All images courtesy of Qatari Diar
What is reputed to be one of the largest exhibition and conference halls in the world is set to finally open its doors in two months’ time, a Qatar tourism official has confirmed.
The opening of the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC), located behind City Center Mall in Dafna/West Bay, comes more than two years later than the previously-announced completion date.
The 90,670 sq meter complex will host its inaugural event, the fifth Civil Defense expo, from Nov. 2 to 4.
According to the Peninsula, the Qatar Tourism Authority’s Director of Exhibitions Hamad Al Abdan told reporters this week:
“DECC is fully completed. The operator has been appointed and is managing it now.”
The center has five halls that total 32,000 square meters. Its ceilings are 19m high and don’t have any columns, which enables event organizers to more easily bring in boats, cars and other heavy equipment, according to the developer, Qatari Diar Real Estate Co.
Each hall can accommodate up to 3,500 delegates and the spaces can be merged to create one single venue, said to be one of the largest convention spaces in the world.
There will also be parking for nearly 5,000 vehicles in the basement, a kitchen which can prepare meals for 3,000 guests, 21 larger conference/meeting rooms and 21 smaller meeting rooms as well as VIP rooms, a bank and coffee shops.
However, there is still no sign of the 550m-high tower that had been originally planned to sit on the eastern edge of the site, adjacent to the center.
Designed by US-based architects Jahn, the obelisk was slated to be the second-tallest tower in the world after the Burj Khalifa in Dubai when the scheme was drawn up, and was supposed to house office space, a hotel and apartments.
Though work on the tower foundations began several years ago, the project encountered numerous problems early on. Construction stalled in early 2012 amid concerns that the 112-story structure would obstruct planes from taking off and landing at the old Doha International Airport.
When Hamad International Airport opened last April, it was hoped that work on the site would resume, but this has not happened, and its initial completion date of 2012 fast disappeared.
Tourism officials hope that the downtown conference complex, which is not to be confused with Doha Exhibition Center near Katara or Qatar National Convention Center (QNCC) by Education City, will help boost business visitors to the city.
(QTA) has previously said that business and conference tourism are a key part of its strategy to boost Qatar’s visitor numbers by 20 percent in the next five years.
In June, QTA announced that the center would be managed by ELAN Qatar (formerly q.media) and Fira Barcelona.
The convention center is also supposed to have an underground tunnel that will link it with the Corniche and Sheraton Park.
While the Sheraton hotel reopened to the public in November last year after a seven-month refurbishment, the park has remained fenced off and officials have been unable to say when it will actually open.