After being stalled for months following the death of a local businessman, construction on Tawar Mall in Al Duhail has once again picked up the pace.
Earlier today, officials from the mall told journalists that they would be joining three other shopping centers in planning to welcome their first customers next year.
They are Mall of Qatar, Doha Festival City and AlHazm, a luxury shopping center located near Tawar.
Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari, who also developed Qatar’s Al Ghariya Resort, conceived the idea for Tawar Mall in 2004.
“He wanted to make something different for all Qataris … (and) for all people,” his son, Jassim bin Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari, told Doha News. “He wanted to (build) this for the future, and for the the family’s name.”
Construction began in earnest early in 2014 and, at one point, was projected to be completed by the end of that year.
However, the elder Al Kuwari fell ill and later died of a heart attack earlier this year, causing progress on the development to slow.
Work is once again in full swing, with an expected opening date sometime in the fourth quarter of next year.
But the leasing process has just begun and the mall had yet to disclose any signed-up tenants.
“Now, we have new management and a new team pushing very hard,” Al Kuwari said.
Tawar Mall is located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Al Markhiya and Arab League streets, less than 2km east of an existing retail cluster that includes Landmark Mall, Ezdan Mall and the recently opened Gulf Mall.
It will have approximately 91,000 square meters of shopping space, which is about twice as much as inside Ezdan Mall.
When it’s complete, Tawar Mall is expected to have approximately 275 stores spread across four floors.
It will be anchored by a hypermarket as well as a boutique hotel, fine dining and fast food restaurants, a car showroom as well as a 12-screen cinema.
Construction of Tawar Mall comes amid strong interest from both local and international retailers to either enter or expand in Qatar, real estate services firm DTZ said in its latest quarterly market report last week.
“There’s huge demand from retailers to get into Qatar,” said DTZ associate director Johnny Archer last week. “But all the malls are full.”
However, the landscape is expected to dramatically change over the coming years.
With a dozen shopping centers either in the planning or construction stage, the amount of mall space in Qatar is projected to nearly triple by 2020.
Without a significant increase in Qatar’s population, real estate experts say there is a risk of an oversupply of retail space that leaves the country’s lower-quality malls with vacant storefronts.
Still, general manager Pedro Ribeiro said the mix of merchandise at Tawar Mall will differentiate it from competitors and added that he would be selective in choosing specific stores, rather than doing large deals with companies that own the licensing rights for multiple retailers.
“It’s very easy in Qatar for a developer to invite three or four big groups, put all the brands of the group (in the mall) and khalas, the project is leased,” he told Doha News. “For example, if you are coming to Tawar Mall, you are not seeing fashion, fashion and more fashion. You’ll see fashion, maybe (sporting goods), maybe shoes and others.”
“Tawar Mall will have unique things that cannot compare” to the offerings of other shopping centers, Ribeiro told journalists. That includes 6,000 square meters of entertainment space, although Ribeiro was unable to say how it would be used.
The shopping center will also have enough underground parking for 2,700 vehicles that will be free for customers.
While most shopping centers outside Dafna/West Bay offer free parking, Gulf Mall started charging customers last month.