An entertainment center, gym, children’s spa and a string of eateries are set to open in The Pearl-Qatar in the coming year, as part of a strategy to expand the number of dining and recreational options on the man-made island.
The plan comes as the island’s developer also predicts an almost four-fold increase in the number of residents by 2018, raising questions about the ability of the infrastructure to cope with the extra people and traffic.
The focus of the new development will be in Medina Centrale, dubbed the “town center” of the island for its high street and mini-mall.
One of the highlights of the new development will be a 6,000 square meter family entertainment center called Megapolis.
The facility will include indoor golf, snooker, billiards and darts, an arcade and gaming machines and an “active sports zone,” the island’s developer UDC said in a statement to Doha News.
Run by Qatari company Palma Hospitality, which UDC signed a contract with in March 2014, the site will also feature five eating options – Saladworks, Earl of Sandwich, Cool de Sac, Camille’s Ice Cream and Mister Pizza.
Other new shops and restaurants set to open in the district include Mediterranean-inspired La Casa 28 and Debs W Reman, which will serve Levantine cuisine. Coffee chain Mokarabia is also set to open its doors, alongside seafood restaurant Sammach, Ziryab Arabic restaurant and a German Doner Kebab outlet.
Additionally, other facilities expected to open “soon” include:
- Little Princess children’s spa;
- Big Bear Choppers biker cafe and showroom;
- Strong Box gym;
- Magrabi opticians; and
- Foot Care Center.
UDC spokesman Roger Dagher told Doha News that most of the new Medina Centrale outlets were planned to open by the end of September 2015.
Meanwhile across the road, residents of the pastel-colored apartments in the Qanat Qartier district will be cheered to hear they will finally get some amenities.
A convenience store, coffee shops and “other services outlets” are planned to open in the area by the middle of the year, Dagher told Doha News.
However there is still no news of an opening date for the adjacent Marsa Malaz Kempinski hotel.
It was set to welcome its first guests on December 1, but failed to open as planned and its operators have refused to give a reason for the delay.
Construction machinery and workers were busy on the site throughout December. Hotel officials did not reply to a request for an update on progress.
The opening of the new outlets and facilities is part of an overall push to complete construction on the Pearl and boost uptake of apartments and houses.
Since the first residents and retail outlets opened on the island in 2009, the population has grown fairly slowly and there are now 12,000 people currently living there.
Rise in residents
But the operator is predicting a massive increase in the number of residents in the coming four years, to 45,000 people by the end of 2018, Dagher told Qatar Tribune.
This is broadly in line with earlier predictions by UDC. In June this year, at the annual Citiscape expo, company officials estimated that while 12,250 apartments, houses and villas were already built on the island, only 3,500-4,000 were actually occupied.
It forecast an uptake of around 1,000 units each quarter in the forthcoming years, saying that by 2018, all 18,831 of its residential units would be complete.
The upsurge in new residents and visitors may not be entirely welcome news for those already living on the island, who have already expressed their concerns about increasing traffic congestion.
Backups on the island’s roads, and particularly at its sole entry and exit point, cause headaches for many existing residents who say the issue causes safety and security problems.
Pearl resident, Susan Sullivan, previously told Doha News:
“The amount of traffic is horrendous, the concerns of residents about having to get off The Pearl for various reasons such as an emergency or with flights to catch are genuine.”
Whereas you could allow at the most an hour to get to the airport, on a weekend you would have missed your flight. As for emergencies, for the emergency services to get on The Pearl at rush hour, it just wouldn’t happen.
UDC has already ruled out building additional access and egress points for the island, despite appeals from residents to do something to ease the traffic gridlock.
Note: This article was edited to correctly reflect the name of the entertainment center