Qatar has been very successful in transforming a challenge (blockade) to an opportunity, which resulted in stronger and sustainable economy over the last three years, Mall of Qatar (MoQ) general manager Emile Sarkis has said.
“Many say that the blockade was a blessing in disguise as the isolation brought the Qataris together and infused in them a spirit of national fervor never seen before,” he told Gulf Times.
Sarkis was sharing his view on the positive impact of the unjust blockade on the retail sector as the country marks its third anniversary Friday.
He lauded Qatar for creating alternative measures such as activating tourism and attracting more foreign visitors to Doha, thanks to the new visa regulations allowing more than 80 nationalities to enter the country visa-free.
This, he noted, opened the country to more global markets, leaving a positive impact on the retail sector with more international brands and stores entering Qatar.
“Thanks to the Qatar National Tourism Council, the country’s tourism and hospitality offerings were enhanced, thus, significantly impacting the retail sector, and demonstrating a positive share on Qatar’s GDP,” Sarkis said.
“Qatar is a very promising market with great potential. There is always an opportunity,” he stressed, adding that the country's rapid economic development, high levels of disposable income coupled with the affluent standard of living helped underpin the growth of the retail sector.
Qatar’s economy remained stable and strong despite these circumstances; projects continued as usual and people are spending on retail products, according to Sarkis.
About coping up with such challenges, he pointed out that MoQ has its strategy and plans in place, looking at ways to be unique.
“Innovation is a key for any type of business to survive. Our vision is to create an innovative and engaging experience to our customers that go well beyond traditional shopping,” Sarkis said. “It is not about the quantity you are offering any more, but the quality. We have a high level of engagement with the public.”
Under this kind of situation, he added that MoQ considers various factors such as designing space for maximum appeal, co-ordinating mall openings and operating hours, orchestrating the tenant mix inside the mall with the catchment areas in which they operate, and matching the product offering to the spending power and taste of the local community.
Sarkis stressed that citizens and residents in Qatar have high purchasing power, which has been the focus of the internal retail sector during the past years.
“We now have several international brands as well the high-quality luxury brands which are an advantage for our customers as they are satisfied with purchasing everything locally without the need to shop from outside,” he said.
Faced with another challenge, Sarkis said Qatar exerted huge efforts to contain Covid-19 and its consequences: from awareness campaigns to precautionary measures and decisions, medical treatment, and quick response to the crisis.
He said Qatari authorities demonstrated high capabilities and put in place effective strategies to deal with the pandemic.
“This resulted in a high number of recovery cases, which means that the treatment procedures are on the right track. We praise the government for all their efforts. Additionally, the financial support provided by the government also plays a major role in helping the corporates recover quickly,” Sarkis said.
As the Nation’s mall, he noted that MoQ always supports the Qatar government and relevant authorities’ decisions that benefit and protect the community.
“We strictly abide by the instructions, and from our end supported by launching public awareness campaigns. We also created safe alternatives for people to shop from home, thus helping in promoting social distancing,” Sarkis said.
“Besides, MoQ was the first mall in the country to exempt tenants from rental costs. Our effort and initiatives complement the government’s effort, so we all united to find the best solutions,” he added.