SHOP 'TIL YOU DROP

Qatar 2020 | TOURISM & RETAIL | INTERVIEW

With his innovative idea to create a luxury mall in the classical style of a Italian galleria, Mohammed A.K. Al Emadi hopes to give shoppers experiences rather than just shopping sprees.

Mohamed A. K. Al Emadi
BIOGRAPHY

Mohamed A. K. Al Emadi is a Qatari businessman who founded Al Emadi Enterprises in 1998, where he currently serves as CEO. The company has experienced rapid growth, starting with only two employees and a capital of QAR10,000 and reaching more than 1,000 employees today. In 2004, the company became involved in the residential sector after Qatar was assigned to organize the Asian Games in 2006. The company's group currently includes Al Emadi Stone, Solar, Leathers, Media, Fire Systems, Carpentry, Hospitality, and IT and Informatics, in addition to the Al Hazm and Darzi malls.

What was the idea behind the Al Hazm project?
The inspiration behind the development came from Italy's architectural heritage. All of Europe has classical architecture, but Italy has something special. I love the architecture, marble, food, cafes, and the atmosphere of its piazzas. I wanted to do something like that in Doha, which was impossible at the time. My friends thought I was crazy to try and recreate the craftsmanship and architecture of another era, but my idea grew from that inspiration. I wanted to use that beautiful Italian style of architecture, including its carvings and stonework. I decided to go ahead despite the challenges. I looked for contractors to do the stone and marble work, but no one wanted to do it. So, I established my own marble and stone factory just for the project. I traveled to India and sourced specialist carvers. In total, we had 700 people working on the carvings for seven years.

What clientele is Al Emadi Enterprises targeting in Qatar, and what brands is it focusing on?
We are targeting Qatari people and expatriates with high incomes. We do not have a food court at Al Hazm; we have fine dining restaurants. We do not have coffee shops and the other, well-known chains in malls; our offering is different. In terms of brands, we are targeting niche, elegant brands, not only famous ones. Famous brands are available everywhere and people want something new that is not widely available in the market.

How did Qatari society react to Al Hazm?
They are proud, happy, and satisfied with our project. We are not a mall; that is the difference between Al Hazm and other commercial developments. Al Hazm is a destination. It provides an outdoor experience with terraces, olive trees, and cafes. When you buy something, you have to be able to enjoy the whole experience of going to that destination. It is not about need; it is about savoring the experience. And, we have not reached the end of the project. There are still unused areas as well as ideas that are not off the ground yet.

What are the main challenges you face with Al Hazm's future development?
The next challenge for us is how to keep the standards as high as they are now. Reaching a certain level is easy but maintaining it and moving to the next step is the challenge. Everyone will visit a new development because it is new and novel, but, over time, this interest calms down. I do not want to lose that level of interest.

The Qatari population is growing, and upcoming events like the 2022 FIFA World Cup will attract many visitors. How do you see the future of the Al Hazm project and the country?
Qatar's future is bright; business will continue to grow even after the World Cup. The World Cup is not the only thing Qatar has to offer, as there are many projects that will start after the event. Those projects will be even better in quality because we have more time to work on them. The economic future of Qatar may even exceed our expectations.

What is your outlook for 2020 and the Al Hazm project, and what tangible steps do you intend to take over the next couple of years?
Between 2019 and 2020, we will reach the Al Hazm project's peak and complete the fit-out of our concept. When many mall projects open, they believe they are finished. But we can still do so much more. We will be completely ready by the time of the World Cup to welcome guests from across the world. We must be ready to provide good hospitality and restaurants for these visitors. We want them to enjoy the full experience of Doha and Qatar.