ABU DHABI // Emirati residents in Al Shamkha have welcomed news that a Dh125 million community shopping mall will open in the area next year.
Many of them say they lack facilities, the few existing shops overcharge and they have to travel long distances for groceries and other services.
The mall will have 60 outlets – including an Abu Dhabi Co-Operative Society branch – banks, car wash facilities, payment services for government departments, prayer rooms and family entertainment centres, all geared towards the Emirati community.
It is part of a larger Dh3 billion Abu Dhabi Municipality plan to build about 40 community centres across the city with private investors.
“It’s great respite for us that a big mall opens just in front of our home. We don’t have any supermarket in the area except small groceries. And they charge about Dh3 and Dh4 more on products,” said Al Shamkha resident Mohammed Al Hashmi.
“Basically these small groceries exploit us as we don’t have options here. Nearby Baniyas markets also have small outlets but they also charge more and it takes over half an hour to go and come back,” Mr Al Hashmi said.
Mall Al Shamkha will be operated by Cornerstone, Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society’s real estate division, and will be located about 40 kilometres from the city centre.
Thought to open its doors in the second half of next year, it will be spread over 39,000 square metres.
There are about 40,000 residents in Al Shamkha, 66 per cent of which are Emirati families.
Another Emirati resident, Abdul Majeed Al Junaibi, said it would be beneficial to have all shops in the same building as they frequently have to drive to Baniyas.
“We end up in small groceries in Al Shamkha or drive to Baniyas, which takes half an hour. But this mall will be really great to have things under one roof.”
Mr Al Junaibi said he was happy that Abu Dhabi Co-Operative Society was opening a branch in the centre, which he believes normally offers better deals to consumers.
Aayath Malik, also an Emirati resident, was also delighted with the opening of the mall. He usually has to travel to Abu Dhabi city as there is no central place in the area to shop.
“We have to rush from one grocery to another,” he said.
Cornerstone said the mall will serve residents in Al Shamkha, Baniyas North, Khalifa City A and Al Falah.
Andrew Goodwin, director of real estate at Cornerstone, said it was the first centre of its kind catering to the Emirati community.
“Mall Al Shamkha will be Abu Dhabi’s first true community mall to cater for modern and traditional demands.
“It is the first of these new generation shopping centres to be delivered in Abu Dhabi. The mall has 60 outlets in which six will face the car parks so that residents can come, park in front of the shop, buy products and leave. The outlets are to be leased out in the coming six months. There will be 700 parking spaces,” he said.
“It will also offer exceptional services like car washing, typing centres, payment services for government departments, banks and a family entertainment centre. The food court has been designed to suit Emirati families,” he said.
The municipality’s plans for 40 community centres were announced in March and, depending on population density, will include shops, educational facilities, libraries and restaurants.
Cornerstone said it is working to secure an additional four development sites across Abu Dhabi.