Doha: Qatar has launched a month-long annual festival, promising a scintillating array of retail discounts, musical concerts and family fun across its range of souqs and malls.

Officially launched on Saturday evening at the packed central arena of the newly-opened Mall of Qatar, Shop Qatar will run till February 7.

Similar to the hugely successful Dubai Shopping Festival in design and concept, Shop Qatar is expected to boost tourism and the retail industry in the oil and gas rich nation with a 15 per cent increase in tourists compared to last year.

Part of the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy that was announced by the Emir of Qatar in 2014, the festival is designed to be the driving force behind the country’s renewed focus on tourism and retail sector.

The strategy is one of Doha’s several tools to reduce its dependence on the oil and gas sector and diversify the economy.

Speaking to Gulf News following the launch of the festival, Mashal Shahbik, Director of Festivals and Tourism Events at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said that Shop Qatar is expected to increase footfall in the malls and souqs by 30 per cent.

“Shop Qatar showcases the best Qatar has to offer in retail and entertainment while capitalising on the country’s pleasant winter weather. We are very grateful for the collaborative spirit our partners in the public and private sectors have shown as we build a brand new tradition through the first edition of this festival,” Shahbik said.

Qatar enjoys a diverse retail sector, offering everything from luxury malls and high-end boutique precincts to themed, shopping centres, as well as traditional souqs and bazaars.

She added that tourism and retail industry is witnessing a boom in Qatar with the opening of new malls and massive expansion of the retail sector.

“The tourism strategy targets tourism to make 5.2 per cent contribution to Qatar’s GDP by 2030 and we are coming up with new plans and programmes to achieve this target,” said Shahbik.

The strategy hopes to bring in 7 to 10 million visitors to Qatar in the next decade, bringing in a revenue of $11 billion (Dh40.40 billion), while creating 98,000 jobs.

The month-long festival is designed to offer residents and tourists the best of shopping and entertainment.

One of the key focuses of Shop Qatar is to support local businesses and talents.

In order to showcase work by local designers the festival features 30 pop-up shops spread across five of the participating malls.

“The pop up shops allow budding designers and businesses run from home to showcase their products. We have partnered with Virginia Commonwealth University — Qatar (VCU-Q), the university dedicated to art and design, to provide a platform for their students and graduates to showcase their work,” Shahbik said.

While the majority of the pop-up shops will be selling clothing, kids’ fashion, abayas, jewellery and accessories, others will be selling art, furniture and chocolate.

Launched with the opening performance by Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi, the festival will see two more concerts by Majid Al Muhandis and Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi.

A comedy festival is also lined up with Paul Zerdin, Trevor Noah and Qatar’s very own Hamad Al Ammar set to perform later this month.

Family entertainment programmes include, roaming shows, stilt walkers, clowns and African circus.

Up to QR4 million (Dh4.04 million) will be up for grabs in prizes and draws with the bumper prize being QR1 million to be awarded on the last weekend of the festival.