State-linked developer Emaar Properties and Dubai Holding will build a new mall, said to be larger than Dubai Mall, at their flagship project Dubai Creek Harbour. Dubai Square, as the developer has named the project, will also have around 1,500 hotel rooms and thousands of more apartment units.
The project is expected to cost Dh10 billion, according to Mohammad Alabbar, chairman, and CEO of Emaar Properties, speaking to members of the press. Half of this will be funded by debt, while the other half will be funded by Emaar capital, he added.
The mall, which will feature streets, plazas, and a glass roof, will give off the impression of an indoor city, according to Alabbar. With industrial themed sections, traditional Arabic architecture in other parts, and the previously announced Chinese city within the mall, the shopping center will act as a key feature of the Dubai Creek Harbour development.
Alabbar has said that he is eyeing up the 75 million transiting passengers through Dubai International, making a play for five or six million of those to visit the shopping complex. A free Metrolink from the airport will transport travelers to metro hub Grand Central Station, as it will be called, located within the retail complex.
This will allow transiting tourists to spend their layover at the mall. “If we can make it possible for five or six million to visit Dubai Square during [their] stopover, that would be great,” Alabbar said. The larger Dubai Creek Harbour development will have three metro stations linking to the wider RTA network.
A coming together of all of Alabbar’s business interests, including Americana, Aramex, and Noon, the billionaire businessman announced the launch of Dubai OS, providing all of Emaar’s retail tenants with a ready-made e-Commerce platform.
Selling through e-Commerce site Noon, via a logistics network provided by Aramex, all of Emaar’s retail clients will now be able to sell and ship throughout the region. Alabbar confirmed his belief that physical retail was not going to die out, but added that shopping malls required “e-Commerce DNA to be embedded in their bricks and mortar.”
With the retail market in a transitional period, and a huge amount of supply coming online, including six or seven sizeable malls in the next couple of years, analysts predict deflationary risks, pressure on rents, and occupancy drops in Dubai.
According to Josh Holmes, a senior consumer analyst at BMI Research, the ongoing rise of online shopping in the UAE poses an additional risk to brands that become overly reliant on physical stores in the country.
BMI forecasts that the UAE e-Commerce market will grow by 27.5 per cent year on year in 2018, reaching $12.3 billion. In total, Emaar says it has 28 total projects underway at the Dubai Creek Harbour development. Over 8,500 apartments will accommodate the city’s more than 200,000 residents.
Dubai Creek Tower, expected to be the tallest building in the world upon completion, will welcome seven million visitors every year, Emaar claims. Underneath the tower will be a concert venue capable of hosting 30,000 people, the company adds. The first phase of the project, an island, will be open in the fourth quarter of 2018. The mall will likely open in four to five year’s time. “We’re in the business of building cities,” said Alabbar.