All photos by Chantelle D’mello
Keeping its promise to “Colour Your Summer,” the annual Qatar Summer Festival opened yesterday in a splash of neon lights and brightly colored rides at the Doha Exhibition Center.
According to many visitors, this year’s Entertainment City is a step up from previous offerings, due to new features like a videogame arcade, several higher-end rides and a “skills” section of carnival-style games.
Speaking to Doha News, one mother of two said:
“Last year, it was mostly for older children, and the games and rides were very simple. Nothing new.
This year, they have things for children and adults of all ages, and that’s really good. We loved playing the skill games while my kids loved the science show and the different rides.”
The DEC is no exception, with guards and a row of metal detectors and X-ray bag scanning machines set up at the main entrance, as well as at various doors in the hall itself.
“We are focusing on safety because of the turbulence in the region. Safety is important really; if you don’t feel comfortable and safe you wouldn’t come,” QTA’s festivals and events director Mashal Shahbik said.
Games and rides
Rides include bumper cars, a rollercoaster, a mini-swing carousel, among others.
In terms of carnival games, participants can win prizes by knocking over pyramids of tin cans, throwing a ring over the neck of a bottle, or lobbing bouncy balls into buckets.
Games cost anywhere between QR5 to QR20, and prizes for winners include large bananas, minions, doughnuts, hearts, teddy bears, and round furry monsters.
However, many of the games appeared difficult to win and few visitors could be seen walking away with prizes yesterday.
In a move away from paper tickets, visitors now must buy “credit cards.” The cards cost QR2, and can be loaded with an amount as small as QR1 and as large as QR500.
The cards are only valid for the amusement park rides and games. The arcade, shopping center and food zones are cash and card only, but there is an ATM on site.
Food, shopping and entertainment
Also among the new offerings is a kids’ activity zone for younger children that includes a makeshift bowling alley, an arts and crafts area, a Lego area and a face painting station.
Additionally, there’s a new stage area where performances take place daily from 2pm to 9:30pm. Yesterday’s lineup included a science show and a Palestinian dabkeh show.
Meanwhile, this year’s food court includes several popular restaurants like Royal Tandoor and Southern Fried Chicken, with prices ranging from QR10 to QR30 for various combo and a la carte options.
Those craving a sweet fix can grab a Nutella-filled crepe, cupcakes or head over to Gelato where a scoop of ice cream with unlimited toppings costs QR10.
A new shopping area has also been added to this year’s festival, with booths selling small clothing, jewelry, perfume, spices and beauty products.
Visitors are expected to bargain, but when Doha News visited yesterday, many stores still appeared to be in the process of setting up, and business seemed slow.
“I think it’s because it’s the first day that there aren’t as many people here, but hopefully it will pick up,” said a jewelry vendor from the UAE.
Entertainment City is expected to be open for the entire month of August. Timings from Saturday to Wednesday are 1pm to 11pm, and from Thursday to Friday, 1pm to midnight.
Toward the end of August, the summer festival will host two live concerts at the Hamad al-Attiyah Arena. Those shows take place on Aug. 27 and 28 and include performances from renowned artists such as Asala Nasri, Saad Lamjerd, Balqees Fathi and Rabeh Saqer.
Finally, a Doha Comedy Day is set for Aug. 29 at the Qatar National Convention Center, featuring Fahed Beitari, Ibrahim Khairallah, Hamad al-Ammari, Ahmad al-Shamri, Badr Saleh, and Ali al-Sayed. Tickets are available at Virgin Megastores and online here.