A new temporary open-air Harrods store has opened to the public in Qatar today, featuring favorites such as tea and chocolates, but also rare watches, jewelry and supercars with price tags in the millions of riyals.
The 6,500 square meter wood-paneled pavilion is located at Katara Cultural Village, and is modeled on a similar concept that debuted in Italy two years ago.
The Qatari iteration of the upscale department store hosts some 13 luxury brands, many of which are already represented here. However, organizers said that the pieces on sale have been imported into the country specifically for the shop.
Situated at the end of Katara’s Shakespeare Street, the venue was inaugurated last week, but was only open to invited guests and VIPs.
What’s for sale
Its CEO Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Saud al-Thani said some three months of preparation went into bringing the store to Qatar, in conjunction with National Day celebrations.
Items on sale include a diamond necklace retailing for almost QR21 million; a Rolls Royce Phantom outfitted in the Qatari flag’s colors and a diamond-encrusted Piaget watch worth QR1.6 million that comes with a free gift of a Maserati Quattroporte.
There is also a general goods Harrods store selling tea, chocolates, nuts, biscuits, merchandise and small souvenirs from between QR50 and 300.
For those who want to shop in privacy, booths catering to the ruling family and serious buyers are available.
Speaking to Doha News, a representative from Adabisc said that the pavilion would most likely become an annual tradition.
“Harrods is such an iconic brand, and people come here just for that. We want to set a practice here. The father Emir wanted to bring the Harrods village (from Sardinia) to Qatar, to seize the opportunity of the Qatari National Day. It’s 95 percent going to be an annual event,” he said.
The venue also includes a pizzeria overlooking the waterfront, with catering provided by Aspire Katara Hospitality.
The Qatari connection
Harrod’s presence in Qatar marks the strong financial bond that the Gulf country shares with the UK.
The upscale department store, which first opened in 1824, was bought by Qatar Holdings for a reported sum of US$2.3 billion.
Since then, Qatar has invested in various high profile London landmarks like The Shard, the Olympic Village, Camden Market, Sainsbury’s and Canary Wharf.
The move has sparked some social unease in the UK, which British photographer Dougie Wallace recently highlighted in his new project “Harrodsburg,” a website with candid and often unflattering photographs of wealthy shoppers taken in London’s Knightsbridge district.
According to Wallace, the images reflect “an up-close wealth safari, exploring the wildlife that inhabits the super-rich residential and retail district of Knightsbridge and Chelsea.” He added that wealthy people were “changing the face of (London), pricing out the upper middle class natives of Central London, excluding first times (sic) buyers from the city and (marginalizing) old wealth from their time-honored habitats.”
The influx of wealthy tourists from the Gulf to the UK, many of which bring their noisy supercars in tow, has also sparked ire among residents of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where Harrods is located.
In July, the district announced plans to impose fines on car owners who created a nuisance, parked illegally, or broke noise ordinances in the area.
The pop-up shop is open through Jan 24, 2016. Its hours are 4pm to midnight.