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Tue 3 Nov 2009 03:33 PM

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Shopping malls developer eyes $4bn expansion

Majid Al Futtaim Properties says it will double its retail space over next five years.

Majid Al Futtaim Properties, the largest developer of shopping malls in the Middle East, will spend around $4 billion over the next five years to double the amount of retail space it controls in the region.

The group is looking at over 14 projects in UAE, Oman, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, which will take its total gross leasable space from approximately 750,000 sq m to over 2.2 million by 2015.

“We typically fund our projects with debt and equity. Part of our funding strategy is to do these projects as joint ventures,” chief executive Peter Walichnowski told Arabian Business in an interview.

The company already controls land in Egypt, Beirut, Damascus, Oman and Qatar, he said.

The Carrefour franchisee said it could also bring the French hypermarket giant to Pakistan, where it holds the rights to the brand.

The Egyptian market has been particularly resilient during the recession.

“Even during the recession our sales have gone up in Egypt. So it’s a format that is very acceptable to Egyptians,” Walichnowski said.

The number of visitors to the group’s flagship malls in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Centre, was unchanged this year despite slowing tourism and anecdotal evidence that the number of expatriate workers has declined.

“What we have seen is the average person spending less. The main reason for that is that the tourists, who were the main big spenders in Dubai, dropped off during 2009,” he said.

“But in terms of the footfall, that hasn’t changed. It goes against the grain of what people are saying about people in Dubai losing their jobs. We haven’t seen it in our malls.”

Dubai retailers have reported sales declines of 20 to 25 percent this year, but Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has seen a smaller decline, he added.

The company currently operates nine shopping malls in Dubai, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt.

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Sussex Sheikh 10 years ago

Good to hear PW doing the talk talk again let's hope he can also do the walk walk.