The Al Futtaim Group is one of the largest conglomerates in the UAE.
It has signed a deal to erect the largest shopping centre in Saudi Arabia as it looks to gain a foothold in the Saudi retail market. The developer is set to use its Festival City concept to build a 6 billion riyal mall west of Riyadh, in the Al Diriyah district. The 250000m² mall will include a luxury 500-room hotel, serviced apartments and Ikea as the anchor store. It will be situated about five kilometres from King Saud University and about 10 kilometres from the King Abdullah Financial District.
The developer has acquired all the necessary permits and construction is due to commence in the coming weeks. Al Futtaim will provide the investment and management to allow for building and operating the mall. There may be difficulty ahead for the developer as regards the first phase, the Ikea store, to be completed within the tight one year schedule, due to the clampdown on illegal workers by the government. About one million foreign workers left the kingdom during March to November last year after the enforcement of work permit rules.
3 JUNE 2014, United Arab Emirates