The Centaurus might be one of the most important investments Islamabad has ever seen, but it was not important enough for Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s valuable time.
The premier was 90 minutes late in arriving at the inauguration of the Centaurus Mall on Friday, but left within minutes of unveiling the foundation plaque. Guests and organisers looked baffled when Ashraf’s entourage entered the mall through gate-2 to reach the stage set for the inauguration, only to circle around and immediately exit the building.
All this happened so suddenly that the guests, who had patiently waited for the prime minister, were still clapping to welcome him when he left.
In those brief minutes, however, Islamabad’s first and only mall was officially inaugurated.
Centaurus Director Sardar Yasir Ilyas said it was a challenge to convince investors, especially overseas Pakistanis, to invest in the country because of the current political and security situation.
“We had to tell them that this is an investment for the future generations of Pakistan,” Ilyas said. “By opening the Centaurus, we have shown a commitment that we want people to invest in our country’s future.”
Around 80 per cent of the mall’s shops have already been booked, and Ilyas claimed that the mall has also created “thousands of jobs” in construction, mall security and shop salespersons.
The ground and first floors of the mall were first opened for the public on February 17.
The upper floors, which will also feature a much-awaited five-screen cinema and a food court, will open on March 30. The individual cinema halls have capacities ranging from 80 to 200 seats, according to a Centaurus staffer.
While the mall features many local retailers, it also boasts several high-end international retail stores including United Colors of Benetton Vincci and Oakley. Some of the shops — such as the Lahore-based super store Al-Fatah and American baked-goods chain Cinnabon — are also making their first appearance in Islamabad.
The $350 million Centaurus project includes two residential towers and a corporate tower which are linked together through the four-storey mall. A fourth tower which will house a luxury hotel is also part of the project plan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.
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