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All photos courtesy of Msheireb Properties

Construction of a new QR500 million luxury spa and hotel based on “Arabic and Islamic wellness principles” has commenced in northern Qatar.

The Zulal Wellness Resort, which was announced yesterday by Msheireb Properties, is being billed as the country’s “largest spa and wellness center.”

Spread across some 28 hectares on the northern tip of Qatar (about 120km from Doha), the resort will cater primarily to tourists.

Msheireb Properties

Zulal Resort

In a statement, Msheireb’s CEO Abdulla Hassan Al Mehshadi said:

“Zulal Wellness Resort will be a calm haven for international visitors where they can enjoy health and wellness experiences which bring a true taste of the region.

While strengthening our development portfolio, our latest project also brings vital investment to the country, enabling Qatar to grow its tourism sector.”

Work on the resort began in November, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of April 2018, the main contractor Al Sraiya Contracting said on its website.

What’s at Zulal

In addition to its beachfront, the resort will include separate housing facilities for tourists traveling with and without their families.

Msheireb Properties

Zulal Resort

Shared facilities will be accessible to people staying in both resorts.

Additionally, health and fitness will be encouraged in a “playful, interactive way” via family activities and classes for adults and kids.

“Utilizing herbs and ingredients which are indigenous to Qatar and the region, Zulal Wellness Resort will be the first wellness destination the region to bring focus to Islamic culture and values, and give international visitors a truly Middle-Eastern experience,” Msheireb said in its statement.

Crowded market

The Zulal development is the latest in a series of resorts being planned around Qatar. Many appear to be trying to woo the same type of clientele – Muslim families.

For example, just last year, the Simaisma Resort, also in northern Qatar, opened its doors to the public.

Simaisma Resort

Al Dana (three-bed) villa at the Simaisma resort

The alcohol-free development describes itself as a family getaway. It is run by the Murwab Hotel Group, the relaunched hotel operating arm of Katara Hospitality.

Meanwhile, another resort that’s coming up soon is the Vichy Célestins Spa Hotel by Retaj.

It will be located next to the Aqua Park on Salwa Road, around 30 minutes’ drive from central Doha, and about the same distance from the Qatar’s border with Saudi Arabia.

Retaj

Vichy Célestins Spa Hotel by Retaj

Also dry, the resort will have a medical spa, an artificial lake and a waterfall. It was slated to open late last year, but has since been delayed.

Nearby, the Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas, which is owned by Al Rayyan Hospitality, is being constructed on 257 acres of land.

Hilton

Salwa beach resort rendering

It is expected to open in 2019. Features include a water park, marina, dive center, cinemas, pools, health club, spa and retail space.

Some 13 restaurants, bars and lounges are also planned.

Thoughts?

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?

All photos courtesy of SCDL

The seats have been installed, the pitch has been laid and a roof canopy is being fitted onto what will soon be Qatar’s first completed stadium for the 2022 World Cup.

A series of “sneak peek” photographs published by organizers this week show the latest progress on the redevelopment of Khalifa International stadium in Al Waab.

The pictures show contractors putting the finishing touches on the stadium, which will host matches up to the quarter-finals.

The 40,000 seats are in – with many still under protective wrapping – and 7,800 square meters of turf for the pitch were laid last month.

SCDL

Progress at Khalifa stadium

The completion date of the venue has now been pushed to the end of June, according to the Supreme Committee of Delivery and Legacy (SCDL).

This is around six months later than the original deadline of December 2016.

Khalifa stadium was first built more than 40 years ago and opened in 1976. It was then extensively refurbished to host the Asian Games in 2006.

SCDL

Rendering of Khalifa Stadium

It is now once again being remodeled and modernized for the World Cup, with its arches redesigned and canopies installed to provide some shade for spectators. It will also have a cooling system for players and fans.

A walkway will connect to a new 3-2-1 Olympic and Sports Museum, which is also under construction.

Confirmed venues

Qatar is readying eight stadiums for the 2022 World Cup.

So far, designs have been released and construction work is under way on five of these venues. In addition to Khalifa International, they include Al Bayt Al Khor, Al Rayyan, Education City and Al Wakrah.

Al Khor and Al Wakrah are expected to be completed next, by the end of 2018, according to the SCDL.

Al Rayyan stadium will follow in March 2019 and the Qatar Foundation venue is slated for a late 2019 completion.

This week, the SCDL also provided updates on the Al Khor stadium in a new video.

It shows that nearly half of the stadium structure is now in place. Additionally, concrete modular seating structures for the 60,000-capacity venue have been installed.

Meanwhile, work is underway on the second players’ tunnel, according to the short film.

In design

The sites of the three other stadiums have been confirmed, and will be in Al Thumama, Ras Abu Aboud and at Lusail city.

However, these designs have yet to be made public.

SCDL

Al Thumama stadium site

Last week, a Seoul-based firm announced that it won a $16.2 million contract to design the $342.5 million Al Thumama venue, situated between E- and F-Ring Roads.

Construction of the stadium will be led by a joint venture of Qatar’s Al Jaber Engineering and Turkish firm Tekfen Construction.

Meanwhile, the Lusail venue will be the showpiece for the games. It will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as matches throughout the tournament and the World Cup final.

A joint venture between Qatari firm HBK Contracting Co. (HBK) and China Railway Construction Corp. (CRCC) is responsible for leading the build of the stadium.

SCDL

Construction at Lusail stadium site

British architectural firm Fosters + Partners has been working on the design of the venue, which organizers previously said was completed last year.

This was supposed to be revealed early this year, but is so far still under wraps.

Finally, the Ras Abu Aboud stadium will be at the center of a new waterfront development between Hamad International Airport and the Doha Port.

SCDL

View from the upcoming Ras Abu Aboud stadium

Organizers are planning to build a new “urban neighborhood” on the 111-acre site next to the Doha Marriott Hotel.

Architecture firm Populous is the design consultant for the 40,000-seater venue, which will hold matches up until the quarter-finals.

The SCDL previously said it planned to be “managing eight live construction sites by mid-2017,” with construction on them finished by 2020.

Thoughts?