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All photos courtesy of Qatar & Yonder

French hypermarket Monoprix is officially open for business at the new Doha Festival City (DFC).

Megamall DFC, which opened nearly two weeks ago, is host to the world’s largest Monoprix.

According to visitors, the store has a lot of same offerings as its (much smaller) sister branch in Dafna, including lots of produce, freshly made sandwiches and pastries.

Qatar & Yonder

“Cheese cave”

But there are also huge candy, cheese and organic sections and several shelves with gluten-free products.

Visitors can eat at the store’s cafe, and extensive homeware offerings and clothing are also on sale.

Monoprix in Doha Festival City is open from 9am to 10pm, Sunday to Wednesdays, and from 9am to midnight from Thursdays to Saturdays.

It’s closed for 90 minutes on Fridays following the first call to afternoon prayers.

Thoughts?

All photos for Doha News

Thousands of curious shoppers turned up to explore Qatar’s newest, biggest mall yesterday after its soft launch opening.

About half of the QR6 billion Doha Festival City (DFC)’s 500 stores are currently open, with more to follow in the coming weeks and months.

DFC has brought several new names to Qatar, including upscale British department store Harvey Nichols, Borders bookstore, stationery specialists Paperchase, Ace Hardware and Japanese interiors label Muji.

However, many of these are not yet open to the public.

Mall officials previously said its outlets and facilities should be fully open by September.

This is despite DFC postponing its launch several times, due to what officials said were issues with “supporting infrastructure.”

If you plan to head to the new mall this weekend, here’s what you need to know:

Getting there

DFC is situated north of Doha, next to IKEA, just off of Al Shamal Road –about 10 minute’s drive north of Landmark Mall.

DFC/Facebook

West entrance of Doha Festival City

If you’re coming from central Doha, pass the under-construction North Gate mall on your left, then look for brown signs on the right indicating the slip road for DFC.

A flyover leads to access roads behind the mall, which have multiple entrances to multi-story car parks and shaded parking lots.

Alternatively, motorists can follow the road round, going past IKEA to the front of the mall, which leads to the West parking area. This is at ground level and is unshaded.

DFC

DFC’s location

It’s also where the valet and VIP valet parking facilities are.

While there is a fee (QR30/60) to use these, all the other parking is free.

In total, there will be 8,000 parking spaces across four levels of the complex, although construction is ongoing at some sections at the front of the mall.

To leave DFC, follow clearly-marked signs back to the Al Shamal Road, and take the lanes marked for Doha.

What’s open so far

Around half the stores, and some cafes and coffee shops, were open to the public on launch day yesterday.

Doha News

Paperchase at Doha Festival City

Qatar “firsts” that were already up and running included UK stationery store Paperchase and a branch of the minimalist Japanese clothing and interiors chain Muji.

There are also new outposts of homeware store Pottery Barn and Pottery Barn kids, a Bateel cafe and a large Toys R Us.

Doha News

Pottery Barn at Doha Festival City

This is in addition to branches of Qatar staples such as Zara, H&M, Mothercare, Virgin Megastore, Centrepoint and Home Centre.

Staff at Qatar’s third and biggest branch of M&S welcomed customers to the two-level store.

This branch contains a food hall with some lines of its popular chilled and ready-made meals, as well as an in-store bakery and a table-service cafe.

Doha News

M&S food hall at Doha Festival City

Other mall F&B outlets that are already open include branches of Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

What’s still to come

The shutters were still down on what has been billed as the world’s biggest Monoprix store. Staff said they hoped it would open around April 14.

Doha News

Monoprix at Doha Festival City

Several of the mall’s anchor tenants have also yet to open, including department stores Harvey Nichols, Debenhams and BHS.

Borders books, the Lego store, Go Sport, Japanese discount shop Daiso and French music and book store FNAC were also either behind hoardings or still shuttered.

Doha News

Borders book store at Doha Festival City

And DIY enthusiasts will need to wait a couple more months for the launch of the country’s first hardware superstore, as Ace is working toward a June opening, according to a mall guide.

Entertainment options

The 18-screen Vox Cinemas was also still closed to the public, as workers could be seen still finishing off the inside.

A cinema staffer said they hoped the movie theater would open in the coming week or so.

Doha News

Vox Cinemas at Doha Festival City

When it does launch, it will have screens with multi-sensory 4DX technology.

This will allow viewers to experience sensations as well as visuals – such as rain, fog, wind, bubbles, scents and vibrations – depending on what’s happening on-screen.

And peckish movie-goers can choose snacks from a menu devised by Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes, according to the mall’s website.

Doha Festival City website

An artist\’s impression of the Snow Dunes attractions

Meanwhile, other entertainment options at the mall are also still under-construction and are eyeing a summer launch.

This includes an Angry Birds theme park, which will feature a trampoline park, indoor and outdoor go-karting track, a drop-tower and water rapids.

There will also be a 4,800 sq meter snow park with “snow dunes,” with slides and sledging; and a gaming center called Virtuosity, which is aimed at teens and adults.

Eating and drinking

Ultimately, there will be around 100 F&B outlets in the mall, although many of these have yet to open.

Doha News

Five Guys at Doha Festival City

Hoardings are still around what will be Qatar’s first Five Guys, as well as outlets including Le Pain Quotidien, 800 Degrees Pizza, The Cheesecake Factory and Katsuya.

Many of the outlets in one of what will be two food courts could be seen preparing to open in the coming days. These include fast-food favorites McDonalds, KFC, Shater Abbas and Pizza Hut.

Additionally, there’s Koushari and More, which offers popular Egyptian snacks, while sweet-toothed shoppers can satiate their cravings at Wafflemeister.

Doha News

Food court at Doha Festival City

Some eateries are using workarounds to serve customers during the launch.

For example, a member of staff at Carluccios said there was no gas connection to the mall yet, and so the restaurant was offering a reduced menu in the interim.

Services

Meanwhile, banks and ATMS have not yet opened.

And some stores were also having teething problems with their debit/credit card machines.

Doha News

Soft launch opening of Doha Festival City

The mall will eventually have five pharmacies, but none were open yesterday.

There are also spacious baby feeding and changing facilities in the ladies’ toilets.

DFC is open Sunday to Wednesday, 10am until 10pm; and Thursday to Saturday, 10am to midnight. Monoprix will open daily 9am until midnight. Outlets will close for Friday prayers.

Do you plan to check DFC out? Thoughts?

Doha Festival City

The entrance to the mall

With reporting from Amanda Ramirez

With just weeks to go before its April 5 soft opening, the massive Doha Festival City (DFC) opened its doors to journalists yesterday for a sneak peek.

While there, officials also revealed further details about some of the QR6 billion mall’s upcoming theme parks.

Located off of Al Shamal Road next to IKEA, DFC has seen months of delays. It will eventually host over 500 stores, including some 100 food and beverage outlets.

Amanda Ramirez

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

But not all of them will be opening soon. Here’s what you need to know about Qatar’s newest shopping destination:

Hello Five Guys

According to the Gulf Times, DFC general manager Trevor Hill said nearly 50 percent of the mall’s retail outlets and most of its food and beverage offerings will open next month.

That includes Qatar’s first Five Guys, a popular American hotdog and hamburger chain that already has outlets in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Five Guys / Facebook

Typical Five Guys fare

Many of the other food outlets at the mall were still covered with generic hoardings yesterday.

But according to DFC’s website, they will include Dean and Deluca, the Hummingbird Bakery and PF Chang’s.

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

Shops-wise, Marks and Spencer, H&M, Home Center, Mac, Sephora, Carter’s, The Body Shop and Pottery Barn all appear to be almost ready to open.

The mall will also be the site of the world’s largest Monoprix, featuring a “Cave à Fromage” – which is sure to be a hit with cheese lovers.

And also coming soon is Qatar’s first Harvey Nichols, the London-based luxury department store.

Additionally, an Ace Hardware outlet remains under construction.

Angry Birds fun

DFC has several theme parks opening this year, but visitors will need to wait a few more months to check them out.

For example, officials said they are aiming for a summer launch for the Angry Birds adventure park.

Nathan Rupert/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

It is the first of its kind in the Gulf, and attractions will include the largest trampoline park in Qatar.

A largest indoor and outdoor go-karting track in the region, a drop tower, reverse bungee slingshot and water rapids are also planned, officials said.

Snow adventures

Also expected to open this summer is Qatar’s first ski slope.

Doha Festival City website

An artist’s impression of the Snow Dunes attraction

Snow Dunes – billed as an “Arabian-themed snow park” – will feature over 4,800 sq meters of real snow in a -4C environment all year round.

The attraction will also boast a “snow castle” as well as slides, slopes and sleds, officials said.

Virtual fun

One more main feature of DFC that’s opening this summer is “Virtuocity,” which is a gaming space specifically for older teens (15+) and adults.

Doha Festival City website

How Virtuocity should look when it opens in the summer

The venue will include a 200-seat viewing and competing hub equipped with the latest PC, PlayStation and Xbox One hardware.

Virtuocity will also have five VIP lounges where up to 10 people will be able to complete simultaneously on the advanced Racer simulators.

Additionally, there will be four themed escape rooms where participants  will have just 60 minutes to break out using problem-solving skills.

Get those steps in

During the country’s hottest months, the mall might be a good destination for exercise as well as shopping.

Amanda Ramirez

Doha Festival City pre-opening tour

It’s 1km long inside, and there’s also a 3km “Outdoor Leisure Trail” surrounding the mall for runners and cyclists.

The mountain bike track, designed by British company Architrail, offers various surfaces with inbuilt gradients and obstacles to suit all abilities of mountain bikers.

And the running track has exercise machines installed along the route.

Doha Festival City

The Outdoor Leisure Trail

Parking-wise, there will be 8,000 spaces across four floors, with 29 different entry points into the mall.

And it should be fairly straightforward to get to the mall from Doha, thanks to the recent opening of the Al Kharaitiyat Interchange on Al Shamal Road.

The complex is expected to be fully open by September, officials pledged.

Do you plan to check it out? Thoughts?