According to Mall of Qatar CEO Stuart Elder, the management has started work on getting necessary approvals and other “behind the scenes” requirements, and is expected to break ground next year.
“We’ve already started planning because pre-planning starts 12 to 18 months before…our intent is to break dirt in likely early Q1 or Q2 next year, so around April or May and with a completion before 2022…looking at the next stage, one of the reasons why we’re looking at 2022 is because we want to be the destination for people in Qatar,” Elder said.
“We have a very exciting next stage of development, which we are planning to launch in Qatar and the region in September-October this year. We are doing a major expansion of the mall starting next year but we want to launch that properly to the media.
“Our expansion plans mean more reasons to come to Mall of Qatar for entertainment, education, and for staying or living in Qatar. There’s an amazing opportunity for people to live in this region…we’re still finalising launch plans.”
According to Elder, the mall has witnessed growth in its customer base since operations started 18 months ago.
“Ninety plus percent of our customers are Qatar residents, either Qataris or expatriates. The proportion of international tourist visitors is very large. We have a fantastic, loyal, and strong customer base in this mall.
“What we want to continue is to grow that customer base, so we’re finding more reasons to bring more people here and to bring more tourists to come here. This is all about growing our customer base, which you’ve got to do as a retailer; as a mall, we’ve got to find more ways to attract more people,” he pointed out.
Earlier, Elder told Gulf Times that Mall of Qatar is in talks with Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), as well as other organisations like Hamad International Airport (HIA) and Qatar Airways to discuss ways to increase tourist inflow to the country.
He said discussions with QTA involve tapping into the growing cruise ship industry.
Elder also lauded the efforts by the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) to promote Qatar in Russia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup held recently, adding that tourists are expected to travel to Qatar in the run-up to the 2022 games.
Elder said the tourist inflow to Qatar would be an opportunity to test various infrastructure around the country, especially those related to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as how to handle the influx of many visitors.
“I think we will all find, particularly now that the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup is over, more people coming to Qatar because the SC did an amazing job of promoting the brand of Qatar in Russia.
“I think that you’ll find lots of visits from sporting teams, you’ll have every World Cup potential qualifying team sending advanced parties to scout around for hotels and training grounds. We’ll have a lot of events leading up to the World Cup because we need to test our infrastructure. We also need to learn how to deal with thousands of people,” Elder said.