Al Wahda Mall is redefining visitor experience by introducing sports facilities. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Who said malls are only for shopping? A regular at Al Wahda Mall knows not all visitors there are shoppers. One could be an avid tennis player, a passionate shuttler, a die-hard cricket enthusiast or even a billiard fan.

Thanks to the one-of-its-kind Sports Lounge located at lobby 1 and lobby 2 on basement 1, Al Wahda Mall visitors can take part in a range of sporting activities such as tennis, badminton, cricket and billiards.

Wellness initiative

“The Sports Lounge is an initiative to promote a healthy community with focus on both the physical and mental well-being of people. It gives Abu Dhabi residents more than just one reason to come to the mall,” said Mohammad Nauman, the mall’s general manager

And it does. Whether it is for a welcome break from a shopping spree or to spend time playing their favourite sport while their families are shopping, visitors are coming in droves to the Lounge. “It is difficult to get a pool table right away on a weekend. You have to wait for your turn as there are always people playing,” said Jamal Rashid, an Arab expat.

Weekend sport

For Indian James Joseph, Al Wahda Mall has become his favourite haunt on weekends thanks to the newly introduced indoor cricket pitch.

“I love playing cricket but there are not many opportunities where I reside. So the indoor pitch here is perfect for people like me,” said Joseph, a sales executive.

Individual players can practise cricket with the speedster bowling machine.

The Sports Lounge also has six table tennis facilities and two badminton courts plus a PS4 station.

The mall recently organised Al Wahda Premier League tournaments in badminton and tennis from August 25 to September 5 which was attended by hundreds of Abu Dhabi residents.

Encouraged by the success of the event, the mall is planning to add more sporting facilities to the lounge.

“Squash and football are next in our agenda,” an official from the mall management said. “In a few weeks, we will also be introducing a membership system where visitors can book their slots online.”

Currently, visitors can play any sport by buying a ticket on the spot which costs Dh10 for 30 minutes. PS4 costs Dh20 per 30 minutes.