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INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT - SHOPPING, LEISURE AND ENTERTAINMENT CENTRES

Aldar ties up with Chalhoub for region’s biggest department store at Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi
posted on 23/07/2014

Aldar Properties has signed an agreement with the luxury brand retailer Chalhoub Group to create the region's largest department store, at Abu Dhabi's soon-to-open Yas Mall.
Chalhoub, which opened the world's largest shoe store – the 96,000 square feet Level Shoe District in The Dubai Mall in 2012 – said that it had signed an agreement with Aldar to lease 200,000 sq. ft. of shopping space in Yas Mall.
In a statement yesterday, Chalhoub said that the new store would showcase 200 global brands with concessions and designers covering beauty and cosmetics, fashion, accessories and "an extensive children's selection”.
The new store would surpass the 192,000 sq. ft. Galeries Lafayette store in The Dubai Mall which opened in 2009 and is currently the region's largest single store.
"At the moment Abu Dhabi is significantly behind Dubai in terms of retail with no destination mall in the city so far,” observed Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy at CBRE's Dubai office. "Although the size of this new store is fairly comparable with Harvey Nichols or Galeries Lafayette, the difference is that in Abu Dhabi there is very little else to compete with something like that.”
Aldar did not say how much the rent would be on the big new store. According to Moody's estimates, Aldar's recurring revenues will grow to around Dh745 million by the end of the year, a quarter of which will be generated by the 2.5 million sq. ft. Yas Mall alone.
"We believe that Yas Mall is the perfect place for us to be launching a new and exciting store concept to market and showcase a selection of international design houses,” the Chalhoub Group chief executive, Patrick Chalhoub said.
Aldar said that the deal meant Yas Mall is now 95 per cent leased ahead of the opening which is planned for November. However, it added that the new department store would not be among the shops pulling up their shutters for the first time at the grand opening scheduled for the weekend of Friday, November 21.
Chalhoub employs more than 9,000 staff across 14 countries and manages more than 470 retail outlets, partnering with brands such as Chanel, Fendi, Saks Fifth Avenue Baccarat, Christofle, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci.
The group has expanded its presence in Abu Dhabi over the past few years, opening stores such as the children's luxury clothing outlet Katakeet in Abu Dhabi Mall as well as branches of its Faces beauty concept in Bawabat Al Sharq, Khalidiya Mall, Marina Mall and Mushrif Mall.
The group also operates branded stores such as Fendi, Christian Dior, Lacoste and Mulberry in the capital, especially at Mubadala's new Galleria luxury shopping centre on Al Maryah Island and in Marina Mall.
"We believe that by creating a new concept, with one of the region's most respected luxury retailers, we will create a unique shopping experience that complements the diverse retail mix already in place at the mall,” said Mohammed Al Mubarak, the Aldar chief executive.
Last week Aldar announced that the long-delayed Yas Mall would also house the second House of Fraser store outside the UK as well as Hamleys the world's oldest toy shop and Joe Fresh, a Canadian fashion brand.
Yas Mall is being built by Six Construct. When it was appointed in October 2011, the completion date for the mall was initially set for the fourth quarter of 2013. The opening date was then delayed until spring 2014 before being moved to coincide with Abu Dhabi's Formula One weekend in November. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/retail/aldar-ties-up-with-chalhoub-for-regions-biggest-department-store-at-yas-mall-in-abu-dhabi

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Dubai Aquarium makes way for giant octopus
posted on 23/07/2014

The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo is now home to a giant Pacific octopus that is found in the North Pacific Ocean and is the largest species among octopuses.
Reaching 4.3 metres in height and weighing more than 70 kg, the giant octopus has almost no bones, allowing it to slip into very small crevices to reach for food or hide from predators. Its head contains all vital organs including three hearts, while the rest of the body essentially constitutes eight arms. It has excellent eyesight and can taste with its tentacles.
Being one of the most intelligent invertebrates, they can work out puzzles and complicated routes through a maze in only a couple of attempts. They also master the art of camouflaging, being able to change the colour and texture of their skin using specialised skin cells.
The underwater zoo, located on level 2 above the main aquarium, presents the biodiversity in different ecological zones including rainforest, rocky shore and living ocean. Apart from Humboldt penguins and Caiman crocodiles, the animals featured here include piranhas, giant spider crabs, small claw otters, sea jellies and clown fish. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2014/July/nationgeneral_July140.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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Mall of the World to put Dubai retail ‘20 years ahead’
posted on 22/07/2014

The mega-project that will include 100 hotels, wellness, cultural and theatre districts is the world's first temperature-controlled city capable of receiving 180 million visitors a year.
The shopping and retail industries of the U.A.E. are set to be 20 years ahead of the region with Dubai's launch of the Mall of the World in the run-up to Expo 2020, the CEO of a leading general trading company based in the U.A.E. says.
Midhat M. Abu Ghazaleh, chief executive officer of Abughazaleh Trading Company, a major wholesale distributor and manufacturer, said: "Dubai was 10 years ahead of other regional markets as far as shopping and retail are concerned. In 1996, the emirate set itself apart from the region with the launch of the Dubai Shopping Festival, which created a dramatic upswing in the U.A.E. retail sector. Now, with the announcement of Mall of the World, the scale and magnitude have been expanded, which will surely take Dubai 20 years ahead of the regional market.”
He added: "This new mega-project that will include 100 hotels, wellness, cultural and theatre districts is the world's first temperature-controlled city capable of receiving 180 million visitors a year. This speaks volumes for the vision of Dubai and no risk management expert will advise international retail brands against setting up presence in the emirate as Dubai government is investing heavily to take the shopping and retail sector to a totally new level.”
The emirate's investment drive into the shopping industry has been relentless since Al Ghurair Centre was launched in Deira many years ago, to be followed by bigger and better world-class malls over the years.
He added: "With the current portfolio of malls and brands setting up presence here, Dubai was always ahead of the market. Now it has even moved up further and set a higher benchmark for others in the region.” – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/biz/inside.asp?xfile=/data/uaebusiness/2014/July/uaebusiness_July225.xml§ion=uaebusiness

Dubai Canal ‘will bring economic prosperity and well-being to the city'
Billboard posters have appeared by the side of Sheikh Zayed Road, thrilling motorists with a glimpse of what the creek extension will look like when it crosses Dubai. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/transport/dubai-canal-will-bring-economic-prosperity-and-well-being-to-the-city

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Abu Dhabi to add 778,000sqm of retail space over three years
posted on 20/07/2014

Abu Dhabi will add 778,000sqm of retail space over the next three years, which represents eight per cent of the total new shopping space (9.8 million sqm) opened in 2013 in 180 cities globally.
The figures were revealed by Bassam Saleh, marketing manager, Bawadi Mall, the five-year old hugest shopping mall in Al Ain, based on a global study conducted by property adviser CBRE.
The study also says that a total of 39 million sqm of shopping centre retail space is currently under construction in the world's biggest cities, with Abu Dhabi having more retail space under development than anywhere in the Gulf.
Saleh says: "It does not come as a surprise to many that Abu Dhabi has the largest retail space under development in the GCC, because the capital of the U.A.E. has been taking firm steps in becoming a world class city. Malls in the emirate have standards that are on par with leading shopping destinations in the world, such as Paris, London and New York. Visitors feel they are in a five-star shopping arcade, in terms of services, ambience, promotions, outreach programmes and staff in stores and management.”
"Bawadi Mall has adopted the ‘edutainment' concept that has converted the shopping service into an experience enjoyed by all members of the family,” said Saleh.
He added: "We adopt global best practices to make the visitors welcome and comfortable. One of the main reasons for the stupendous success of our approach is that we consider the visitor a tourist rather than a customer coming to shop. We greet them with entertainment and social activities that address the diversity of cultures living in the U.A.E..”
Saleh added that Abu Dhabi in general and Al Ain in particular offers superior shopping ambience, driven by strong collaboration between mall management, tenants representing international, regional and local brands as well as visitors who remain the central part of any shopping experience.
He said: "These visitors with high purchasing power, a strong shopping culture and appreciation of classy brands are energising the shopping industry, as supply keeps pace with the huge demand, translating into high footfall.”
Bawadi Mall has a strong line-up of entertainment activities for the remaining of 2014. Moreover, the ideal shopping environment provided by the mall and the numerous promotions offered at all retail outlets including fashion, hospitality and entertainment are reinforcing the mall's position on the regional map of shopping malls as Al Ain city's footprint on the region's tourism map is getting bigger.
In addition, Bawadi Mall hosts several educational, health, social, and art shows organised by government and private entities in Al Ain city. "These events, held largely during peak periods, are widely welcomed by visitors and tourists alike,” added Saleh.
Bawadi Mall has 400 food and beverage, fashion, entertainment outlets, and it is one of the leading destinations for U.A.E. residents and tourists. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/biz/inside.asp?xfile=/data/uaebusiness/2014/July/uaebusiness_July190.xml§ion=uaebusiness

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Aldar brings global brands House of Fraser, Hamleys and Joe Fresh to Yas Mall
posted on 17/07/2014

Aldar Properties PJSC ("Aldar" or "the Company" ADX: ALDAR), Abu Dhabi's leading listed property development, investment and management company, yesterday announced a new partnership agreement with Retail Arabia, a leading regional retail franchise owner for Yas Mall. The partnership includes a new concept House of Fraser department store spanning 110,000 square feet, the first Hamleys - the oldest and largest toy shop in the world - store in Abu Dhabi, as well as the first Joe Fresh - the international fashion brand - store in the UAE.
Mohammed Al Mubarak, Aldar's Chief Executive Officer commented: "We are very pleased to announce our partnership with Retail Arabia as we continue to bring unique retail experiences to Yas Island and the wider Abu Dhabi retail landscape. We are particularly pleased to see House of Fraser's continued expansion in the UAE and to be the first to market in Abu Dhabi with Hamleys and Joe Fresh demonstrates our commitment to creating the best and most unique shopping experiences for our customers." Nabil Daud, CEO, Retail Arabia International said: "This is a very exciting moment for Retail Arabia and we are delighted to partner with Aldar on what we see as one of the region's most exciting retail projects for some time. The House of Fraser at Yas Mall will give customers a new shopping experience as we roll out our new exciting concept and will be home to a range of international brands launching for the first time in the UAE. The first Hamleys and Joe Fresh stores in Abu Dhabi will also make a big contribution to the existing strong retail mix at Yas Mall." Yas Mall will open with an exciting range of leading international and regional retail and F&B brands, a 20 screen state of the art cinema operated by VOX Cinemas and a family entertainment zone by Funworks. With the completion of Yas Mall, Aldar will become the largest owner and manager of retail space in Abu Dhabi.
Another major department store signing is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Explore a new world with the UAE’s first underwater safari
posted on 17/07/2014

Looking for an adventure this summer? You won't need to look too far as Abu Dhabi has launched an underwater snorkelling safari tour – a first in the UAE.
And no, you don't have to be a professional diver to do it.
The four-hour safari tour involves snorkelling in two different locations of Yas beach on Yas Island and a walking tour that promises some unique marine animal sightings along the way.
"Our under-water journey begins and ends at Yas Island. At first we go out in power boats to the Ooid shoals on Yas beach. Ooid shoals are nothing but a result of tidal waters rolling up sand on the shallow beds of the Arabian Gulf. The salinity of the water and its warm temperature roll up the sand into spherical walls making them look rather unique,” explained Mark Freeman, owner and managing partner of Noukhada Adventure Company that launched this tour in June.
Found mostly in shallow tropical seas like the in Bahamas, the ooids are a rare occurrence in the coastal waters of the Arabian Gulf. "When it is low tide – one gets a better glimpse of the Ooid shoals as they are more exposed. Marine adventurers and geologists are very excited to find them on our tours,” said Freeman.
The snorkelling safari also involves walking around the shoals to catch a glimpse of marine animals. "During low tide, some exotic marine animals show up on the shallow side of the water, waiting for a strong tide to wash them off to sea. On one of our trips, we found moon snail nest eggs and cattle fish swimming up here. As people wade into the water, they also get to see coral reefs.
"Assuming the wind is not too strong, we get back into the boat and head off to the north part of the Sadiyat Island – Ra's Al Ghurab. Here again, depending on whether people are comfortable in deep or shallow water, we do some more snorkelling in select routes around coral reefs. We take ample care while snorkelling to not knock off any coral heads,” said Freeman.
According to Freeman, best times to snorkel are in the mornings when the tide is low. "We have a daily time-table of the tides on Yas beach. Those booking for an underwater tour can check this before fixing the time with us.”
The tour costs Dh300 per person. People are advised to bring their own food and water for the trip. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/travel/features/explore-a-new-world-with-the-uae-s-first-underwater-safari-1.1360459

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More beaches hope to fly the Blue Flag in U.A.E.
posted on 16/07/2014

This year, the U.A.E. is aiming to almost double the number of its beaches and marinas that have won the Blue Flag, a voluntary eco-label certifying they are safe and healthy.
Currently 18 beaches and six marinas in the U.A.E. have the Blue Flag certification out of 83 private beaches, 33 public beaches and 24 marinas.
It aims to add another 20 beaches and marinas after a review process in August.
"(It) would be our ultimate aim to see all U.A.E. beaches flying the blue flag,” said Moaz Sawaf, conservation and education project manager at Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, the organisation representing the Copenhagen-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education that owns and runs the Blue Flag Programme.
"We are now in the third year of the project (and) it's been very widely accepted,” Sawaf added. "We've had huge support by the municipalities. They're working on turning all their public beaches to Blue Flag.”
There are 32 criteria to achieve the Blue Flag certification. These are predominantly built on four pillars: Environmental education, water quality, environmental management, and health and safety.
"The Blue Flag label basically shows the commitment of the beach to health, safety and the environment,” Sawaf said. "This is about the water quality — clean bathrooms, waste bins, rubbish segregation, lifeguards, first aid, all of those should be in place.”
Also, each year the beach has to hold five environmental management activities, either for the public, schools, or a group of people.
The water quality is tested on a monthly basis. If it does not meet international standards, the beach is closed until the problem is rectified. Sawaf said this happened to the Abu Dhabi Corniche Beach in 2011 when it was shut for several days over oil pollution concerns.
Most of the 18 Blue Flag beaches are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where the municipalities got on board enthusiastically. This year, beaches from Fujairah, Sharjah and Ajman are also hoping to make their mark.
The campaign is a good fit with the direction the U.A.E. is following, as its goals are sustainability, environmentalism and a green economy, Sawaf said.
The U.A.E. is probably one of the fastest adopting countries right now. "It's among the top five in the Blue Flag,” he said.
The Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF is receiving applications for new beaches and marinas for the international application review which will take place at the Blue Flag headquarters in August. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2014/July/nationgeneral_July77.xml§ion=nationgeneral


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Mohammed bin Rashid launches 'Mall of the World', a temperature-controlled pedestrian city in Dubai
posted on 06/07/2014

Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, launched yesterday the world's first temperature-controlled city, Mall of the World, located along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai. Occupying a total area of 48 million sq. ft., the project will comprise the largest indoor theme park in the world, which will be covered by a glass dome that will be open during the winter months. The project will also house the largest shopping mall in the world with an area of 8 million sq. ft., which will take the form of an extended retail street network, different to the typical shopping mall concept currently available in Dubai. Additional districts within the project will include a wellness dedicated zone catering to medical tourists, a cultural celebration district as well as a wide range of hospitality options comprising 20,000 hotel rooms catering to all types of tourists. Once completed, the City is projected to become a year-round destination, welcoming around 180 million visitors annually.
Commenting on the new project, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed said, "The growth in family and retail tourism underpins the need to enhance Dubai's tourism infrastructure as soon as possible. This project complements our plans to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision." In the presence of Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Chairman of Dubai Holding; Ahmad bin Byat, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Holding; and Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director-General of Protocol Department, Sheikh Mohammed confirmed the need to work towards achieving Dubai's ambitious tourism vision.
"Our ambitions are higher than having seasonal tourism. Tourism is key driver of our economy and we aim to make U.A.E. an attractive destination all year long. This is why we will start working on providing pleasant temperature-controlled environments during the summer months. We are confident of our economy's strength, optimistic about our country's future and we continue to broaden our vision," added H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid.
The new project, developed by Dubai Holding, will introduce an innovative concept of an integrated pedestrian city connected to the mall and offering a wide range of leisure, retail, cultural, wellness, recreation and hospitality options under one roof.
Tourists will be able to enjoy a week-long stay without the need to leave the City or use a car. The 7km long promenades connecting all facilities will be covered during the summer and open during the winter, ensuring pleasant temperatures throughout the year.
The project will see the addition of 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings, including 20,000 hotel rooms, to Dubai's hospitality sector. The project will include designated parking areas with a capacity to host up to 50,000 cars on the ground level.
Dubai Cultural District will be the hub for national and multinational cultural festivities and events in U.A.E. A dedicated theatre district with host of venues similar to some of the world's most renowned landmarks such as London's West End and New York's Broadway. The Celebration Walk, similar to the Ramblas Street in Barcelona will connect the cultural district to the rest of the Mall. Dubai Cultural District will include a range of conference, wedding and celebration halls with a capacity to host thousands of revellers, befitting the multicultural social fabric of Dubai.
Another component of Mall of the World is the Wellness District, which will cover a total area of 3 million sq. ft. dedicated to providing wellness and rejuvenation services. It will offer a holistic experience to medical tourists and their families, ensuring access to quality healthcare, specialised surgical procedures and cosmetic treatments, wellness facilities and high-end hospitality options.
Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi, Chairman of Dubai Holding, commented: "Mall of the World presents an innovative concept in the international hospitality sector, further strengthening Dubai's appeal as a tourism hub with a wide range of options. This project is a product of extensive research studying international and regional tourists' requirements and preferences. The objective is to create an integrated city with a plethora of best-in-class options within pleasant environments. The project will be developed in phases in alignment with the gradual growth of family tourism in Dubai." Ahmad bin Byat, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Holding, said, "We are ready to move forward with this unique concept, whose distinctive offering and strategic location will play an instrumental role in advancing the growth of Dubai's tourism sector. The project will follow the green and environmentally friendly guidelines of the Smart Dubai model. It will be built using state-of-the-art technology to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring high levels of environmental sustainability and operational efficiency." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

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Yas Island gears up for peak season
posted on 01/07/2014

Abu Dhabi's Yas Island is gearing up for a significant increase in accommodation at its seven hotels over the next few months, especially as Yas Mall opens in November, according to Clive Dwyer, director of destination management at Yas Island.
Current estimates show that over four million people visit the Island on an annual basis – around 30 per cent of who are from outside Abu Dhabi.
While the new mall is expected to attract many from the U.A.E., there has also been interest expressed by international shoppers who ask about packages offered by Yas Island.
"We've got international markets especially in Europe, India, and even in China asking us about Yas Mall and how we'll package it, so the level of interest and awareness is very strong, and we're only going to leverage that in 2015,” Dwyer said.
Mall's location
He noted that the mall's location is one of its main selling points, as it is close to many hotels, Ferrari World, and Yas Waterworld, presenting itself as a multi-dimensional leisure venue.
Discussing expansion on the island, Dwyer said a new development called Yas South is currently going through steps to get government approval.
"That's going into the integrated destination plan for the island, which will look at mixed use, more accommodation, more hotels, sports and entertainment arenas, restaurants, shopping, residency, etc…That will be quite an important piece of the puzzle,” he said.
There are also plans to construct a new theme park over the next three years. Details about the brand have not been disclosed yet.
Dwyer said such expansion plans make Yas Island a unique place to visit, live in, work at, and ultimately, invest in.
As for challenges facing the island now, Dwyer said it has to do with visitors' length of stay.
"We're starting to create a really big U.A.E. proposition that focuses on length of stay. That's really important because it generates significant growth in economic impact for the U.A.E.,” he said.
The proposal will soon be pushed further as the Abu Dhabi Airport opens a new terminal that allows it to welcome more visitors.
"What's exciting is that Yas Island is six minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport, so we are really the U.A.E.'s playground connected to an airport that's about to double in size. So, as they double in size, we open Yas Mall, start with Yas South, and the economy is just going to go into double digit growth, I think,” the director said.
Expo 2020 awareness
Additionally, Expo 2020 is expected to increase awareness about Abu Dhabi as a destination, and thus, increase visitation to Yas Island.
As for strategies to attract such visitors to the island, Dwyer said there needs to be more awareness on the U.A.E. as a safe and welcoming destination. Once potential customers are aware, they can look into packages offered by Yas, and book.
Estimates show that most visitors to the island come from GCC countries, Europe, India, and the UK. There has recently also been growth in number of visitors from China. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/business/tourism/yas-island-gears-up-for-peak-season-1.1354204

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Nakheel awards Dh40m deal for Deira Islands Mall
posted on 01/07/2014

Nakheel will construct a 620,000 square metre retail, dining and entertainment hub at Deira Islands, its new 15.3 square kilometre waterfront destination development in Dubai as part of its retail expansion strategy, the developer announced on Monday.
Nakheel has awarded a contract for nearly Dh40 million to RSP Architects, Planners and Engineers as the design and supervision consultant for Deira Islands Mall, which will have over 200,000 sqm of leasable space, hundreds of shops, cinemas and a wide variety of cafes and restaurants. RSP is also the appointed design consultant for Nakheel Mall on Palm Jumeirah.
Deira Islands Mall, one of a host of attractions planned by Nakheel at the new coastal development, is the latest addition to Nakheel's growing retail project portfolio. Others include Nakheel Mall, Dragon Mart, Ibn Battuta, two major malls at Jumeirah Village and neighbourhood shopping centres at several Nakheel communities.
Deira Islands will add 40km, including 21km of beachfront to Dubai's coastline and pave the way for hundreds of tourism, leisure and residential developments including hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, mixed-use buildings and waterside homes. Ninety four first-phase hotel plots launched by Nakheel in March 2014 received a healthy response from investors.
Earlier this month, Nakheel launched the tender for the design and construction of nine beaches on two of the four Deira Islands, and in April the developer awarded contracts worth over Dh47 million to US-based AE7 for infrastructure design and architectural and engineering services at the project.
Deira Islands Mall will be complemented by a diverse range of other attractions — all developed by Nakheel — at the new waterfront city, including a night market, hotel, amphitheatre for 30,000 people and a marina big enough to accommodate large yachts. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/biz/inside.asp?xfile=/data/uaebusiness/2014/July/uaebusiness_July4.xml§ion=uaebusiness

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U.A.E. maintains strong retail growth with annual sales of US$66 billion
posted on 19/06/2014

The U.A.E. has continued its strong growth as a dynamic retail market, securing the fourth spot in the 2014 A.T. Kearney Global Retail Development Index, GRDI. According to the index, retail sales in the U.A.E. grew 5 percent in 2013, boosting annual sales to US$66 billion (Dh 240.5bn) and seeing the U.A.E. climb one spot in the GRDI from last year, to claim its highest position ever on the index.
Factors influencing the growth of the U.A.E. s retail industry include the construction and infrastructure boom, a growing and young population, strong GDP growth, and increasing consumer confidence and spending. Dubai s winning bid for Expo 2020 highlights the country s massive infrastructure and development projects in the pipeline. The expected influx of visitors around Expo 2020 will see retail and tourism benefit, combining with a continued rise in consumer spending per capita to result in further significant retail development.
The Index report goes on to say that changing consumer demands have also had a positive effect on retail development in the U.A.E.. On the one hand, consumers are seeking greater proximity of outlets, leading to more community formats like Majid Al Futtaim s My City Centre in Sharjah, which caters to local community residents with retail and lifestyle-orientated store, and on the other hand, retail saturation has led to innovative concepts like The Beach, the outdoor cinema and beachfront mall at Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai.
Commenting on the index findings, Dr. Martin Fabel, Partner and Head of Consumer Industry and Retail Practice at A. T. Kearney Middle East, said, "The GCC retail sector continues to be considered among the leading markets globally. The U.A.E. has a growing need for more sophisticated formats to cater to changing consumer needs. Consumers are demanding more proximity and retail saturation has brought about some interesting and innovative concepts, including increased use of social media to communicate with increasingly tech-savvy consumers in the U.A.E..
"The statistics point to sustained future growth for the U.A.E., maintaining the upward trend seen in previous GRDIs. Continued year-on-year increases in GDP per capita, retail spending per capita and retail sales points in conjunction with significant retailer entry and expansion from local retailers points to a bright future in retail for the U.A.E.," added Fabel.
The growth of the segment is reflected in retailer entries to the market, with several major brands establishing outlets in the U.A.E. and others expanding their presence. New entrants in the market include UK-based toy retailer, The Entertainer, which is launching its first store in Dubai, and prominent UK department store, House of Fraser, establishing a branch in Abu Dhabi. U.A.E. luxury retailer, Chalhoub Group, is leading the growth from a local brand perspective, with 50 new stores planned.
Regional retailers are also becoming important players in emerging markets by using their proximity as a competitive advantage to secure a share of neighbouring markets, such as U.A.E.-based LuLu Hypermarkets and Majid Al Futtaim that have continued to expand throughout the Gulf region in recent years.
The wider GCC also performed strongly, with Kuwait climbing one spot to rank in 8th position in this year's index. Saudi Arabia continues to remain fundamentally attractive to retailers looking to expand, and maintains 16th spot in this year's GRDI and Oman, underpinned by strong growth in the grocery sector in particular, ranks 17th in the 2014 index.
The report suggests there are four stages markets pass through as part of retail development - opening, peaking, declining and closing - as they evolve from emerging to mature markets, a process that typically spans five to 10 years. The underlying theory is the retail window of opportunity opens when the population becomes wealthier, when logistics start improving, when ownership regulations become more friendly to international firms, and when the country s various economic, political and social risks settle down to acceptable levels.
Published since 2001, the GRDI ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide. The Index, in its fourteenth year, analyses 25 macro-economic and retail-specific variables to help retailers devise successful global strategies to identify emerging market investment opportunities. These variables fall under four main ingredients which are evaluated in determining where a country comes in the GRDI. These are market attractiveness, country risk, market saturation and time pressure. The score for each segment contributes to the overall GRDI score, determining the ranking. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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King and Queen Croc are Dubai’s new celebrity couple
posted on 18/06/2014

Meet King and Queen Croc, the latest celebrity couple to make the emirate their home.
After being flown thousands of miles from Queensland, Australia, in a specially chartered 747 jumbo jet, the pair are getting used to their new surroundings at Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall.
Weighing in at 750 kilograms and 5.1 metres from head to tail, King Croc is one the biggest crocodiles on the planet and the apex predator, along with his "wife”, are now the star attractions at the venue.
"They have settled in really well to their new surroundings and are feeding normally,” said Paul Hamilton, head curator at the aquarium. "We hope that they will encourage visitors to the aquarium to learn more about their species and the conservation efforts that are being undertaken to protect them.”
With 60 razor-sharp teeth and a bite force estimated at 3,700 pounds per square inch – the most powerful of any animal on Earth – he is at the top of the food chain.
But he also has brains to go with the brawn, as the team sent to catch him found out.
"He is a very clever crocodile. He knew something was up as soon as he spotted our team a few days prior to our plan to catch him,” said Mr Hamilton.
The team, including experts in Australia, had to drain his pool at a botanical garden down to two feet of water and he still proved to be difficult to catch.
He had been labelled as a "problem” crocodile due to his aggressive nature, particularly against humans and other male crocodiles.
"He really made it difficult for us but we managed to get him in the end,” Mr Hamilton said.
Once caught, King Croc was sedated and placed into a specially made container before his three-day journey to Dubai.
At three metres long and weighing in at 183 kilograms, his "wife” is an equally powerful predator.
"It was quite important for us that Queen Croc came with him,” said Mr Hamilton.
"He's been with her for 20 years and he is one of the elite big crocodiles on the planet.
"Certainly, he is a powerful creature and it's quiet amazing to see how he is with her.
"He never hurts her and they sleep chin on chin.
"It's pretty obvious that they are in a relationship and we made sure that they came together.
"But Queen Croc sometimes gives us the impression that she's in charge.
"If he gets out of line she'll snap at him but I've seen him snap at her and you can probably relate that to other circumstances.
"She's always with him but, in some respects, he does lead the way, so if he moves, she'll follow him around.”
Aquarium staff did not expect him to feed for at least a month but the 40-year-old reptile has adapted quickly to his custom-built enclosure since arriving two weeks ago.
His new home is kept at the same temperature and humidity as his natural habitat. And he enjoys the sound of human voices, so staff pipe talk radio stations through to him.
Visitors can view the animals from a glass viewing deck above the enclosure.
The pair's diet largely consists of chicken and other nutrients, which means King Croc could, in the coming decades, grow to seven metres in length by the time he reaches his 100th birthday.
"The interesting thing is that if the crocodile is already over five metres and you grow a metre, you put on 500 kilograms and he becomes a much larger animal in terms of girth,” Mr Hamilton said.
Pablo Kang, the Australian ambassador to the U.A.E., hoped the arrival of King and Queen Croc would encourage people to visit Australia to see the animals in their natural habitat.
"It's very difficult to get permission from the Australian government to allow these creatures to leave the country and they only do so if they know that their new home will be suitable,” he said.
King and Queen Croc can be seen at level 2 of Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in Dubai Mall. – The National – Read more: Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/tourism/king-and-queen-croc-are-dubaix2019s-new-celebrity-couple#ixzz34yAHpvJM
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Abu Dhabi in global retail ‘hot list’, Dubai second ‘hottest’ after London
posted on 29/05/2014

Abu Dhabi has been named one of the world's hottest retail markets after attracting 42 new brands to the capital last year.
The capital ranked fourth in a list of "hot markets” contained in the property broker CBRE's "How Global is the Business of Retail?” report.
Paris topped the chart with 50 new brands.
"If you look at the 8 million sq. feet of net lettable space coming into the Abu Dhabi over the next three years, it is in key local areas so the community concept is far more important in the capital,” said Nicolas Maclean, CBRE's regional managing director. "The nature of retail in Abu Dhabi is more complimentary to the people that live there and to UAE nationals.”
But the capital still has some way to go to catch Dubai in total number of brands and available retail space.
"Abu Dhabi, in terms of retail footprint, is a long way behind Dubai,” said Mr Maclean. "If you look at the new schemes coming into the capital at the moment they are much more luxurious. If you look at the Galleria, it's a small scale, but it's bringing luxury brands into the market, and becoming more complimentary to the Dubai market.
Dubai was named as the world's second-best overall retail destination, behind London, for the third successive year. London and Dubai were significantly ahead of New York, Moscow and Shanghai, which made up the top five. The impact of soaring passenger growth at Dubai International Airport on the retail industry has also been highlighted.
London passenger growth was 13 per cent to 16 million visitors. Dubai's airport welcomed 16 per cent more arrivals to 11 million visitors. The rest of the top five recorded single-digit growth.
"Dubai's tourism and retail have gone hand in hand and we foresee growth in this hugely important area for the city,” said Hamad Buamim, the director general of Dubai Chamber of Commerce. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/retail/abu-dhabi-in-global-retail-hot-list-dubai-second-hottest-after-london

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Nakheel awards Dh1.2 billion contract for Nakheel Mall
posted on 28/05/2014

Nakheel on Tuesday announced the award of a contract worth more than Dh1.2 billion for the construction of Nakheel Mall — its new, 418,000 square metre retail hub to be built in the heart of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
The company confirmed that, after successful negotiations with business partners, a contract is being awarded to UAE firms United Engineering Construction (UNEC) and Actco General Contracting Company to build the new complex. Construction is expected to begin soon.
Nakheel Mall, where nearly half of available leasing space is already booked, will be constructed by selected business partners — New Mall Limited — through a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) mechanism. The project will be managed by Nakheel until the transfer date.
Nakheel Mall, the new centrepiece of Palm Jumeirah, will have five retail levels with more than 100,000 sqm of shop space, three basement parking levels with 4,000 spaces, 200 shops, two anchor department stores, a nine-screen cinema, medical centre and fitness complex. There will also be a roof plaza with a host of fine dining restaurants, as well as a diverse selection of food and beverage outlets inside. The project is expected to be completed in 2016.
Alongside Nakheel Mall will be The Palm Tower — Nakheel's new, five-star, 50-storey hotel and residential complex — for which a separate construction contract will be awarded soon. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/biz/inside.asp?xfile=/data/uaebusiness/2014/May/uaebusiness_May407.xml§ion=uaebusiness

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Dubai beats New York and London for shopping in TripAdvisor survey
posted on 26/05/2014

Dubai has ranked best in the world for hotels and shopping, according to survey by popular travel website, TripAdvisor.
Dubai finished ahead of Cancun and Bangkok in the best hotels category and ahead of New York and London for shopping in TripAdvisor's recently published second annual Cities Survey. The survey results are based on more than 54,000 responses from those who had recently written reviews for featured cities on the TripAdvisor website.
Dubai is home to the world's largest shopping centre, Dubai Mall, which attracted 75 million visitors in 2013. It is also home to some of the most luxurious hotels including The Atlantis and the Burj Al Arab. In 2013, more than 11 million visitors checked into hotels in the emirate.
TripAdvisor describes Dubai as "a cosmopolitan oasis, a futuristic cityscape that towers over the Arabian Desert.”
Last week, Dubai ranked 16th in PwC's Cities of Opportunity study that measured the economy and culture of 30 urban cities.
Tokyo ranked first overall on the TripAdvisor Cities Survey ahead of New York and Barcelona. The Japanese capital received high marks for its hospitality, cleanliness and outstanding public transit system, according to TripAdvisor.
The lowest ranking for overall experience was taken out by Mumbai, followed by Punta Cana and Moscow.
Dubai was the lowest ranked city for culture. The top three cities for culture were Rome, Vienna and Paris.
In last week's Cities of Opportunity study, Dubai was ranked last for sustainability and the natural environment. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/business/tourism/dubai-beats-new-york-and-london-for-shopping-in-tripadvisor-survey-1.1338272

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Creativity at work in new UAE developments
posted on 15/04/2014

While the UAE's retail sector will always be dominated by its super-sized malls, developers and architects are becoming more creative in what they can do with the new shopping destinations in the making. They are thinking ‘community centres' and where possible, thinking ‘beach-side'.
The reason behind such shifts is clear. With the UAE's residential landscape getting increasingly fragmented, shoppers are more likely to frequent retail locations within a specified area rather than head for the big destination malls every other day. Also, these days there is little differentiation between the shopping options available at the malls, with 60-70 per cent of brands featuring in all, or most, of them.
Which is why the next-generation malls are going to be much more than retail. "There has been a strong push for both the refurbishment and new design of community centres in the region,” said Paul Priest, who heads the Middle East and North Africa practice at the UK architectural firm Benoy. "As communities tend to be more family-focused, there is a special emphasis on entertainment and leisure aspects as well as the F&B components in each development. And, yes, at times, these elements do give more scope for innovation in design but on a smaller scale.”
Benoy has been associated with the Ferrari World and Galleria developments in Abu Dhabi and, more recently, with The Beach project at JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residences) in Dubai. JBR already hosts The Walk, now one of Dubai's popular meeting places, day in and day out.
"Through our design plan, we're working on enhancing the current offer of The Walk by upgrading the existing retail facades, enhancing the landscaping, and improving pedestrian flow to create a more experiential retail environment.
"The Beach is a transitional zone between the harder high-rise urban edge of JBR and the softer outline of The Beach. This has allowed us to create a dynamic mix of uses within close proximity while still providing privacy through the use of level changes and soft landscaping.
"What we have learned about retail from our time here is that the quality of the environment and the experience is paramount. Therefore, we are seeing more space offered over to leisure and entertainment destinations, which are now proving to be the primary anchors of our projects.”
For The Beach development, the surroundings have had a great say in the use of materials. This is reflected through the deployment of timber, natural copper and blacked steel "which give a feeling of longevity and strength to the project”.
Community centres are making their way up as a developer - and retailer - favourite. Meraas Holding and Nakheel are leading the way in creating new capacity in this category.
"Retail has increased at many of the new communities and provides for more convenience on grocery, service and leisure (restaurant) outlets,” said Simon Townsend, business development manager at the consultancy DTZ. "With the continued growth of community retail developments, it will be interesting to see if the dynamics of the major retailers - especially those in the grocery sector - will see any adjustments to their offering to maintain customer numbers.
"Mall designs globally are evolving with the UAE no exception - with land and construction prices increasing it is important to maximise the areas capable of generating revenue which coupled with changes in shopping habits has resulted in many existing designs being amended.” – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/business/retail/creativity-at-work-in-new-uae-developments-1.1319113

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Dragon Mart: The great mall of China in Dubai
posted on 14/04/2014

Huge shopping centre sells anything you could possibly imagine.
Got a shopping list that reads something like: one dentist chair, one snow shovel, one frilly dress, some airport seats and a packet of herbal tea?
Then Dragon Mart, off the main Dubai to Hatta highway and right next door to International City, is the place to be.
No matter what you're looking for — no matter how bizarre or obscure the item is — chances are someone, somewhere in the vast two-kilometre labyrinth of stalls and shops is selling it. Or at least knows where you can find it or have it imported for you.
In the middle of one store, something like a big, brightly-lit tree grabs the attention of passers-by. The shop itself looks like it carries everything to do with lighting and LEDs. The smaller LED trees that are two metres high are Dh1,000 each or up to Dh3,000 for the biggest.
"They are very popular at Christmas but they sell all year long,” explained Alex Wang, who said the trees were for anyone who wanted to jazz up their home.
Across the way, there were stone shoes on sale at a spa accessory store. Yes, stone shoes. Shoes with little stones strategically placed on the insole allow you to get on with your day and help with your circulation at the same time. Another version has little black stones at the toes and heels along with other coloured stones placed in areas with special significance to the product's efficiency.
Wilma Alcanpira at the store explained that the shoes were medically proven to help with circulation and are yours for Dh100.
Hana Zewube was selling Moroccan tagines — traditional cone-shaped clay cooking pots — but these were filled with traditional dates and sweets and comes with tassels. They range in size from something small enough to hold just a single truffle for Dh35 to a display that could hold hundreds of sweets for Dh350.
Further down a passageway, a shop was selling large masks just for masquerade parties and weddings. Sarkalem Negash showed off the options available. One stood out because of its sheer volume, with large black feathers adorning the mask — yours for Dh65. There were hundreds of options and Negash says they're the latest fashion must-have for weddings.
At the adjoining shop, racks were filled with hundreds of dresses and gowns laden with rhinestones and feathers.
"We bring in these dresses special for some people who are asking for a wedding dress with sleeves, so we try to bring in something,” Castre said.
The request for sleeved wedding dresses is very common. The shop just received a large order as their dresses are often purchased in bulk because of their low prices for intricate beading and detailing. One of the long sleeved, ball gown-style wedding dresses with rhinestones and feathers was going for Dh3,100.
"Some people say they want to be different, so they buy because they like the sparkly dresses,” Castre said. "They go here, and then they go home and can say they bought from Dubai.”
At the very end of the complex, one store specialised in airport-style metal seating, others in heavy-duty pumps, one-off tools, welding torches and everything you would ever need if you're opening a dental surgery — or just want a really funky dentist-style chair to lie back, open wide, and watch television.
By early next year, Dragon Mart will have added another 175,000 square metres of shops and restaurants, a hypermarket and more parking spaces. Plenty more room for anything that could make your shopping list. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/leisure/dragon-mart-the-great-mall-of-china-in-dubai-1.1317982

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Global Village reaches once again over 5 million visitors during its 18th Season
posted on 13/04/2014

Global Village, the UAE's leading family entertainment and cultural destination, closed on Saturday 12th, April, after a highly successful 18th season which saw this unique Dubai-based attraction welcome over 5 million visitors during the longest Global Village season ever.
Season 18 was the longest in Global Village history as the park management sought to benefit from Eid in October and to enjoy excellent weather coupled with the school holiday season in March and April for 190 days.
Announcing details of Season 19, Ahmed Hussain, COO of Global Village, said: "I am proud to say that Global Village has had an amazing 18th season and as we close the gates for the final time we are delighted to announce that our new season will open on 6th November 2014 and run until 11th April, 2015. Our dates for the 19th edition of Global Village allow us to run more closely to the peak tourist season in Dubai and will ensure our visitors can benefit from cooler weather and help strengthen the opportunity for more international visitors to find out what we can offer.
"Every year we are committed to ensuring the highest levels of quality and looking to see if there are areas to make the visitor experience better, which is why we have commissioned an independent customer feedback survey to further enhance our services." Global Village visitors were attracted by the continuously entertaining thrill shows and performances that are put on in Global Village including over 12,00 shows during the season. The shows which drew some of the largest crowds Global Village has ever seen were the Lords of Lightning, All Star Dunkers; the Chinese Unicyclists; the Vander Skywheel; the Amazing Trial Motorcycle Show; Fairy Tales on Ice, and the Adelaide Fireshow.
This season Global Village has been a hub of happiness and celebration welcoming over 2000 unique performers entertaining visitors and 60 firework displays throughout the duration of the season. The family theme of Global Village was reinforced by an abundance of children's shows during the course of the season. The great Orbis and Level Up performers put on 351 shows and the phenomenal Moshi Monsters performed 90 shows for their eager young fans.
National Day celebrations at Global Village showed off everybody's love for the UAE with the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Village provided a wealth of knowledge and national entertainment during these celebrations by having performances from traditional Youllah and Liwa style dancers every day during the celebrations.
A number of concerts also took place as part of celebrations at Global Village, including fantastic performances in celebration of National Day. With 10 concerts, 15 artists performing overall, Global Village brought artists that crowds in the UAE wanted to experience in a fun atmosphere.
With over 3000 exhibitors across 30 pavilions, visitors found the shopping experience to be fantastic due to the large amount of authentic goods. Africa offered wonderful wooden carvings, while visitors could also pick up a wide range of perfumes, honey, and spices from various pavilions, including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Global Village even introduced brand new pavilions such as the Italian pavilion, which sold Venetian masks. Global Village can only happen as well thanks to the work of over 10,000 staff from different nationalities.
Global Village has taken part in many celebrations this season including the Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Food Festival celebrating cuisine from around the world and parades for DSF featuring traditional dress, music, dancing and a circus atmosphere from stilt walkers and clowns. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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'Aladdin City' is next Dubai Creek project
posted on 11/04/2014

A new project is now underway in the middle of Dubai Creek — Aladdin City — as part of the first phase of construction.
While Dubai Creek is currently bidding to become a Unesco World Heritage Site, officials confirmed that the project is being built outside the restricted zone and will not have any impact on the creek's bid.
"The symbolic content of the architectural form of the project buildings was inspired by the ancient legends from the 11th century, where vessels were sailed from Dubai Creek to the coast of East Africa, India and China. It may have been here where the tales of Sindbad and Aladdin came from,' said Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality.
The project will includes commercial offices and hotels in three towers spread over a distance of 450 metres. Lootah yesterday announced that the project is located within the traditional commercial vessels port at Dubai Creek in Al Rigga, out of the old area of Dubai city, and also includes several facilities, such as parking buildings.
"The development of such a project in this area will have a global cultural and historical impact and pride for generations to come and will contribute to the progress of the emirate and its dream to be No 1 in everything in accordance with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai,” said Lootah.
The project's deadline has not been specified.
Tourism
He pointed out that the project aims to develop the towers to become iconic structures that represent the beauty and tourism of the city.
"It is located at a prime location of Dubai Creek, which maintains the activities of the port heritage. It is expected to boost Dubai economically in its long-term goals by increasing tourism in the emirate, especially to Dubai when we are going to host Expo 2020. The land use will surely be better in the project area which in turn will serve the objectives of the Municipality in bettering exploitation of the land uses in the emirate,” said Lootah.
He explained that the challenges of the project involved avoiding the crowded docks, as authorities wanted to provide visitors with the ease of walking over the port of the abras and ships to watch the harbour, without disrupting work.
The project will also overlook the modern skyscrapers and Burj Khalifa alongside Sheikh Zayed Road.
Three towers of the projects will be built in 110,000 square metres, with the highest tower having 34 floors. The other two towers will have 26 and 25 floors respectively. A total of 900 parking spots will be provided for the whole project. – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/government/aladdin-city-is-next-dubai-creek-project-1.1317870

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Where new malls put Abu Dhabi globally
posted on 08/04/2014

The pace of new mall development has come together nicely for Abu Dhabi as it added a substantial 168,000 square metres of retail space in 2013 to be the best performer in the Gulf, according to new findings by the property consultancy CBRE.
This was enough to propel it to the 18th spot globally among cities to record the largest intake of new retail stock, with cities across China leading the way in absorption rates.
It will get even better for Abu Dhabi this year, with Yas Mall — and the 2.5 million square feet that it packs — set for a November opening date, as well as Capital Mall in Mussaffah and Sowwah Central on Al Maryah Island. CBRE estimates that Abu Dhabi has 778,000 square metres of retail space in the development pipeline.
"New retail destinations such as the recently opened The Galleria are helping to increase the emirate's exposure, bringing new retailers and concepts to the region,” said Nick Maclean, regional managing director at CBRE. As such, the existing malls in Abu Dhabi are recording free space availability of less than 5 per cent, with the larger centres benefiting from an upbeat hospitality market as well.

In comparison, Dubai delivered 35,000 square metres of new retail capacity last year, though leading malls are still very much in expansion mode that would come online between now and in the next three years or so. At the same time, Nakheel recently confirmed that it will be generating substantial new stock, including building a 1 million square feet plus mall off the Deira mainland.
"On the back of strong occupier demand, many major mall operators in Dubai are pressing ahead with extensions to their existing centres,” the CBRE report notes. "Currently this accounts for a quarter of the total retail space currently under construction in Dubai.”
At the global level, the rankings for new retail capacity created during 2013 were led by cities in China, with Istanbul at the eighth position breaking the cycle of China's domination. The first three spots were held by Chengdu, Tianjin and Shanghai.
According to CBRE, more than half of the shopping centre space "under construction” in the 180 countries surveyed are within China. Shanghai takes first position with 3.3 million square metres of space under construction — more than the combined total of all 86 European cities excluding those in Russia and Turkey. Next is Chengdu with 3.2 million square metres followed by Shenzhen and Tianjin with 2.7 million and 2.5 million square metres under construction.
Worldwide, a total of 39 million square metres of shopping centre space is currently under construction, a 3 million square metre increase over 2013. "Global development activity is similar to last year in terms of location with new construction dominated by Asia and in particular China,” said Natasha Patel, EMEA retail research, CBRE.
"The scale of new development there is due not only to economic growth in the region, but also due to the demands of cross-border retailers, many of whom have found that the existing retail space in the region is not of the standard they require.” – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/business/retail/where-new-malls-put-abu-dhabi-globally-1.1316057

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Shurooq inaugurates Al Montazah Amusement and Waterpark
posted on 16/03/2014

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) on Thursday inaugurated the newly redeveloped Al Montazah Amusement and Waterpark in Sharjah.
The project covers an area of over 126,000 square metres and includes a first-of-its-kind water themed park in the Emirate, an amusement park, as well as a park designated for walking, children areas and other activities. Al Montazah is expected to attract over one million visitors in its first year of operation.
Other facilities and amenities in Al Montazah include two mini football playgrounds, special areas for sports, a lake for boating, a mosque, world-class restaurants and cafes, ATMs, parking lots, and a medical clinic.
The inauguration ceremony was filled with a line-up of interactive activities and roaming shows, including acrobats, stilt walkers, unicycle riders, and jugglers. Visitors were accompanied by Al Montazah's mascots - cartoon characters inspired by the world of animals in order to attract children and entertain and bring fun to all visitors. The project's mascots include Shahad (a bee), Meymun (a monkey), Mahir (a frog), and Liblib (a parrot). These cartoon characters will be present along with other seasonal characters throughout the year.
Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), said, "Al Montazah will be an entertainment and family destination, where visitors will find a safe haven with endless natural beauty, the stunning scenery of Khalid Lagoon, and state-of-the-art facilities and services. It is the first venue to mix the concept of Public Park with that of water themed park in one place to attract wider audience." He clarified that the project will stimulate the tourism in the Emirate and the UAE, particularly as Sharjah has established itself as a regional and international destination of choice for family tourism due to its state-of-the-art facilities, tourist landmarks, and diverse range of events throughout the year. He said that Al Montazah will offer world class facilities and services in compliance with the standards adopted by Shurooq in development and management of its various destinations.
Al Sarkal added that a study conducted by Shurooq expects that Al Montazah will draw more than one million visitors from the UAE and abroad during the first year after inauguration. He stressed the project will be ready to receive about three million visitors in the first year. A large number of administrators, supervisors and safeguards are in place to deal with large numbers of visitors at the same time. Al Montazah will offer services not available in other destinations such as the water themed park and the kart racing (Karting).
Al Montazah boasts three main sections, a 26,000 m2 Water Park, a Green Park for events covering 50,000 m2 and a leisure park covering 50,000 m2, which offers a variety of electronic games.
The Water Park, the first of its kind in Sharjah, will provide world-class facilities and water rides for all ages along with green areas. In addition to its modern design, the water park offers safety and protection services, along with lifeguards available to give assistance when necessary.
The Green Park will include wide green spaces and venues dedicated to hosting entertainment and social events, as well as a number of world-class restaurants, cafes, a lake for boating, and a mosque. This area will be a venue for numerous seasonal activities scheduled throughout the year.
The third section is a leisure park that also covers an area of 50,000 square metres, offering a variety of electronic games for all ages. The leisure park will also include kart racing (Karting) for children and young people, two mini football playgrounds, special areas for sports, and a venue for celebrations.
Al Montazah will be open to the public from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm, from Saturday to Wednesday, and from 10:00 am to 1:00 am after midnight on Thursday and Friday. The Water Park will be open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and to 10:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Entry to Al Montazah and its facilities, including the Water Park, is available to all, individuals and families.
Entry tickets to Al Montazah Park will be Dh 10, and free for children who are less 80 cm tall, while ticket prices for some games range between Dh 10-25. The entry ticket to the Water Park is Dh 120 for adults and Dh 75 Dh for children between 80-120 cm tall, and entry is free for children under 80 cm. Tickets for the Water Park includes the entry fee to Al Montazah Park.
Montazah is a new addition to the tourist destinations in Sharjah and a move that will contribute to raising the flow of tourists into the Emirate, particularly family tourism. Sharjah has firmly established itself as the regional of family tourism, due to its excellent attractions and tourist landmarks offering diverse options for visitors. In addition, Sharjah is home to heritage and historical landmarks, combined with its beautiful and charming natural features, and organises large-scale events and activities throughout the year, alongside providing hotels, shopping malls, parks, public places, and much more. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Emaar plans to raise Dh9billion through secondary offering
posted on 16/03/2014

Emaar Properties on Saturday announced its plan to raise up to Dh9 billion through a listing of its shopping malls and retail subsidiary.
Without disclosing any date and place of the secondary offering of shares, Emaar said the company will list up to 25 per cent of the Emaar Malls Group equity.
The funds, estimated to be between Dh8 billion to Dh9 billion, will be primarily distributed as dividend to the company's shareholders including the Government of Dubai, the property developer said in a statement.
Emaar Malls & Retail is one of the high-growth business entities of Emaar, having recorded a full-year 2013 revenue of Dh2.837 billion, an increase of over 20 per cent compared to the revenue in 2012. Its gross operating profit increased to Dh2.23 billion compared to Dh1.86 billion in 2012.
The proposed listing of Emaar Malls & Retail and the distribution of funds raised through the sale of shares as dividend underlines our commitment and gratitude to our shareholders, including the Government of Dubai, for their unwavering support to the company since its inception in 1997,” Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar said in the statement.
"Today, Emaar's shopping malls and retail subsidiary is our high-performing business, which derives its growth impetus from the sustained growth of Dubai and its reputation as an international business and leisure hub,” Alabbar added.
With a significant gross leasable area of over 5.8 million sq.ft. in Dubai, Emaar's malls assets include The Dubai Mall, Dubai Marina Mall, Souk Al Bahar and Gold & Diamond Park.
The Dubai Mall's 1,200-plus retail outlets recorded a 26 per cent rise in sales during 2013 compared to the previous year.
According to market estimates, more than 50 per cent of all luxury goods sold in Dubai are purchased at the mall.
The decision of listing was proposed at the board of directors meeting of the company, which reviewed the current and projected growth opportunities for the company, and the optimal corporate structure required for achieving its vision to become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Dividend and bonus shares
In a separate statement, Emaar Properties said that its board was proposing a 15 per cent cash dividend and a 10 per cent bonus share issue for 2013.
Emaar had recorded full-year 2013 net profit of Dh2.568 billion and annual revenue of Dh10.33 billion.
The company's strong performance was underlined by recurring revenues from the company's shopping malls and retail, and hospitality and leisure business units, which together contributed Dh4.8 billion to financial year 2013 revenue, or 46 per cent of the total.
Emaar's property business generated total revenue at Dh5.528 billion. Revenues from the company's global operations in 2013 were Dh1.167 billion, representing 11 per cent of the total revenue. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/uaebusiness/2014/March/uaebusiness_March239.xml§ion=uaebusiness

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Sharjah's Al Majaz Amphitheatre set to open on March 26
posted on 07/03/2014

Al Majaz Amphitheatre, which is phase one of Al Majaz Island project, is expected to open on March 26.
The Dh120 million Roman-style amphitheatre, covering an area of 7,238 square metres, can accommodate up to 4,500 people.
The open-air amphitheatre will be the official venue for the Sharjah Capital of Islamic Culture (SICC) 2014 celebrations and other international cultural and art events. Construction on the theatre started in November 2013 and took three months to be completed.
The first of 24 heritage projects to be rolled out in Sharjah this year, the amphitheatre is expected to leave a lasting impression on Sharjah's cultural calendar as it welcomes a litany of arts events in the years to come.
Osama Samra, Director of Sharjah Media Center (SMC) told Gulf News: "The project, which is being developed at an estimated cost of Dh140 million comprises two phases; phase one is the open-air amphitheatre and phase two will include building different facilities, including restaurants, cafes, landscapes and conference halls.”
The Al Majaz Island project will also include a Dh13 million bridge between the island and Khalid Lagoon.
Opening ceremony
The opening of the amphitheatre will kick off the Sharjah Capital of Islamic Culture 2014 celebrations with a monumental artistic theatrical display called the ‘The Clusters of Light'.
The performance, which is written by the Saudi poet Dr Abdul Rahman Al Ashmawi and composed by the Bahraini artist Khalid Al Shaikh, will be the one of the largest theatrical and musical production to be made. It will include more than 200 performers from around the world and will be led by four Arab stars — Hussain Al Jasmi, Lotfi Bouchnak, Ali Al Hajjar, and Mohammad Assaf.
The event will also include an oratorio, which is a large musical composition for orchestra, choir, and soloists. The purpose of the event is to create a high-ranking artistic work serving Islam, clarifying its tolerant truth and promoting its human values represented by justice, love and peace, said Sheikh Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi, Head of the Sharjah Islamic Culture Capital Executive Committee in a recent statement. The opening ceremony will continue until April 5.
The SMC has also recently announced that it has signed an agreement with Live Nation Entertainment, a live entertainment and ecommerce company, for the venue management of theatre for a period of three years. – Gulf News - http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/tourism/sharjah-s-al-majaz-amphitheatre-set-to-open-on-march-26-1.1300503

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Stroll and dine in tranquillity as Abu Dhabi’s Eastern Mangroves Promenade officially opens
posted on 05/03/2014

A walk along the mangroves in Abu Dhabi has just become more social with the opening of shops, cafes and a place to stretch the muscles.
The Eastern Mangroves Promenade, a part of the Eastern Mangroves complex, officially opened Monday. Spread over 3,500 square metres of leasable space, it features restaurants, health, beauty and leisure outlets, and a Waitrose supermarket.
In operation since November, it currently has four cafes, with three more to open in the next quarter, and two salons.
Designed on the lines of an old-fashioned souq, the shops have a pedestrian zone stretching in front of them allowing jogging and biking activities, while extensive parking provides spaces for 370 vehicles with valet available.
The promenade overlooks a 30-berth marina, accessible from the walk.
"It is the first open air retail and leisure destination of its kind in Abu Dhabi,” said Angus Woodhead, the director of retail development at developer Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC).
"Eastern Mangroves Promenade is peaceful, sophisticated and picturesque – the perfect place to unwind, relax and enjoy the uninterrupted views over the stunning mangroves.” – The National - Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/retail/stroll-and-dine-in-tranquility-as-abu-dhabis-eastern-mangroves-promenade-officially-opens#ixzz2v47UHyIJ
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Dubai’s new beach to offer lifetime experience of luxury
posted on 26/02/2014

A remarkable change has turned Dubai's JBR Walk into a lifetime experience of luxury with the opening of the new outdoor cinema and the beachfront mall.
The day has nearly arrived for the opening of the new beach shopping complex on JBR, and it's looking like a great spot — even if at first people were against the idea of the shopping mall right in front of their houses.
JBR's residents are excited about the open-air cinema, the first of its kind in the country, and the mall with shops and restaurants that run along the beachfront from The Hilton Hotel at one end to the Sheraton Hotel at the other.
According to Meraas, developer of JBR's Beach, "The Beach will include a dynamic mix of top brands and attractions offering everything from casual eating, signature fine dining, luxury retail and a range of attractions from the traditional luxury zone to the exciting entertainment zone at the opposite end keeping an underlying and consistent framework to ensure overall cohesion.”
Another fun element along JBR beach are these very impressive sand sculptures. As part of the beach complex, these stunning gigantic sandcastles have been created, one of which represents all of Dubai's most loved landmarks.
The project will create more than 70 new retail, food and beverage and entertainment outlets. Bait Al Bahar, a four-floor beachfront restaurant and cafe, with terrace, off Jumeirah Beach, will be one of the highlights of the beachfront mall.
It will offer a very special dining experience that embraces authentic tastes and flavours, along with elegant modern touches. Once you set foot in Bait Al Bahr, you will take pleasure in the charming atmosphere. Amid open terraces overlooking the Beach, Bait Al Bahr will offer you the best place in the city to relax.
A cross-section of JBR residents told Gulf News that they liked the new attractions but a few did not.
Some residents said although they are looking forward to the new attractions, they worry about the effects on traffic and rents.
Meraas said the upgrades will enhance traffic and pedestrian flow in and around The Walk and JBR, and will contribute to easy connectivity, with future tram stops as well as improved linkage for pedestrian flow to Dubai Marina.
For Syrian Noor Chaykhoni, 17, and her Saudi friend Raheed Allaf, also 17, the new mall at JBR is impressive, very well designed and organised.
"When they first started building it, I hated the idea because so many shops were closing and it was ruining my view of the beach. I hated how they took up so much space of what used to be the parking area,” Noha Bakkar, a 17-year old Syrian girl, said.
"But I was amazed by how beautiful the area was. It's the perfect place to hang out and shop. It reminds me so much of the mall in Miami because of the palm trees theme,” she added.
Dania Yousuf, 24, a Jordanian, said it is an amazing place with eye-catching views where you can watch a movie (indoors and outdoors), you can eat in all kinds of restaurants on the beach, you can take a picture on the beach and send it to yourself using these stands around the mall, you can shop for clothes and you can even go to the waterpark.”
Sahar Abu Sunainah, 28, a Palestinian pharmacist, said, "I am really excited to sea sand sculptures that represent Dubai's landmarks along the Beach. The only problem I think would happen is that it would get very crowded, but that will not stop anyone from going there. It's perfection and I am so proud of Dubai for doing such an amazing project.”
Natalya Al Omary, a 17 year-old Syrian girl, said, "I am very excited to go to the open cinema. I am sure it will be a nice experience.”
Tala Essam, a 15-year-old Egyptian girl, said, "I always go with my friends to JBR where we enjoy walking and dining. I believe it will be a new experience with the new attractions.” – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/dubai-s-new-beach-to-offer-lifetime-experience-of-luxury-1.1295706

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