Abu Dhabi: Al Wahda Mall will soon be the capital's largest shopping centre. The mall, which has put in place a 1.7 million square foot extension, is due to open in the third quarter of this year.
The new extension will include over 250 stores which will be divided into different zones, a health club, a cinema and a number of restaurants. It's a project that the developer believes will double the number of visitors per year.
"Almost 80 per cent of the retail space in the extension has already been leased," Raja Abdul Khader, director of Line Investments, said, adding: "We're in the process of handing over the stores for their fit-outs and interior décor, etc."
Line Investments currently manages 11 malls in the region, including six in Abu Dhabi.
"Last year, we had 9.5 million visitors and we're expecting this to go up to 20 million," Gogi George, leasing manager at Line Investments and Property, the developer and a subsidiary of Emke Group, which also owns LuLu Hypermarket, said.
More parking space will be allocated for visitors, allowing up to 4,000 to park in the mall. The existing mall takes in 1,750 cars. "We've planned the extension in a way that whatever we found deficient in the existing mall offering has been now introduced in the development," George said. "Almost 50 per cent of the brands will be new to Abu Dhabi."
The developer says the mall has been doing well with a vacancy percentage of less than 5 per cent last year. "Brands want to be there," George said.
However, the company is not banking on the mall being the largest in the city to attract shoppers. "When the Dubai Mall opened, a lot of people said it's too big and it won't work," Anoop Gopal, a leasing manager, said.
"But, it turned out to be different because at the end of the day, if you have everything offered under one roof, people would like to be there because every brand will be there and everything you want to do will be there."