepares to open several new amenities.

West End Park, which encompasses several cinemas, a cricket pitch, amphitheater and shopping centers including the Grand Mall Hypermarket, will now be known as “Asian Town,” according to the property manager.

A spokesperson for Ibin Ajayan Projects told Doha News that “Asian Town” was the original name given to the development when the government commissioned its construction. He also said the label reflects the customers the company wants to attract.

The spokesperson, who asked not to be named, added that Asian Town is meant to provide affordable amenities and services to the country’s low-income workforce close to where they live.

“Laborers are the most important part of (achieving) Qatar’s vision,” he said. “They are the manpower. Qatar (constructs developments such as Asian Town) as an appreciation for them.”

Barwa Al Baraha

Peter Kovessy

Barwa Al Baraha

In addition to that development, the Industrial Area is home to Barwa Al Baraha, a “Workers’ City” project aimed at providing quality housing to construction workers in Qatar.

However, both developments are located far from central Doha, and their construction was initiated alongside other efforts to push blue-collar workers out of established residential areas and shopping malls.

These have included “family only” days at some retail centers and a ban on male laborers living in some centrally located neighborhoods.

New developments

Thousands of people turned up in October 2013 to celebrate the opening of the first phase of what was then known as West End Park.

Grand Mall opening

Penny Yi Wang

Grand Mall opening

While the Ibin Ajayan Projects spokesperson said he didn’t have precise visitor numbers on hand, he estimated that some 5,000 people pass through the complex on a typical day. That figure goes up to 12,000 on weekends and for special events.

He said the development is popular with families as well as expat men.

The project’s build-out has continued and will soon include a new plaza-style mall with 240 shops selling clothing, glasses and coffee at prices meant to be affordable to low-income shoppers, the spokesperson said.

He added that the first stores in the new mall would open as part of a soft launch later this month.

West End Park Cinema

Chantelle D'mello

West End Park Cinema

Next week, a third cinema is set to start screening films and will be joined by a fourth cinema by early June, the spokesperson said.

The theaters charge a relatively low QR20 per ticket and focus on Hindi and Tamil movies aimed at Qatar’s large Indian population.

International films – such as the popular Fast & Furious 7, which the spokesperson said would be screened later this month – are also shown.

Separately, an outlet mall with some 170 stores is also expected to open in the complex later this year.

Despite mandating that retailers charge comparatively low prices, the spokesperson said there’s been no challenges finding retail tenants since Asian Town’s proximity to the Industrial Area all but guarantees a steady stream of customers.

National Sports Day

Chantelle D'mello

National Sports Day

The developer also works to increase the number of visitors through special events such as celebrations last Friday that saw performances by singers from India, Nepal and the Philippines in addition to cultural dances and sporting events.

It’s also a popular venue for events that cater to the south Asian community, such as National Day celebrations and National Sports Day activities.

“Our vision is to make it a destination for shopping and for dinner for the laborer community,” the spokesperson said.

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