Jun. 23, 2021


Emile Sarkis

Qatar

Emile Sarkis

General Manager, Mall of Qatar

“Mall of Qatar is the first mall to be connected directly to Doha by metro."

BIO

Emile Sarkis is an industry veteran with experience that spans over 18 years in Qatar, where he held various senior positions in leading companies across retail and real-estate industries. His career in Mall of Qatar started in August 2017 as a Leasing Director, a position that enabled him to play a significant role in building the foundation of the Mall's initial portfolio of tenants by strategically attracting local and international brands, shaping the Mall's innovative shopping, top-notch recreation, and remarkable leisure experiences. In May 2020, Mr. Sarkis was appointed as the General Manager of Mall of Qatar. In this capacity, he is responsible of setting the strategies, managing relations with the shareholders, and maintaining the Mall's position as a reputable landmark in Qatar and the region. He is a member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Middle East Council of Shopping Centers (MECSC).


What have been the main highlights for Mall of Qatar since its opening, and how have you prepared for the reactivation of the economy post COVID-19?

Mall of Qatar opened in December 2016 and has had great success both in the country and the region since then. It was the first of its type in the sense of being a huge mall and the experiences it offers. It is the favourite destination for the residents and visitors due to the exceptional facilities and variety of options. At the Nation's Mall, we always endeavor to meet the customers' expectations and make their exceptional and unique. During the first quarter of 2020, we accomplished huge success, especially during the Shop Qatar festival. We hosted a concert for famous singers and bands on our oasis stage, with hundreds of fans attending. The following two quarters of 2020 have significantly impacted all sectors of the economy, specifically the retail sectors, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mall of Qatar strategy for 2020 consisted of the two-level process: One is to support the tenants to tackle the current unfortunate situation, and the second is related to the customers. Many tenants started their on-line services during the pandemic through their channels, and we supported them through our communication channels to maximize customers' reach and support their business during the closure of their stores. During the temporary closure, we were preparing for the upcoming phases and the reopening of the Mall; we explored the best options to reactivate the business, that's why we implemented a well-designed plan for safety measures and marketing strategy. The precautionary measures helped us gain the visitor's and tenant's confidence to come back to the Mall of Qatar and maintain a pleasant shopping and dining experience. Our communication campaigns supported all those precautionary measures. We have successfully met our expectations by encouraging people to do their shopping again at the Mall. As a result, we received a decent number of shoppers who were keen to return in-person to retail shopping. During the fourth quarter, we organised the biggest Shop & Win festival, with 20 luxury cars until January 2021 by giving a car every week to the lucky winner, and this is one of the biggest shopping festivals ever done in Qatar. All these factors were crucial to reactivate the economic cycle, and we are planning for more in the coming months. At Mall of Qatar, our focus is to create exceptional customer experience through understanding their interaction with the mall brands and the level of their satisfaction for us to provide the best services.

What is the Mall of Qatar's unique value proposition taking into consideration the fierce competition in the sector?

The competition is increasing due to the opening of new malls, and this will only positively affect the customers and push us to improve our services and offering. That's why our strategy is built on two main pillars: world-class products and five-star services. We are a massive mall of around 500 stores and dining outlets that caters to all classes, with world-class entertainment facilities for all ages and genders, including KidzMondo, Cinema theatres, play area, and many other services. Our 360-degree stage in the Oasis is exceptionally unique in Qatar, and no other mall has such a facility in which they are capable of hosting shows and events. The 360-degree stage is another factor that makes the Mall of Qatar a significant entertainment destination. We host international singers, artists, music shows while visitors can enjoy having food in the surrounding restaurants or watch football matches on giant screens. Mall of Qatar is the first mall to be connected directly to Doha by metro. One can travel to the Mall of Qatar quickly and without going outside in the heat. We have a 19 cinema screens, the largest in Qatar. We have an IMAX cinema, a cinema with traditional Arabic seating, and a VIP cinema where one can order food while watching a movie. Besides, Al Rayyan Hotel, which is connected to the Mall, is a significant addition to our facilities that complements our business and the customers' journey. In addition, an important factor that differentiates us is the means of transportation available to get into the mall. Mall of Qatar can be reached easily by car, bus, or metro, especially that we are only 20 minutes away from the heart of Doha; this has helped us to receive more visitors. When it comes to customer service, our main objective is to enhance the customer journey and exceed their expectations, from the moment they arrive until they leave. In brief, the Mall of Qatar is not just a shopping mall, it is a destination where people can enjoy world-class shopping and dining experience with entertainment.

How does the metro connection broaden Mall of Qatar's customer base?

Mall of Qatar is the only Mall in the country that is attached to the Metro station through an air-conditioned bridge. Besides, we are the destination for a massive community in nearby areas such as the education city, Qatar Foundation, and Sidra Hospital. These communities also can use the metro, which passes by their substations. It is effortless and comfortable for them to reach the Mall within minutes. Today everyone is using the metro because it is very comfortable and contribute to protecting the environment. So, the metro has been a very important advantage for us.

What does going to a mall mean today?

Mall nowadays is more than shopping. It is a complete experience for everyone. That's why we are planning to come up with a new comprehensive program once restrictions are eased. Hopefully, we will have a completely different program of a theatre type live shows in 2021. Shopping malls must create a greater role in consumers' social life and act as a destination hub to enjoy dinning, entertainment, leisure, and socializing.

Al Rayyan Stadium has a capacity of 45,000 people, but there will also be many more World Cup fans outside the stadium. What will Mall of Qatar be like during a World Cup game?

Mall of Qatar is located next to one of FIFA 2022 stadiums - Al-Rayyan Stadium; this will maximize our visitors' reach during the global event or for other main events it will host The Mall will be the main hub for the fans coming to the stadium and those who do not have the opportunity to attend the game. For FIFA 2022 competitions, we are working in close coordination with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC). Thousands of football fans will come to the stadium, and Mall of Qatar will be their main stop before and after the match, whether to shop, dine, entertain, or even participate in the many activities.Besides, our screens at the 360-degree stage at the Oasis will be a hub for watching the matches live while enjoying the variety of food options or merely just enjoying the live events we will organize during the tournament. Besides, we are working on strategic plans for fans to live an exciting experience with the global and famous bands that we will host.

How is Mall of Qatar enacting Qatar's digital and technology transformation?

Our digital transformation will be something more than the normal standard. We will use innovations to enhance our e-commerce proposition, loyalty program, and customer relationship management (CRM). Our digital transformation plan is a huge project. The pandemic was a good opportunity to strategize and plan what we will do. We are spending a great deal of effort, resources, and investment to make Mall of Qatar's digital transformation project successful. Innovation should be constant to improve different areas of the business and keep creating new value for the customers. That's why we focus on strategies that deliver greater customer journey by offering services that meet their expectations

What are the next steps for Mall of Qatar in the coming months and years?

The primary focus now is to overcome the challenges of COVID-19 and bring back life and business to normal. In this regard, Qatar's strategy in healthcare and the heavy investments for the development of healthcare infrastructure, medical supplies and other products and services for over the last several years have helped the country achieve 100 percent self-sufficiency. The country is today well-positioned in fighting its battle against the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic on its own to keep the people of this country safe and protected. Qatar's healthcare spending is among the highest in the Middle East and one of the best in the world. Now with the vaccination plan in place, we are very optimistic that we will win this battle. And we, in Mall of Qatar, are well prepared for that. Our vision in Mall of Qatar is to create an innovative and engaging experience to our customers that go well beyond traditional shopping, by adapting technologies to improve customers' journey and cater to their needs and well-being. Mall of Qatar the Nation's Mall is a perfect social place to share quality time with friends and family. We will continue to deliver innovative and interactive activities and events that adds value to the shopping experience. our strategy on adopting different approach that combines digital and physical experience will cater attract to the next generation of visitors. The plan for 2021 is to accomplish growth and maintain our position as the Nation's Mall and the favorite destination for all customer groups. Next to the mall, there will be a new urban community that includes residential towers of around 1,000 units and a school. The Mall will be serving the needs of this new community, and it will help to revive the area and create an integrated neighborhood that has all services and needs within walking distance. All those upcoming plans will support us in accomplishing and reaching our primary objective, which is to contribute to the national economy and the 2030 National Vision through diversifying the economy, maintaining sustainable development, and motivating the tourism and retail sector in Qatar.

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