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Sun 12 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Expat exodus?

Iyad Malas, the man who heads up billionaire Majid Al Futtaim's financial organisations, says he is not convinced that Dubai is emptying. He should know, Majid Al Futtaim owns both the massive City Centre and Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, and Malas has access to the footfall numbers. He says visitor volumes are comparable with this time last year, but that people are spending less.

Expat exodus?

Iyad Malas, the man who heads up billionaire Majid Al Futtaim's financial organisations, says he is not convinced that Dubai is emptying. He should know, Majid Al Futtaim owns both the massive City Centre and Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, and Malas has access to the footfall numbers. He says visitor volumes are comparable with this time last year, but that people are spending less.

Many would disagree with him, on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Today, taxis arrive moments after being ordered. Last year, you were lucky to get one within an hour of booking one, if at all. Also, there is much less in the way of traffic jams. If you are familiar with Dubai, you will have course noticed all this.

These days, the traffic is no longer an excuse for being late in Dubai. Now you have to say you were stuck in a meeting that ran over, or something more original.

Malas says there may be less traffic because of the traditional summer lull in business in this part of the world, and because of improvements in roads infrastructure. He attributes the ease of access to taxis to a drop in hotel occupancy. Less tourists visiting Dubai is certainly not good news for taxi drivers.

Is he right? Many people would say he is not, but as a CEO, you are probably in a better position than most to gauge the accuracy of his comments.

How's your bottom line looking for the Dubai arm of your business six months into 2009? Blue Banana, the company that used to organise fun things for the well-to-do to do at the weekend has just gone bust. This time last year it was in great shape.

Now the school terms are about to finish - the starting pistol, if it is going to happen, for the exodus many have predicted for months.

Is it all hot air? We'll know better by the start of next month. See you then, if you're still around.

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Maha 11 years ago

Dear Mr. Malas, I am quite surprised by the statement that the footfall in the MAF malls are comparable to this time last year. Although my expereince is by no means an accurate mearuring tool, I can say with confidence that I have had NO problems whatsoever finding parking spaces in your malls for the past two months. We all know very well, how parking in malls was a logistical nightmare just a few months back with anecdotes of spending 20 minutes going around in circles. I find it hard to believe without acutal numbers to illustrate how comparable the figures are. With best regards,

Manish 11 years ago

MAF this year have renewed tenancy agreement for our retail space with an increase of 10% over last year. Being with MAF fpr more than 10 years, we requested them to spare us this year. however, they have clearly told us we can leave if we don't like it.

Christopher Richardson 11 years ago

A friend of mine noted that in her mall (a MAF property) there were lots of people... auspiciously buying suit cases.

mary 11 years ago

why don't we do a little statistic ourself, whoever knows someone that is leaving the country put your hand up.