Al Ain's newest mall opened its doors to customers for the first time yesterday.
Wahat Hili Mall, located in a neighbourhood shopping centre north of the city, was originally scheduled to launch in the first quarter, but securing approvals took longer than expected.
"Today marks a significant point in Al Ain's history, as Wahat Hili Mall finally opens for business," said Saeed Al Dhaheri, the mall's chief executive.
"We believe that Wahat Hili Mall will put Al Ain firmly on the map as a destination of choice for visitors from far and wide."
The three-storey, 30,000-square-metre shopping centre is the city's fifth mall and features 160 retail outlets. The mall's biggest tenants are all new entrants to the market.
"We wanted to bring in something new to Al Ain, something that was not here before. So our four anchors, the four major shops in our mall, are coming to Al Ain for the first time, starting with Geant Hypermarket. [The second is] Fitness First, which is a ladies only health club," said Mohamad El Sabawi, the mall's general manager.
"Emax electronics is occupying a huge space, close to about 800 square metres, and last but not least for the entertainment centre we have secured My Play Zone."
Other tenants include Baby Shop, Splash, Shoexpress and Lifestyle.
"There is a lot of emphasis on food and beverage as well," said Mr El Sabawi. "They are making up 20 per cent of the mall space with many newcomers to Al Ain, starting with Jamaica Blue coffee shop. We have Pizzaro … in addition to the existing Subway, McDonald's and Papa John's Pizza and the like."
The mall is currently 65 per cent leased and the operator is in talks with a Dubai-based group, one of the region's largest retailers, to introduce 13 more brands, which will bring it to about 75 per cent. It aims to be at least 85 to 90 per cent leased by the first quarter of next year.
"We will launch the grand opening when the adjacent hotel [a Hili Rayhaan by Rotana] will be ready in a few months, so once the hotel is ready…then we will have our grand opening," said Mr El Sabawi.
The mall could have one of the highest footfalls in Al Ain, thanks to its proximity to the Hili residential district, the hotel and border with Oman, he added.
The architecture of the mall was designed to complement the surrounding area.
"Wahat Hili Mall is a stunning new retail and leisure complex that far from detracting from its surroundings instead complements them through its thoughtfully-styled architecture," said Mr Al Dhaheri.