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Mall of the World to boost local retail, tourism scene.

Arrival of Dubai's new mega shopping centre 'perfectly timed'

Dubai: The highly-ambitious Mall of the World project, which caused a sensation upon its announcement in July this year, will capitalise on the projected increase in visitors to the UAE, with experts noting that the project is "perfectly timed".

David Macadam, chief executive officer and vice-chairman of the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres, explained that the main factor that should be observed, as part of the drive to expand the retail sector in the region, is the number of visitors coming into the UAE.

"The first thing that I would highlight about Dubai's Mall of the World is that it is perfectly timed," Macadam said in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times. "Today we have around 10 million visitors coming into the Dubai airports, and we have about 65 to 70 million people coming through the region as a hub."

"In the future we see about 20 to 25 million people coming through the airports, and what is facilitating that is Emirates airline increasing their fleet, by taking delivery of 1.5 A380s every month. Visitors come into Dubai and spend 3.7 days in the city on average. Part of their experience is visiting and shopping at the various malls located across the city," he explained.

"If you have 10 million visitors coming in today, then in six years you will have double that number or more, so we need a venue with at least five to six million sqft to add to our inventory to make it a better tourist destination. So that is why we need this new mall."

Macadam revealed that several malls such as The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates are known in the industry to be overtrading, and that on some days it is not as comfortable for visitors to shop there as they normally would. At eight million sqft, the retail space that will be available at Dubai's Mall of the World is double that of The Dubai Mall.

Asked if there would be enough retailers willing and able to rent a space in the new shopping and leisure destination, Macadam answered in the affirmitive.

"When you are putting together a shopping centre you want 70 per cent of the retailers, who are with you, to be assured by the owner to be able to pay the rent. The remaining 30 per cent of the retailers are the ones you want bringing in new ideas and trends. And I think that these are the ones that are lining up today for Mall of the World," he explained.

He further revealed: "There is a waiting list for retailers looking to get in on the coveted retail spaces in malls such as The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. But, I don't think that is the complete story here. I think that there is going to be a revolution in shopping habits globally, and I believe that the greatest opportunity can be made here in Dubai. Nowadays, it is not necessarily all about the shopping; it's also about recreation, leisure, lifestyle, and a way to look at the complete experience."

"Retail is becoming much more experiential," Macadam said. "The key to the success of Dubai's Mall of the World is that there has to be a seamless integration into some kind of an experiential event, which is going to keep drawing crowds over and over again."

Speaking on the future of retail in the GCC, he explained: "About 65 per cent of the population in the GCC countries today is below the age of 28 years. People who are at that age group are great consumers, and as they grow through the next 10-15 years they are going to be huge consumers. Looking at this particular demographic, its safe to say that there is going to continue to be a huge growth in the retail sector. Gross annual sales in retail will increase at a minimum of five to eight per cent per year over the next five years here in the region."


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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Oct 24, 2014
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