Starting yesterday, shoppers have been required to pay QR2 for their first hour of parking, QR3 for the second and third hours and QR5 for each additional hour at kiosks near the mall’s entrances. The machines were only taking cash yesterday, despite having credit card readers.
The mall is one of the first venues outside the crowded Dafna/West Bay area to charge its customers for parking.
It is unclear what prompted the move.
Speaking to Doha News yesterday, assistant manager Rosie Nmeir said “(the decision) is up to management” and declined to elaborate.
Gull Mall is located on the congested Al Oyoun Street, in between Ezdan Mall and Lulu Hypermarket.
Yesterday, traffic appeared to be backed up as a constant stream of motorists paused to collect a ticket and wait for the automated gate to rise.
Several security guards could be seen stationed at the entrance around 2:30pm, printing tickets for customers to speed up the process and encouraging motorists to use multiple entrance lanes.
There was a short lineup of vehicles waiting to exit the lot, but the stream of vehicles was kept moving by several security guards and employees from Computer Station Co., which is helping to implement the parking payment technology system.
A representative from the company said shoppers who failed to pay before exiting the mall were being allowed out for free yesterday with a warning.
Later in the afternoon, however, security guards stationed at the exits leading onto the service road that runs parallel to the Doha Expressway could be seen handling small bills and letting vehicles out.
Nmeir denied there were any traffic problems and attributed any congestion to the mall’s popularity.
“It means we have a lot of customers,” she said.
While City Center and The Gate in Doha’s central business district both charge for parking, most malls in the country do not.
City Center rolled out its system in 2011, reportedly as a way to free up more spaces for customers by discouraging residents who work in the surrounding office buildings from leaving their vehicles at the mall all day.
In Al Gharafa, Ezdan Mall – which is located directly to the south of Gulf Mall – still lets its customers park for free, as does the Lulu Hypermarket.
However, Lulu recently installed license plate cameras and automated gates at its entrances. However, the gates were raised on Tuesday and do not appear to be part of a payment system.
Lulu employees referred questions about the gates to a regional manager who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Gulf Mall soft launched in early April with eight stores, and dozens more retailers opened in the following weeks.
Fans of American breakfast chain IHOP are still waiting for the restaurant’s first Qatar location to open inside Gulf Mall. Yesterday, employees could be seen inside the eatery, nibbling on waffles during a staff meeting.
An employee was unable to say when IHOP would open, other than that it would be “as soon as possible.”