In Focus: Rony Mourani, General Manager, Mall of Qatar
5 years ago by Sonia Rafi
Rony Mourani, General Manager of the soon to open Mall of Qatar, describes the various dinning, shopping, entertainment outlets, facilities and services that the mall will be offering to visitors. He also talks about the mall’s customer-centric design, the use of technology and social media all combined to provide a one-of-a kind Customer Experience.
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“WE ARE GENUINELY CUSTOMER-CENTRIC IN OUR OPERATING MODEL,
STRATEGY AND CULTURE”
Q : The Mall of Qatar is to be the biggest mall in Qatar. In what ways will it be unique from other mega malls in the region?
Rony Mourani: Mall of Qatar will be Qatar’s first super-regional shopping center, the first live entertainment mall in the region that will have its own in-house performing troupe with proprietary shows, custom developed and produced for us. Entertainment will be mall wide and programmed throughout the week with the main shows performing within the heart of the mall in the Oasis; set on a 360-degree custom designed revolving stage, within a pond of interactive dancing water fountains. At Mall of Qatar, we want customers to experience it and live it, through live interactive visual entertainment and experiences like no other on offer in the region.
Q: Who are your target customers and what are you planning in terms of enhancing customer experience?
Rony Mourani: Guests of all ages will enjoy different experiences all under one roof.Today, Qatar is a premium tourism and leisure destination, which provides a prosperous consumer base for the retail and leisure industry which includes the country’s residents, expatriates, GCC nationals and beyond.
Introducing new retail brands and diverse entertainment activities in a unique setting, Mall of Qatar will positively transform the entertainment and retail experience in the country. At Mall of Qatar, we are genuinely customer-centric in our operating model, strategy and culture. We have thought about every single point where the customers can connect with us including day-to-day interactions.
Q: What processes will you have for facilitating navigation and accessibility to and inside the mall itself?
Rony Mourani: Located in the Al Rayyan area, Mall of Qatar is strategically positioned at the intersection of Al Rayyan Highway and Celebration Road, adjacent to the popular Al Rayyan Sports Club and the under-construction 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium. The location will provide unrivalled access from Doha and the surrounding regions through a dedicated Metro station in addition to the GCC Railway project that will connect Qatar to GCC countries by 2019. Construction has also begun on Khalifa Avenue, a 12 lane road artery that will soon easily connect Mall of Qatar with proprietary entry and exit tunnels.
Extensive signage, digital way-finding and boards along with geo mapping and Wi-Fi beacon technology has been installed within the mall, which will ensure that our visitors will always find the routes to the stores and entertainment that they are seeking easily.
Architecturally the customer journey of our guests was at the heart of the development with extensive natural sky lighting, simple internal race track navigation with 11 to 16 meter-wide corridors and internal lifts and escalators for our anchor tenants, all designed to facilitate a stress free arrival and journey whilst visiting our mall.
Q: What kind of Customer Support will be available to facilitate and assist visitors in and around the Mall?
Rony Mourani: Mall of Qatar will provide valet parking services and Guest Service desks conveniently located at all the entrances of the building in addition to a call center to answer any inquiries via telephone or online.
Q: What kind of dining, leisure and entertainment services will be available to visitors looking for recreation?
Rony Mourani: One of our major distinguishing architectural features will be the 30 meter high, and 6,000 square meter glass domed roof that illuminates a central arena called “The Oasis”, at the heart of the project.
Our state-of-the-art Family Entertainment Centre, spread over 16,500 sq. m will feature a unique edutainment city; KidzMondo and Xtremeland, equipped with the latest games and gaming machines, along with gripping rides that will appeal to all ages. A 19 screen Cineplex with the world’s largest 3D laser projection IMAX theatre, 7 VIP screens, in-theatre gourmet service, kid screens and bowling alleys to suit everyone.
Over 100 gourmet restaurants, casual dining, fast food and cafes, including two signature restaurants represent more than 30% of the mall. These include new entrants to the Qatar market that will include Cheesecake Factory, Babel, Eataly, Greek Fresh, New York Fries, Sazeli, Texas Roadhouse, TWG Tea Salon & Boutique and Zafran.
Mall of Qatar will be a hub for tourists and guests can stay at our exclusive 5 star Al Rayyan Hotel, operated by Curio, a collection by Hilton, which combines luxury, fashion, contemporary art, modern lifestyle and wellness. With just over 200 rooms, the hotel will include two upscale restaurants, a lobby lounge, outdoor pool, and a spa & fitness center with dedicated beauty and wellness treatments.
Q: How are you planning to use technology to facilitate customers at the mall?
Rony Mourani: In addition to digital signage and way-finding, we are currently working on a useful and exciting application that visitors will be able to consult on their mobile devices using our free Wi-Fi network!
This app will include parking and navigation assistance, store directories, concierge services, online booking, movie information to name a few of the features of the Mall of Qatar lifestyle app.
Q: Is the Mall of Qatar designed along a certain theme and in what ways will its design enhance visitor experience?
Rony Mourani: Mall of Qatar is not a mall. It has been conceived to be much more than that. We actively thought about what Qatar and the region needed, and then designed and re-designed our space to excite, thrill, engage, relax, and unwind.
We thought about the wide space. We thought about the warm sunshine. We thought about choices, and then we planned a destination that truly refreshes.
Mall of Qatar is a live entertainment destination that is definitely taking the notion of shopping centers to a different level in terms of accessibility, design, circulation, and convenience. It encompasses 7,000 parking spaces, natural light that shines through vast amounts of glassed domes and atriums, including an impressive 6,000 sq. m glassed dome, reaching 30 meters in height covering the Oasis. There are 26 interior and exterior water features and fountains, 48,000 sq. m of landscaped greenery and wide corridors in a beautiful climate controlled environment that gives our visitors a place like no other currently available in Qatar all year round.
All these distinguished elements were ticked by the designers of Mall of Qatar, who have realized an iconic project that will set new benchmarks and standards for mega regional shopping centers when we open our doors later this year.
Q: Can you cite some international brands that customers can expect to find at the Mall?
Rony Mourani: Visitors to the Mall of Qatar will have the benefit of 500 stores including more than 100 F&B outlets. Newly designed fashion flagship, concept and signature stores will offer the visitors the opportunity to select from a range of international brands including Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Calzedonia, Debenhams, Milano, Icing, American Eagle Outfitters, Jo Malone, River Island, Claire’s, H&M, Miss Selfridge, Phase Eight, Victoria’s Secret, Pottery Barn, Next and Mothercare, to name a few.
Q: How are you planning to utilize social media and other online portals to engage Mall visitors and address online queries and concerns?
Rony Mourani: Today our customers are our best brand ambassadors, and as we start the countdown to the opening of the mall, we will shortly be launching our audience relationship platform that will feed to our social engagement tools, allowing us to directly feed content from our digital content hub, out to our followers. Through our audience relationship platform, we will increase our engagement with our fan base with geo and interest based targeted content that will enable us to personalize our story. With our listening and monitoring tools, we will effectively manage the customer’s direct enquiries, respond to any discontentment and most importantly nurture our relationship through the digital door to Mall of Qatar.
Q: What facilities and services will the Mall have for children, senior citizens and visitors with special needs?
Rony Mourani: Mall of Qatar will provide for children, senior citizens and visitors with special needs with care and attention. The facilities will include easy access ramps, disabled lifts, disabled parking lots positioned at primary vantage points, wheel chair accessible toilets, family rooms and baby changing facilities.
Q: When can we anticipate the Grand Opening of the Mall of Qatar and what kind of preparations are underway for the big day?
Rony Mourani: Mall of Qatar is scheduled to open Q4 2016 and the tenants have already sped up the fit-out process to provide the best experience on-time. In preparation of the opening of the most anticipated project in Qatar, we can tell you that it will not be a disappointment. We cannot reveal the plans as some element of surprise must be maintained. After all, we are all about moments of delight that will truly captivate and will give an entertaining and lively experience for all every day.
About Rony Mourani
Rony Mourani is the General Manager of Mall of Qatar, scheduled to open Q4, 2016. Mr. Mourani brings 14 years of regional mall management, marketing and leasing experience in the UAE to Mall of Qatar.
This includes key positions in taking regional shopping centers projects from the development phase through to opening – one of which was successfully completed during the 2008 economic downturn. Rony is an ambitious, innovative and results-driven leader with proven abilities in strategic planning, improving efficiency of operations and team building. In his current position with Mall of Qatar, Mr. Mourani oversees the management, specialty leasing, marketing, operations responsibilities, and in charge of optimizing the mall’s productivity and improving the bottom line.
In addition to his extensive background in the shopping centers industry, Rony has a double major in both marketing & management and accounting & finance from the Lebanese University, Beirut.
Rony is a distinguished public speaker and has participated in various seminars, conferences and panel discussions internationally.