The vast majority of stores at Abu Dhabi’s latest mall, The Galleria, will be ready to open in time for the shopping centre’s debut at the end of the month.
The luxury shopping and dining destination on Al Maryah Island in the heart of the capital’s financial district will open to the public on Tuesday, around three weeks after it was originally expected to launch.
“We are building something here that is probably the most complicated, intense, combination of luxury brands and luxury detailing in a project that you could ever put together in a single place,” said Kenneth Himmel, the co-managing partner of Gulf Related, a partnership between Gulf Capital and Related, which is building the mall in cooperation with Mubadala Real Estate and Infrastructure.
The developers set an ambitious target a year ago in the hope that they could “force things to happen” in the final 30 days, he added.
“But when it comes to safety issues and clearing things for life safety and that sort of thing, nobody takes a chance on anything. You want to be 100 per cent certain,” said Mr Himmel.
About 90 per cent of the stores, which include luxury brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, will open when the mall does.
Around a third to 40 per cent of the mall’s restaurants and cafes will join them, including Emporio Armani Caffé, Burger Fuel and Magnolia Bakery.
Most of the restaurants and cafes are expected to follow in the next four months, when between 75 per cent and 85 per cent of the mall’s food and beverage outlets will be open. But several will be later than that. “The most complicated parts of any of these projects are traditionally food and beverage restaurants. Why? Because every restaurant is custom done. It’s not off the shelf,” said Mr Himmel.
Zuma, a contemporary Japanese restaurant, is currently under construction and is expected to open early next year, while work on Cafe Godiva, which has a location in Harrods in London, will begin after the mall’s grand opening at the end of October.
“From the eye of someone who has been in the business for 35 years and has built up a dozen of these projects, 12 of these landmark mixed-use retail projects, I can just tell you walking through last night and today, there is nothing like this in the world,” said Mr Himmel, who is also president and chief executive of the American-based retail property firm Related Urban, which built the Time Warner Center in New York.
“It’s about the space and the experience of the space and it’s about the quality of the tenants and the quality of the finishes and the view over the water. This is an absolutely spectacular project,” he added.