Three and a half months after a fire killed 19 people there, Villaggio has partly reopened its doors to the public. Here’s the latest.
UPDATE | 1:01pm Thursday
Some food court eateries are now open to the public. The area where the fire originated between Gates 3 and 4 remain closed, shoppers report.
UPDATE | 11:24am Thursday
The first few stores, including Carrefour and shops at the VIP area, have opened to the public at Villaggio, shoppers report.
It is unclear what safety improvements have been made to the mall, but one tweeter notes that the fire exits have become more accessible:
#villagioThe Fire exits are still locked at carrefour but not with a chain, they have used a wire now!!@dohanews twitter.com/QatariGuy/stat…
— Abdallah Ali عبدالله (@QatariGuy) September 20, 2012
Meanwhile, residents continue to debate whether it is appropriate to celebrate the mall’s reopening, out of respect for the grieving fire victims’ families.
In an earlier Doha News post about Villaggio, Jane Weekes, who lost her 2-year-old triplets Lillie, Jackson and Willsher in the fire, explained:
One of the hardest things about losing a child or children is how quickly the world seems to return to normal whilst ours remains shattered. This will equally be the case for the families of the 4 teachers and 2 firefighters who perished, who are not only someones child but also leave behind children of their own.
If you’re heading to the mall today, please tell us what you see.
UPDATE | 9:31am Thursday
According to a shop manager at the mall, Carrefour and Gondolania will open in a few hours, but the cinema and Virgin Megastore remain closed.
The food court is being inspected by Civil Defense, but is also expected to open today. Still, the majority of stores will stay closed until they receive their inventory shipments.
Have you driven by Villaggio today? What do you see?
After more than three months, Villaggio mall is reopening its doors to the public on Thursday, a representative has confirmed to Doha News.
Civil Defense gave the green-light following an inspection this afternoon at the mall, which closed after a May 28 fire killed 19 people, including 13 children.
In an email to mall employees earlier this week, staff were asked to be prepared for a Thursday opening.
A follow-up email was sent tonight confirming that Civil Defense approval was obtained and asking staff to report to work tomorrow.
Though tomorrow is not the official relaunch of the mall, as many stores are not prepared to re-open, Gondolonia, the food court and likely the cinema will be open for business, the representative told Doha News.
The re-opening is a bittersweet occasion for many residents, not the least of whom are the families of those who were killed in the fire.
Over the summer, the parents of the 13 children killed in the fire called for a boycott against the mall until key questions are answered and justice is served.
It is unclear whether their concerns have been addressed, though it seems unlikely.
Earlier this month, the criminal prosecution to determine responsibility for the fire was postponed after two out of three parties charged did not show up.
Credit: Photo by Brian Candy