Qatar’s City Center mall to expand with 35 new ground-level stores

Peter Kovessy

A pet store, barber shop and food outlet Bread and Bagels are among nearly three dozen new retailers being added to the ground floor of City Center Mall.

The mall, located in West Bay, is currently one of Qatar’s largest shopping centers, alongside Villaggio Mall, although both will soon be dwarfed by several new retail properties under construction.

Joerg Harengerd, City Center’s director, told Doha News that he expects most of the new stores to launch by early 2015, subject to Civil Defense approvals. The first, a Crocs footwear retailer, has already opened.

Peter Kovessy

“It’s a mix of many kinds of shops … (although it is) more service-oriented,” Harengerd told Doha News in an interview this week.

The lower level of the mall is divided into two distinct enclosed sections, separated by an ice rink in the center of the shopping center, and has several access points to the parking garage.

When Doha News visited the shopping center earlier this week, marketing graphics identifying the retailers covered many of the temporary walls that shielded the concourse from the construction fit-outs taking place in the future stores.

The new retailers include:

West side (below Carrefour)

  • Ahli Bank
  • Al Salahi / Fancy Rose (jewelry);
  • Axiom Telecom;
  • Beauty Box (hair and nails salon);
  • Costa Coffee;
  • DHL (shipping);
  • In No Mind (home decor);
  • K Corner (footwear);
  • Marian Tailors;
  • Mr. Quality (key cutting and watch repairs);
  • Occhiali (eyewear); and
  • Qatar Islamic Bank.

East side (near the new taxi bay)

  • Albayt Alasil (honey and olive oil products);
  • Al Dar for Exchange Works (money transfer / foreign exchange);
  • Al Jaber Opticians;
  • Axa (insurance);
  • Bread and Bagels;
  • Pets & More;
  • Qatar-UAExchange (money transfer / foreign exchange);
  • Tavola (houseware);
  • Technical Care Center (mobile phone repair); and
  • The Barber.

Some of the businesses already operate inside City Center, and appear to be relocating. This suggests that the mall will see more new retailers on its upper floors once the relocations are complete.

Harengerd said the new stores were constructed using space from the enclosed parking garage without losing any vehicle stalls.

Competition

The new stores will add roughly 10,000 square meters of leasable space to City Center’s existing 130,000 square meters, which is currently fully rented, Harengerd said.

While City Center is among the largest shopping malls in the country for now, that will change in the coming years.

Mall of Qatar rendering.

Mall of Qatar

Mall of Qatar rendering.

Both the Mall of Qatar in Al Rayyan, past Education City, as well as Doha Festival City, which includes the Ikea off Al Shamal Road, will dwarf City Center and Villaggio in size when they are completed.

Analysts have forecast that Qatar will actually see an oversupply of retail space when these and several other properties – including North Gate Mall, Tawar Mall and Gulf Mall – open in the coming years.

At this year’s Cityscape Qatar real estate conference, a retail consultant working on the Mall of Qatar project predicted that the country’s newer shopping centers would be able to fill their stores, but would succeed at the expense of older properties.

“Some of the original shopping centers have already lost market share,” said Phil McArthur, managing director of McArthur+Co.

Naming The Mall and City Center as examples, he said many of Doha’s original retail hubs “are going to have a real challenge” competing.

But City Center’s Harengerd disagrees.

Qatar Rail

“Location-wise, we have a big advantage,” he said, noting that the shopping center will have a connection to the under-construction Doha Metro.

There are also several high-rise residential towers under construction in the West Bay / Dafna area, which will likely increase the number of potential shoppers who can reach City Center by foot.

Harengerd predicted that many Qatar residents would visit the new malls when they open out of curiosity, but eventually return to their regular shopping habits.

“People will try them, experience them and come back,” he said.

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