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Qatar’s largest mall soft-opened to the public yesterday, drawing huge and curious crowds.

Many shoppers were interested in checking out the dozens of new brands that were previously not available in Qatar, including Pottery Barn and Leftie’s. Others were hungry to try the nation’s first Cheesecake Factory.

Here are a few things to know about the QR5.4 billion mall:

1) Getting there

MOQ is located in Al Rayyan and is about a 10-minute drive in light traffic from Slope Roundabout near Education City.

To get there, head west out of Doha on Al Luqta St. and pass the Qatar National Convention Center. Keep following the road as it becomes Dukhan Rd.

Just before the Amiri Guard base, there is an exit on the right that is clearly marked for the Mall of Qatar. Follow the signs – you can’t miss it. Also, parking is free.

2) Shopping

The mall is open from Saturday to Wednesday, 10am to 11pm; and from 10am to midnight on Thursday and Friday.

It has over 500 shops, including 100 food and beverage outlets. Speaking to reporters, mall CEO Ahmed Al Mulla said about half of those venues opened yesterday.

More than 80 brands are new to the country, such as US home goods store Pottery Barn, Texas Roadhouse restaurant and clothing store Leftie’s, which were all open yesterday. A 19-screen Novo Cinemas is also screening movies already.

This is fantastic!! Everyone is having lots of fun at LEFTIES Qatar 😬 Come join us! @leftiesofficial #leftieslovesqatar

A photo posted by iloveqatar.net 🎥🙋⌚📷🎬 (@ilqlive) on

Additionally, the mall has lots of old favorites, include grocery store Carrefour, Centrepoint, H&M and Starbucks.

A massive children’s play area called XtremeLand has also opened.

However, miniature children’s city Kidzmondo and Qatar’s first Hamley’s toy store are expected to launch within a month’s time. The Lego Store is also not yet open.

3) Eating

MOQ has a massive food court spread out over a central atrium that has dancing, multi-colored fountains.

They are surrounded by four giant columns that have a mix of real and artificial plants.

Among the most popular places to dine yesterday were Qatar’s first Cheesecake Factory, Eataly and several fast food venues. Other restaurants include Pf Chang’s, Carluccio’s and Shakespeare & Co.

4) No phone service for Vodafone users

For mobile users with Vodafone, there is little to no service inside the mall for now. However, officials said they are working with the government to sort this out within a few days.

5) Leaving

The best way to ensure a smooth exit is to park in the underground parking lot.

This way, you can take the new tunnel that leads out of the complex. The 1.5km-long tunnel opened on Friday to help funnel traffic out of the mall and onto the Dukhan Highway.

Ashghal

New tunnel

It’s part of the Al Jahhaniya Interchange, which will also eventually provide access to the Emiri Guard, Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Rufaa Celebration Hall Complex and Al Rayyan Metro station.

Have you checked out MOQ yet? Thoughts?

Mall of Qatar rendering

Mall of Qatar

Mall of Qatar rendering

The under-construction Mall of Qatar experienced a “small fire” yesterday, but there were no injuries or damage, the shopping center has said.

This is at least the second fire to break out at MOQ in the past six months.

In April, a much-larger blaze took hours for Civil Defense to put out.

At the time, MOQ said that its 14,000 laborers and staff were safely evacuated during the blaze, and that an investigation was underway.

December launch

When it opens, MOQ will have over 500 shops, including 100 food and beverage outlets.

But getting all these businesses ready to open has taken time. The mall has pushed back its opening date twice so far this year, first from August to October.

Then earlier this month, officials set a new December launch date to ensure more “key offerings and facilities” would be available.

At the time, they added that the mall had secured its building completion certificate, signaling that construction was finished.

Mall of Qatar rendering

Mall of Qatar

Mall of Qatar rendering

But they did not say whether the necessary Civil Defense permits had been obtained yet.

In its most recent statement about the fire this week, MOQ said the incident occurred at a store that is undergoing fit outs.

It added:

“At Mall of Qatar we have invested in the latest state-of-the-art fire control systems that worked perfectly.

Moreover, our safety and security officers are highly trained to act promptly in emergency situations. On top of this, we follow global best practices when it comes to safety and emergency evacuation procedures.”

Thoughts?

Mall of Qatar rendering

Mall of Qatar

Mall of Qatar rendering

The QR5.4 billion Mall of Qatar will now open on Dec. 10 instead of Oct. 29, officials have announced.

The delay is to ensure that more “key offerings and facilities will be available,” the mall’s general manager said in a statement yesterday.

Rony Mourani added:

“We are just as eager to open our doors and welcome our very first visitors and give them the experience that we have promised.

Our proposition has to ensure that all our visitors get what they are looking for and so much more from their very first interaction with Mall of Qatar.”

Yesterday, officials said the mall has secured its building completion certificate, signaling that construction on the facility was finished.

However, they did not comment on whether the necessary Civil Defense permits had been obtained yet.

New stores

When it opens, MOQ will have over 500 shops, including 100 food and beverage outlets. More than 40 retailers are new to the country, such as Cheesecake Factory, Pottery Barn and Hamley’s toy store.

There’s also a “Signature Carrefour” built to resemble a village market, a 19-screen movie theater, and a $25-million miniature children’s city.

MOQ is located next to the upcoming Al Rayyan World Cup stadium, and a hotel operated by Hilton is in the works.

The mall is already more than a year behind schedule, and has revised its launch date several times. Most recently, it pushed back a summer opening to October.

At the time, Mourani said tenants needed a few more months to complete their retail fit-outs.

Rendering of Doha Festival City

Doha Festival City/Facebook

Rendering of Doha Festival City

Competitor Doha Festival City had also planned to open earlier this year, but has since pushed back its opening to February 2017.

Officials attributed the delays to issues with the “supporting infrastructure” outside of their control.

DFC is located north of Doha on Al Shamal Road. It will eventually include the world’s largest Monoprix, an 18-screen 4D VOX cinema and an Angry Birds theme park.

Thoughts?