x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Taste of luxury enriches Abu Dhabi

A host of luxury brands will launch stores in Abu Dhabi next year when The Galleria, a mall on Sowwah Square, opens its doors to high end shoppers.

Workers hang a banner for the new Galleria Mall in Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island. Silvia Razgova / The National
Workers hang a banner for the new Galleria Mall in Sowwah Square on Al Maryah Island. Silvia Razgova / The National

A host of luxury retailers will launch stores in Abu Dhabi next year when The Galleria mall opens in Sowwah Square.

Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Gucci and Prada are opening stores in the 33,000 square metre shopping centre, which will offer 110 retail stores, 12 alcohol-licensed restaurants and two courts of cafes and fast-food dining.

Galleria is part of Sowwah Square, the financial hub on Al Maryah Island that this week announced it was open for business and had leased more than 30 per cent of the office space in its towers. The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange is due to move to Sowwah Square by the end of the year.

"We determined that the Abu Dhabi market had a very big missing piece. We saw a demand coming from the retail community," said Kenneth Himmel, a co-managing partner of Gulf Related, which developed the Galleria project in an alliance with Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality. Sowwah Square was developed by Mubadala Real Estate & Hospitality, a unit of Mubadala Development, which is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.

"Everyone was looking for a landmark project," Mr Himmel said of The Galleria.

Analysts generally deem Abu Dhabi to be underserved in upmarket retail compared with Dubai, where major shopping centres such as Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall have flourished in recent years.

But a large quantity of retail space is expected to be completed in the capital in the next two years.

That includes Al Wahda Mall doubling in size, and the completion of Paragon and Yas mallsas well as smaller projects such as Emporium at Central Market and Etihad Towers.

Mr Himmel said despite this influx of retail space, there was enough business for everyone and some projects might not be completed in any event, which would benefit The Galleria.

"We know that there might be six or seven big retail projects in Abu Dhabi, but many will not go ahead," he said.

The Galleria is forecast to open in August of next year with stores by Dolce & Gabbana, Fred Perry, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors and Mulberry.

The shopping centre will have restaurants and cafes on the waterfront, opposite the Beach Rotana Hotel and Abu Dhabi Mall.

Retailers that have agreed to open stores lauded the project for its potential.

"The Galleria at Sowwah Square is an outstanding project in which the Chalhoub Group and its partners are fully committed and engaged to make it the most vibrant destination of Abu Dhabi, offering a unique luxury retail experience tailored to meet our customers' aspirations," said Patrick Chalhoub, the chief executive of the Chalhoub Group, the local franchise partner for a number of luxury brands to be represented in The Galleria.

"The Galleria at Sowwah Square will undoubtedly become a pre-eminent luxury shopping destination in Abu Dhabi," said Louis Ferla, the managing director for Cartier in the Middle East, Africa and India.

Sowwah Square is expected eventually to be part of a bigger central business district built on Al Maryah Island, with residential and commercial towers as well as two hotels and a hospital, the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Until last week when the Government renamed it, Al Maryah Island was known as Sowwah Island.

rjones@thenational.ae

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