- Special Pages
Swedish Ambassador Max Bjuhr, IKEA Doha Store Manager Adosh Sharma and Managing Director John Kersten during the log cutting ceremony yesterday.
BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The Swedish home furnishing giant, IKEA’s first store in Qatar attracted an overwhelming response from visitors on the first day of its opening. The multi-million dollar commercial complex at the Doha’s Festival City formally opened yesterday.
To mark the occasion, Omar Al Futtaim, Vice-Chairman, Al Futtaim Group, the representative of IKEA in the UAE, Qatar and Egypt, led the traditional ‘log-cutting ceremony’ in the presence of Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber.
The Swedish Ambassador to the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, Max Bjuhr; Qatar Islamic Bank Chairman Sheikh Jassem bin Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani; Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker and many other dignitaries from Qatar and the UAE were present.
IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, who later became one of the richest people in the world.
The company’s name is an acronym comprising the initials of Ingvar Kamprad (the founder’s name), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up) and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Smaland, South Sweden).
Despite being a working day, a large number of people came to view the vast product range of innovative ideas and smart solutions, drawing inspiration for their home furnishing needs.
Families enjoyed Swedish delicacies at the 550-seat IKEA restaurant.
IKEA’s trademark Smaland children’s play area provided fun activities to keep youngsters entertained.
With the opening of the store at Doha Festival City, IKEA boasts of its presence in 41 countries across the globe.
The store is the largest in the Middle East, which features showrooms of bed, chairs, sofa sets and an exhaustive list of other household items and kitchen appliances.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s exports to Qatar surged 40 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, and with the opening of IKEA’s store in Qatar, the Scandinavian country is looking forward to enhancing its trade relations with Qatar, Ambassador Bjuhr said in his address on the occasion.
“Qatar, the host of upcoming ICC WCF 8th World Chamber Congress with the theme ‘Opportunities for All’, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Swedish companies see exciting opportunities in the country and want to be part of it. The trade figures for 2012 are a proof in itself. Exports from Sweden to Qatar increased 40 percent compared to the previous year, and exports from Qatar to Sweden increased 29 percent,” he said.
The spacious self-serve area optimises the overall customer experience providing a pleasant environment. Customer waiting time is kept to the minimum, thanks to the store’s 33 cash tills. Other facilities include a dedicated parking are which can accommodate 1,300 vehicles.
“Visiting an IKEA store is a great day out for the whole family, an experience which is lived by nearly 780 million people who visit our 340 stores across 40 countries every year,” said John Kersten, Managing Director, IKEA-UAE, Qatar, Egypt and Oman.
“The opening of this store is a major milestone in IKEA’s history in the Middle East and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the brand’s inception. Qatar’s impressive economic achievements, development outlook and rapid population growth, coupled with IKEA’s unique offering, are the pillars that assure our commercial success. IKEA is set to change the furniture retail landscape in Qatar the same way it has done in each of the 40 countries it is present around the world,” he said.