Dubai based developer Nakheel has just announced some exciting new additions to their already vast property portfolio.The plans reveal projects worth €3.7 billion ($3.9 billion) from the biggest retail development company in the Middle East.
The high level figures show that over 1.4 square meters (15 million square feet) will be added across 14 centers, both new and existing across Dubai. We sat down with Adnand Hegrat, who is their Managing Director for retail, in order to find out more about their plans for the future. He told us that they will be bringing out new developments on a regularly, basically every few months for the next 3 or 4 years.
Dragon Mart ExtensionHe confirmed that they have “just finished” the huge Dragon Mart expansion. This center originally had 3,000 stores and it will now have 460 new ones in the extension. It will also have a new name too; Dragon City.
Also completed now is the Golden Mile Galleria mall. This is located on Palm Jumeirah island and Hegrat called it a “beautiful strip of shops” place offering retail and food “overseeing the gardens”.
He went on to say that “in a few months” they will be delivering the 2 phase extension to the thematic Ibn Battuta Mall. He said that it “will have everything” that the first mall did not have, including “entertainment, leisure, cinema and hotel” included in it now.
When we asked about the main aims when it comes to entertainment in the Nakheel shopping centers, he pointed out that they need to provide entertainment options for visitors of all ages, from children through teenagers to adults. They are “trying to acquire” all of these things, either under one roof or under three different ones.
The PointeHe then talked to us about another exciting new project called The Pointe, which will be facing the Atlantis hotel in Dubai, at the top of Palm Jumeirah island. This is a 136,000 square meters (1.46 million square feet) development that is predominantly about dining, with extensive waterfront dining options, together with retail. Hegrat told us that it will “mostly be dedicated to fine dining”, which in Dubai simply means that wine can be served with the food rather than a reference to the quality of the restaurant.
There will be 150 outlets here and it is currently 75% leased. Construction is advanced and The Pointe is due to open in 2016. This backs up the company's busy opening schedule with the phrase “by the time we open one we open a second, new one” showing how quickly new centers are opened.
Dining in DubaiWe asked about the current most popular restaurant concepts in Dubai just now and were told that all kinds are popular and “all are appealing”, because the population of Dubai likes variety and they tend to go from one type of restaurant one day to another the next day. In the new Nakheel Mall, the entire roof level will be dedicated to fine dining, with 12 restaurants currently planned and more possibly to come.
When it comes to the impressive speed with which Nakheel fills its centers with so many different local and international retailers, he puts this success down largely to “the appeal of the city itself” and how everything is made easy for them to succeed in Dubai. In his opinion things are made easy for retailers, as they are provided with the “facility, the infrastructure and the least possible regulation and bureaucracy”.
Bearing this in mind, retailers now come to operate in Dubai “from all around the world”. He then went on tell us that tell us how the restaurant options in their centers are massively varied, ranging from international fast food chains to Arabic cuisine and food from Asia, Mexico; Russia, and many more regions.
Footfall FiguresWe asked about potential footfall and Hegrat told us that they have “about 65,000 per day” in Ibn Battuta. Meanwhile, in the larger Dragon Mart the daily figure reaches “over 100,000”. As for how clients are attracted to Nakheel malls, he put this down to “the quality of the shops, the type of shop and the type of mix”. He said that people look for “destination type of shops”.
Also, the location of the mall is important for bringing in customers, with good population density in the surrounding neighborhood.
In the example of Battuta, “people come because of the architectural design” as well as the shopping and dining. In this mall there are sections dedicated to countries around the world, in terms of design and overall theme. It also has a beautifully located Starbucks branch under a dome, which was voted one of the top 10 coolest Starbucks branches in the world.
When we talked about types of new tenants, Hegrat told us that they are "trying to attract the North American type of tenant” and Japanese tenants as well. There is the possibility of a Japanese partner joining their malls, although they can't be named just now until a deal is finalized.
Nakheel MallThe Nakheel Mall next to the new Palm Tower will have around 350 stores in it and it is regarded as a more luxury and high end center, with the likes of French Connection among the tenants. On the other hand, the Circle Mall is a more mid-range destination in the middle of a very large existing residential community.
We asked about the interesting architectural designs in the company's malls, and he told us that they “have a design team in-house” and hire consultants for architectural work and supervision.
“The identity of the mall” is the reason given by Hegrat for the different malls not providing competition for each other. They are all set in unique places and attract different types of customers, such as tourists or locals. For instance, their 5,000 store Night Souk is largely aimed at locals rather than tourists.
Finally, he told us that the largely ex-pat community of residents means that their malls aren’t just for tourists in the way that some people from outside Dubai may think. Of the 8 million population, around 65% are ex-pats from around the world. In addition, a lot of the tourists in Dubai come from neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia to spend some time, while they set up “each shopping center to accommodate these people”.