The endless stores and the glitzy corridors of malls in Dubai have quickly made the emirate one of the most popular shopping hubs in the world. Now those developers that helped the city win its crown are spreading their expertise across the Mena region and India, building equally ambitious retail projects.
Beirut City Centre: Beirut
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) is set to roll out its successful "City Centre" concept in Lebanon, with a US$300 million (Dh1.1 billion) mall for the country's capital. The developer already has a City Centre-branded mall in Deira, Mirdif, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ajman in the UAE. The company also has shopping centres in Bahrain, Maadi and Alexandria in Egypt, and Muscat and Qurum in Oman.
"Beirut City Centre will foster growth within the local economy and specifically the retail sector, offering a compelling new shopping, leisure and social experience for residents in the surrounding community," says Waddah El Solh, the director for the Levant at MAF Properties.
The project is scheduled to open next year, with a total of 200 stores and 60,000 square metres of retail space. It will be located in Beirut's Hazmieh district and spread over three floors with an open-air rooftop of 12 restaurants. MAF estimates the mall will create more than 2,500 jobs during the construction phase and a further 1,200 permanent retail positions once open. The mall will house a Carrefour hypermarket in Lebanon with more than 13,000 square metres of retail space, as well as a VOX Cinemas multiplex and the first Magic Planet family entertainment centre in the country.
Lulu Shopping Mall: Kochi
The company behind Lulu Hypermarket is set to make its first foray into India with a new shopping centre, which will be one of the largest malls in India. It will open in the third quarter of this year in Kochi, Kerala, at a cost of more than Dh1.3 billion (US$353.9 million).
“Lulu Group shopping malls business division is Line Investments,” said V Nandakumar, a spokesman for Lulu. “They have until now focused on Abu Dhabi, with seven malls in the city and Al Ain.”
But the company is now on an expansion footing throughout the UAE, opening malls in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, as well as other cities in the Arabian Gulf. The Lulu Shopping Mall will house more than 300 national and international brands and include seven multiplex theatres, family amusement centres, a bowling alley, restaurants and a 3,500-seat food court. There will also be a five-star Courtyard Marriott hotel with 300 rooms on the site. The Indian market is expected to grow rapidly, with retail sales predicted to increase from $395bn this year to $785bn by 2015, according to a Business Monitor International India retail report. “It’s a challenging market because we have been used to the Middle East market and going into the India market is a first for us,” said Mr Nandakumar.
Al Khor Mall: Al Khor
Al Khor is a small city in northern Qatar that is set to grow as infrastructure investment makes its way up from Doha ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup. The growth potential in Qatar is why Line Investments, part of the Lulu Group, is building Al Khor Mall, the first shopping centre of its kind in the city and its suburbs.
“Qatar is obviously witnessing a lot of growth,” says V Nandakumar, the spokesman for Lulu Group. “The income is strong and robust and we are excited about expanding our facilities.”
The mall, which is set to open in the first week of next month, will house 100 shops and the developer forecasts 7 million to 8 million visitors annually during the next few years. It will be anchored by a Lulu Hypermarket and have a cinema, amusement areas, a food court and restaurants and cafes. The mall is 50km from Doha and will be Lulu Group’s first mall in the country.
Doha Festival City: Doha
Al-Futtaim plans to mirror the success of its Dubai Festival City mall, hotel and office complex by building this project just 400km away in Doha. The 6-billion Qatari riyal (Dh6.05bn) project, Doha Festival City, is set for completion in the third quarter of 2014 and will have 400 stores, the same as at Mall of the Emirates.
The shopping and entertainment centre is being developed on an area of land covering 433,847 square metres with 260,000 sq metres of gross leasable area for stores. The mall will be situated about 15km north of downtown Doha and its design will be based on the elements of wind, water, wood and earth. This will translate into a water concourse, a garden promenade, a “rainforest” boardwalk and fashion area.
An Ikea, which is franchised in the Middle East by Al-Futtaim, will be developed under the first phase of construction and is due for completion in the fourth quarter of this year. Doha Festival City is being designed by DP Architects with Arab Engineering Bureau appointed as project architects, Mace International as the project manager and EC Harris as the quantity surveyor and cost consultant.
Cairo Festival City: Cairo
Cairo Festival City is an Al-Futtaim vision on a grander scale than even Doha or Dubai. It aims to eventually be home to 13,000 residents in villas and apartments and house 50,000 office staff. That does not include retail plans, which call for 180,000 square metres of space and more than 300 stores and 95 restaurants, cafes and fast-food chains.
Already, the mall has pinned down 17 anchor stores, mostly those from the Al-Futtaim portfolio. These include Ikea, Plug-ins Electronics and Marks & Spencer, as well as Carrefour, operated by Majid Al Futtaim. Also planned are 12,000 sq metres of car showrooms, including Toyota and Honda, which have already opened. But the completion date for this mega project is currently up in the air, because Al-Futtaim is in dispute with the Egyptian government over the ownership of the land. The UAE developer is set to borrow 2 billion Egyptian pounds (Dh1.21bn) to expand in Cairo once the dispute is settled. The dispute is over how much Al-Futtaim originally paid for the land when the former president Hosni Mubarak was still in power. The 200 apartments that make up phase one sold out within a week, according to Al-Futtaim.
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