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Work progresses on the extension of Dragon Mart in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Work progresses on the extension of Dragon Mart in Dubai. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Dragon Mart's Dubai expansion is a marriage made in heaven

Nakheel says 70 per cent of wedding planners in the UAE buy products from Dragon Mart. As the mall's vast extension nears completion, it plans a section devoted to the big day.

It is enough to make the father of the bride weep.

With average wedding costs running at Dh300,000 (US$81,683) in the Emirates, many newlyweds may be surprised to learn that many of the materials for their big day comes from the bargain-based retail store Dragon Mart.

Nakheel, the developer behind the sprawling Chinese retail complex on the outskirts of Dubai, estimates 70 per cent of all wedding organisers in Dubai buy their accessories and materials there.

As a result, Nakheel plans to include a section devoted to weddings as part of a huge extension currently under way.

Dragon Mart, the world's biggest trading hub for Chinese products outside mainland China, is known for its bathroom fixtures, inexpensive handbags and other wholesale products. Now construction has started on a vast 177,000 square metre extension that will result in the mall more than doubling in size.

More than 1,300 builders are working on the site day and night, with construction of the extension expected to be completed next year.

Omar Khoory, Dragon Mart's director, said yesterday that the developer was hoping to include a wedding section in the new mall that would include wedding dresses as well as the other matrimonial accessories.

"Wedding planners are huge customers at Dragon Mart and we hope to build on that with the new extension. We hope that the new mall will be a mixture of the existing mall and something more like a traditional mall so that we have something for everyone."

When work is completed on the extension, the mall will stretch to a whopping 335,000 sq metres - the size of 47 football pitches. It will include a three-star hotel designed to accommodate traders from around the region.

"There's always something you can buy in Dragon Mart for much cheaper than in the other malls," said Rochelle Malika, a wedding planner at the Dubai company Marriagement. "I can buy packs of organza pouches for Dh15 at Dragon Mart, while if you go to the other malls they charge you 10 times that price".

Nakheel says it has already leased 456 of the 570 stores at the mall extension at rates of Dh250 to Dh300 per sq ft.

The tenant mix will be less focused on Chinese traders, who currently account for 99 per cent of occupiers, said Mr Khoory.

About half of the retail space in the extension will be leased by local and international brands.

Ms Malika also expects the extension to lure more happy couples. "I have some brides who would never go to Dragon Mart and have to buy their dresses from designer stores. But then again I have many brides who are working to a budget and who currently order their dresses online from China.

"The benefit of a Dragon Mart wedding dress section would be that you get the cheap prices but you can try it on and see what looks good," she added.

Of course only time will tell if the extension pulls in the punters at the same rate as the existing mall but if Nakheel's lettings team is to be believed, it could be a match made in heaven.


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