Twenty-five stores in City Center Mall were fined last week by government inspectors for breaking various commercial laws.
Inspectors from the Ministry of Economy and Commerce’s Department of Commercial Registration and Licenses and the Consumer Protection Department carried out unannounced inspections of several shops at the mall on June 17, issuing 25 violation notices.
These included penalties for not having a license, or for not renewing an old one, as well as for displaying goods outside shops without permission.
It’s not clear what penalties were imposed, but violators can be fined up to QR10,000 for breaking commercial laws. The names of the shops caught breaking these rules have not been disclosed.
The Ministry of Economy and Commerce said these raids on commercial premises were only the first wave of a campaign which this week is focusing on butcher’s shops, with one violation being reported so far.
It’s not clear why City Center Mall was chosen as a venue for the raid, or whether other malls were also targeted in last week’s inspection push.
However, it’s not the first time in recent weeks that the mall has been the focus of government scrutiny.
Last Wednesday, for example, the Peninsula reported that inspection teams had also found that many restaurants and cafes in the mall didn’t have the proper licenses, or had been found to be violating food and safety hygiene rules.
Some outlets in the mall were closed briefly, but allowed to re-open later on the same day.
Speaking to Doha News, City Center Mall Director Joerg Harengerd said that inspections at the mall were “ongoing” due to the shopping center’s refurbishment program and renewal of its Civil Defense license.
He told us that while some restaurants were found to be trading on expired licenses, they have been given a grace period to renew them before being fined. All restaurants in the mall are now open, he said.
Naming and shaming
This spate of inspections on shops follows a deliberate move by the government to publicize its crackdown on health and safety at restaurants, publicly naming and shaming violators for the first time.
For the past two months, the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) has been listing the names of violators in Arabic on its website.
There, it provides full details of each restaurant closure, as well as sharing photos of dirty kitchens and expired food.
According to the website, eight restaurants have been closed temporarily in Qatar so far this month, including a Cafe Vergnano in Al Maamoura, which was shut down for 10 days.
The restaurant was found to have food that was not fit for human consumption.
The listings are not yet available in English.
Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that Cafe Vergnano was closed for the food it was serving. It previously erroneously stated that the restaurant did not have a valid business license.