Abu Dhabi’s delayed US$1 billion Reem Mall has signed a leasing deal with Dubai’s conglomerate Majid Al Futtaim (Maf) to operate 202,000 square feet of leisure space in the new shopping centre including an indoor snow park.
The mall will open in 2020 – two years later than previously planned – because of delays in getting approvals from Abu Dhabi Municipality and fallout with the previous contractor, with a new contract expected to be awarded in the third or fourth quarter this year, Shane Eldstrom, Reem Mall’s chief executive, said on Sunday in Dubai.
Reem Mall’s owner, Al Farwaniya Property Developments, said that it had agreed a deal with Al Futtaim Ventures, the leisure division of Maf that will also operate a Vox Cinema and a Magic Planet fun park in the mall.
Al Farwaniya, which is owned by two Kuwaiti developers, said that the new leisure attraction would take up 10 per cent of the total 2 million sq ft mall, including a snow park of 125,000 sq ft, which will include sledging, zorbing and an Alpine luge. The company also plans to combine its Vox Cinema and Magic Planet concepts into one offering for the first time at the shopping centre.
“At the moment Abu Dhabi lacks the large-scale full-day-out experience of the kind which you would get at a Majid Al Futtaim shopping centre,” said Ahmed Galal Ismail, the chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Ventures.
“Reem Mall will be a shopping centre but it will be much more than a shopping centre.”
Maf is the developer and operator of the Mall of the Emirates, which has the country’s first indoor ski slope.
Maf opened an indoor ski slope in Mall of Egypt and is building a similar facility in Saudi Arabia.
The developer also said that it was in discussions with local and international banks about providing debt funding for the project.
The delay means that Reem Mall will now open later than its rival $1bn Al Maryah Central shopping centre, which is in the final stages of being built on Al Maryah Island by the US developer Gulf Related.
Al Maryah Central, which stretches over a 2.3 million sq ft area, will include a 21-screen Vox Cinema.
Last year, Kuwait-based Agility, the Arabian Gulf’s largest logistics company that co-owns Reem Mall with another Kuwaiti company, National Real Estate Company (NREC), said that it was in the final stages of securing $800 million in bank loans to invest in building Reem Mall.
Agility revived dormant plans to build Reem Mall in 2015 when it agreed to invest up to $224m in the project through its United Projects for Aviation Services Company unit.
Plans for Reem Mall were originally drawn up by the Kuwaiti developer NREC before the global financial crisis.
The Al Maryah Central project broke ground in November 2014 and is expected to open next year.
“The reality is that the market in Abu Dhabi is certainly more than ready for all of the incoming supply,” said Mr Eldstrom. “We’re pleased that Maf has such a strong vision for Abu Dhabi and we think that just enhances the overall offering.”
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter