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Wed 8 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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New malls spell fresh FMCG opportunities

The growth of mega-mall outlets in the GCC will give hypermarkets the opportunity to scrap over new and lucrative locations.

The trend to use hypermarkets as a lynchpin for the ‘mega-mall’ development craze that is sweeping the Middle East spells a fantastic FMCG opportunity for would-be investors, with a host of mall projects springing up throughout the region.

Perhaps most prominent is the recently announced Mall of Arabia, located in the City of Arabia and set to be a big draw within the enormous Dubailand project. Once finished, the attraction will be double the size of America’s Disneyland and about the same size of the current built-up area of Dubai. Mall of Arabia itself is projected to be the world’s largest retail centre, and competition between hypermarkets to secure this coveted location as the mall’s focal point is certain to be fierce.

Away from Dubai, the Egyptian company Orascom’s The Cove project in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah will provide hypermarkets with the opportunity to extend their parameters within the UAE. A 40 minute drive from Dubai International Airport, the beachfront Cove development will combine a variety of residential and hospitality projects, together with a choice of shopping malls, supermarkets, schools and hospitals adjacent to Ras Al Khaimah’s free zone.

“We’re excited about The Cove. Not only is it our first major project in the UAE, but it’s also going to be one of the most prestigious destinations in the region,” says Samih Sawiris, chairman of Orascom Hotels and Development. “This is the beginning of a long range of projects in the region.” Construction on this project is likely to be completed by late 2007, so interested retail parties will need to act sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile in Qatar, plans for the offshore development the Pearl Qatar continue to advance, and prime retail locations are likely to be snapped up soon. “Our goal is to be under construction with respect to towers and infrastructure in the next two months, which has to happen if we are going to deliver the project by the end of 2006,” says Nick Bashkiroff, the Pearl Qatar’s project development director. Around the harbour a combination of packages will be devised combining residential and retail and once again the top spots for FMCG locations signify a great opportunity for chains looking to spearhead growth into new regions.

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