Dubai: For UAE’s shoppers wanting a piece of new action, it’s time they set their Google Maps to locations headed north. Because the Northern Emirates are now seeing mega mall developments that will give their retail sector a full-scale makeover.
Sharjah is already en route with a couple of these projects, one at “Tilal City”, and the other by Lulu Group owned Line Investments near the cricket stadium.
More retail and leisure attractions are on the way in the emirate at master-developments from Arada and Eagle Hills. Line Investments on its part is not confined to Sharjah when it comes to taking on new projects — it is building Umm Al Quwain’s first mega-mall and which is scheduled for an opening later this year. And offering a gross leasable area of 20,000 square metres. (And in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis, Line Investments is creating 80,000 square metres-plus — just for the first phase.)
Mall developers are not just concentrating on going big and wide.
Majid Al Futtaim Properties opened a Dh68 million community mall in Ras Al Khaimah.
Now, it is Ajman’s turn to come to the retail party. Ajman Holding recently announced its first step into creating a retail destination, which will take the form of the “Mirkaaz Mall”. The first phase should entail costs of Dh500 million and a gross leasable area of 38,000 square metres. The promoters are aiming for a Q4-19 opening.
For now, their focus is centred on handing out the key contracts. “We are ready to announce the main contractor from the shortlist,” said Inas Abu Shashieh, Corporate Services and Special Projects Director at Ajman Holding. “Our intention is pretty straightforward — build the largest shopping and entertainment destination in Ajman and make sure residents spend more time in the city. And create something that will compel visitors.”
It is a formula that has worked well for Dubai’s “destination” malls and in Abu Dhabi, where Yas Mall is proving to be an all-year attraction. Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall — arguably occupying the best stretch of real estate right on the Corniche — has committed to a Dh3 billion expansion that would build up on land either side of the existing facility.
With the Mirkaaz, Ajman Holding believes it has the location that can help meet all of its targets. “It’s not on the city’s outskirts, but with a location that can serve a future catchment area of 50,000 residents. It is right at the juncture between Ajman and Sharjah and easily accessible via Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road. Right through to the time of the project’s launch, we have been doing the numbers — and they are very much in our favour.”
The land available stretches to 93,000 square metres. The number of shops will be over 100, and in keeping with the prevailing wisdom in the industry, F&B gets a sizeable helping of space. Once it opens and gets into the swing of things, visitor traffic could touch 1 million a year. That is quite a substantial total for the Ajman marketplace, and more so given that before Mirkaaz, there was no such destination magnet.
Abu Shashieh is already thinking further down the road. A second phase will look to add a residential component and a hotel. “The master plan has not been finalised, but we will continue to study what’s the best mix until decision time. The best part is that the land is already with us and that’s quite substantial for all that we have in mind.”
Once the new-generation retail attractions come up in the Northern Emirates, the mall owners’ immediate priority will be to get residents to spend more of their time and money at the shops and entertainment options. In this regard, they have the ready benchmark that Abu Dhabi’s mall developers — particularly Aldar Properties with the Yas Mall — has set. Build the right sort of mix, and malls will be able to retain and grow their visitor traffic.
It is now the turn of malls in the Northern Emirates to prove that it will work just as well up north.
Look to the roof
Future visitors to the Mirkaaz Mall in Ajman will have a reason to look to the skies. It is said to be the first mall to feature a “sprawling Atrium roof”, stretching to 36 metres in length and covering an area of 7,920 square metres.