Aldar predicts bumper crowds for Yas Mall opening ahead of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Aldar plans to open the mall a few days before the motor race takes place on November 21 to 23 in preparation for the deluge of visitors.

Yas Mall is set to open ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Aldar said. Ravindranath K / The National
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More than 50,000 people a day are expected to flock to Abu Dhabi’s new Yas Mall shopping centre during the Formula One weekend in November, its developer estimated.

Giving The National a sneak preview around the long-awaited retail and entertainment centre on Yas Island yesterday, executives from the mall developer Aldar predicted that as many as 52,000 or 53,000 racegoers would visit the mall days after it opens.

Aldar plans to open the 235,000 square metre mall a few days before the climactic Abu Dhabi motor race takes place on November 21 to 23 at the nearby Yas Circuit, in preparation for the deluge of visitors.

The mall, which will become the second largest in the UAE when it opens next month, is expected to receive about 20 million visitors a year – equating to 54,794 a day.

Emaar's 502,000 sq metre The Dubai Mall received more than 75 million visitors last year.

"We've got 10,000 parking spaces within the mall so we're expecting some people [going to the race] to be parking within the mall. We're expecting them very early on when there's not much activity in the Formula One," said Talal Al Dhiyebi, Aldar's executive director for asset management.

"They can come in, they can grab a meal, they can do some shopping. They can go and enjoy the Formula One and then they can come back and grab a movie or have a late-night meal over at the mall. We're going to have extended opening hours during F1 to cater for all the activities during the F1," he said.

Construction work on the vast mall is now fully complete with workmen on site 24 hours a day putting the final touches to retailers’ fitouts.

Attractions will include a 20- screen Vox cinema fitted with the latest 4DX technology, the region’s largest department store comprising 200,000 sq feet, three other major department stores, an “edutainment” concept store, direct access to the Ferrari World theme park and even a Lego concept store as well as fashion stores, cafes and restaurants.

Aldar declined to say exactly how many of the centre’s 400 shops would pull up their shutters during the mall’s first day of trading, confirming only that it would be “a majority” and that all of the stores had now been let.

The developer also declined to comment on rent rates at the mall. Retail analysts report that Yas Mall is charging similar rates to The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, where headline rates are reaching as much as Dh6,000 a sq metre.

“We set rents that were quite competitive compared to what is in the market and we have surpassed those budgets. Yes, we are very comparable to what is there in the market,” Mr Al Dhiyebi said. “People like to use terms like average rents but it’s very difficult because we apply different levels of rents for department stores and cinemas.”

At the peak of construction, 10,000 people worked on the project, which used 33,000 kilometres of reinforcement bars – about three times the distance between Abu Dhabi and New York.

The Abu Dhabi market has traditionally been undersupplied. However, more and more developers are looking to cash in on the city’s high spending shoppers.

Planned new malls include TDIC’s 168,000 sq metre The District mall on Saadiyat Island and Gulf Related’s 265,000 sq metre Sowwah Central.

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