|TAP Special by K Raveendran| Landmark events about the development of a shopping mall generally involve major leasing deals or signing up flagship brands, or the launch of the mall itself. But Qatar’s Tawar Mall, coming up in a prime Doha locality, was the scene of a bit of fanfare this week for none of the above.
The mall owners, belonging to the leading Qatari business family of Al-Kuwaris, announced the induction of a new management team along with a new strategy for the mall seeking to create a unique shopping asset for Doha that will enhance the city’s image.
Tawar Mall was conceived by the founder of Al Kuwari Family business Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari, who was known for his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit. Credited with the creation of a number of highly successful hospitality projects, Jabir envisaged to build Tawar Mall as an extraordinary shopping destination. But as the construction progressed he fell ill, and this led to project going into delays and uncertainties. Jabir Al Kuwari passed away in 2014. The mantle of leading the family business has since fallen on his son Jassim bin Jabir Tawar Al Kuwari, who is determined to fulfill his father’s ambition.
Jassim’s first success was in bringing on board Pedro Ribeiro, who has an outstanding record in shopping mall management. Pedro has managed some of the biggest shopping centers in Europe and the GCC as well as managed malls for some of the world’s foremost groups including ING Real Esatate, Neinver and CBRE Global Investors.
He moved to Qatar two years ago and took up assignment as the project leader for the upcoming Mall of Qatar. Pedro’s accomplishments include an award from the International Council of Shopping Centers as well as the title of the Business Entrepreneur of the year 2014 from the International Congress of Entrepreneurship.
Jassim and Pedro were on hand to explain the importance the new developments at a press conference, to which the Arabian Post was specially invited. In fact, the Arabian Post was the only Dubai media to be represented. The presence of a Dubai newspaper appeared to be in sync with the proceedings, as Tawar Mall seeks to emulate the success of shopping malls in Dubai.
“Dubai has come to be recognized as the global capital of shopping malls and we don’t profess to be doing at Dubai’s level; but we know that our job is to make the mall a place where individuals as well as families can spend time,” Pedro told the Arabian Post.
Pedro said the new Mall is a ground-breaking project, featuring an impressive variety of facilities, all of which capture the most exciting aspects of Doha’s development. The mall is seeking to become a diverse social hub with a variety of tastes from around the world. Additionally, its location promises to establish Tawar as a prime meeting point in Doha. With a feature-size, 12-screen cinema and other entertainment options, Tawar Mall will position itself as a leisure landmark for visitors as well as shoppers. The mall will also feature a boutique hotel.
Pedro pointed out that the project, with its new direction, has entered the culmination phase, with the construction, testing and commissioning all in the final stages. The leasing process has also begun, already attracting a vast selection of the world’s most distinguished brands.
“We will be most transparent and truthful to our tenants. We want to create stable and sustainable growth for our tenants,” Pedro said.
Pedro is not unmindful of the challenge ahead. Currently Qatar suffers from an under-supply of retail options, but with a number of new shopping malls under development, the situation would turn the opposite in the next couple of years. The shortage is set to be replaced by oversupply, which is expected to put pressure on all the malls.
“All those who pursue ‘copy-paste’ strategies are bound to fail and it is here that Tawar Mall with its unique offering will make the difference,” Pedro asserted.
If it is possible, Dubai is a great model to emulate. Doha is becoming the most visited city in the Middle East after Dubai. Furthermore, it has begun strategically to move beyond the nation’s dependence on oil and gas by planning and constructing new lucrative projects, aimed to offer all kinds of luxuries to visitors and residents.
Throughout the past decade, Qatar has rapidly become an important destination for international travelers, with continued major investments in the tourism sector. In 2013, Qatar achieved a historic moment when a record 1.3 million tourists were welcomed to the country. This figure continues to grow year by year and is a clear indication of Qatar’s expansion through tourism. Trade events and exhibitions, conferences, major sporting events and of course the FIFA World Cup 2022, are all contributing factors.