Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Villagio Mall: Blood Stained Hands

Having travelled to Qatar a couple of times this year and having visited a lot of the malls there, it was upsetting to hear the news of the fire at the Villagio Mall in Doha yesterday.  Villagio is probably the nicest mall in Qatar and attracts the cream of the country's population.  For those of you in Dubai, think back to what Meracto was a few years ago and you understand it was a themed mall that most families enjoying visiting.

Villagio Mall up in flames.
Image source: Doha News 

It was therefore shocking to hear of fatalities, especially those of children.  What really makes your blood boil is that the health and safety standards in the mall are being brought into question.  Emirates 24/7 ran a story on this in the morning today which says it appears that the sprinklers and fire alarms appear to have not worked properly.  A staircase near the children's play area also collapsed bringing into question the construction process involved.

One can only imagine how devastated the families of those who lost their kids must be but it must infuriate them to know that a mall that works to such a high standard also apparently didn't have all the safety standards in place.  This is however something not just confined to them but various  proper developers, contractors, consultants and government authorities across the region.

Take the case of the recent fire in Sharjah of the 40-storey tower that had flammable tiles or the numerous stories that you see and you wonder why those who've got blood on their hands are allowed to build such death traps to begin with.  Arresting a manager or a few workers after an event is good for PR but until the core issue of construction quality isn't addressed, I fear we're still going to see more heart breaking stories like this appear.

Link to story in Emirates 24/7 about Villagio Mall fire.
Link to Story in Emirates 24/7 about Sharjah fire.
Link to story in Gulf News about the flammable tiles in the Sharjah fire.