Abu Dhabi: The largest mall in Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public Sunday.
Dalma Mall, which is located opposite Mohammad Bin Zayed City on the outskirts of the capital, will feature over 480 stores when it reaches full capacity.
However, less than 20 outlets officially opened Sunday with the majority of the mall's 147,000 square metres of retail space lying dormant.
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Around 15 outlets officially opened yesterday to complement several anchor stores, including Carrefour, Home Centre, Centrepoint and Matalan, that have been trading in the mall for approximately a year.
Mark Adams, General Manager of Dalma Mall, said: "Dalma Mall is a shopping centre targeted mainly at the many new residential communities in Abu Dhabi that are grossly under-serviced."
"We are very happy with the support we have had from retailers especially as it has been a difficult year in terms of people investing money.
"We are in a unique position in that we are not located in an area with a highly concentrated population. We aim to serve residents of Khalifa City and Mohammad Bin Zayed City, both of which are only a short 20 minute drive away.
"There is a massive growth corridor in this part of the city that we aim to exploit. That is why the mall has a strong family and homeware offering with stores such as Home Centre, Centrepoint and Matalan."
Dalma Mall, which is owned by The Developers LLC, has a total built-up area of 250,000 square metres, making it the biggest mall in Abu Dhabi. Another 35 units are expected to open later this week while a 14-screen cinema and Fun City, a children's entertainment area, are both scheduled to open by early November.
Saaed Mohammad Al Mulla, Chief Executive Officer of The Developers LLC, said: "We first looked at this project in 2006 and after studying the demographics of the area we realised there was a real lack of retail facilities.
"We decided to go ahead with the project and now, four years later, we are finally able to realise our dream. Dalma Mall will service an area that is fast becoming the new Abu Dhabi. We have a target audience of around 350,000 people who live within a 20 minute drive from the mall; there is a huge gap in the market that we are going to fill.
"We have already leased out over 60 per cent of the mall's units and we are hoping to add more over the coming weeks and months. We realise it has been a difficult period for many retailers with the global financial crisis but banks are beginning to lend again and we are definitely seeing improvements in the market.
"There is plenty of room in the market for another mall, particularly in this part of Abu Dhabi, which is currently under-served in terms of retail opportunities. Dalma Mall will have certain unique concepts in that some brands will be opening here for the first time in the UAE.
"It is still early days and we are a regional mall first and foremost. However, in the future I don't any reason why we cannot position ourselves as a mall for everyone in Abu Dhabi."
Dalma Mall is located on the Abu Dhabi-Tarif-Al Ain highway in the capital's Musaffah district. It is only a short drive away from some of the city's most rapidly developing areas including Khalifa City A, Khalifa City B, Mohammad Bin Zayed City, Raha Beach, Raha Gardens, Officers City and Between the Bridges.
Dubai Khalfan Saeed Al Kaabi, First Vice Chairman, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, inaugurated yesterday the Dh50 million Danube Buildmart in Dalma Mall, Abu Dhabi, the largest of all showrooms opened by Danube Building Materials.
Spanning 35,000 square feet, the company's latest retail facility is located near the main entrance, and houses its entire product range in a convenient yet elegant setting. M.K. Lokesh, Ambassador of India to the UAE, was also present at the event, along with Danube Building Materials Chairman Rizwan Sajan, Managing Director Anis Sajan, Dr B.R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO, NMC, and senior officials from Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza). At present, there are a total of 22 global Danube retail facilities — 16 in the UAE, two in Oman, one each in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and two in India, in addition to procurement offices in China and Canada.
Sajan said, "Abu Dhabi is a key market for us, and our extended presence in the capital though this new facility will certainly broaden our customer base."