x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Sports city links to shopping centres

Arena Mall will offer 175,000 square metres of leasable retail space, including a hypermarket.

Brave new world: the cricket stadium will be one of many in Dubai Sports City that will operate alongside a comprehensive retail sector.
Brave new world: the cricket stadium will be one of many in Dubai Sports City that will operate alongside a comprehensive retail sector.

In keeping with the city's strong retail-orientated culture, officials with Dubai's Sports City say the next obvious step is to link the complex to a massive shopping centre. More than 353,000 square metres of retail space is under construction across the Dubailand complex, with the new Arena Mall to be linked directly to two of the multipurpose Sports City stadiums.

"We are positioning several retail centres in prime locations in Dubai Sports City, enabling our residents and the thousands of expected visitors to have the best accessibility to our shopping and entertainment areas," said U Balasubramaniam, the chief executive of Dubai Sports City. "By offering the retail spaces on lease only, as opposed to outright sale, Dubai Sports City is able to manage the mix to optimise footfall for our retail tenants, while ensuring a complete range of shopping options without duplication across the project."

Scheduled for completion in 2010, Arena Mall will offer 175,000 square metres of gross leasable retail space, including a hypermarket anchor. The development is set to include several other retail areas for smaller, more localised shopping needs, such as North Point and South Point, and Canal Residence West. Located on the UAE's main motorway, Emirates Road, developers say the location is ideal for greater retail space.

"Sports City is located at the centre of a significant retail catchment area, including the project's 70,000 residents and a projected 1.2 million people who will live within a 20-minute drive from Arena Mall," said Mr Balasubramaniam. Last month, the developer of Dubai Sports City announced that it had appointed National Services and Contracting (NSCC) as contractor for the Arena Mall. While the shopping centre will house a variety of retail brands, officials said they sought to distinguish this from Dubai's many other malls by building on the sports-related theme of the development.

"Arena Mall will reflect some design elements to coincide with the surrounding stadiums precinct - for example, the entry hall is [30 metres] high and made with glass, steel supports and canopy shading, similar to that of a stadium," said Mr Balasubramaniam. "Also, tenants will be encouraged to create eye-catching, customer-focused stores to match the design criteria and [given] guidance provided by our consultants and architects."

Dubai Sports City is the world's first purpose-built sports city. The development, costing US$4 billion (Dh14.7bn) and spanning 50 million square feet, will feature four stadiums: a multi-purpose outdoor stadium with 60,000 seats for rugby, football and track-and-field events, a 25,000-seat dedicated cricket stadium, a 10,000-seat multi-purpose indoor arena for hard court games, ice hockey, concerts and other events, and a 5,000-seat field hockey stadium.

The Gulf Market Report predicts a demand of up to 400 new malls across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia in the next 10 years. Operators of Dubai's existing shopping centres say more malls equal more business, particularly as the city looks to establish itself as a global shopping destination. Worth approximately Dh367 billion (US$100bn), the retail sector serves as a major driving force behind the economies of the GCC and has become the second-largest non-oil industry in the region. Retail spending in the UAE alone is projected to reach Dh37.44bn per year by the decade's end.

@Email:vsalama@thenational.ae