UAE malls offer more than shopping; it is an experience
I'd like to see ?the retail industry ?have the ambition to create more local brands and concepts to export ?to the world, says Dr Tommy Weir.
The future looks bright for the UAE's retail industry as investors continue to make the most of the various opportunities available to them across the different emirates, experts noted at the RECon Mena 2016 Conference and Exhibition.
"One only has to look at the pipeline of upcoming shopping malls in the various emirates in the coming years to see the confidence that investors have in the industry," said Bhupinder Singh, general manager and chief financial officer of Dalma Mall. "The number of upcoming shopping malls aren't limited to one emirate, but are spread out across all of them, which is a very healthy sign. Visiting a mall in the UAE is not just about shopping; it is about an experience. You mix your shopping with entertainment and with dining to get the complete overall experience."
An interesting trend that has gained steam in recent years, Singh said, has been the inclusion of specialised service providers in a mall, such as hospitals and clinics. "Increasingly, what residents and tourists are seeing is not just a shopping mall, but a destination where you can get everything under one roof."
Dalma Mall, which is owned by The Developers, opened in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi, in 2010. The success of the mall has led The Developers to explore growth options not just in their retail segment, but also across various other sectors such as hospitality. "The appetite for growth is definitely there," said Singh. "Our focus in the coming years will definitely be on retail, but we don't want to sideline any opportunities in related sectors."
Also present at the event were shopping mall development and management specialists, Line Investments & Property (LIP), who were showcasing their upcoming projects, including Avenues Mall Sharjah, Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis and the Mall of Umm Al Quwain.
"The surge in new suburban community developments indicates we have a promising future for our retail developments," said Marcello Larizza, general manager at Line Investments & Property for Dubai, Al Ain and the Nothern Emirates.
The 43,000sqm GLA Avenues Mall Sharjah will offer mid-range retail to suit the relevant catchment area profile with a premium F&B, leisure and entertainment experience. It hosts a 16,000sqm hypermarket, 4,000sqm department store, a 4,000sqm cinema, a 3,600sqm family entertainment centre and 2,100 parking spaces plus a food street experience in the mall.
The 82,502sqm GLA Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis is designed as a premium retail and leisure destination offering easy accessibility to the neighbouring communities. With a user-friendly layout, 3,200 parking spaces and a comprehensive retail mix, Avenues Mall Silicon Oasis offers a one-stop solution to the needs of the neighbourhood patrons.
The Mall of Umm Al Quwain is set to change the retail landscape of the emirate with a variety of retail outlets, coffee shops and a food court with different dining options. Scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2017, the mall is of 20,000sqm GLA with seven-screen cinemas and 1,000 parking spaces.
Dr Tommy Weir, keynote speaker at the event, spoke about the future of the UAE's retail industry in light of the country's tourism targets.
"It goes without saying that Expo 2020 will continue to position the UAE and the region as the connecting point of the world. With over 20 million tourists coming to the UAE, it's really important for retailers to have the ambition to build concepts, ideas, stores and products, rather than merely be the beneficiary of the government's infrastructure development. I'd like to see the retail industry have the ambition to create more local brands and concepts to export to the world rather than primarily import from the outside. It's time to use the Expo as a showcase for the Arab world," he said.