Reinventing retail, Dubai way
The project set to be built over the next three-four years at a cost of Dh10 billion.
Dubai - Emaar's Dubai Square to feature world-class retail and leisure attractions
By Waheed Abbas
Published: Tue 24 Jul 2018, 8:00 PM
Last updated: Thu 26 Jul 2018, 12:08 AM
Replicating the success of Downtown Dubai, Emaar Properties on Tuesday announced the launch of a new major retail, leisure and hospitality destination at Dubai Creek Harbour that will position Dubai higher on the global retail map and also be a major attraction for residents and tourists.
The project jointly launched with Dubai Holding, set to be built over the next three-four years at a cost of Dh10 billion. Dubai Square mall will be equivalent to the size of more than 100 football pitches - with over 750,000 square metres of gross floor retail space.
Spread across three levels, the new shopping mall will be equipped with skylights and glazed roofs, giving impression of an indoor city. Parks and patches of green landscaping will provide a natural balance to the facilities.
Dubai Square will be linked directly to the Dubai Creek Tower, which will be taller than the Burj Khalifa upon its completion, through an underground extension.
Mohamed Alabbar, chairman, Emaar Properties, said half of the project will be funded through debt.
Alabbar is eying the 75 million transiting passengers through Dubai airport, hoping that five to six million of those passengers will visit the mall.
"We are progressing and we are realistic about the market conditions. If markets wants us to slow down, we will slow down with it. We are driven by profit, so we will behave accordingly," Alabbar said told reporters after the launch of the mall.
With Dubai being the fourth most visited destination in the world, Dubai Square will strengthen Dubai's position on the global retail map as retail sales in the emirate are expected to cross Dh160 billion by 2021.
Dubai Square's ground floor features a groundbreaking events arena and a broad spectrum of event spaces on streets and alleys. The first floor has a four-lane boulevard lined with luxury retail, dining and leisure outlets.
Across the boulevard is a grand luxury avenue, with high-profile brands and a dazzling piazza, and scores of casual dining restaurants. The second floor is focused on family-friendly such as 'Ice Adventure', as well as a cutting-edge Cineplex, a waterpark, sports arena, supermarket and a metro link.
Abdulla Al Habbai, chairman, Dubai Holding, said Dubai is experiencing tremendous tourist inflow and continues to rank highly as a holiday destination for people from many different parts of the world.
"The city's appeal is anchored in its strong leisure and entertainment, retail and hospitality industry. Dubai Square is new retail and leisure destination, and with this we aim to actually redefine the shopping experience by introducing a variety of innovative concepts. The retail sector is one of the pillars driving happiness amongst tourists, locals and residents alike, and as such remains a key focus for us," he said.
In reply to a question about oversupply of properties in the retail sector in Dubai, Alabbar said: "The truth is the world should give us break. We are 42-43 years old and we need time to grow. In the history of cities, they see sun and night. And they see the cycles that come and go. You need to do your homework well. You need to do financing right. You need to understand the market well."
Craig Plumb, head of research, Mena at JLL, said Dubai Square joins a number of other projects scheduled to complete after 2020, including the new Meydan One Mall - which is likely to be the largest mall in Dubai with completion scheduled for 2026.
"Many of the major new proposed malls are being developed by government-backed developers such as Nakheel, Meraas and Dubai Properties or major private developers such as Emaar and Majid Al Futtaim, who remain confident that the retail market will continue to expand on the back of Dubai's population growth and the increase in visitor arrivals to the city," he added.
He said Dubai retail market is currently experiencing difficult trading conditions, with rental rates falling and vacancies increasing across existing malls. "One reason for this correction is the high level of new supply, with almost 480,000sqm of additional space scheduled to complete over the second half of 2018.
"Weakening of market conditions has not dampened the enthusiasm of developers, with almost 1.5 million sqm of space due to complete before the end of 2020," Plumb added.
Kalpesh Sampat, managing partner of Gulf Sotheby's International Realty, said the new mall would be a tremendous addition to Dubai's place as a premier leisure destination. "It would not overshadow Downtown Dubai's attraction, but rather complement it," he added.
According to Emaar and Dubai Holding, Dubai Square also features an Art District for artists and art lovers from around the world. It will also serve as a creative hub for young designers, performers.
Also, Dubai Square will also have live cooking stations, street vendors, festive pop-up markets, grab-and-go F&B offerings and an organic market. In addition to personalised dining recommendations, 3D-printed food delicacies will also be served to the food-lovers.
It will also house an entertainment venue to host concerts and theatre shows, celebrity performances, acrobatics shows, museum-quality exhibitions etc. As announced earlier, Dubai Square will be home to the Middle East's largest Chinatown.
Moreover, Alabbar, who is also the founder of noon.com shopping portal, also announced a new digital service called Dubai OS, which is an e-commerce service and it will include a phone app to give retailers in Emaar Malls the option to feature their products online.
The service will allow people to either buy goods online or delivery or buy online to pick up from the stores.
With regard to selling its hospitality assets, Alabbar said Emaar will continue to own majority stake. Financial Times had reported that Emaar was planning to sell hotels, clinics and schools in a bid to raise up to $1.4 billion.