Qatar has the potential to rival Dubai as a destination shopping hub, according to one of the executives spearheading the $820m Mall of Qatar project.
Mall of Qatar deputy managing director Shem Krey said while Doha had some way to go before it surpassed Dubai, which had faster population growth, it was currently under-supplied for regional, large-scale malls and therefore had enormous growth potential.
However he said he wanted Qatar to challenge Dubai’s reign as the leading shopping hub in the region.
"A number of features are going on in the entire country right now, which will make it a much greater destination," he told Arabian Business at the Cityscape Global property exhibition in Dubai.
"The $200bn which is going to be spent over the next 10 years [to stage the 2022 World Cup]... people think that's all going into roads and infrastructure. It's not, a good share of that is going into private investment and enhancing the destination of the whole country.
"Companies are building resorts and more hotels and of course what's happening with the museum authority is really exciting now."
The 400,000 square metre mall will comprise 400 shops, including 50 luxury brands and four department stores, as well as a fashion-themed hotel.
Located next to one of the seven planned 2022 World Cup stadiums and within the Al Rayyan Gate master planned community, it will cost $820m to build, with Krey expecting shops to invest a further QR1bn ($274.63m) in fit outs.
Krey said it was about 30 percent into construction with completion pegged for September 2015.
At Cityscape to pursue the holding companies which controlled major retail brands in the Gulf, Krey said the fashion-themed hotel was also a key feature.
The 260-room, five-star hotel, which is expected to open six months after the mall is finished, will be managed by a yet to be announced hotel operator. Elements would also be designed by fashion designers, with further details to be revealed in about six months, Krey said.
He said it was part of tapping into Qatar's thirst for fashion.
The Qatar royal family and other Qatari-based interests have been behind the unprecedented buy-up of global fashion brands.
"The idea is to create events and planning that works both with the hotel and the fashion shops to promote the brands and also have the venue for places where people can stay overnight and enjoy events, fashion shows and other special conferences," he said.
Krey said since launching the mall in May there had been "an excessive amount of excitement" with offers and negotiations ongoing for more than 50 percent of the retail space.
"Those offers will be finalised and we'll be able to announce those major tenants by the end of this year already," he said.
He said as well as the five spaces for department stores of 5000sqm or more, there was also a 10,000sqm hypermarket space and 8,000sqm family entertainment centre.
While declining to give names, he confirmed some of the key tenants would be international brands new to the region.