PREPARING NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

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By Udayan Nag

Eman Baker Abu El Hawa, General Manager, KidzMondo Doha, talks about the major concepts of the indoor edutainment park, which started its Qatar chapter in January.

The concept of edutainment parks is fast catching up in the Middle East. In January this year, Mexican entertainment chain KidZania announced that it was on track for its Qatar launch in Q1 2018. And around the same time, KidzMondo, an indoor theme park concept, started its Doha operations at Mall of Qatar. Ken Research, a global aggregator and publisher of market intelligence research reports, suggested a “Compound Annual Growth Rate of 9.1% for Qatar by 2021, with major theme parks in the country continuing to dominate this space”. What’s making edutainment parks increasingly popular?

“Confidence. Children knowing about their role in life,” says El Hawa. “When you enter KidzMondo, you notice the airport. When you go to any country, the airport is the first thing that you come across. The second is changing of currency. All establishments here have been designed very scientifically.”

“In Qatar, our edutainment programme is in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. We are helping the Qataris to know more about the community they are living in. This is our major target,” she adds.

El Hawa adds that kids are enlightened about the career that best suits them at a much earlier age than otherwise because of KidzMondo. She points out that combining learning with entertainment is important in order to avoid drudgery. The target group of KidzMondo is 4-14.

“We replicate real life scenarios over here. It’s a great learning curve for children. We motivate them; teach them about life, how to be good citizens, about the community they are living in, the tasks that they are happy to perform, and what they want to see themselves as when they grow up. But most importantly, we have combined learning with entertainment,” she says.

The establishments in KidzMondo include bank, fire station, aircraft and driving institute. And its list of partners comprises Qatar Airways, Ooredoo, Woqod, and Novo Cinemas.

Interestingly, contrary to expectations, there has been a spike in KidzMondo’s activities during summer months. According to El Hawa, the number of visitors was 32% more than they would have settled for. However, Qatari nationals not travelling to neighbouring GCC countries because of the blockade was not the only reason for the surplus.

“A big thank you goes to the Qatari people who decided not to travel and stay back to support their country. Having said that, the high numbers at KidzMondo during the summer months is not related to politics, it’s related to the curriculum. We have a different plan for each quarter. Our summer camp, which will end on August 7, is going really well.”

As far as collaborating with the various schools in the country is concerned, El Hawa says that KidzMondo has a dedicated team for that very purpose. “We visit 2-5 schools daily. We need the support of Ministry of Education for the government sector schools. We are dealing with private, international as well as special needs schools.”

She adds, “We need to meet up with the Qatari government officials to offer them special rates/packages for the government schools. We need to show them how we can help Qatar and the Qatari children.”

El Hawa further says that the KidzMondo in Qatar currently has about 60 establishments, which it plans to increase to around 80 by the first quarter of 2018. The brand is also planning to expand in other parts of the world. “Other than Qatar, we have got outlets in Lebanon and Turkey. We are also planning to open our branches in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Australia.”

On whether the company plans to expand further in Qatar, El Hawa says, “As of now, we are not expanding in Qatar. We have chalked out our plans for a year. But if you ask me this question a year from now, I might have a different answer.”