x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Abu Dhabi leads the way in retail sector with more malls

Abu Dhabi and Dubai look ahead to bigger malls next year as 2013 saw the addition of three glitzy properties in the capital.

The World Trade Centre mall project. Jaime Puebla / The National
The World Trade Centre mall project. Jaime Puebla / The National

The retail sector in the UAE was marked by a stream of impressive entrants in the capital this year.

Linked to Mubadala Developments’ Sowwah Square office complex, The Galleria is the latest destination for those with a fixation for Alexander McQueens and Jimmy Choos. Opened in August, the mall is spread over 33,000 square metres.

In October, Abu Dhabi got an even bigger mall in the 60,000 square metre World Trade Centre Mall on the site of the old Central Market. Among its 160 shops are the region’s first outlet of the British department store House of Fraser, more than 20 dining outlets and an eight-screen cinema.

The much-delayed Deerfields Townsquare community mall in the suburbs of the capital opened a month earlier.

The UAE capital is the 10th-ranked city in the world for most retail space under development, ahead of Dubai, according to the property consultancy CBRE.

Other emirates were not far behind in adding malls.

Al Ain got its 30,000-square metre Wahat Hili Mall in September and Ras Al Khaimah added Naeem Mallcq to its landscape.

While there were no major openings in Dubai, apart from the expansions of BurJuman and The Dubai Mall, the city’s existing malls were as busy as ever.

“Footfall in Dubai’s malls is at an all-time high with Dubai Mall receiving more than 100,000 visitors per week,” according to CBRE analysts.

While the year might have been short of mall openings in Dubai, the city was busy with preparations towards such openings.

Dubai, which currently has about 2.2 million square metres of retail space, has 500,000 sq metres under construction. Of this, about 26 per cent is expected to be from expansion of existing malls while the rest will come from new malls, CBRE says.

When it came to expansion, UAE companies took it abroad as well.

Last month, Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate Egypt opened the Cairo Festival City Mall. The UAE company is the owner, developer and operator of this 68,000 square metres mall in Greater Cairo.

The mall features some of the global brands that the group has brought to the UAE, including the Swedish furniture retailer Ikea and the British fashion brand Marks & Spencer.