Browsing 'retail' News

All photos by Doha News

The multi-billion riyal, Italian-inspired Al Hazm complex in Al Markhiya has finally opened its doors to the public, drawing thousands of curious visitors over the weekend.

The shopping center quietly soft-launched on May 1. Currently, only a few cafes are open inside the luxury development.

And for now, the mostly open-air Al Hazm is open daily from 5pm to midnight – “to avoid the heat,” a member of staff said.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Al Hazm shopping center, under construction in 2015.

More outlets will be opening in the coming months, and the entire development should hopefully be up and running by year-end, the staffer added.

Over the past few days, the venue has attracted significant interest from people keen to see its opulence up close.

Marble-clad

Al Hazm, which means “the natural hill” in the Qatari dialect, is situated on a hill near Lejbailat signal.

The venue has been under construction for eight years, and has missed several previous opening dates, including in 2015 and 2016.

The project has been a big undertaking. Some 2,500 engineers, thousands of construction workers and more than a dozen architects worked on the development, whose offerings cater to the very wealthy.

The complex was built using more than 41,000 tons of marble and stone, which was specially shipped to Qatar from Jerusalem and Tuscany in Italy.

Doha News

Visitors attend Al Hazm’s soft-opening

And specialist stone masons were brought to Qatar from Rajastan to carve intricate designs throughout the buildings.

Even the inside of the elevators are clad in multi-hued marble.

Many of Al Hazm’s features mirror those of Italy’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. It is housed in a 19th century double arcade in Milan, among other different Italian buildings.

Plans for the Qatar project were overseen by Mohamed A.K. Al Emadi, the company’s CEO.

His long-held fascination with Italy led to the creation of Al Hazm, the project’s creative director Georges Bou Ibrahim previously told Doha News.

What’s there

More than 40 cafes, restaurants and shops are already signed up to open premises on the site, and workers could be seen putting the finishing touches on many of these.

Doha News

Turkish ice cream cafe Bolulu Hasan Usta at Al Hazm

Unlike Qatar’s other main malls, most of the retailers are not household names or popular franchises. Instead, they have been “hand-picked” from other countries.

Across five main blocks, there will be around 16 restaurants, including a Butcha Steakhouse, Asian eatery called Umami and a Big Smoke Burger joint, according to an Al Hazm brochure.

Cafes include the Belgian chocolatier Guylian Café and a Turkish ice cream parlor.

Seating for these eateries is mostly in a central grass-landscaped area, surrounded by more than two dozen olive trees imported from Italy and Spain, some of which are up to 600 years old.

Doha News

Al Hazm

Two broad walkways run the length of the avenue, using marble similar to the ones in Mecca, which aim to keep floor temperatures at 20C despite the surrounding heat.

Meanwhile, numerous wide piazzas and terraces throughout the complex allow plenty of space for strolling and people-watching.

Beauty salons, designer fashion outlets, perfumers and a bank are also slated to open there.

Al Hazm/Al Emadi Enterprises

Cultural center at Al Hazm

Additionally, an in-house library is planned as part of Al Hazm’s mission to promote art, culture and luxury.

This will house rare and valuable manuscripts and encyclopedias, reading rooms and books in Arabic and English related to art, architecture, culture and the Islamic world.

Galleria

The showpiece of the complex is the Galleria – a stone and marble arcade with a soaring ceiling, topped with a 40m glass dome.

Its entrance features intricately detailed blue, gold and cream mosaics, which is replicated inside.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Al Hazm shopping center

However, the Galleria is currently closed to the public, and staff could not say when it would open.

Previously, it was expected to house exclusive boutiques and jewelers.

However, no further details about these stores have been released, and one staff member said it may now be used as a venue for weddings and events instead.

Doha News

Pyramid outside Galleria at Al Hazm

Other facilities previously planned for Al Hazm include a ladies’ club, a children’s entertainment center and a 3,000 square meter underground auction and gallery space in the VVIP section by the glass pyramid.

Parking is underground, and can be accessed from the side and the rear of the complex. There are also drop-off and valet services at the front of the mall on Al Markhiya St.

Scooters, bikes, roller skates and hoverboards are not allowed in the development, and smoking and pets are also prohibited.

Have you checked it out yet? Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A month-long shopping festival that includes various discounts, live concerts, stand-up comedy shows and even a Broadway musical will open in Qatar early next month.

Under the slogan “A brand new tradition,” Shop Qatar will run from Jan. 7 to Feb. 7, 2017, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has announced.

It will feature cash prizes of up to QR4 million, special offers on flights and hotel bookings and entertainment that includes the Broadway musical Cats.

Cats/Facebook

Cats the musical

According to the QTA, discounts of up to 50 percent will be offered by retailers in various venues, including the new Mall of Qatar, Hyatt Plaza, Al Khor Mall, Lagoona Mall, Gulf Mall, Landmark, Dar Al Salam Mall, The Gate and The Pearl-Qatar.

Wooing visitors

Qatar’s tourism numbers dipped this year, despite efforts to woo visitors.

Officials are hoping to turn this around by starting 2017 off strong, focusing on shopping because visitors who come to Qatar spend more on this than on hotel stays or eating out, QTA previously said.

In a statement this week, Rashed Al Qurese, Chief Marketing and Promotion Officer at QTA, said:

“We anticipate that a festival during the winter months has an even bigger chance of attracting visitors, due to the offering combined with Qatar’s great winter weather.

Shop Qatar is also timed to fall within mid-year holidays for potential visitors in neighboring countries, which are our largest source markets.”

The event may take inspiration from Dubai, which has held a successful month-long shopping festival from the end of December until late January for years.

Schedule

In terms of entertainment, Cats will be shown from Feb. 1 to 4 at the Qatar National Convention Center. Tickets will start at QR150/person.

There will also be two concerts featuring Arab singers on Jan. 20 and Jan. 27 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. Tickets for this will cost from QR120 to QR1,250.

Craig Piersma/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Meanwhile, the Doha Comedy Festival will run from Feb. 2 to Feb. 4 at the QNCC, featuring Arab and international comedians. Tickets will sell for QR120 to QR1,000.

All will be sold by Virgin Megastores soon.

More details about the festival can be found on its official website.

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Osarieme Eweka/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Officials in Qatar are planning to launch a new shopping festival next year as part of plans to woo more visitors to the country with a spot of retail therapy.

The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) announced plans for the new event this week, but gave no details about when it would take place or what it would entail.

Speaking to Doha News, QTA said a full announcement will be made next month.

City Center entertainment

QTA

City Center entertainment

It added that the event is part of a strategy “to grow and diversify Qatar’s tourism offering, particularly in the area of family and urban entertainment.”

Shopping focus

The focus on shopping is because visitors who come to Qatar spend more on this than on hotel stays or eating out, QTA said.

In 2014, visitors racked up a shopping bill of some QR6 billion.

The festival will likely boost footfall in some of the new commercial centers that are scheduled to open in the coming months.

That includes Mall of Qatar on Dec. 10 and Doha Festival City in February.

It may take inspiration from Dubai, which has held a successful month-long shopping festival from the end of December until late January for years.

Every year, the event brings in around 4.5 million visitors who spend some Dh15 billion in the Emirate.

More visitors

Tourism figures took a dip in Qatar this year, with figures for the first six months down 6 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

But in addition to the shopping fest, QTA is hoping to boost visitor numbers with some of its existing events next year. This includes the food festival in March and its annual summer festival.

2016 Qatar International Food Festival

Brian Candy / Doha News

2016 Qatar International Food Festival

These events are already popular with visitors from neighboring Gulf states, who travel to Qatar for short trips.

Other strategies include putting Doha on the Gulf cruise ship destination list. This season, around 30 ships will dock at the port by the Museum of Islamic Art.

And earlier this month, a four-day free transit visa was launched.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jiseon Shin/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This enables travelers passing through Hamad International Airport on Qatar Airways to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.

However, visas are granted based on the sole discretion of the Ministry of Interior, and must be applied for at least seven days in advance, Qatar Airways said in a statement at the time.

Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to grant visitors from the populous countries of India, Russia and China tourist visas on arrival.

By 2030, Qatar ambitiously hopes to increase the number of visitors to the country to 7 million people annually.

Thoughts?