Aldar Properties has taken its latest retail endeavour on a European roadshow as it seeks to interest companies looking for a lifeline from ailing retail markets in the West. Executives with the Abu Dhabi-based property developer are in Cannes today at the International Market for Retail Real Estate (MAPIC) to debut the signature Yas Mall, a centrepiece of Aldar's Yas Island project.
"The timing is fantastic because the [European] brands want to maintain margins, market shares, and they may be struggling to find that in their home markets, but they will get it in the emerging markets," said Fred Douglas, the director of leasing for Aldar. Due for completion in early 2011, Yas Mall will house 700 retail and catering units, including four major department stores and six hotels.
According to Philip Vaughan, the director of retail development for Aldar, the centre will span a gross leasable area of 460,000 square metres and, together with the adjoining theme parks, will total a massive 780,000 sq metres of retail and leisure space. "The mall will serve one of the most affluent populations in the world, with Abu Dhabi already ranking among the world's top list in terms of GDP per capita," said Mohammed al Mubarak, the chief commercial officer at Aldar. "The capital's local population is expected to increase by 40 per cent in the next five years - by then, Abu Dhabi hopes to draw some 2.7 million tourists."
While financial turmoil across the globe has thrown into question the future of many real estate projects, Mr Douglas said he was confident that Yas Mall was on track for its target completion. "I'm not saying that the UAE will not be affected by what's going on, but I would say that the cold breeze is coming through and we have got a few more sweaters on," he said. "But with regard to Aldar's retail portfolios, this whole thing should have passed by the time we are online."
Yas Island will be home to the world's first Ferrari theme park, a water park and the 2009 Formula One Yas Marina Circuit, which will host the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November next year. email@example.com