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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?

DFC

Doha Festival City rendering

“Finishing touches” are being made to upcoming mega-mall Doha Festival City (DFC), which is now planning an April 5 launch.

The QR6.5 billion mall, located off of Al Shamal Road next to IKEA, is expected to have around 400 stores.

They include the world’s largest Monoprix, an 18-screen 4D VOX cinema and an Angry Birds theme park.

Food offerings include Qatar’s first Five Guys, the country’s second Cheesecake Factory and the return of Dean & Deluca, which shut down in Villaggio Mall a few years ago.

The opening comes months after another mega-shopping center in Qatar welcomed visitors.

The QR5.4 billion Mall of Qatar in Al Rayyan launched in December, and has attracted thousands of shoppers with stores like Pottery Barn and Lefties, and entertainment such as a 19-screen Novo Cinemas.

The retail arena is only heating up from here on out, with at least eight other malls planning to open in Qatar within the next few years.

Delays

DFC has postponed its opening date several times in recent months. It was originally due to open last fall, but this was postponed until February, then March, and now April.

Officials have previously cited “supporting infrastructure” works as one reason for the delays.

So the opening of the Al Kharaitiyat Interchange on Al Shamal Road this month should assist with the problem, as the junction now makes it easier to get to DFC from Doha.

Doha Festival City

David Harbor’s “Sculpted Torus.”

Earlier this week, DFC also announced the installation of its first art piece, David Harber’s “Sculpted Torus.”

Located in the mall’s Center Court, the 4m-wide, stainless steel piece is one of five variations of the statue that will be installed across the complex.

Meanwhile, a five-star hotel and convention center is slated to break ground this year and be completed by 2017, DFC said in a statement.

Who’s excited for the opening? Thoughts?

Peter Kovessy / Doha News

Parking at Gulf Mall

Complaining that their parking lots are being abused by overstaying visitors, several mall owners in Qatar have requested permission to raise their parking fees.

The prices are currently set by the Ministry of Economy and Commerce. They range from QR2 for the first hour to up to QR70 a day.

According to the Qatar Tribune, management from Royal Plaza, Tawar Mall, and City Center Mall, among others, attended a meeting of the Qatar Chamber (QC) recently to discuss the issue.

Omar Chatriwala/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The QC formed a committee to manage mall affairs earlier this month.

The aim is to help the rapidly growing retail sector deal with “any obstacles,” officials said at the time.

Price woes

During their meeting, mall managers lamented government controls on parking fees. They said people sometimes park and leave their cars for a long time even if they’re not visiting the venue.

Some even leave their cars after stores have closed, “which could pose a security risk,” they added.

Managers are now seeking the ability to determine their own fees after the first two hours of someone’s visit.

For illustrative purposes only.

Elysia Windrum / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The Peninsula reports that mall management would also like to be able to partition their shops and malls without having to take prior permission from government officials.

Currently, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Civil Defense must sign off of any changes inside facilities that are bigger than 150 square meters.

But officials would like to be able to make changes that don’t involve corridors or outer portions of their shops, the newspaper said.

Omar Chatriwala

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Finally, mall owners have also requested that their electricity bills be brought down.

Many shopping centers have been seeing costs rise since Kahramaa hiked utility fees in 2015.

To manage expenses, malls began adjusting thermostat and escalator timings. They also have changed out old light bulbs for new energy-efficient ones, among other things.

Do you think parking fees should go up? Thoughts?