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?

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

QIFF 2014

This year’s Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) has moved to a new venue, but will still retain many of its usual offerings, officials confirmed this week.

For the first time, the annual event be held at the Hotel Park on the Corniche, from March 29 to April 8.

Previously, few details were available about the upcoming event. But more information was shared by the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) yesterday.

Van Darren Martinez

Qatar International Food Festival

Perhaps most importantly to some, the QTA confirmed that fireworks shows will indeed be held each night at 8pm.

There will also be food trucks and Dinner in the Sky, as well as a live cooking theater from 5pm to 9pm daily.

The new venue means parking should be a bit easier than in previous years, as there is an underground pay-for-parking garage with spaces for 2,500 vehicles onsite.

What’s different

Besides the move from the MIA Park, this year’s festival has a few other new features.

For example, Qatar’s 2017 Year of Culture partner Germany won’t have a special pavilion to itself.

Mr. Taco

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Instead, it will showcase its cuisine and entertainment at a “Cultural Zone” that includes nine other embassies, such as Ethiopia, Mexico, the Philippines, the US and Qatar, among others.

Another new addition includes a garden picnic where families can buy a basket, collect a blanket and sit on the grass to eat their meals.

Food-related movies will also be screened outdoors from 9pm to 10pm, courtesy of the Doha Film Institute and Qatar Foundation.

And as previously announced, set menus will also be on offer from March 23 to April 8. Visitors can purchase at least three items for QR59, QR99, QR139 and QR179.

Brian Candy / Doha News

2016 Qatar International Food Festival

Meanwhile, kiosks, food trucks and stalls will continue to sell small bites for QR5 to QR35 a dish.

And to avoid wastage, unsold and “untouched” food will be given to Eid Charity to distribute to those in need.

The festival will go from 2pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 2pm to 11pm on weekends until April 8.

Who’s excited? Thoughts?

Ben Gould

Lightning over The Pearl on 19 March 2017

Qatar’s residents have gotten used to rainy weather of late, but last night’s thunder and lightning was still something special.

As Doha’s skies lit up just before 9pm last night, many residents stepped outdoors to capture the moment.

“The lightning lasted for probably 20 minutes,” Ben Gould who was over at the Pearl-Qatar told Doha News.

“It’s a cliché to say, it but it WAS amazing and it’s the first time I’ve really focused on the sky for any length of time and the lightning was coming in thick and fast,” he added.

Meanwhile, fellow resident Susie Billings shared this image on Twitter of lightning appearing to strike earth in the distance:

And Rhonda Allam took this video from her table at Damasca One in Souq Waqif:

This morning, Pearl resident Anna said that she’d spotted some damage following the storm:

Rain was forecast in Qatar through Tuesday, including thunderstorms tonight.

But after a tumultuous few days, the meteorology department said to expect “slight dust and partly cloudy with weak chance of light scattered rain at places at first” tomorrow.

Did you take any photos or videos last night? We’d love to see them! Thoughts?