Eligible tenants at Dubai Festival City can tap up to three months' relief through the new initiative launched by Al-Futtaim Group. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Al-Futtaim Group has set up a fund of Dh100 million for retailers at its Festival malls in Dubai. The fund will cover up to three months’ rent relief for “eligible” tenants, who run the risk of being caught in business disruption and slowdown.

The announcement of the Fund follows the creation of a taskforce established to examine how Al-Futtaim Group can develop effective measures to help its tenants at a time when visitor footfall in malls has declined following the directives issued by local authorities to the public to avoid crowded areas. The Fund offers financial support to retailers impacted by the sensitive situation and seeks to help them reduce the impact of the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omar Abdulla Al Futtaim

Omar Abdulla Al Futtaim, Vice-Chairman of Al-Futtaim Group said that strong collaboration between various stakeholders is critical to navigate the challenges that have arisen in the current situation. The UAE and Dubai will remain strong in the face of these challenges no matter how difficult they are, he added. These measures are part of the Group’s responsibility towards the UAE and its economy as it is a partner in its journey of success locally and internationally, he stressed.

“We are proud to be one of Dubai’s key partners in its economic progress. This pride comes with a huge responsibility both towards our country and our retail business partners who are part of the Group’s success. We remain steadfast in our support to our leadership in facing this critical situation. Backed by collaboration with all stakeholders, we are confident in our ability to tide over these challenges without any significant impact,” he said.

“As a company that embodies Dubai’s spirit of resilience and supportive ethos, the Al Futtaim Group closely understands the problems faced by businesses and investors in challenging economic conditions. As a business, we are deeply committed to contributing to the growth and sustainability of the UAE and Dubai and to backing our retail partners in ensuring their business continuity. We earnestly hope this support will help our mall tenants recover and restore their business health rapidly,” he added.

“Our tenants are our highest priority at all times, but especially in this challenging period. It is our duty to provide guidance and assistance to them in this crucial period. Our dedicated teams will contact all tenants in the coming days to discuss their individual requirements,” he further said.

“In these unprecedented times, we understand the difficulties faced by the businesses and the impact this current situation is having on our economy,” said Timothy Earnest, Group Director. “As a business deeply attached to the wellbeing of the UAE, we have a role to play and have committed ourselves to finding ways to support while the malls remain open.

“We hope this contribution will help pave way for business continuity in this difficult environment.”

The Group operates the Dubai Festival City Mall and the recently opened Festival Plaza mall.

Over the last week, a taskforce was established to examine how Al-Futtaim could support its retail tenants as COVID-19 forced most residents of the UAE to spend more time at home. The team was tasked with quickly developing effective measures to help the affected tenants.

“All tenants will be contacted in the coming days by dedicated mall teams to discuss their individual requirements and process for relief,” Earnest added.

Dubai’s big businesses join in

Dubai Holding and Meraas had earlier in the week announced a Dh1 billion stimulus programme to tenants at its residential and commercial destinations. More big names are expected to follow.

Upfront rental relief will be the main instrument in these packages. Some leading retail names are also pushing for a review of existing rental arrangements to lessen the pain caused by the steep fall in consumer spend.

In Abu Dhabi, Aldar issued a Dh100 million package, which will offer options to tenants to pay through monthly - and thereby - smaller installments.