Doha Festival City delays public opening to Feb. 1, 2017

Rendering of Doha Festival City

Doha Festival City

Rendering of Doha Festival City

One of Qatar’s biggest under-construction malls has pushed back its opening date by four months, due to issues with the “supporting infrastructure,” the chief executive of Doha Festival City said today.

The mall, which is north of Doha on Al Shamal Road, had previously planned to open its doors to the public this fall on Sept. 29.

Kareem Shamma, the CEO of the mall’s owner and developer BASREC, said in February that he was confident of meeting that deadline and that there was a “day-to-day plan” in place to ensure the facility would be finished and ready to welcome its first customers.

However, Shamma said today that while the construction of the mall would still be finished by the end of September, the completion of other infrastructure would not meet that deadline.

Speaking to Doha News, he said:

“The decision (to delay opening) had to be made to give the retailers and the customers the best possible experience. Will they get that best possible experience at the end of September with the current infrastructure? No.”

Shamma declined to give details about which part of the infrastructure had caused the delays, adding: “There are factors outside of our control – the supporting infrastructure that we don’t have control over.”

No blame

Shamma described his relationship with the Qatar government, which runs the roads, telecoms and utilities operators, as having been “great” thus far.

“I’m not going to put the blame on one authority or another.

They (the government) have a very difficult situation on their hands with the massive amount of development going on in the country,” he added.

Aerial view of the mall

Doha Festival City

Aerial view of the mall

All the mall’s retailers have already been told of the delay. “They have been very supportive, Shamma said, adding that there has been no need to compensate stores for the later opening.

The news will doubtless come as a disappointment to shoppers who were anticipating the imminent opening of the mega-mall, which will have around 400 stores including the world’s largest Monoprix, luxury department store Harvey Nichols, 18-screen 4D VOX cinema, an Angry Birds theme park, a themed role play zone, an e-sports gaming arena, F1 and flight simulators and a snow park.

Shamma said “the majority” of stores and entertainment in the 433,000 square meter development will be open on Feb. 1, with the remainder still on track to launch by Spring 2017.

Shamma rejected the idea that the delay would allow Mall of Qatar, which has said it will open its doors in August this year, to steal potential customers.

“We are very confident of our offering and we wish Mall of Qatar all the success – these new malls are helping Qatar’s retail landscape and are driving everyone to do better and better,” Shamma said.

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