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.
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)