By Soren Billing and Dylan Bowman
Mall will attract target of 30mn visitors in first year despite global financial crisis, general manager says.
Dubai Mall is sticking to its target of attracting 30 million visitors in its first year despite the global financial crisis, which is likely to hit tourism and consumers’ spending power.
Yousif Al-Ali, general manager of Dubai Mall, told Arabian Business on Tuesday the mall would not be affected by the crisis.
“The business in Dubai is as usual. The growth in GDP will translate into more purchasing power in the region, even the tourism has not been affected - we are seeing a huge number of tourists coming to the region,” Al-Ali said on the sidelines of a media tour of the mall.
“We are satisfied that nothing will be affected in Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall will be the number one mall in the region in terms of sales.”
The much-delayed Dubai Mall opens its doors to the public at 2pm on Tuesday, but analysts have questioned how successful the mall will be given the current economic climate.
The mall, one of the biggest in the world at 12.1 million square feet, will feature more than 1,200 stores and over 160 food and beverage outlets once complete.
Of the 1,200 retailers, more than 165 are opening in Dubai or the Middle East region for the very first time.
French retailer Galeries Lafayette and US department store Bloomingdale's have both confirmed they will open outlets at the mall, as has upmarket UK supermarket chain Waitrose.
The mall is being built by Emaar Malls Group and is part of the $20 billion Downtown Burj Dubai, Emaar Properties’ 500-acre flagship project. At its centre is the Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Sure, Dubai Mall can say they will have 30 million visitors...but the truth is we will never know for sure. Dubai Mall's management must stick by the "company line" otherwise their overpriced tenants will be kicking and screaming. After all, these tenants were told the same big (unrealistic?) numbers when they signed their contracts. And why does Dubai Mall think everyone is going to come running when half the tenants are not open? But it is important to realize that "visitors" do not equate to "purchasers". There will be a lot of people who visit the mall to see the aquarium and maybe buy something. But then they may not come back. There are a few things to think about regarding Dubai's retail situation over the next few years: 1. In the future there will be 3 malls coming up on Emirates Road: Mirdif City Centre, Mall of Arabia and Arena Mall (Sports City). These malls will be close to lots of potential customers who will choose these malls over Dubai Mall because of their convenient location. 2. Mall of the Emirates is the #1 mall and they are expanding in the next 2 years. I am sure the MAF Group is going to be making their own high footfall projections based on current numbers and assumptions of what their expansion will bring to their mall. 3. Let's do a little homework....if you look at the current projections from Mall of the Emirates, Deira City Centre, Bur Juman Mall, Mercado, Al-Ghurair Mall, Ibn Battuta and Dubai Mall (who did I forget?), how in the world can they all meet their projections? Off hand these all add up to maybe 75 million visitors, maybe 90 million, maybe more? Not only would tourist have to be in a different mall every day but all the residents would have to be in the malls probably a lot more often. Retailers are heading for trouble...the skies may be sunny today but there is only so much Dubai can handle. Once sales don't cover the high rents there will be lots of problems for everyone...
The general manager of Dubai Mall can hardly be expected to want to risk losing his job, having gone on record with a realistic appraisal of the number of visitors to Dubai's newest temple of shopping. The whole upper management echelon of the UAE appears to be under orders from above to negate that yes, there is a crisis out there - and it's heading this way fast. Or maybe these people are allowed to smoke something beyond the legal reach of the rest of us...?
With very few entertainment options available in Dubai, its not that difficult to get these visitor numbers. However, I wonder how many out of these are actually gonna shop at the mall. Well, it is said that there is inflation in Dubai. But everytime I come here I see the best of the cars on the roads. I see people relaxing and having a good time in malls on a working day. Shopping is I think a culture here with the rich. They will keep shopping. I dont think the niche market of luxurious brands will ever be affected in Dubai. And well for the middle class there are always shops like Splash where they can splash their money using their new credit cards!!