Dubai's MAF plans up to 20 new community malls

Mall developer is looking to tap into the growing demand for smaller-scale retail centres
Dubai's MAF plans up to 20 new community malls
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Beatrice Thomas
Mon 03 Mar 2014 04:28 PM

The head of Majid Al Futtaim’s property division has flagged building up to 20 more community-style malls in Dubai in the next few years as taps into growing demand for the smaller-scale product.

Launching the latest project under this concept and first for Dubai – a 1 million square foot shopping mall in Dubai's International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) - George Kostas said the format would eventually be rolled out to all of MAF’s existing markets, including the UAE, Saudi, Oman, Lebanon and Egypt.

It has five small malls in Sharjah and two more under construction in that emirate under the My City Centre badge, which Kostas described as a supermarket-anchored small mall.

“We’re out there now looking for more locations and we’re hoping to roll out more,” Kostas said.

He added: “You could do easily another 10 or 20 in Dubai quite easily based on the way the city’s grown and structured.”

“They’re a very simple product, they work very well and you can basically put them on the ground very quickly and we expect to see a lot more of these happening, not just by ourselves, by the broader market as well.”

The IMPZ project will be 300,000sqft in its first phase – about 10 percent of the size of MAF’s flagship shopping centre, Mall of the Emirates (MoE), when its expansion to 270,000 sqm (2.9mil sq ft) is complete at the end of March 2015. When totally built out at 1m sqft, the IMPZ project will equate to about 40 percent of MoE’s size.

A community mall is typically between 10,000sqm to 35,000 sq m.

Kostas said further roll out of My City Centre malls would be largely driven by MAF’s ability to access suitable land in different cities. However, there was a place for both small and big-size malls, with both playing “an important part in the economy”.

“There is a great initiative for this smaller, community-based centre,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve heard from customers that they wish they had somewhere that they could go down the road, buy the groceries, do the daily shopping and avoid having to go into the big malls, particularly on weekends,” he said.

“We believe we’re responding to not just a community need but a product that does exist elsewhere in the world and a market that is now mature enough to accept that product here as well. 

“But, I can see in time that the number of these types of malls will far exceed the number of our larger malls.”

Kostas rejected the suggestion that the market was saturated.

“We think there’s opportunity to do more. The very big opportunity is community-based centres. We’re a mall owner, we’re a mall developer, we like the product and so we see a good opportunity,” he said.

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