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Marketing a City

Marketing a City

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Published by Sindhu Nair
Abdulrahim Al-Ibrahim, Director of The Pearl-Qatar Centrale Administrative Directorate talks about the challenges involved while building the city on water...
Abdulrahim Al-Ibrahim, Director of The Pearl-Qatar Centrale Administrative Directorate talks about the challenges involved while building the city on water...

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Published by: Sindhu Nair on Sep 05, 2011
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09/05/2011

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listening postQatar today
 
september 2011
40
e should know, since he was selling and promoting The Pearl Qatar (TPQ), an ad-dress that was branded as the most glamorous in the Middle East, when it was just a concept.He was involved in the project rom the start – the reclamation, the handoverand now the management o the property. He speaks to
Qatar Today
o the eupho-ria and the responsibility associated with marketing an island built on water.
TPQ was a new concept o luxury residential property in Qatar. What werethe challenges that you aced in building an iconic brand?
The reclamation o the land started in 2004 as did the marketing. The conceptwas one-o-a-kind, a very creative project with a design that was clearly opulentand innovative. The challenges were massive, in construction and o course inmarketing as well. When we started, the real estate market was steady and thencame the boom in the sector. Prices escalated, material as well as labour cost wentup; there was a shortage o materials and all o this made it extremely dicultor us. But we had support rom HH The Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalia Al-Thani and the government and this helped us a great deal. Proper planning by
“Most of us consider Marketing as a frivolousoccupation. it is not so, Marketing is serious business. Youhave to satisfY people with different tastes andconvince all of theM to buY Your ideas,” saYs abdulrahiM al ibrahiM, director of the pearl-Qatar central authoritY directorate (tcad).
H
Marketinga city
BySindhu nair
 
listening post
september 2011
Qatar today
41
United Development Company (UDC) putus on a strong oothold and we could see thecompletion o the project rising above the various setbacks. Because we pioneered theidea in this country, it captured everyone’sattention and wonder, locally and interna-tionally. When I joined UDC, in the position o General Manager o Marketing, our chal-lenges were immense; the whole group was just a small team o 60. We are now 1,200employees. We have expanded in all spheresand auxiliary units. All this is part o thesuccess story o TPQ.
Was it dicult to sell the concept inter-nationally at a time when the country was not well recognised? What market-ing strategies did you adapt?
Proper planning and the way the countryhas projected itsel, as the largest suppliero gas and as a country with robust economywith its massive oil and gas resources, madeit easier or us to market the project.Initially we were treated with scepticism,people did not know much about the coun-try. But the uniqueness o the concept, themassive campaigns to promote the projectglobally through commercials, advertise-ments, billboards, exhibitions, road shows,etc, helped garner interest. Luxury outletswere initially sceptical o coming to the re-gion, not just Qatar. We were selling basedon plans. But now you can see all the brandsthat are here at The Pearl. According to me, the project in itsel wasthe main actor, its uniqueness and beauty,the 10-themed districts, each with its owndistinct style o living, helped in attractinginvestors rom all around the world. Theeconomic stability o the country was an-other important actor.
 At a time when global recession haddownsized the thriving real estate sec-tor how did TPQ manage to remain un-azed? How were the sales gures inthose dicult times?
 We started marketing rom 2005. About90% o what we marketed is sold now. When the crisis hit, we had already soldclose to 80% o the projects and we weregetting busy with hand-overs. That workedto our advantage. As we were in this hand-over stage, it helped our cash ow. We arestill busy with hand-overs and I can tell youthat even now the value o the property isincreasing. We have had some owners whohave sold their investments at a prot. Sothe global recession did not afect us much. We are still attracting retail stores; we havestore openings regularly, on a monthlybasis.This was because this was the only projecto such magnitude in the country and thenished product was also much appreciatedin the real estate sector. We have around 3,000 people living onthe island and by the end o 2011 we are go-ing to open two major precedents, QanatQuartier and Medina Centrale. We are alsoopening a Spinney’s here soon. We want thePearl to be a city in itsel.
TPQ had some bad press too. How did you handle the bad press, especiallythose which used to touch on the envi-ronmental aspects o the project due tothe huge reclamation associated withthe construction o the island?
The dredging technology we used was suchthat it would not harm the eco-system. Be-ore we embarked on the project, an envi-ronmental assessment was conducted byCowi and all recommendations made wasollowed to ensure that the eco-system o the place was not compromised. It’s trueto say there are more living creatures inthe sea around the site than beore thereclamation. We take extra measures to maintain saeenvironmental levels; we conduct air qual-ity and noise pollution tests on an annualbasis. Garbage collection is through a single
We have had some oWners Whohave sold their investments ata profit. so the globalrecession did not affect usmuch.

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