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A New Generation of Retail Development

Faisal Durrani

1 August, 2014

Already home to the world’s largest shopping mall, retail is yet to reach another level in Dubai. Cityscape magazine spoke to Faisal Durrani, International Research & Business Development Manager at Cluttons, about current development trends and Dubai’s status as a key shopping destination.

What sets Dubai apart from other key shopping destinations, both in the region and elsewhere?

“Dubai is light years ahead of the rest of the region in terms of its overall economic development and overall strategy. We need to look at retail development not as a single element but as one of the components that forms part of a much bigger picture for the city – retail, tourism & leisure constitute a significant contributor to Dubai’s GDP.

What is the future pipeline of shopping centre development in the emirate?

“Mall of the World, which has been announced by Dubai Holding at the start of July, will have a total built up area of 8 million square feet. The scheme will also include 100 hotels, the world’s largest indoor theme park and an entire cultural district.

Nakheel have also been quite active in refocusing their retail strategy in line with the Dubai Government’s vision and have recently launched the 6.7 million square feet Deira Islands Mall, a major retail scheme which is set to include a night market as well as the world’s largest aquarium.
Nakheel have also announced the 4.5 million square feet Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah and the 1.5 million square feet The Pointe, both of which are going to be completed by the end of 2016.

Finally there is IMPZ’s one million square feet shopping mall, expected to be completed by the end of next year.”

In terms of shopping centre formats, where would you say the development trend goes?

“Prior to 2008, shopping mall development in Dubai was quite traditional with most malls being dedicated to retail outlets solely. Just before the boom, we started to see additional elements being introduced into the malls that turned them into leisure destinations in their own rights. Examples for this are the Aquarium and the Ice Rink at the Dubai Mall, as well as Ski Dubai at the Mall of Emirates.

Going forward, in order to make shopping destinations attractive in their own rights, we are now seeing developers introducing new elements which are equally, if not more important, to the mall than the retail element itself. Information released about the Mall of the World suggest that it will take the form of a high street which to date is something that the Dubai retail landscape lacks, apart from the traditional markets and souks. The idea of having a network of high streets under a temperature-controlled glass dome of course makes Mall of the World exceptionally attractive. The Dubai authorities are clearly thinking ahead in terms of generating a sustainable level of footfall to the Mall and the idea of incorporating 100 hotels to the scheme will create an additional significant boost to the project.

Looking at Mall of the World and its unique offerings one could say that the future trend for shopping centre development in the emirate is going towards something which we could call ‘retail resorts,’ like mini cities in themselves that offer much more than just shopping.”
What role does the retail sector play with regards to realising the Dubai Government’s Tourism 2020 Vision?

“The retail sector is a major component of the overall strategy for Dubai and it ties in closely with leisure and tourism.  As the authorities are trying to increase the length of overnight stays, the newly planned leisure attractions for Dubai’s upcoming malls will help boost the average length of stay of tourists in the city. In that regard, as mentioned earlier, retail is part of a much broader vision for Dubai. The retail sector also plays a significant role in creating new jobs in the city and hence constitutes a major part of the emirate’s overall economy.”