x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Al Maryah Island’s Sowwah Central aims to be launchpad mall for brands debuting in Gulf

Sowwah Central, an upcoming mall on Al Maryah Island, will be where retail brands new to the region choose to launch, according to the developer behind the project.

The 1.7 million square foot Sowwah Central will link with The Galleria, a luxury mall that opened in August, when it opens in 2017. Above, a rendering of Sowwah Central. Courtesy Gulf Related
The 1.7 million square foot Sowwah Central will link with The Galleria, a luxury mall that opened in August, when it opens in 2017. Above, a rendering of Sowwah Central. Courtesy Gulf Related

Sowwah Central, an upcoming mall on Al Maryah Island, will be where retail brands new to the region choose to launch, according to the developer behind the project.

The 1.7 million square foot centre, which will link with The Galleria, a luxury mall that opened in August, is due to open in 2017.

“This will be the shopping centre where brands new to the region will gravitate, without question,” said Kenneth Himmel, the co-managing partner of Gulf Related, a partnership between Gulf Capital and Related.

“It’s the highest quality and it satisfies a very important dynamic about coming to Abu Dhabi. By locating in this shopping centre you don’t have to go to five locations. It’s so central and so accessible.”

Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of next year but the developer is already close to signing deals for centre’s two department stores, one of which will be a United States-based brand that has never opened an store outside the country.

In total, the developer is in negotiation for about 75 per cent of the space in the mall, which will include high street brands such as H&M, Zara and Massimo Dutti.

“We have [made] presentations to everyone, both in the US and here and as you know, all these brands to come here are in the hands of a local operator, Azadea, Apparel UAE, Al Tayer, Chalhoub,” said Mr Himmel. European brands have had a presence in the UAE for many years, but now more US companies are setting up in the country, he said.

“You are going see Abercrombie. You will see a lot of the brands coming here. Apple will start doing its own stores.”

The mall will feature a large selection of food and beverage and a family entertainment centre that could be different from anything else already on offer in the UAE.

“We have some very interesting people we are talking to because we have a lot of experience with this sort of thing in the US,” said Mr Himmel.

“Just to use as an example, we have relationships with a lot of the networks so this is not someone who is coming. But as an example we have a working relationship with Disney and Marvel. We can work on brands and intellectual property uses and actually work on bringing some uses here that are pretty unique. We are in dialogue with people about that,” he added.

Sowwah Central is one of two major malls due to launch in Abu Dhabi in 2017, the other being The District on Saadiyat Island.

gduncan@thenational.ae