By Francesca Astorri
Developer also in talks for more retail and F&B outlets
A controversial ban on alcohol at Qatar's manmade Pearl-Qatar development has not impacted negatively on the project as visitor numbers to the area have increased and the developer is in talks to launch more restaurants, retail outlets, a cinema and a supermarket, a senior executive told Arabian Business.
When the ban on the sale of alcohol was introduced in December 2011 some restaurants reported revenues had slumped by up to 50 percent, with others being forced to close within a matter of months.
Despite this, Ehab Kamel, general manager of retail leasing at the Pearl Qatar, argued the development actually registered an increase in visitors over the last year and a half. "The traffic of people increased, it (the alcohol ban) reflects very positively," Kamel said.
In January, British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay weighed in on the row, which led to the closure of his Maze restaurant in March 2012 after just two years of operation.
“I think the legislation in terms of operating restraints - going out for dinner and not being allowed to have a glass of wine - I think it’s one turn-off for any local,” he was quoted as saying by Doha News.
Earlier this year, real estate firm DTZ Middle East Head of Valuation, Edward Brookes, also told Arabian Business lifting the ban on alcohol on Pearl-Qatar could lead to a resurgence in the number of tourists patronising the development.
Kamel said developer UDC, which last month reported its net profits for the first quarter rose 16 percent year-on-year to QR229m, was in talks to boost the retail and food and beverage options available on the Pearl Qatar.
"We are signing with Ali Bin Ali for luxury watches and jewelry, we are doing the design of the store and discussing to take more brands... We are discussing with Blue Saloon as well," Kamel said.
A 10-screen cinema complex will open by the end of this year, along with several restaurants including Nandos and Red Lobster and a 4,000sqm Spinneys outlet.
Kamel also claimed rental rates were not being dropped in a bid to attract more tenants: "Our retail rentals are competitive. We are signing good deals and that means that retail rentals are acceptable.”
So why have so many restaurants closed? Spot the seller of retail space talking up his own development... still will his bosses be so pleased when he fails to deliver new tenants?
agree with Peter.
never trust any real estate agent, especially in this part of the world.
He's kidding, right?
The developers are actually considering a re brand to bring it down from the Luxuary destination that it was orginally billed for .
They can spin it as much as they like but the place is a ghost town , no one shops , buys or eats there , just ask the shop owners . The shopping and cinema and other outlets were all planned before the ban in any case .
This is such a complete load of garbage PR spin. Restaurants that were thriving have since gone out of business or seen their patronage reduced from businesses that had constant waiting lists and bookings only, to establishments that are 20% full at best.
He'll get the tenants. If you can't tell the difference between a fine dining restaurant and a family food joint, and the latter will pay rent for the space, then it doesn't matter does it? Fine dining will stay in the hotels and the "street/mall" eateries will be something else. Same in UAE. No issue.
That is rubbish - I know I live there and frequented the 15-20 restaurants there often. There are now 5, and they struggle. Good restaurants have been replaced by ice-cream shops, and every retailer in Qatar is very wary. On the back of the massive drop in traffic many of the retail outlets I used have also closed.
It is not about the alcohol - locals, expats, and visitors mixed easily and without any problem. You can smoke on the terrace, I can have a wine, and others could take a mocktail, and we all had dinner together. It's about choice. Now we don't have one.
My monthly dinner bill in The Pearl before ban +QR 4000 - 4500 / month. Now QR 800 / month as a 2nd rate Spinneys.
I run the The Pearl most evenings from 5 - 6 pm. It is a ghost-town, a great place for an "after the aliens" movie.
I just travelled to Doha and what I experienced there contradicts almost every word of this information. The place looked half empty. It is a sad thing that some restaurants (fine dining ones) have gone out of business. I smell a big rat all over this news.
Do not under estimate the boycott of the Qataris
Boosted visitors..really, haven't seen any visitors?