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Yas Mall to open in November: Aldar
posted on 28/08/2014

Aldar Properties on Wednesday announced progress in the pre-opening phase of Yas Mall with the aerial fit-out of Geant hypermarket, which is planned to open in November 2014.
Geant began its fit-out by installing an air-conditioning system.
A helicopter was tasked with the installation, which involved lowering five units each weighing 1 to 1.5 tons and on average seven metres long. The operation was performed by a project team involving Aldar, Geant, the tenant coordination company Vindico and the main contractor of the project Sixco, and took just over 50 minutes.
The completion of the air-conditioning installation marks a milestone in the lead up to the hypermarket opening this year which will service the city's international and local visitors including Yas Mall's neighbouring communities.
The fit-outs are continuing at a steady pace and 95 per cent of outlets are committed in terms of leasing ahead of the November opening.
Yas Mall has also announced three further leading retailers as part of its partnership with Chalhoub Group and Retail Arabia including a new concept House of Fraser Department Store, Abu Dhabi's first Hamleys store and the first Joe Fresh store in the UAE.
The mall will also house 20 screen cinemas operated by Vox and Funworks. – Emirates 24│7 -


Phase 2 of Mall of the Emirates’ Evolution 2015 underway
posted on 27/08/2014

Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East and North Africa, recently announced that phase two of Mall of the Emirates' strategic redevelopment, Evolution 2015 is currently underway.
This stage will see the mall expand by a gross leasable area of 25,000sqm to include the introduction of a new, major Vox Cinemas experience, retail anchor stores as well as new lifestyle options, and a diversity of dining choices. With a phased completion with elements unveiling by mid-2015, Evolution 2015 will see the launch of brands making their debut in the Middle East at Mall of the Emirates alongside the expansion of existing luxury and lifestyle shopping brands, at an overall estimated investment of more than Dh1 billion.
"In embarking on phase two of Evolution 2015 at Mall of the Emirates, we have surveyed the needs of our two key audiences — guests and retailers — to see how we can best meet their changing needs,” said Dimitri Vazelakis, executive managing director of shopping malls for Majid Al Futtaim Properties. "More space for luxury maisons, the introduction of new fashion brands, an enhanced dining experience and a state-of-the-art cinema destination – these are some of the most anticipated elements, and what we are turning into reality at Mall of the Emirates today.”
Recognising that fashion accounts for almost half of Mall of the Emirates' current sales, Evolution 2015's phase two will see more spacious premises for some premium brands alongside fashion lines choosing the mall as their regional launch platform. Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates, among the U.A.E.'s most preferred movie-going destinations, is creating an entirely new destination for film-lovers, with 24 screens, advanced technologies including Vox Max large-scale screens, and an expanded Vox Gold premium experience.
Evolution 2015's phase two will also unveil a new dining destination at Mall of the Emirates featuring approximately 12 food and beverage options to complement the new lifestyle retail and cinema offer. New brands as well as popular restaurants and cafιs will feature in this new leisure precinct. Rounding out the Mall of the Emirates Evolution 2015 are the elements that will ensure guests' convenient access and comfort, including parking for more than 1,300 cars as well as new prayer rooms.
"Mall of the Emirates is one of the most trusted and premium retail destinations in the region, and Evolution 2015 enables us to expand and enhance the experience that we offer to our guests and retail partners by innovating, maximising our offer and delivering a consistently superlative experience,” Vazelakis added. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


U.A.E. tops in global apparel designs
posted on 23/08/2014

The rise of fast fashion has been meteoric in the U.A.E., as recession-weary consumers are becoming more aware of new branded outfits that have grabbed the attention of global apparel manufacturers.

Dynamic new fashion labels are invigorating Dubai's apparel industry. 

In the past half-decade, a handful of talented designers have founded clothing lines exclusively for the Middle East consumers, addressing the region's culture and religious norms, despite the region's tradition of classic tailoring and the acknowledged skills of apparel manufacturers.

The international brand designers are providing the discerning shopper with distinct interpretations of the contemporary wear. 

Banana Republic, a global apparel and accessories brand focused on delivering modern American style along with celebrated designer Roland Mouret on Thursday evening unveiled the Roland Mouret Collection 2014 — a limited-edition, covetable capsule highlighting Mouret's keen understanding of fit and the female form through the use of Banana Republic's signature Sloan fabric. Banana Republic's Sloan Collection of dresses, skirts and pants has gained acclaim for the use of contour stretch fabric. Founded in San Francisco, Banana Republic is located in over 700 company-operated and franchise retail locations worldwide including the Gulf region and the U.A.E..

The foundation of the Roland Mouret for Banana Republic Collection — the Banana Republic Sloan fabric — is a unique blend of rich, bi-stretch fabric, which creates a "magic” fit that shapes through figure-flattering silhouettes. 

Mouret, famous for his exceptional skills in draping, structure and style, naturally gravitated toward this signature material, which he hand-draped, cut and pinned on the body to create this iconic capsule. – The Gulf Today -


Dubai’s retail sector to hit Dh150 billion by year-end
posted on 21/08/2014

Dubai's retail sector will be worth a phenomenal Dhs150 billion by the end of this year as the emirate's households shopping power is on the rise with positive economic indicators and strong rebound in tourism and hospitality sector, according to reports.
According to the latest data from Colliers International, Dubai's households spend between Dh37,000 and Dh85,000 each year. However, the average spending power of US$14,400 (about Dh53,000) per household per year has seen the retail sector riding a wave of growth to reach record figures.
The city is now rivalling established global shopping hotspots like London, Milan, New York and Sydney, with the U.A.E. now ranked as the world's fourth most attractive retail destination in AT Kearney's latest global index. Business Monitor International (BMI) is projecting that Dubai's retail sector will reach Dhs150 billion mark by the end of this year.
Dubai Economic Council also estimates the city's retail sector to have become as big as the financial and real estate sectors in terms of value.
The retail revolution is set to intensify, as Dubai welcomes 25 million visitors in the build-up to World Expo 2020. As part of this long-term view, The Galleria Mall's sister development, The Galleria Villas offers upmarket residences near the mall in close proximity to Dubai's golden beachfront, with both developments totalling 324,300 square feet.
Shahab Lutfi, founder and chief executive of The Galleria Mall's developers H&H Investment & Development, said the Galleria Mall and Villas is a fresh concept based on family quality time, in Dubai's trendy suburb of Jumeirah Beach. The attractions are as diverse as Dubai's multicultural population.
"By bringing famous global brands here, we are bringing the world to Dubai and helping to make our city the world's undisputed shopping paradise.”
Commenting on what Dubai's shoppers and tourists can expect, Shahab Lutfi said it's no longer enough to simply have a massive mall, because the quality of the visitors' experience is equally as important as the quantity of attractions.
"From the beautiful setting to the convenient parking and intimate family-friendly atmosphere, The Galleria Mall is helping Dubai to raise the bar in retail therapy. With even more shops opening soon, we are living up to our promise that this is truly where you belong.”
At a recent event, CBRE Middle East managing director Nick Maclean said Dubai's success in retaining its position as the second most important city in terms of international retailer presence underpins its status as a regional hub for business and tourism.
"The retail sector remains one of the most vital streams for economic activity in the emirate and the industry is likely to witness significant growth in the lead up to Expo 2020 in six years' time,” he said. – Khaleej Times -§ion=uaebusiness


Fly the skies with Emirates Airline’s A380 Experience
posted on 18/08/2014

If you're unable to escape to cooler climes this summer, Emirates Airline has a novel way for you to jet abroad, without going anywhere.
Head to The Dubai Mall and on the ground floor near the ice rink, you'll come across their A380 Experience. It's a flight simulator that allows you to take the controls of a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A380. How difficult could it be to take off and land a super jumbo, I wondered? Incredibly difficult, I was to discover.
My experience began with a friendly meet-and-greet from my captain and co-pilot. He showed me to a row of plane seats and a selection of destinations popped up on the TV in my armrest.
I was able to choose from 12 airports and settled on Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as the final destination. Choosing the weather conditions were next and, for added excitement, stormy skies were programmed in.
Soon it was time to head inside the simulator, which was an open-backed cockpit of an Emirates plane. I had been expecting to step inside an elevated simulator, encapsulated inside a machine that would soar and nose-dive at the touch of the sidestick.
Nevertheless, the fact that it wasn't the case didn't detract from the experience and there was something surprisingly thrilling about sitting in the throne-like leather chair of a first officer.
Before pushback, I was given a full briefing about the overwhelming number of buttons and instruments that enveloped me. Soon, we were ready for the take-off – cabin crew, arm doors and cross-check.
After the briefest of taxis along a rainy runway, it was full throttle ahead and we were airborne.
The weather obscured the view of Paris more than a little and meant that maintaining altitude and staying on course was a challenge. My instructor informed me this was intentionally the case because commercial pilots regularly used the simulator for practice.
Before there was time to make my inaugural announcement from the flight deck, we were readying to land. As time was tight, the 30 minutes really does fly by, the captain changed the weather conditions to clear and the arrival airport to Dubai.
It enhanced the experience a great deal and the panoramic 3-D view was exactly as you would expect to see it through a pilot's eyes.
As I banked the plane, The World and Palm Jumeirah came into full view and upon the final descent to Dubai International Airport, we had a bird's-eye view of all the city's landmarks. All too soon, it was time to disembark and hang up my uniform.
All in all, the experience was a great one, albeit over far too quickly. The instructors are a mine of information – most of them qualified pilots – yet there's little time to grill them on the finer points of turbulence or landing on water.
For those with a fear of flying, the simulator is said to help, not least because it demystifies the process a great deal. For those who desire a PPL, private pilot's license, it's also an excellent first step.
Fundamentally, it's an exhilarating experience, where no matter how bad your technique, the captain will reassure you that you've spilt no one's coffee and you've passed with flying colours.
• The Emirates Airline A380 Experience costs from Dh349 for 15 minutes. To book a flight or buy gift vouchers call 056 738 7444 or go to – The National -


Dubai Aquarium in world’s top 25 on TripAdvisor
posted on 12/08/2014

The sharks and rays in Dubai Mall must have been swimming proudly these days.
Dubai's Aquarium and Underwater Zoo has been voted one of the best aquariums in the world by the users of TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel site.
The site announced on Tuesday the winners of its Travelers' Choice awards for Zoos and Aquariums around the globe. There were 275 winners identified and Dubai's Aquarium was ranked 25th on the list.
Monterey Bay Aquarium in California emerged as the overall winner, followed by Oceanario de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal; Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia and Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The award winners were chosen using an algorithm that took into account the number and quality of TripAdvisor user reviews which were gathered over a 12-month period.
"For those wanting to see the world's most wondrous creatures, TripAdvisor has named the Travelers' Choice Zoos and Aquariums, as chosen by the community of millions,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor.
"Travellers can enjoy a fun and educational experience at any of these popular award-winning attractions.”
The 10-million litre Dubai Aquarium in Dubai Mall is the largest suspended aquarium in the world. It is home to thousands of aquatic animals, including sharks and rays. One of the latest additions to the animals on display is the 750-kilogram crocodile that was brought in from Queensland, Australia.
The Aquarium and Underwater Zoo also allows visitors to have a close encounter with a giant catfish, piranha and some penguins while walking through a mini indoor rainforest. – Gulf News –


An open air market amid pristine scenery
posted on 09/08/2014

Once a weekend market, Souq Al Jumaa in Fujairah is now open all days and has become a major tourist attraction with its heritage as well as fresh products.
Fujairah figures prominently on the U.A.E.'s tourism map, thanks to its pristine landscapes and beautiful scenery. The emirate has many landmarks which serve as a magnet attracting tourists and gives it fame not only in the region but in the world as a whole. These include the traditional Souq Al Jumaa, Arabic for the Friday Market.
It is an open market and lies amid mountains and valleys. Various stalls and shops line either side of the road that links the city of Masafi and Al Dhaid. The souq becomes especially crowded on Fridays and other holidays.
Located 33 miles off Fujairah city, Souq Al Jumaa is famous for its locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables for both serious buyers and window shoppers. Colourful carpets and rugs, traditional products, pottery, artefacts and handicrafts, and household appliances, honey, Arabic ghee, dates, and popcorn are the other attractions.
Well-maintained nurseries with exotic flowers and plants add to the beauty of the market. Flower vases and other plant accessories are also available here. And, do not go by the size of the market; the small-sized nurseries house a unique collection of seedlings of ornamental plants, flowering and aromatic plants and fruit bearing trees.
According to Saif Rashid, a shopkeeper, Souq Al Jumaa has gone through many phases until it was finally completed. It started 25 years ago when a man used to come from Dibba, Fujairah, every Friday to sell the agricultural products of the farms in Fujairah areas.
As time went by, the number of hawkers and salesmen increased. And they were mostly elderly Emiratis who showcase their products under the shade of the Samar trees.
The souq remained unchanged until His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah, issued ordered the Fujairah Municipality to look after and develop the place. Citizens were granted shops where good quality and miscellaneous products were sold. The souq continued to grow and became popular and is now open on all days of the week, not just Fridays and official holidays.
"What distinguished Souq Al Jumaa from other bazaars is its strategic location amid a range of mountains which connect Masafi and Al Dhaid ,” said Salem Rashid Al Zahmi, a shopper. Therefore, he said, it is a focus of attraction for tourists who thronged the place to enjoy watching the stunning views of the mountains and the products showcased in the market, which reflect a living picture and testimony of the U.A.E. heritage and domestic products.
He said Souq Al Jumaa has become a landmark for the visitors of the emirate and the city of Masafi. The market becomes busy and overcrowded on weekends, especially in winter time. Yousouf Ali, another shopper, said what makes the souq different is its open door shops amidst the beautiful nature. It is like the old markets which use canopies to protect their goods from rain, sun and humidity. – Khaleej Times -§ion=nationgeneral


Abu Dhabi beaches receive two million visitors in H1
posted on 06/08/2014

The Abu Dhabi cornice, Al Bateen and ladies beaches attracted about 2 million visitors during the first half of this year.
The Abu Dhabi beaches received during three Eid Al Fitr days over 30, 000 visitors. The Abu Dhabi cornice attracted over 23, 000 visitors, while Al Bateen and the ladies attracted about 7, 000 visitors in corresponding period.
Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, Director of the Department of Community Service at Abu Dhabi City Municipality said the swimming beach at the Abu Dhabi cornice received about 1.6 million, citing the-state-of-art infrastructure and the latest safety standards. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -


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:


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:§ion=nationgeneral


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:§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:


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:§ion=uaebusiness


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


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:


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:§ion=nationgeneral


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 –


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:


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:§ion=uaebusiness


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


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:
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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:


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:§ion=uaebusiness


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:


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:


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:



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