Infinitely more than a fancy mall, the new Place Vendôme in Qatar is an example of using fashion and luxury to spearhead possibly the biggest building project in the world. That’s the brand new city of Lusail, being built some 20 kilometres north of capital city Doha, in time for the 2022 World Cup.
Lusail will include marinas, residential areas, island resorts, commercial districts, luxury shopping and leisure facilities, golf courses and man-made islands in a city with a planned population of 260,000.
Those who shop in Place Vendôme Paris – the deepest concentration of important high jewellery boutiques in the world – will not be unfamiliar with the labels selling in the Qatar mall. Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Christian Dior with double-decker stores of some 1,000 square-metres each will greet visitors.
Place Vendôme will not open until September 2018, but its mammoth structure is already in place. From the top, 13th floor of a six-star hotel, one can see the ground works of the Norman Foster-designed Lusail Iconic Stadium, where the World Cup final will be held on December 18, 2022.
“Christian Dior once said that elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness care and complicity. And I cannot think of a more elegant venue to host the debut of Vogue. While Place Vendôme will be the new home of fashion and elegance in the Middle East. It’s a groundbreaking example of the entrepreneurship, vision and energy of our nation’s commitment to development,” said Aisha Al Thani. This Royal Princess and executive, with an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, brought many key brands to the mall.
Guests can take trips on Riva speedboats on a canal from the sea that runs into the heart of Place Vendôme – a central open-air plaza with restaurants, cafés and laser light shows. Using new vapour water jet technology to create a permanently cool environment.
Brands as diverse as Hermès, Tiffany, Fendi, Van Cleef & Arpels and Zadig & Voltaire will retail in the $1.5 billion project. Marriott Group will manage two luxury hotels – a Luxury Collection hotel and a Le Meridien Hotel.
Inside its 230,000 sqm of leasable space, the mall includes an 18,000 sqm family entertainment center, 18 restaurants, 19 cinema screens and a food court in a complex that uncannily mimics the famed Paris square. French architecture has great resonance in this region, where its symmetry appeals to a Middle Eastern sense of graphics.
In America, malls are closing almost weekly, but in Qatar, there are plans to open six more. With temperatures often averaging 45 degrees on Friday evenings, most people don’t go to a park, but to a mall. There may only be 300,000 Qataris (whose average monthly luxury spend is $5,000) , but a further 2.6 million ex-patriots live in this former British Protectorate.
“The key factor is getting the entertainment right to increase dwell time. We hope at the weekend families will spend between five to six hours here,” explained project director Sean Kelly.
Eventually, 5,000 staff will work in Place Vendôme, which is partly owned by the Qatari royal family. To say that malls are destinations in the Persian Gulf would be an understatement. Over 60 million people visited Dubai Mall last year – that’s more tourists than visited Italy or Spain.
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