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THE PEARl-QATAR HAs bECoME onE of THE CounTRy’s iConiC syMbols, REnoWnEd THRougHouT THE WoRld As THE flAgsHiP dEvEloPMEnT of nEW QATAR. builT on An ARTifiCiAl islAnd, THis PREdilECTion of luxuRy oozEs WiTH ClAss And soPHisTiCATion And ATTRACTs THE AffluEnT And THE WEll-To-do. HoWEvER, As iT EnTERs inTo A nEW PHAsE of MATuRiTy, iT is bRoAdEning iTs APPEAl To MoRE Mid-MARKET CusToMERs.
by r o r y c o e n
OverlOOking the new venetian-styled district Of the-Pearl Qatar frOm One Of its 14 bridges.
ow powerful is the concept of “originality”? To not only conceive your own idea, but to give it life; to design and develop something sui generis, in its own class. It’s probably something people will want to see, to ex-
perience. It’s an anomaly and this excites people. It has never been done before. It is brand new. The Pearl-Qatar was dreamt up with aspirations to be unique. At the turn of the millennium, the site was nothing more than a shallow pool of warm water gripping the coastline – no perceivable potential was obvious until somebody decided to make it magnificent, and to turn his aspiration into our aspiration. If you thought The Pearl-Qatar was just the horseshoe Porto Arabia with the finedining restaurants, designer retail outlets
and plush apartments, then you need to update to Pearl 2.0. As they continue to develop the horseshoe, with ten new towers being readied for January 2013, there’s a furtive world behind waiting to be lived in, shopped in and played in. Two brand new development areas – Qanat Quartier, which is modelled on the city of Venice, and Medina Centrale – are being polished off this autumn and will be fully operational forthwith. The Pearl-Qatar is essentially a phased mixed-use development comprising ten distinct, themed districts that include
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“luxuRy bRAnds ARE vERy diffiCulT To EsTAblisH And MAinTAin. onCE you PosiTion youRsElf AT A CERTAin lEvEl, iT’s nExT To iMPossiblE To go uP. ” darrell sheaffer
general manager, hOtels and leisure, hdc
“onE of ouR sTRATEgiC objECTivEs is To MAKE ouR sToREs ACCEssiblE To MoRE PEoPlE. ‘bRidgE bRAnds’ AREn’T nECEssARily luxuRy, buT THEy’RE noT MAss bRAnds EiTHER. THEy sTill oozE WiTH luxuRy” theo swart
general manager, united fashiOn cOmPany
beachfront villas, elegant town homes, luxury apartments, exclusive penthouses, fivestar hotels, marinas, and upscale retail and restaurants, all situated on this man-made island encompassing 985 acres. When fully developed, the Island will host approximately 18,000 luxury villas, town homes, penthouses and apartments which will, in total, be home to 45,000 residents. Exclusive luxury villas will be located in clusters, around the Island’s perimeter, with private beaches that offer stunning sea views. Qanat Quartier If you like Venice, you’ll love this incipient setting. A bit gauche myself, I was still overcome by how the designers managed to harness the lambent colours of the apartments to give it a very Southern European feel. Elegant bridges serve as conduits between the sub-districts, and when you enter you don’t want to leave, such are its captivating elements. You are totally blinded from mainstream Doha – be it the five-star hotels or areas like Najma or Mansoura. The only familiarity I could generate was the stifling heat from the midday sun which was penetrating my senses. Although it is currently without soul and history, you could sense that a young and excitable population would bring vibrancy to the pocketed social areas where there will be room for dozens of residents to sit outside the coffee shops and generate their own atmosphere. One hundred and eighty-eight three-sto-
rey townhouses and over 1,000 apartments will be built on 1.6 km of canals. Water-taxis will be available to residents, whilst the other amenities on the island are within a short walking distance. Medina Centrale Medina Centrale will surely become the focal point of the Island as it will be peppered with 140 retail outlets including a 4,000 square metre Spinney’s supermarket. There will be 30-40 casual dining spots to choose from before you might like to watch a blockbuster movie on one of the ten screens in the new cinema complex. Whilst Medina Centrale differs in style from Qanat Quartier, the same colour scheme seems to be employed, bringing this latent European-old-quarter-feel to the district. It’s not just a commercial area for shopping and entertainment, however, as there are 538 low-rise residential units (three to eight storeys) on offer also. A petrol station is currently under construction which will cater for the island and indeed its hinterland. There are also plans for schools, banks, pharmacies and even a hardware store. Get aspirational Kirk Martin, VP Fashion and Retail at The Pearl-Qatar spoke about how the island is really establishing itself since its “throwback year” in 2009, when the first residents moved into Tower One. There were no retail outlets or restaurants as such – they have
sprouted up in the past three years – and much of Porto Arabia was still a building site with little or no landscaping completed. Eventually people began to move in as it developed into a more habitable area. There’s a perception that The Pearl-Qatar is only high-end and whilst this was where it wanted to position itself at the outset – to set an “aspirational” level – it is broadening and diversifying now to cater for more midrange shoppers. “This was a conscious decision at the outset,” said Darrell Sheaffer, General Manager, Hotels and Leisure, Hospitality Development Company. “We wanted to position the Island at a very excusive but also an aspirational level. We wanted people to come to see these shops and feel like this is where they should be more and more. “We started with restaurants that only belonged in places like New York City,” added Eric, “but now there’s more mid-market, more casual dining and more relaxed sorts of concepts will come online in the next year or two.” Martin continued: “When we first established the retail offering here, it was more geared towards luxury and a slice below luxury, with “second-line” brands. For instance, Giorgio Armani is first-line and Emporio Armani is its second line and a little less expensive. “The reason this was done is that it creates an aspirational lifestyle – it positions The Pearl-Qatar as a luxury or what I like to call an “iconic” project. You don’t want
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“WE CAn HosT PEoPlE WiTH no nAuTiCAl sKills And WE TRy To PRovidE MAdE-To-MEAsuRE soluTions – WHATEvER THEy dEsiRE. WE HAvE PRoPER CAPTAins on ouR PAyRoll WHo CAn bRing gRouPs ouT To sEA AT WEEKEnds ” JauMe Marco
general manager, rOnautica
“you WAnT To EsTAblisH youRsElf As An ATTRACTion foR PEoPlE To AsPiRE To. buT noW WE’RE TRying To divERsify – WE’RE offERing AddiTionAl Mid-RAngE fAsHion And CAsuAl REsTAuRAnTs THAT sERvE HAMbuRgERs And sTEAKs” KIrK MartIN
vP fashiOn and retail at the Pearl-Qatar
to necessarily start with something that’s real cheap and establish your footprint with that. You want to establish yourself as an attraction for people to aspire to. But now we’re trying to diversify – we’re offering additional mid-range fashion and home stores, and casual restaurants that serve hamburgers and steaks – TGI Fridays.” “It’s a lot easier to come down than go up,” asserted Sheaffer. “Luxury brands are very difficult to establish and maintain. Once you position yourself at a certain level, it’s next to impossible to go up. Marriott couldn’t do it so they bought the Ritz-Carlton, for instance.” Sheaffer is overseeing the opening of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, which will open early next year at the very latest. Spanning over 160 linear metres of ocean and beach frontage, the low-rise property offers a balance between sophisticated living and vibrant entertainment. It will have 47 luxury villas and spa suites, private plunge pools, an oasis garden, a fitness centre featuring, an outdoor yoga platform and an infinity edge beach pool and bar. There will also be a nightclub. “It will be a mixture of suites, rooms and townhouses,” said Shaeffer. “It will be a destination resort essentially, attracting people from within the region and Europe. They will fly here specifically because it is the first Nikki Beach in this region.” “I call it a residential resort lifestyle,” said Martin. “The whole project is like a mini-city with shopping, cinemas and a supermarket. It’s not just a four-wall mall. It’s the perfect indoor outdoor setting, because of the marina and what Ronautica brings to visitors.”
Ronautica Ronautica established itself in Qatar in 2006 to create a certain type of lifestyle based around boating. The Pearl-Qatar management needed a professional outfit to oversee their marina and provide a holistic service to the residents and visitors to the island – not just to provide a place to park the boats, but to help people enjoy the sea as well. Ronautica delivers activities such as kitesurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing and kneeboarding. It also provides for family fun trips, fishing trips and boat charters. “Five years ago, it was very rare to do any sea activities,” said Jaume Marco, General Manager, Ronautica. “There were few marinas in Doha and very inexperienced boatmen. So we are trying to encourage people to get more involved in nautical activities. “We can host people with no nautical skills and we try to provide made-to-measure solutions – whatever they desire. We have proper captains on our payroll who can bring groups out to sea at weekends and provide a safe and reliable journey. The groups can order food from the many restaurants that are now at The Pearl-Qatar; they can choose their first course from one restaurant, the second course from another and so on. Ronautica will bring the food and beverages to the boat. As I said, we don’t just park boats – we are trying to deliver a complete package. “One of the destinations we bring our clients is to Safliya Island, which is a beautiful natural island not far from the coast people spend the day here and return in the evening. It’s a nice destination.”
Fashion United Fashion Company (UFC) is bringing world-class luxury and a wide range of product brands to the Island. Its long-term strategy envisions a network of stores that branch from internationally acclaimed luxury and mid- to mid-upper brands across a variety of retail categories. In addition to owning and managing a wide range of boutiques and department stores, UFC also focuses on service-driven products such as beauty salons. “When you look at the brand map around the world, brands tend to merge with retail partners that they feel confident and comfortable with,” said Theo Swart, General Manager, United Fashion Company. “They look for retail companies that are able to honour their plans. The challenge here for us is to attract enough commercially recognised brands from around the world to cater for Qatar’s growing shopping market. Whilst UFC, like the other island concepts, started out with a strategy of only providing high-end luxury brands to create this aspirational mentality, it is now looking to diversify its appeal. “One of our strategic objectives it to make our stores accessible to more people, so it was natural to look at “bridge brands”, which aren’t necessarily luxury, but they’re not mass brands either. When you purchase one of these brands it still oozes luxury. “Liu Jo, which will be arriving in January, is the perfect example of this bridge brand customer concept. Many people come here for convenience and they are looking for everyday use, looking for affordable luxury. It made good commercial sense to enter this arena,” said Swart
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