Dubai Mall is “a beacon of hope” for Arabs, says Emaar boss

It offers the economic and social freedom they need to compete in the modern world, Mohamed Alabbar believes.

The Dubai Mall is “a beacon of hope” and offers Arabs the economic and social freedom they need to compete in the modern world, Emaar boss Mohamed Alabbar was quoted as saying in a report by a British newspaper on the world’s biggest mall.

The comments were featured in an article looking at how Emaar's flagship shopping and entertainment destination has become one of the world’s most visited sites, attracting over 75m visitors in 2013.

Earlier this year, the Dubai developer, which also built Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest tower - said that footfall at the mall surged 15 percent last year, with average monthly visitors totalling 6.25m.

At the same time, the mall's 1,200 plus retail outlets recorded a 26 percent rise in sales during 2013 compared to the previous year, Emaar said in a statement at the time.

The number of shoppers significantly surpassed those at some of the world’s most famous destinations, with Time Square in New York attracting 42m visitors and Niagara Falls visited by 22m.

Commenting on the significance of The Dubai Mall’s record-breaking visitor numbers, Alabbar said the mall offers Arabs the economic and social freedom they need to compete in the modern world.

“Three hundred million Arabs in this region feel they can make it here. They can get their break here. It’s a beacon of hope, it’s enriching,” he was quoted as saying by The Sunday Times newspaper.

Local retailer Sarah Belhasa, from Studio 8 fashion store, also was quoted as saying business in the mall is good and she believed Dubai “is the best place in the Middle East to be a woman.”

Writer and commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi added: "The Middle East – the world – needs a new place where east meets west, as it used to do in Cairo, Alexandria, Algiers, Beirut and Baghdad. Here, Arabs and everyone else all rub along together. Is that important? Does it change things a little for the better? I think so. And if you don’t agree, you don’t have to come.”

The GCC as a whole continues to show strength as a dynamic retail market with four countries ranked among the top 25 in the 2014 AT Kearney Global Retail Development Index (GRDI).

Factors influencing the growth of the regional retail industry include the construction and infrastructure boom, a growing and young population, strong GDP growth, and increasing consumer confidence and spending, AT Kearney said.

The UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman were all prominent in this year's list with the UAE climbing one spot to claim fourth position.

Retail sales grew five percent in the UAE in 2013, boosting annual sales to $66bn, AT Kearney noted.

It added that Dubai’s winning bid for Expo 2020 "highlights the country’s bright future and the massive infrastructure and development projects in the pipeline".

Kuwait also climbed one spot to rank eighth in this year’s index.

"The country’s rapidly growing GDP makes it a strong retail market, with high oil prices, strong trade and fiscal surpluses, and large government reserves creating a positive outlook," the index said.

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Posted by: Junaid Chaudhry

To Alabbar I say, Dubai has a lot to be proud of and a lot to be ashamed of......

Posted by: Tartare

Most of these comments are out of context in my opinion. His quotations imply, at least in my point of view, that with all this turmoil and BS going on throughout the Middle East, it's a beacon of hope for the arabs. And indeed it is. And I'm quite certain that he did not intend his comment to include only arabs. Im sure he's quite aware that the touristic traffic is what makes the boat float. Furthermore, looking at the bigger picture, Dubai itself is a beacon of hope for the whole world.

Posted by: Abu Abdullah

@WHJ. That's exactly my point, it is for all nationals but to say only for Arabs is a wrong statement

Posted by: Abu Abdullah

?a beacon of hope? for Arabs
I do not think so Mr. Alabbar. Arabs are a minority specially in Dubai, it would be more for others than Arabs

Posted by: WHJ

@Abu Abdullah. Tourism is main pillar of Dubai's economy and in order for tourism to thrive you must welcome all nationalities. Real estate is another important constituent of the economy and, similarly, for the sector to flourish all nationalities should be welcome to invest. Once you start putting restrictions based on nationalities you defeat the whole purpose of building a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan metropolis.
This is not about who outnumbers whom, this about a remarkable city called Dubai that is on the path to becoming one of the most advanced and dynamic cities in the world.

Posted by: Sami

Neither the city nor the mall is a beacon of hope.

Poorly managed and a disaster to navigate.

It is increasingly becoming a place for the pig-ignorant and uncivilised to mingle.

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