Ibn Battuta Mall is set to double in size with Ikea in line to become a major tenant. Ravindranath K / The National
Ibn Battuta Mall is set to double in size with Ikea in line to become a major tenant. Ravindranath K / The National

Ibn Battuta explores chances for Ikea store



Nakheel is in negotiations with Ikea to build a major store at Ibn Battuta Mall as part of the Dubai developer's huge expansion of the shopping centre.

The mall is set to double in size and Ikea is being considered to fill a large part of the space, following the appointment of a consultant by Nakheel to examine the project.

The store at Ibn Battuta Mall would be more than 30,000 square metres and similar in size to its successful sister store on Yas Island in the capital.

The Ikea store at Festival City caters for the Northern Emirates and the older areas of Dubai, while the new store target shoppers from Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lakes Towers and Discovery Gardens.

"I hope to sign," said Adnan Hegrat, the head of malls and retail at Nakheel. "It's 90 per cent yes. We are having an expansion of the mall and we hope Ikea will be part of this expansion," he said. A representative of the Al-Futtaim Group, whose retail division holds the franchise for Ikea, stressed the two companies were still in negotiations and declined to comment further.

Analysts said an Ikea at Ibn Battuta Mall would be popular and would probably not affect sales at its other two stores in the country.

"One's at one end of town and one would be at the other, so I think it's a good idea," said David Macadam, the head of retail for the Middle East at Jones Lang LaSalle,a property specialists. "There's enough population growth to support both stores."

Ikea's store in Yas Mall celebrated its first anniversary last week, having moved from Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall. The home furnishings brand had a strong year for sales last year and welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors to its Yas store, according to the company. Ibn Battuta Mall is on of the largest themed malls in the world, with about 111,500 square metres of leasable retail space and more than 265 stores. The extension is expected to include a mix of retail, entertainment and hotels.

Nakheel has also announced it would double the size of Dragon Mart, the huge Chinese shopping and trading centre on the outskirts of Dubai, adding about 158,000 square metres of retail space and 5,000 parking spaces.

It is in the process of raising Dh300 million (US$81.6m) from banks to build The Pointe, a retail, residential and marina development on the Palm Jumeirah that will include 75 retail stores and 125 food and beverage outlets.

Nakheel is also expected to begin work on the much-anticipated Palm Mall this year, which will offer about 80,000 square metres of leasable retail space. Al-Futtaim Group, which was founded more than 70 years ago, operates more than 40 companies with 20,000 employees in at least 20 countries.

In addition to Ikea, Al-Futtaim's retail division holds the franchise for Marks & Spencer and operates Plug-Ins Electronix in the UAE.

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Some of Darwish's last words

"They see their tomorrows slipping out of their reach. And though it seems to them that everything outside this reality is heaven, yet they do not want to go to that heaven. They stay, because they are afflicted with hope." - Mahmoud Darwish, to attendees of the Palestine Festival of Literature, 2008

His life in brief: Born in a village near Galilee, he lived in exile for most of his life and started writing poetry after high school. He was arrested several times by Israel for what were deemed to be inciteful poems. Most of his work focused on the love and yearning for his homeland, and he was regarded the Palestinian poet of resistance. Over the course of his life, he published more than 30 poetry collections and books of prose, with his work translated into more than 20 languages. Many of his poems were set to music by Arab composers, most significantly Marcel Khalife. Darwish died on August 9, 2008 after undergoing heart surgery in the United States. He was later buried in Ramallah where a shrine was erected in his honour.

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