Dubai's oldest mall Al Ghurair Centre in Dh2bn retail space expansion

A Dh2 billion project to extend Dubai's oldest mall will be completed in the summer.

The extension of the Al Ghurair Centre in Deira, above, will add 375,000 sq ft of total leasable retail space. Pawan Singh / The National
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A Dh2 billion (US$544 million) project to double the retail space at Dubai's oldest mall and add an entertainment centre featuring an indoor roller coaster and ice rink will be completed in the summer.

The expansion of the Al Ghurair Centre in Deira, which opened in 1981, is expected to open during Ramadan.

The mall currently features a retail area of 480,000 square feet, with about 200 stores, 20 food and beverage outlets and an eight-screen cinema.

The extension will add 375,000 sq ft of total leasable retail space. Al Ghurair would not reveal the names of any new tenants or the number of new units it had leased.

"The Al Ghurair Centre was first opened in the early 1980s and revamped sometime in the 2000s with a major renovation," said Ibrahim Al Ghurair, the managing director of Al Ghurair Properties.

But that renovation did not increase the leasable area, he added, which spurred the company's decision to expand.

The mall does not compete with "destination" shopping centres like Dubai Mall or Mall of the Emirates, he said.

"The way we see Al Ghurair Centre is catering to its primary trade area, which is quite a significant area. Deira itself trades at around Dh12bn.

"We are not a destination, but we are more of a community and a neighbourhood so we have continuous footfall coming from our immediate area."

Mr Al Ghurair noted that there were many hotels in the area, accounting for about 77 per cent of rooms in Dubai.

The project includes a five-star hotel, the Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana, and a luxury serviced apartments tower, which opened in December.

The remaining part of the extension includes an additional 150 stores and food outlets, in addition to a Sparky's entertainment centre. It will also include a climbing wall, bumper cars and a state of the art cinema.

David Thurling, the vice president of the mall at Al Ghurair Centre, said the opening of the extension will coincide with Eid, when visitor numbers typically increase by between 15 per cent to 20 per cent.

"Deira remains a key economic and commercial hub with multiple tourist attractions, a high population density and almost 80 per cent of Dubai's hotels and hotel apartments," said Mr Thurling.

"Although Dubai's retail market is increasingly competitive, we feel that there remains a huge opportunity considering the retail potential of Al Ghurair Centre's primary trade area."

Meanwhile, the rival mall Deira City Centre is undergoing an upgrade of its own. Its newly completed City Court dining area features three new restaurants - PF Chang's, Texas Roadhouse and Gazebo - and is part of a redevelopment project that has so far introduced 55 new brands and 33,000 sq ft of new retail space in the past two years.