Abu Dhabi leads Arabian Gulf in retail space development

Eight new mega shopping centres are set to be built in the capital over the next three years, according to the property adviser CBRE.

The 235,000 square metre Yas Mall, above, is due to open in November. Sammy Dallal / The National
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Abu Dhabi has more major retail space under development than anywhere else in the Arabian Gulf, according to a new study.

Eight new mega shopping centres are set to be built in the capital over the next three years, according to the property adviser CBRE, giving Abu Dhabi the largest retail development pipeline in the GCC. It equates to more than 778,000 square metres of shopping space.

Malls under development in Abu Dhabi include Aldar's 235,000 square metre Yas Mall, which is now due to open in November as well as Gulf Related's 214,000 sq metre Sowwah Central, which is due to complete in 2017.

The figures also include Paragon Day Mall on Reem Island, Mina Plaza at Mina Zayed, Darwish Island City on Airport Road and Shamkha Mall in Shamkha.

About 168,000 sq metres of new shopping space was built in Abu Dhabi last year – putting it in 18th place globally. In comparison, just 35,000 sq metres of shopping space was completed in Dubai in 2013.

CBRE researchers measured major retail development (of more than 20,000 square metres of leasable space) under construction in 180 of the world’s major cities at the start of the year.

They found that in Dubai just 96,000 sq metres of major shopping centres were under construction at Emaar's 75,000 sq metre Dubai Mall extension and Ahmed Ramadhan Juma's 21,000 sq metre Agora Mall in Jumeirah.

The property broker did not include outlet malls such as Nakheel's 177,000 sq metre Dragon Mart extension in its figures because it did not count it as grade A space. It also did not include Majid Al Futtaim's Mall of the Emirates extension, which is not large enough to be counted.

“Dubai’s retail pipeline is increasing as the economy recovers but it is Abu Dhabi that will have most retail development activity over the next couple of years for sure,” said Matthew Green, the head of research at CBRE’s Dubai office.

"Dubai saw a great deal of construction activity in 2010 and 2011 with the construction of major retail centres such as Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall. Abu Dhabi is only seeing that sort of major development now with the planned opening of Yas Mall."

Abu Dhabi’s first major regional shopping centre Yas Mall on Yas Island had been due to open last month. However, the opening has been delayed by eight months, says the developer Aldar, to coincide with Abu Dhabi’s Formula One race in November.

The rapid growth in mall construction in the capital has led some analysts to suggest the capital could face an oversupply of shopping space.

“We don’t expect to see an imminent oversupply in the immediate future in Abu Dhabi,” Mr Green said. “However, down the line we think that there could be some areas which suffer – especially the smaller centres which lie in close proximity to the new malls. We still think Abu Dhabi is undersupplied in terms of retail, certainly if you compare it with the likes of Dubai.”

Overall CBRE found that 9.8 million sq metres of new shopping space opened in 2013 in the 180 cities measured, compared with 7.3 million sq metres a year earlier.

It also said that a total of 39 million sq metres of shopping centre space is currently under construction in the world’s biggest cities, representing a 3 million sq metres increase on last year.

Most of the world’s new major retail centres currently under construction are located in China, with Chinese cities accounting for eight of the top 10 cities in the list.

Shanghai takes first position, followed by Chengdu, Shenzhen and Tianjin.


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