Dubai Airports' Commercial EVP said the airport is increasingly focused on partnering with homegrown brands that are unique to Dubai
Dubai Airports will open up 88 new F&B and retail concessions at Dubai International Airport over the course of the next 18 months as part of an expansion that will see four new “districts” catering to the various needs of travelers opened at the airport, according to Eugene Barry, the executive vice president of Dubai Airports’ commercial group.
Speaking to Arabian Business at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Barry said the 88 concessions include changes to existing concessions, as well as entirely new ones opened in previously unavailable area.
“To do this, you need to create space. So we’ve worked on a project over the last year of converting space and creating districts inside the airport, rather than creating individual concepts,” he said. “The districts are connected to people’s expectations and behaviour.”
Among the different traveller “expectations” identified by the airport include areas designed as catering to the needs of families with children and a shopping-oriented area, as well as areas focused on dining and culture.
Three of the districts are currently under construction, including the “downtown” district. According to Barry, the area “is built to be a reflection of the city.”
“That would be an integrated collection of retail, lifestyle, food, events, exhibits and entertainment inside the airport for general travelers who are looking for something different to do in the airport,” he explained.
“There are still elements of food and retail, but the idea is that they are all integrated and connected...and not isolated or fragmented across the airport.”
Another district under construction, the “family zone”, currently includes trampolines from Bounce and a recently opened H&M store, while the under-construction “food village” will include a number of F&B options of a quality that Barry says “has not traditionally been associated with an airport.”
“The whole idea is that now the airport is a destination in itself,” he added. “For [those] passengers who have generous time between flights, we’re creating these experiences. We’re using these spaces to experiment with some new concepts.”
Additionally, Barry said that a large number of new concessions at the airport will be homegrown and the result of partnerships with local brands, even if larger, more established global brands will always have a place at the airport.
“We still need to have [global] brands with instant recognition for those with very little time to understand or look around for choice,” he said. “But we see ourselves in a competitive industry, and a lot of travelers have a choice. We’re very aware that we need to differentiate ourselves.
“I’m more and more steering us down the road of bespoke, tailor-made products with are unique to Dubai,” he added. “That’s the way we’re going.”