While the city state is best known for megamalls replete with skating rinks, indoor ski slopes and simulated sky diving, a number of developers are also experimenting with smaller neighborhood or community-style projects.
Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates still enjoy more than 100 million visitors a year — double the number New York City sees — yet different styles of retail space, especially open-air configurations reminiscent of European streets, are elbowing for attention.
“Community-style malls create something more intimate for people who come for a certain type of shopping,” said Nicholas MacLean, Middle East managing director of CBRE, a real estate advisory firm.
He estimated that about half of the 5 million square feet of retail space under development and expected to come on stream by 2017 is of the new, small-scale variety.
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties, the developer of Dubai’s original megamall, Mall of the Emirates, is focusing more on neighborhood-style shopping experiences.
“There is a growing demand for smaller, convenience-based retail assets,” said George Kostas, chief executive officer of MAF, which operates community malls under its proprietary My City Centre banner. “There hasn’t been a lot of that here, because the city has been growing so fast. But we are now at a stage where there’s a lot of established residential communities that need that convenient retail infrastructure.”
As waiting lists get longer for retail space in Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Mall, developers are scrambling to put up new developments in record time to meet demand.
Meraas Holding has developed two new neighborhood malls, the Beach and Citywalk, in under a year. The Beach, located on prime beachfront property, boasts a boardwalk-style ambience with cafés and shops only a stone’s throw from Dubai’s most popular public beach.
The other development, Citywalk, is just a short distance from Dubai Mall, but miles away in terms of configuration. Visitors can park nearby and stroll outdoors through a tree-lined main “avenue” that leads to a public square, where they can relax and enjoy a meal overlooking a lake with views of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
Patrick Chalhoub, co-ceo of Chalhoub Group, said the new retail formats reflect changing tastes and lifestyles in Dubai. Shoppers are more interested “to be in fresh air,” to “have multiple experiences,” and to touch many levels of products, not only luxurious ones.
Chalhoub has opened Sephora and L’Occitane locations in Meraas’ projects, which are so far weighted to food and beverage establishments.
“The challenge is to deliver a unique shopping experience, to create a vibe,” Chalhoub said. “The offer will become even more consumer-focused.”
Part of that focus means adding grocery stores into the mix. MAF has exclusive rights to Carrefour across the region, opening supermarkets in its neighborhood-style malls.
Next in the pipeline for them is a 300,000-square-foot mall in International Media Production Zone, a business park owned by TECOM Investments that’s home to companies including Sony and Xerox. The project, slated for completion next year, is to serve three burgeoning residential neighborhoods in a corridor connecting two of Dubai’s major highways, along with employees working in the business park, which spans 43 million square feet.
With immigration to Dubai having increased 25 percent since 2008, residential communities will continue to grow, according to CBRE’s MacLean. “Dubai can sustain the demand for new retail projects like these,” he said.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast