x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Swedish royal tours Yas Island Ikea

Princess Victoria, the crown princess of Sweden, plants tree at site of new Ikea store.

Princess Victoria, the crown princess of Sweden, visits the site of Ikea on Yas Island.
Princess Victoria, the crown princess of Sweden, visits the site of Ikea on Yas Island.

ABU DHABI // Princess Victoria, the crown princess of Sweden, travelled all the way to the UAE to visit the Ikea store that will soon open on Yas Island, but drew the line at a Ferrari World stop, saying she would not be riding the famous coaster anytime soon.

After a tour of the iconic Swedish store, she talked to a few Ikea employees and went outside to plant a tree in the parking area.

The store is scheduled to open on March 15, a day after the Ikea store in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall closes for good.

"At 33,000 square metres, 20 percent bigger than the Dubai Festival City store, and 350 workers, it will be the biggest Ikea in the Middle East," said James McGowan, the store's manager.

Senior officials of the Al-Futtaim Group and Aldar Properties, who partnered with Ikea, toured the store with the princess, who was accompanied by Sweden's ambassador and consular staff.

"[The princess] was very supportive, and she wished us a lot of luck and success," said Siddarth Bhide, Ikea's country operations and project manager.

The new store will include two restaurants and a Swedish food market.

"When people go to Ikea, they spend the day there and it's a family affair as well." Mr Bhide said. "We believe Yas Island as a location is a good investment for the future.

Mr McGowan said that the company hopes to attract a million visitors to the Yas Island store during the first year.

cmalek@thenational.ae