A new under-construction mall in Qatar hopes to woo shoppers with a Dutch hypermarket and a family entertainment area designed as a mock giant toy factory, operators have said.
During a press conference today, developers of Tawar Mall announced that Qatar-based Al Siddiqi Holding has been tasked with designing a 4,302-square-meter “Kaboom” entertainment center.
When finished, it will feature video games, theme park rides, a chocolate factory as well as a karaoke booth with a 20,000-song library, officials said.
Kaboom will also incorporate educational activities using Lego as well as a science lab.
“This project will attract plenty of customers,” Al Siddiqi Holding CEO Aly Delawar told reporters.
Tawar Mall is scheduled to open at the end of this year, and will likely face stiff competition for visitors.
Located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Al Markhiya and Arab League streets in Al Duhail, it’s less than 2km east of an existing retail cluster that includes Landmark Mall, Ezdan Mall and the recently opened Gulf Mall.
Also slated to open this year are the upscale AlHazm as well as the much-larger Mall of Qatar and Doha Festival City.
Additionally, some existing malls such as City Center are planning extensive renovations.
With retail experts predicting that Qatar’s population is currently too small to support so many new and existing shopping centers, several mall operators are investing heavily in entertainment areas for children to differentiate themselves.
Speaking to Doha News, Pedro Ribeiro, general manager of Tawar Mall, said:
“It’s a key factor within the competition. You have a few malls that will replicate and implement existing (entertainment area concepts). The idea of Tawar Mall is … that from day one we will be doing something unique.”
In addition to kids’ entertainment, mall operators have been trying to emphasize other unique retail offerings.
At today’s press conference, officials also announced that Qatar’s first Spar Hypermarket would open inside Tawar Mall.
The Amsterdam-based chain already has some 12,500 stores in 41 countries, including Oman and the UAE, according to David Michael Moore, Spar’s international retail and development director.
The company previously said that it planned to open two supermarkets in Doha by the end of 2013, but that never happened.
Moore told Doha News that a shortage of suitable retail space in the market several years ago delayed those plans, and that Spar now plans to open five supermarkets and convenience stores in Qatar by the end of 2017.
“We’ve got the rights properties now, and we’re moving (forward),” he said.
Construction of Tawar Mall is expected to wrap up in March, allowing tenants to spend several months fitting out their individual space before the mall opens by December.
At that time, some 75 percent of its retailers should be operating, Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro declined to say how many of Tawar Mall’s 312 stores have been pre-leased, but said “the percentage is high” and includes several “new concepts” developed by Qatari entrepreneurs.
When completed, the mall will have approximately 91,000 square meters of shopping space, which is about twice as much as inside Ezdan Mall. It will also have a four-star boutique hotel.
Construction on Tawar Mall began in earnest early in 2014, but slowed following the death of its lead proponent, local businessman Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari.
The project is now being led by his son, Jassim bin Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari.