Wellness Boulevard, Abu Dhabi
The Wellness Boulevard in Abu Dhabi's Khalifa City. The developer has introduced a relatively new concept to this market, through integrating healthcare and wellness offerings with all the shopping and F&B options. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Heading for the clinic? Or the supermarket?

At Abu Dhabi’s brand new Wellness Boulevard – scheduled to open in the third quarter this year - visitors can engage in both, as the UAE’s retail sector sees the introduction of healthcare services fused with shopping and leisure options. The concept has already been tried out in the US, but had until now seen slower adoption in the UAE and Gulf markets. Instead, mall developers had focussed on adding clinics and wellness facilities within their wider tenant mix.

Wellness Boulevard, Abu Dhabi
Which direction to take? The healthcare and shopping options are well delineated at the destination in the making. Image Credit: Supplied

Mix and match

At the Dh500 million Wellness Boulevard, located at Khalifa City, the developer – Al Falah Healthcare - is giving equal attention. “We have separate floors for each,” said a spokesperson.

On whether there will be anchor stores typical of traditional malls, the spokesperson said: “Currently there are numerous [who are interested] and we are in discussions with more. We will be revealing more at a later date. We offer affordable prices which will be negotiated on an individual basis.”

Leasing is now open for the 130 units spread across the 36,000 square metres and seven floors, including a supermarket.

On whether multiple healthcare facilities under one roof won’t prove too competitive, the spokesperson said: “The units will complement rather than compete, working in unison for the customer and clients.”

"The concept of a multi-purpose, multi-specialty and 100 per cent patient-focused healthcare destination characterizes growing demand from not only health services providers, but also the public for clean, safe and modern facilities that are conveniently located and easy to access," said Ahmed Ali, General Manager at Al Falah Healthcare, in a statement. 

Time to re-zone?
Older malls too will need to go down this route, if they see vacancies creep up in their retail mix. Re-purposing malls will be the next big challenge that developers and their managements face. Adding more healthcare and wellness options will be one option… hosting education-related could be another.