Retail Therapy

With yet another megamall receiving approval, MEA discovers whether there is real demand for more retail space in Qatar

Lusail Municipality’s recent approval of Marina Mall will add yet another high profile scheme to Qatar’s retail arsenal. Designed by architecture firm HOK, the complex is a striking space-age design that aims to push the boundaries.

But while Marina Mall revels in its futurism, many of Qatar’s pipeline malls are rooted in traditional Arabian architecture.

Local firm Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB) is behind several historically-flavoured malls that are under construction in Qatar.

These include Gharafa mall, a two-storey shopping arcade in Doha inspired by traditional souks and Arabian architecture, with pergolas, wind towers and decorative arches.

The firm has designed a large mall for Al Merqab, one of the oldest and most famous shopping streets in the centre of Doha. It contains cinemas, food courts, department stores, as well as office space.

AEB’s managing director, Ibrahim Mohamed Al Jaidah, adds: “Retail theming has been quite a trend of late in the region as it allows the design of a mall which avoids the more industrial looking buildings that have been built in the past.

“With the design, the beautiful Arabesque style was utilised while integrating curtain walls to avoid the façade becoming too solid. Internally, the concept was also carried through, creating tent-shaped tensile structures to cover the main atriums.”

AEB has also designed a Lulu hypermarket in Al Khor, a coastal city in the north of Qatar, which plays on the fort aesthetic.

Furthermore, the firm is part of the team behind the $1.37bn Doha Festival City, one of the largest developments to get underway in Qatar since the country was awarded the right to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup in December 2010.

The scheme will include a 32,000m2 IKEA store, which will be developed in the first phase of construction, set for completion in Q4 2012. The remaining elements of Doha Festival City are due for delivery two years later.

Another huge complex with extensive retail components is Barwa Commercial Avenue which is due for completion in June this year.

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