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Friday, January 21, 2022

One month on, Qatar struggles to keep history from repeating itself


Nearly one month after a fire at Villaggio mall killed 19 people, Qatar has been struggling to correct a system-wide failure to implement emergency safety measures in many of its major institutions.

Much-awaited investigation results were released last week, but prosecutors have yet to formally charge anyone for the fire that resulted in the deaths of 13 children, four teachers and two firefighters.

Sources told Doha News that the five people that the government detained and questioned – including Villaggio mall officials and the owner of Gympanzee – are out on bail but cannot leave the country.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting reports about when City Center, closed more than a week ago for flouting safety standards, will re-open.

According to Qatar Tribune, the country’s largest mall could open as early as tomorrow.

Al Sharq quotes an official saying Civil Defense is expected to complete its inspection on Tuesday, adding that some 500 people are working “around the clock” to meet emergency safety requirements.

But Adam Farhat, general manager of a company that does business in City Center, told Doha News that it will take months for the mall to meet some of the requirements put forth by the Civil Defense department.

Just how long the “essential” requirements – those needed to allow businesses to open up shop again – will take is unknown.

One problem, Farhat said, is that many kiosks in the mall had been operating on expired temporary licenses.

The licenses, which stopped being issued last year, had allowed City Center to rent additional spaces that were not marked as shops in the mall’s original blueprints, he said.

…We are among many that don’t know what will happen or who will compensate us for huge investments and losses…

It seems that now the Civil Defense and the Municipality are requesting these kiosks be shut down in CC.

Finally, despite rumors to the contrary, Landmark Mall remains open.

And its cinema, which was closed temporarily last week, is up and running again, according to its Facebook page.


Credit: Photo by Marco Zanferrari

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