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Doha's Mission Impossible

The woman behind Doha’s impossible project

Elisabeth Lang  Sep 12, 2010

When Kempinski signed the management agreement half a year prior to the opening for the 62 stories and tallest tower in Doha, with Qatar's leading real estate developers, the Alfardan Group which is one of the leading family dynasty in the State of Qatar, the project seemed impossible.

It meant to change the entire building into a fully serviced five-star residence to cater to corporate travellers, as well as full time residents.

It was not an easy task for Ms. Emel Atikkan, General Manager and very first female General Manager in the State of Qatar and driving force on the front row. First of all, it meant finding acceptance being a woman in a highly dominated men’s world. It also meant endless negotiations with property owners, suppliers, recruiting staff, restructuring, to name just a few. Where others would have left, she stayed and succeeded.

Ms. Emel Atikkan, originally from Istanbul, is driven and has vast experience in challenging hotel opportunities such as Lesotho Hilton, Kempinski Ajman, Kempinski Kuwait, Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi and has held various executive positions in these openings. But, this project is her first hotel opening as General Manager in a Arab country.

The Kempinski Residences & Suites Doha right in Financial District of Doha’s West Bay is the first residence operated by the brand in Middle East and North Africa and aiming to make a benchmark in the region.

“The residential market in Doha is particularly attractive and demand is growing for luxury serviced apartments. Every aspect of the Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha, is, therefore, geared towards serving guests who expect excellence and value individuality,” says Ms. Attkkan.

Being one of the first guests right at the beginning of the soft opening, when an army of workers where flooding the building, unpacked matrazes and furniture were piling up on the floors and entry to Ms. Emel Attikkan’s office was nearly blocked with endless rows of TV and computer boxes, it is good to see now that with at end of Ramadan, the occupancy has risen up to 64 percent, which is in itself a major achievement given it is competing in a highly competive market.

The property’s 450m² suite guarantees the best view, as guests overlook Doha as it offers residents unique views of the city’s arching coastline and bustling cityscape.

“At every Kempinski location globally, we seek close associations with property owners that share our passion for excellence. In Qatar we found that in Alfardan Group,” says Ms. Atikkan.

The Alfardan Group has been renowned as one of the Arabian Gulf’s leading merchant families for over one hundred years, the foundations of the family's fortunes were laid towards the end of the 19th century by Ibrahim Alfardan, who established himself as a pearl trader, dealing in what was then the Gulf's sole high-value tradable commodity. Alfardan's business ventures have been
diversifying since the ‘50s and over a period of time went into ventures such as exchange, real estate, investment, automotive and major industrial projects. To consolidate the subsidiaries and associate companies and manage the diverse investments, Alfardan Group was established as group holding.

“Kempinski Residences & Suites, Doha, is an important strategic initiative in partnership with Kempinski brand in Qatar which is a long-term partnership committed to serving discerning customers,” says Mr. Omar Alfardan, President of Alfardan Group and owner of the Kempinski-operated property.

The woman behind Doha’s impossible project
Emel Atikkan

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