The great retail complex in Qatar is just several years away

06.09.2010 In: World travel news

Qatar's largest multipurpose complex will be located on the northern highway linking Doha International Airport with the proposed Bahrain Causeway and will include a full retail center, an entertainment park, and two hotels - designed with the visitor in mind.

Al-Futtaim, Qatar Islamic Bank, and Aqar Real Estate Investment signed an AED 6 billion (QAR 6 billion, US$1.6 billion) joint venture agreement to construct the state-of-the-art entertainment and retail complex in Doha, slated to become a driving force behind Qatar's diverse economic development.

Construction for the 433,000 sqm project - the first of its kind in the country - will begin in early 2011. The first retail phase is slated for completion in the first quarter of 2012, and the remaining two phases will be completed by 2015. IKEA, ACE, Toys "R" Us, Marks & Spencer, Intersport - all part of the Al-Futtaim group - have already confirmed as the project's premier anchor tenants.

Al-Futtaim is one of the biggest family-owned enterprises in the region and owners of the globally-acknowledged Festival City brands in the UAE and Egypt, which have become the mainstay for leisure, shopping, and entertainment in the two countries. The group already has presence in Doha through its automotive, retail, technology, and engineering businesses.

The project is owned and developed by Bawabat Al-Shamal, the parent company which is supplying the land to construct this iconic development. Bawabat Al-Shamal comprises four primary shareholders including Al-Futtaim Real Estate Services, Qatar Islamic Bank (QIB), Aqar Real Estate Investment Company, and a private company. This project is a result of the partners' recognition that Qatar has a rapidly-expanding population, strong diversified financial standing, and that its local citizens possess a high level of disposable income.

Mr. Salah Jaidah, chief executive officer of QIB, said: "This joint venture agreement with the Al-Futtaim group demonstrates both parties' firm commitment to not only enhance Qatar's development, but amplify its positioning within the regional and global economy. QIB is excited to be involved in this project as it represents a new phase in the country's economic evolution and will raise Qatar's profile as a nation focused on innovation, excellence, and dynamic sustainable development. Ultimately, the agreement is in accordance with QIB's strategy to fuel the countries expansion and the state of Qatar's 2030 vision. I am immensely proud to have Al-Futtaim as our partner in progress, because if there's anyone who knows a thing or two about customer centricity and the building of a lifestyle enterprise, it is Al-Futtaim."

Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate, the real estate development arm of the group has built the award-winning Dubai Festival City and Cairo Festival City, both of which has attracted some of the biggest global retail and leisure brands to these mixed use developments.

Mr. Robert Willett, group chief executive officer, Al-Futtaim, said this project will transform the leisure, retail, and entertainment industry in Doha, while providing visitors a very attractive destination.

"We are excited to be part of this mega venture, which will be a defining moment for Qatar's leisure, retail, and entertainment industry. Our involvement symbolises Al-Futtaim's desire to remain innovative across all markets. Al-Futtaim brings not just its fine construction and real estate development skills to this wonderful project but also its enduring vision to enhance customer experiences.

"This project, as with our Festival City brand in Dubai and Cairo, has been designed with the visitor in mind. Our knowledge in the region's retailing and leisure industry has taught us to do the uncommon, uncommonly well. Through these mini cities, Al-Futtaim will create a unique level of customer and employee engagement that differentiates the experience. Al-Futtaim is equally proud to partner with the Qatar Islamic Bank and Aqar and are looking to extend this relationship, which is a very important step in our strategic growth plan."

Details of this landmark agreement were overseen by Q-Invest, which acted as the sole financial advisor for all parties. Q-Invest specializes in Sharia'a compliant investment banking and delivers leading financial solutions to its growing spectrum of clientele. The project has also received outstanding support from the government of the state of Qatar.

The state-of-the-art complex's futuristic design separates each individual area into its own uniquely identified space that will transport clientele from the world of waterslides and roller coasters, into a retail area populated with diverse international brands.

Ensuring a seamless integration of this one-of-a-kind development has been achieved through an expertly-designed infrastructure system, accentuated by a 6-lane highway that will increase the flow of traffic to this iconic destination. With its strategic positioning, the mega complex is ideally equipped to meet the retail and entertainment needs of not only Qatar, but also Bahrain and the neighboring GCC countries.

The landmark agreement was signed by representatives of all parties at Al Badia Golf Club, Dubai Festival City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.