Dubai: In an effort to alleviate the shopping centre’s at times woeful traffic situation, Dubai Mall will build 5,000 new parking spaces by spring 2019, the chief executive of Emaar Malls said on Wednesday.
The mall, which says it hopes to receive as many as 87 million visitors this year, will add the spaces via its ongoing Zabeel and fountain view extensions.
Currently offering 9,500 parking spaces to shoppers, Dubai Mall routinely faces traffic problems at peak times.
Emaar Malls CEO Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne said that the parking situation was most retailers’ number one concern.
The company also said it would launch its new parking app this week, which will show users available parking spaces and the nearest parking space to a chosen store, and will also offer them pre-reserved parking.
The app will sync with Google Maps and other navigation systems to show users where they must drive to in order to find a parking space, and will direct shoppers who have lost their car back to their vehicle “simply by inputting your plate number.”
In an interview with Gulf News, Bousquet-Chavanne, who took over as CEO two months ago, dismissed concerns about retail oversupply in Dubai, while declining to share any figures ahead of the public company’s quarterly financial report next week.
“The only thought I can give you, is that when you have assets of that quality ... the best protection against change is the quality you have built,” he said.
Earlier this year, Emaar owner Mohammad Al Abbar announced Dubai Square, a new mall that will be twice as large as neighbouring Dubai Mall, and be located just a few miles down the road.
Asked if he was concerned that the new sister mall would cannibalise Dubai Mall’s business, Bousquet-Chavanne said he wasn’t anxious. “I don’t get worried, I focus on what we can do as a company to improve our value and the shareholder value,” he said.
“We have a definite strategy that will be presented to [investors] shortly. We have to lead in this market, because we’ve been the historical market leader, and this is not a position that’s about to change under my leadership.”
Dubai Mall turns 10 years old this November, and the company is planning a range of activities, including a light show on the Burj Khalifa, to celebrate.
“Footfall is up,” Bousquet-Chavanne said, adding: “We’re seeing a variety of tourists returning to Dubai. I’m realistic about what we can deliver, but I’m also very positive about what’s possible.”
“We can’t ignore [e-commerce] ... I will say more in the future months where I see our plans going.”