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Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Qatar’s Villaggio Mall tests out new vertical parking scheme

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Smart parking at Villaggio Mall.
Smart parking at Villaggio Mall.

A new smart parking system has been rolled out at Villaggio Mall that can accommodate up to 16 vehicles in the equivalent of two conventional parking lot spaces.

The scheme, known as “rotary parking,” is located near the VIP entrance of the mall and will be tested by the shopping center for free for six months.

If it is successful, those behind the system hope to introduce it across Doha to help tackle the city’s severe parking crunch.

Smart parking at villaggio mall.
Smart parking at villaggio mall.

Speaking to Doha News, Mohamed Magdy, senior sales manager at My City for Technical Solutions (MCTS), said that since the scheme was launched at Villaggio last week, many people have expressed interest in the system and wanted to know more about how it works.

MCTS is the local agent for Korean company, Dong Yang PC, which created the technology.

Magdy added that the smart parking will be most useful during the weekends, when the increased number of visitors makes finding a spot difficult.

Villaggio’s available parking space has shrunk in recent years, in part due to an ongoing expansion as well as Doha Metro works.

No time-frame for the opening of the mall’s extension has been announced. It’s understood that permission for the extension was granted before a 2012 fire that left 19 people dead, including 13 children.

The mall has faced uncertainty in recent years after its chairman and general manager were convicted of involuntary manslaughter charges after the fire. They were recently exonerated, but this week, the attorney general said that court decision would be appealed.

How it works

Smart parking is not a new concept to the GCC, as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait already have such systems in place. However, this is the the first time the scheme has been introduced in Qatar, according to a video explaining the smart parking.

Using the system, a space of 30 square meters can accommodate six to 12 SUVs or up to 16 smaller vehicles.

In addition to saving on space, the parking technique helps prevent theft of the parked cars, protects them from collisions and safeguards them against different weather conditions, including dust and heavy showers like the ones Doha experienced yesterday, according to a video about the scheme.

To use the system, a person parks his car inside the metal box on the ground floor and then gets out and pushes a button indicating the floor or level of the car.

To retrieve the car, the resident presses the floor the car is located on, and the car automatically rotates until it returns to the ground floor, which takes a maximum of 90 seconds, according to the video.

The metal structure rotates both clockwise and counter-clockwise, depending on which way is faster to retrieve the parked car.

It operates on electricity, but there’s also a manual handle that can be used in case of any power cuts or malfunctions.

According to those behind the technology, installation of the system can be done within a week.

Parking in Qatar

As Qatar’s population continues to rise, parking is becoming an increasing headache for residents, especially in popular areas like malls and parks, where spaces are usually limited.

Local businesses have attempted to tackle the problem by building more parking lots and charging for parking.

Souq Waqif
Souq Waqif

For example, in July, Souq Waqif announced it was building a new two-story underground car park on the site of an old surface lot at the end of Al Rayyan Road, across from the Falcon Souq. It is expected to be finished by May 2016.

And earlier this year, construction crews completed a new 2,000-space underground parking garage accessible via the Corniche and Abdullah Bin Jassim Street, which runs along the north edge of Souq Waqif.

The new underground car parks are expected to help ease some of the traffic problems in the area, when surface lots are stretched to capacity.

Photo of carpark for illustrative purposes only.
Photo of carpark for illustrative purposes only.

Meanwhile, malls are increasingly beginning to charge visitors for parking in their lots.

Following the lead of City Center and the Gate malls in Doha’s central business district, Gulf Mall began requiring shoppers 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 new system was met with frustration by some motorists, who said it takes too long to pay for their parking.

It’s unclear whether the smart parking system will charge once the trial period is done.

Would you use it? Thoughts?

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