Qatar International Food festival expects 240,000 visitors

 21 Mar 2017 - 8:25

Qatar International Food festival expects 240,000 visitors
A live demonstration by famous Qatari Chef Aisha Al Tamimi at the Food Festival press conference held at Sharq Village and Spa, yesterday. Qassim Rahmatullah / The Peninsula

By Raynald C Rivera | The Peninsula

The eighth Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) is expected to attract 240,000 visitors, which will be its biggest yet, due to its perfect timing, longer duration and a more accessible venue, organisers Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said yesterday.

“We expect 240,000 visitors, an increase of 20 percent from last year,” Mashal Shahbik, Director of Festivals and Tourism Events at QTA, said in response to a question at a press conference yesterday at Sharq Village & Spa.

From the previous edition which saw 200,000 visitors during the seven-day festival, this year’s edition has been extended to 11 days scheduled from March 29 to April 8 which covers two weekends and coincides with the school break.

“We chose this time of the year because it goes in line with school break. One of our main objectives is to increase the number of visitors to Qatar and therefore having it during the school break in the region is very important to attract the biggest number of tourists. The festival duration will cover two weekends therefore we expect an increase in turnout,” said Shahbik.

To be held for the first time at the Hotel Park overlooking the Doha Corniche, the festival has also grown in terms of participation with a 20 percent increase in participants compared to the previous year, she added.

With an 80,000sqm area, the Hotel Park, which opened last year, hosted popular weekend activities during the inaugural Shop Qatar festival, held in January. It carries four levels of underground parking with over 2,500 spaces that makes the venue easily accessible for thousands of visitors. 

Dinner in the sky available at QR500

The lack of parking space has been a major challenge for visitors during the festival’s past editions and the availability of parking slots would solve the problem, explained Shahbik.

Around 130 restaurants, hotels, food carts and trucks and other private and public entities are participating at the festival which is divided into zones including Main Zone which has 73 participating food outlets; Hotel Zone with 16 participating four and five star hotel; Cultural Zone featuring food and cultural performances from ten participating countries including Ethiopia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, USA and Qatar; and Healthy Zone featuring organic restaurants and workshops on healthy food and lifestyle.

Twenty-five food carts and trucks are taking part at the festival which will also see the return of Dinner in the Sky and High Tea/ Fine Dining lounge and signature Live Cooking Theater with participation from the Qatar Culinary Professionals and the Qatar University Culinary Club. New this year is the garden picnic where families can collect a basket and blanket to enjoy a casual meal on the grass in the pleasant outdoors. 

Prices of food offered at the stalls, food trucks and carts range from QR5 to QR35, while Dinner in the sky is available at QR500.

There will also be nightly five-minute fireworks display at 8pm as well as screenings of food-related and international movies presented by Doha Film and Institute, Siraj - Qatar Foundation's new 3D animation edutainment TV series and Baraem shows by Jeem TV. There will be a QIFF library which will be stocked with cook books and food-related literature. 

Also new this year is the QIFF Menu offered from March 23 to April 8 at more than 100 restaurants and cafes across Qatar, allowing visitors to enjoy mouth-watering food groupings of at least three menu items at a price of QR59, QR99, QR139 or QR179.

Select five-star hotels across Doha are offering residents and visitors opportunity to join internationally-acclaimed chefs for an interactive cooking and dining through the QIFF Chef’s Tables.
QTA once again partnered with Eid Charity’s food collection and distribution service to ensure that the festival’s unsold and untouched food is collected daily, repackaged and given to those in need. Qatar Cancer Society will be running a Health Awareness Competition. 

QIFF 2017’s Strategic Partner is Katara Hospitality.