The “most advanced snow play area in the region” and an outdoor rapid river ride are among the key attractions of the entertainment component of the QR6bn Doha Festival City’s second phase - a sprawling shopping mall - scheduled for a Q1 2016 opening.
“The next-generation snow centre will be several notches above what the region has seen so far, while the rapid river ride will cover an area of two-and-a-half football fields,” said Kareem M Shamma, CEO, Bawabat Al Shamal Real Estate Company (Basrec), the joint venture representing the project’s Qatari and Emirati shareholders.
Doha Festival City’s indoor and outdoor entertainment areas are described as “unique” to Qatar, with the internal segment spread over 43,000sqm in two levels.
“Doha Festival City is the largest super-regional, mixed-use development currently under construction in the Middle East, apart from being Qatar’s largest combined retail, entertainment and leisure destination,” claimed Greg Douglas, development director of the project located north of downtown Doha, on the main arterial route of Al Shamal Road.
Doha Festival City’s mall broke ground on April 23 at the 433,847sqm site that is also home to the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea’s 32,000sqm Qatar store, which opened on March 11.
“The look and feel of Doha Festival City will be unlike anything that exists in Qatar and the northern Gulf,” Douglas explained. It will feature 550 shops, comprising international and local brands, and more than 70 restaurants and cafes, over a gross leasable area of more than 260,000sqm.
The entire project is to be built as per Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS), the first of its kind performance-based sustainability rating system in the Mena region, developed by Gulf Organisation for Research and Development in collaboration with T C Chan Centre at the University of Pennsylvania, US, with the aim of creating a sustainable urban environment to reduce the environmental impacts while satisfying local community needs.
Doha Festival City is owned and developed by Basrec, the parent company which owns the land. Basrec comprises four shareholders, including Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Real Estate Services, which holds 50% stake and Qatar Islamic Bank, Aqar Real Estate Development & Investment and a private Qatari investor holding the rest.
“A syndicate of eight of the top Qatari banks have advanced QR3.7bn to Doha Festival City in one of the largest private sector loans in Qatar,” Shamma pointed out.
The conventional banks in the consortium are led by Commercial Bank, whereas the Islamic banks are headed by Barwa Bank. The loan tenure is 10 years, with three years for drawdown and seven years for repayment.
Entry and exit ramps from Al Shamal Road
Doha Festival City will have exclusive entry and exit ramps directly from Al Shamal Road before the project’s second phase gets ready for opening in the first quarter of 2016. “We are working with Ashghal, the Public Works Authority, and construction is expected to start this year,” said Kareem M Shamma, CEO, Bawabat Al Shamal Real Estate Company (Basrec), the joint venture representing the project’s Qatari and Emirati shareholders. The ramps will allow customers to drive in to Doha Festival City parking lot directly from the highway and drive out, without waiting for any traffic lights or at roundabouts, the official added.
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